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Faith and Pride 6

January 5, 2018

Habakkuk 2:4 “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.

Isaiah 2:11 The proud look of man will be abased And the loftiness of man will be humbled, And the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. 12 For the LORD of hosts will have a day of reckoning Against everyone who is proud and lofty And against everyone who is lifted up, That he may be abased.

Isaiah 5:15 So the common man will be humbled and the man of importance abased, The eyes of the proud also will be abased.

Isaiah 13:11 Thus I will punish the world for its evil And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless.

Jer 48:29 “We have heard of the pride of Moab– he is very proud– Of his haughtiness, his pride, his arrogance and his self-exaltation.

Hosea 13:6 As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, And being satisfied, their heart became proud; Therefore they forgot Me.

James 4:6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

In looking at what Scripture teaches us about pride, we can see that it is something that God opposes and has opposed for at least the history of humanity. It should send shivers down our spines to know that pride is the opposite of faith, and even more that without faith no one can please God. It should make us think and think deeply to realize that the proud person has a soul that is not right with God. It does not matter if people are religious and perhaps deeply religious, without true faith they cannot please God and He opposes them. It does not matter if these people are deeply moral, without true faith they cannot please God and He opposes them. It does not matter if a person gives large amounts of money to the professing church or to professing ministries, without true faith that person cannot please God and He opposes that person.

If we take Isaiah 2:11-12 at face value, which we should, it seems to be shockingly clear what will happen. The proud look of man will be abased. The loftiness of man will be humbled. God will have a day of reckoning against all who are proud, lofty, and lifted up. He will abase them all. Each day a person lives in pride and an unhumbled heart the closer that person is to a day when s/he will be abased and humbled. Each day a person lives in pride, loftiness, and lifted up in his own esteem is a day closer to when s/he will be abased by God. Surely it is obvious that God hates the proud and will humble the proud and abase them at His good pleasure. If that is true, and it is also true that those with faith are pleasing to God, then the deduction cannot be avoided. The proud person does not have true faith and is not right before God.

This should open up a few questions for us and then see the obvious answer. Can a proud person be truly saved? A proud person while proud cannot be saved. Is it possible for a proud heart to work up faith? The proud person cannot work up faith as that “faith” would be the work of pride. Can a proud person humble him or herself so that God will give that person faith? No, a proud person cannot humble self as that would still be the work of pride and self working humility in the soul. The clear conclusion in the matter is that God must humble the soul at His good pleasure and God alone can work faith in the soul. God alone can drive pride out of the soul and bring the life of humility in the soul as that life of humility in the soul is the life of the humble Savior.

The soul of man must be humbled in this life and given faith or it is not possible for that person to be truly saved. The soul of man must be broken from self and humbled into the dust or that soul is not saved from self and pride which God opposes. The soul of man must give up all hope of true faith apart from a deep humility worked in his soul by God who alone can defeat pride in the soul and give the grace of faith. Instead of man seeking to humble himself by the power of pride or seeking faith by the power of pride, man should seek this humility from the hand of God who gives it by grace alone. The only real act of humbling self that man can do is to seek humility from God rather than self. This humbling of the soul and driving our pride is not the work of man, but it is the method of grace in bringing faith and salvation to the soul. One is not truly converted until one is broken from pride which is the heart of unbelief.

 

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Faith and Pride 5

January 3, 2018

Habakkuk 2:4 “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.

Psalm 94:4 They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly; All who do wickedness vaunt themselves.

Proverbs 8:13 “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate. 16:5 Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.

Proverbs 21:4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart, The lamp of the wicked, is sin. 29:23 A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.

James 4:6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

As long as a person is full of pride and his or her life is guided by pride and that pride is the very light (the person thinks) by which a person lives, then it is not possible for that person to live by faith in Christ. As long as a person is controlled by pride there is no faith in that person and as such that person is unconverted. This is a vital point that perhaps cannot be stated too strongly. A proud person does not have a soul that is right within him or her. A proud person, which the text sets out as being in contrast with the righteous, cannot live by faith. In Galatians 2:20 Paul said that he had died and that he lived by faith in Christ. In that we see the two different springs that flow from human hearts. We have the spring of self and pride which Paul said that he died to. Then we see the spring of Christ which flows from the regenerate heart. It is the heart that dies to self and dies to pride that can now have the spring of true life which flows from Christ to His people.

Until proud hearts are humbled, people will live by the darkness of pride. Until proud hearts are humbled, the light of people that they follow will be the light of pride and self. Until proud hearts are humbled, pride and self will prevent any true righteous living. Until proud hearts are humbled, people with hearts like that are abominations before God. Until proud hearts are humbled, people with those hearts are on the way to destruction. Until proud hearts are humbled, those with those hearts speak arrogantly and exalt themselves. Until proud hearts are humbled, those with those proud hearts (at the least) have what God hates.

Those with proud hearts are in a desperate state. The Scriptures are clear what people are who have proud hearts. The Scriptures are clear about the states of unbelief that people are in that possess proud hearts. These proud hearts control what people look at, what people love, what people say, and all that they do. It is pride that people live by rather than Christ. Once again, pride is the opposite of faith and one must have faith in order to have Christ. Pride is the opposite of the humble Savior as well. The Lord Jesus had to humble Himself to take human flesh. The proud are exalting themselves and their flesh rather than Christ. The Lord Jesus, being found in human flesh, went to the cross and died in the place of sinners. The proud exalt self and live for self at the expense of others.

Those with true faith have Christ who was perfectly humble and He works His humility in them. The proud only have faith in themselves and their own ways. The proud can be quite religious, but all religious actions that the proud do are done for themselves and are done to obtain something from God and man. The proud are like the devil and live for themselves rather than God. The proud trust in self rather than God and that is a hideous sin against God. The proud love self rather than God and that is a violation of the Greatest Commandment of God. The proud, in doing all for self rather than God, are gods to themselves. The proud will think that s/he can trust Christ enough to be saved, but their trust is really in themselves rather than Christ. The proud do all of their religious actions out of self-love and that means that all of their religious actions are really the height of hypocrisy and wickedness. Dare we tell the proud that all they have to do is believe some facts when their hearts hate God and are opposed to Him in all they do? Do we really dare to tell the proud that they don’t truly have to be deeply humbled before they can truly believe?

Faith and Pride 4

December 31, 2017

Habakkuk 2:4 “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.

Psalm 94:4 They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly; All who do wickedness vaunt themselves.

Proverbs 8:13 “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate. 16:5 Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.

Proverbs 21:4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart, The lamp of the wicked, is sin. 29:23 A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.

James 4:6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

In thinking through the issues of faith and pride, it should be quite obvious that the proud heart is not right before God and as such it does not have any true faith. It should also be unsettling to us to realize that throughout history many religious people have been deceived, though they thought they had true faith. Indeed they had faith, but it was really a faith in self and a faith that came from the natural man. If indeed pride goes before destruction, then we must ask ourselves with a great deal of seriousness about whether we are proud people or not. The very nature of true faith is surrounded by and consists to some degree with humility, but that is true humility and not something generated of the flesh and is in accordance with a proud heart. It may sound quite crazy, but a proud person who is a religious person may indeed think that s/he is quite humble.

Well, says the deceived person, the Bible states quite clearly that God opposes the proud. God is for me and is with me in life and in all I do. What we must take into consideration, however, is that God gives many worldly things and many fleshly things to people who are proud and who are religious. However, worldly things and fleshly things are not signs of His blessing. God can oppose the proud and yet give them many riches and worldly things. In doing this, though, He is opposing their true spiritual good. He is blinding them with those things and all the while they are treasuring up wrath for the day of wrath. A proud and selfish heart is under a terrible judgment as it increases in its pride and selfishness as it appears to it to obtain natural things and worldly things because it is so religious. This is nothing but self-righteousness and self-righteousness is a proud heart.

When God opposes the proud, He opposes the proud heart as to its true and eternal good. He opposes the proud person by hardening them and allowing them to obtain many worldly and fleshly things, as He uses that to harden the hearts of the proud. He opposes the proud religious person by hardening their hearts and bringing them to a state of religious wealth (though not spiritual wealth) and working so that they will be more and more religious. The devil is certainly not opposed to people being very religious and obtaining many worldly benefits from their religion. After all, he is the father of the proud and hates them from his proud heart. He wants to deceive them and he wants them to think that they are converted when they are not. The more religious and proud they become the greater his deception is.

How impossible it is for a proud and selfish heart to make itself humble. How impossible it is for a proud and selfish heart to resist the power of God in judging it and turning it over to more and more pride. How impossible it is for a proud heart to have true faith because God only gives faith to the humble. Yet the proud heart goes on trusting in itself for faith and trusting in the faith of self to obtain things from God. It is hard and in fact impossible for a proud heart to see what it truly is as it sees itself through the eyes of pride and self-love. True faith beholds the glory of the true God, yet a false faith sees a false god and sees that false god through the eyes of pride and of a selfish heart. True faith sees that God loves sinners because of who He is, yet a false faith has a heart that thinks that God loves it because of what it has done or because it is lovable. A heart of pride is opposed to the true God and the true God is opposed to it. That is true even when (or perhaps more so) the person is devout and religious.

Faith and Pride 3

December 29, 2017

Habakkuk 2:4 “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.

Psalm 94:4 They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly; All who do wickedness vaunt themselves.

Proverbs 8:13 “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate. 16:5 Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.

Proverbs 21:4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart, The lamp of the wicked, is sin. 29:23 A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.

James 4:6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

The attempt in this series of BLOGS is to look at the nature of faith and how impossible it is for a proud heart to have faith or live by anything but what comes from a proud heart. True faith works by true love (Gal 5:6), but pride works by self-love. True love comes from God and goes back to God, but self-love comes from a proud heart and is aimed at self. True faith comes from God and is aimed back at God, but the faith of self comes from a proud and selfish heart and is aimed back at self.

The natural man is full unbelief; it is not just unbelief that is located at one point. The natural man’s unbelief is a heart that is full of self and pride. All that a natural man can do comes from a heart that is full of pride and is aimed at his own benefit, whether than benefit is his own glory and honor or wealth or the esteem of others. Until that heart is changed in regeneration and that person has a believing heart, that proud and selfish heart will do all it does for self rather than for God. This is idolatry in all that the person does.

All the choices, thoughts, and words that come from a proud and selfish heart (unbelief) cannot be anything but against the living God. The proud heart is a lamp of sin which in that language it means that a lamp is what we walk by and directs us. A lamp is what gave light to people and they followed it. As such a proud heart that Scripture tells us is the lamp of the wicked is a proud heart. It is that proud heart that the wicked follow. It does not say that only the outwardly immoral follow proud hearts, but it tells us a proud heart is the lamp of the wicked and that proud heart is sin.

It would be quite a wise thing to do for each person start an examination of his or her own heart. It does not matter what we think of ourselves, what matters is what God thinks of us. This is to say that God sees us in the depths of our souls and knows us in ways we do not know ourselves. A person can be a very proud person and hate pride in others. A person can be a very proud person and think that s/he is quite humble. One reason for that is that pride and self-love blinds us to things about us and we simply cannot see the truth of our own hearts. We may think that we have faith and perhaps think that we have a lot of faith, but the truth of the matter may be that we have a lot of pride in our own supposed faith. It may be that all of our “faith” is really pride in self and our “faith” is really the work of self and all of our “faith” is really in self.

It is remarkably easy for a person to assume the best about self and assume the worst about others. This is the fruit of pride and self. It is also easy to be a positive thinking person regarding self and others, but again that is the fruit of self-confidence and pride. One can also be negative about self and that really be an effort to manipulate God, which again is nothing but pride. The work of pride is a work of self-love and as such it is not the work of God in the soul as true faith is. True faith, which comes from God, will always come from true love (God) and aim at the glory of God. True faith looks to God for faith and all things, yet false faith will look to self for the faith to look to God for whatever self thinks it wants. The proud heart is not right within that soul and is opposed by God regardless of how religious the person thinks that s/he is.

Faith and Pride 2

December 27, 2017

Habakkuk 2:4 “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.

Psalm 94:4 They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly; All who do wickedness vaunt themselves.

Proverbs 8:13 “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate. 16:5 Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.

Proverbs 21:4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart, The lamp of the wicked, is sin. 29:23 A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.

James 4:6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

It is one things to tell people that they are in unbelief and that they must believe or have faith if they can do that in their own power, but it is quite another if we look at the nature of unbelief and then of belief. If the nature of unbelief is really a person full of self and pride, then it will change how we look at how a person can repent of that self and pride and believe (be a person of faith) completely and totally in Christ. This surely shows us that it takes another and greater power to work in the soul for this to happen. We can also clearly see that a person under the power of self and pride only has the ability to trust in self and pride. We can then see that the unregenerate person is a person that is under the power and love of self and pride and does not have the power to cast out pride and self. As long as a person is under the power of self and pride, that person has nothing to cast out pride and self with.

As long as people think of unbelief as simply a state of mind of which they have the ability to change their mind and make a decision to have belief or faith, then the issue of what it takes to be converted will remain lost on them. It is virtually an infinite difference between a person just making a choice to believe versus the need to have God drive out self and pride in order that a person may believe. If faith is far more than a simple belief which is the modern view and appears to be what Finney and those who follow him have practiced evangelism based on that, then things must change to be in accordance with the truth. It seems as if all of professing Christianity has bought into that version of things and as such people are being greatly deceived. The proud soul is not right before God and regardless of what that proud soul believes are practices that is all done from a proud heart and is not right before God.

Proverbs 8:3 tells us that God hates pride and arrogance. We must take note of that and not just let the words slide off of us. The true and living God hates pride and arrogance. This should chill us to the depths of our souls and let us know that a God of love does not love all and does not love all things. This teaches us something if we will take notice and pray for God to give us light. Proverbs 16:5 teaches us that all who are proud in heart are an abomination to God. How, then, is it possible for a person to simply turn him or herself from unbelief to faith and as such God responds and saves that person? The person is full of pride and self and yet from the power of that pride and self is able to turn self from unbelief to belief? The person has a form of faith that is the work of pride and self. Do we really think that God will save that person that is an abomination to Him because of their pride when He opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble?

The proud heart opposes the true God and the true God stands in opposition to the proud heart. Until that proud heart is broken and humbled, it is in bondage to its pride and can do nothing to please God and that includes coming up with a proud belief or faith. A natural man (non-regenerate) is under the power of pride and self and no faith or belief can come from that man that is not from pride and self. True and biblical faith (the kind of faith that a converted person is given by the power and grace of God) is a faith that is rooted in the soul of a person that has been delivered from the heart of unbelief that consists in pride and self. One has to be delivered from unbelief (pride and self) before one can have true faith/belief. Pride and faith (again) are complete opposites of each other.

Not So Random Thoughts 58

December 21, 2017

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 9:15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

“God has surely promised His grace to the humbled: that is, to those who mourn over and despair of themselves. But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled till he realizes that salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsels, efforts, will and works, and depends absolutely on the will, counsel, pleasure and work of Another—God alone. As long as he is persuaded that he can make even the smallest contribution to his salvation, he remains self-confident and does not utterly despair of himself, and so is not humbled before God; but plans out for himself (or at least hopes and longs for) a position, an occasion, a work, which shall bring him final salvation. But he who is out of doubt that his destiny depends entirely on the will of God despairs entirely of himself, chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work in him; and such a man is very near to grace for his salvation. (Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will)

The heart of the Reformation at least included as a necessary part of it the doctrine of the bondage of the human will. This was at the heart of the Reformation because it was at the heart of the Gospel of grace alone and the Gospel of God who is sovereign. The Gospel cannot be of a free and sovereign grace as long as the doctrine of free-will is taught. As long as what Rome taught (at the time) was based on free-will, then that had to be addressed if there was going to be a Reformation. As long as Rome held to free-will it could not and did not preach and teach a Gospel of the free-grace of God.

The same thing is true in our day as well. As long as any professing church is preaching and teaching things that are based on free-will or just take it for granted, then the heart of what is needed for true Reformation and a biblical Christianity is absent. If any professing church has a creed that states that men are depraved and that grace is sovereign and yet that is not preached and freely declared, that is a practical denial of the truth. It is not those who say they believe the truth and say that they hold to certain things, but instead it is those who really and actually preach those things and declare those things to lost sinners. It is not enough to have a creed about the truth, but instead it must be a deeply held belief of the heart and what men are willing to suffer to preach.

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name.”

It should be clear from the text quoted just above that there are many who will have an orthodox statement of Christ. It should also be clear that there will be many on judgment day who were preachers and yet they will be told to depart from Him. It should be clear that it is not enough to preach and it is not enough to hold to a creed that is true. It is not enough to state things about Jesus that are true, but sinners must be told who they are and how it is that the Gospel actually saves sinners. People are not saved because they believe, but instead they believe because they are saved. People are not saved because they believe certain facts, but they are saved when the living God through the resurrected Christ actually and really delivers them from the kingdom of darkness and translates them into the kingdom of the Beloved Son.

In an effort to dive deeper into this, we must say that knowing the facts or some of the facts of the Gospel does not save. It is not that the Gospel is the power of man to hear the facts and save himself by doing something, but the Gospel is the power of God to save sinners. Sinners are really and truly regenerated and really and truly united to Christ. It is not just knowing about these things that save sinners, it is when they actually happen that sinners are saved. Preachers do not preach because they know facts and so they stand up and repeat the facts, but preachers preach when they have been broken in their own hearts and have Christ as their very lives. Preachers do not preach until they are preaching Christ Himself and not just about Him.

There will be no Reformation until preachers give up on their preaching and begin to preach the living Christ. There will be no Reformation until preachers learn what a broken heart is and that heart is worked in them by God. There is no true preaching apart from a broken and humbled heart that God breaks and humbles. It is painful and nothing that self wants to do. But until it happens, we will live in an age which knows nothing of true preaching. Until preachers actually have broken hearts, they cannot and will not preach that sinners must be actually and really broken and humbled by and before a living God in order to receive grace. Until that happens, professing preachers will preach to a professing church and Reformation and true revival will not happen. We must seek Him for this.

Not So Random Thoughts 57

December 18, 2017

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 9:15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

“God has surely promised His grace to the humbled: that is, to those who mourn over and despair of themselves. But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled till he realizes that salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsels, efforts, will and works, and depends absolutely on the will, counsel, pleasure and work of Another—God alone. As long as he is persuaded that he can make even the smallest contribution to his salvation, he remains self-confident and does not utterly despair of himself, and so is not humbled before God; but plans out for himself (or at least hopes and longs for) a position, an occasion, a work, which shall bring him final salvation. But he who is out of doubt that his destiny depends entirely on the will of God despairs entirely of himself, chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work in him; and such a man is very near to grace for his salvation. (Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will)

The stark difference between a God-centered view of the Gospel, the whole of Christianity, and the whole of life with a man-centered view is enormous. Our hearts tend toward the man-centered view and in fact will be taken with that view apart from the work of Divine grace in the heart. It is hard and perhaps impossible to accept from the depths of the soul the fact that God must humble the soul so that He may give it grace. We much prefer to think that we have the ability to humble ourselves so that we can receive grace. However, the nature of the human heart is such that it prefers to think that it can receive grace simply by an act of the human will. When people teach that, Biblical Christianity has disappeared. When it is the majority view of those in the pulpit and the pew (even a vast majority), we can know that we are under the judgment of God.

The paragraph just above would be described as uncharitable and perhaps as divisive and judgmental. On the other hand, if it is true then those who say those things about the previous paragraph would be opposing the Gospel of the grace of God. I would prefer to be branded uncharitable and judgmental than to be a person opposing the Gospel of the grace of God. The Gospel is not just some message that opens the hearts of people to the messengers of it, but instead the preaching of Christ crucified brings derision and mockery. The preaching of Christ brings persecution in some form. This is not something we should ignore and breezily dismiss it as divisive and something less than winsome. There are many winsome people who are utter heretics and yet we are able to be around them easier than some who preach the harsh truths of the character and nature of God. This should awaken us to something going on in our society and professing churches. We want to be popular at all costs and will not preach the truth if it is going to bring us some level of discomfort. That is far different than the life of Christ.

The gate is narrow and the path is narrow. That does not correlate with preaching smooth things and being winsome all the time. Jesus was hard and some would say harsh with the religious people of His day. Luther was hard and harsh on the acceptable religion in his day. Luther was encouraged by Erasmus to tone his message down and not be so divisive and troublesome to the Church. It took a Luther to stand up to the professing Church in his day and strike at the heart of it. In doing so he followed His Lord who struck at the heart of the professing Church in His own day with strength and strong words. Jesus Christ set out the truth of who God was and the truth of who man was. The truths of these things and their necessary applications are not something that men who are afraid of their own reputations will risk.

We live in a day were we need to hear strong words and we need men who are less concerned with winsomeness than they are with speaking the truth. Yes, the truth needs to be spoken in love and yet a biblical love rather than the sappy niceness which passes for love in our day. Did Luther speak with more love than the Pope and Erasmus? I will argue that he did. Did he go too far at times? Most likely he did. But for the Reformation to occur it needed a man like Luther who was strengthened by God and was indeed abrasive to those in the professing Church. The preaching of Christ cuts to the core of false religion even if it is masquerading as orthodox and historical Christianity. The preaching of Christ requires men who are willing to be thought of as uncouth, divisive, and as less than winsome. A new and real Reformation will require the true Christ to be preached and this will require something other than winsomeness and sticky sweet niceness. It will require a deep brokenness in the hearts of some men who have to be broken from self-love, ease, and reputation within their denomination. Men must learn to speak the truth of God and that without watering it down or smoothing off the rough points (as they see it).

Not So Random Thoughts 56

December 16, 2017

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 9:15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

“God has surely promised His grace to the humbled: that is, to those who mourn over and despair of themselves. But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled till he realizes that salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsels, efforts, will and works, and depends absolutely on the will, counsel, pleasure and work of Another—God alone. As long as he is persuaded that he can make even the smallest contribution to his salvation, he remains self-confident and does not utterly despair of himself, and so is not humbled before God; but plans out for himself (or at least hopes and longs for) a position, an occasion, a work, which shall bring him final salvation. But he who is out of doubt that his destiny depends entirely on the will of God despairs entirely of himself, chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work in him; and such a man is very near to grace for his salvation. (Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will)

One of the battles that has occurred throughout the history of the professing Church has been the battle between free-will and free-grace. One of the real issues between free-will and free-grace is that free-will focuses on the ability of man and free-grace focuses on the ability and power of God. It is not a simple issue and it is not a minor issue. At the very core of the issue is whether God saves man by Himself alone or whether man contributes something to his own salvation. Romans 11:6 teaches us that if we add something to grace then grace is no longer grace. A pure grace cannot have anything added to it or it will no longer be grace. Galatians 1 teaches us that there is only one Gospel and if anyone teaches a different Gospel that person is to be eternally cursed. But again, this is as important issue as one can deal with.

The Gospel is the Gospel of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not the Gospel of man. It is not about how man can manifest his power and goodness in saving himself, but instead it is about the power and glory of God in saving sinners for His own glory. The Gospel puts the character of God on display through Christ, but the only character we see in man is the sin of man. The Gospel is indeed all about God, though indeed man does benefit. The benefits of the Gospel, however, display the freedom of the grace of God in saving sinners from beginning to end. This is not something that should be something to argue about. The Gospel should be declared and it is all about the glory and grace of God in Christ Jesus. The Gospel drips of the grace and beauty of Christ Jesus in His work in His life on earth and in His sacrificial death which propitiated the wrath of God. The grace and beauty of Christ Jesus is in His giving a perfect righteousness to His people. There is nothing left for man to contribute and as such man has nothing to boast about but the cross of Christ.

Each of the passages of Scripture listed above and the quote by Luther are in perfect harmony. There is not a hint of free-will as a power, but all drive men and women to Christ Jesus who alone has power to save. The doctrines that support and are supported by free-will fly in the face of the Gospel of the free-grace of God. They are supported by teaching of man-centeredness rather than God-centeredness. They put the weight of salvation on the shoulders of man rather than on the character of God. This is twisting the truth of the Gospel and of the method of grace that is used by the Holy Spirit. Man must be converted by the Holy Spirit rather than something man does. Man must be humbled by God and regenerated by the Spirit of God. The will is not free to change the heart of man as that is the work of God.

The gate that free-will enters is not narrow. The road that free-will enters is quite broad. The false prophets are quite adept at promoting free-will, but that which flows from the human will is not what flows from the Holy Spirit. Men will argue in the day of final judgment that they did certain things which is an argument from free-will. Men will strive to enter the kingdom, even trying to die to self and to humble self, but those things are the things that God works in man by His grace. Men will and men run, but in doing so they are not looking to the mercy and grace of God alone. Men will fight and do anything but look to God to work in them a despair of self and all that the will can do. The doctrine of grace alone is talked about in some circles, but oh how lacking our day is in the real teaching of men dying to self and all that the will can do in order to be saved by that grace alone. It is not just an intellectual understanding that men are saved by grace alone that is needed, but it is a real grace doing a real work in men that is needed. A free-will cannot do that and cannot bring that about in any way.

 

Not So Random Thoughts 55

December 14, 2017

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 9:15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

“God has surely promised His grace to the humbled: that is, to those who mourn over and despair of themselves. But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled till he realizes that salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsels, efforts, will and works, and depends absolutely on the will, counsel, pleasure and work of Another—God alone. As long as he is persuaded that he can make even the smallest contribution to his salvation, he remains self-confident and does not utterly despair of himself, and so is not humbled before God; but plans out for himself (or at least hopes and longs for) a position, an occasion, a work, which shall bring him final salvation. But he who is out of doubt that his destiny depends entirely on the will of God despairs entirely of himself, chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work in him; and such a man is very near to grace for his salvation. (Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will)

When Jonathan Edwards was ministering in the 1700’s he taught people that they needed to seek the Lord for a new heart in order to believe. He taught the people that they had proud hearts as their nature and that those proud hearts needed to be humbled and broken in order to have a true faith. He taught them that God must humble their hearts and that God must humble them and that faith was a gift of God. When the people heard that Arminianism was spreading in neighboring communities, they were alarmed as they thought that was a sign that the day of salvation was leaving as God was turning the area over to false teaching. In past times Arminian theology was seen as dangerous and as opposed to the true working of God who worked all by His grace alone.

The Arminianism that the people were afraid of in the days of Edwards was perhaps stronger theology than the Pelagianism in our day that passes as Arminianism. In order to be clearer, I am using the term “Arminianism’ as standing for those who assert free-will as a theology or in a practical sense. The issue, then, is over the freeness of God in showing grace or the freeness of man in asserting his own will and choices. To put it another way, is grace in the freeness of God to show as He pleases or has God put grace in the hands of man’s will to dispense it to himself as man pleases? When people understand that God shows grace as He pleases and that anything that man can contribute is really opposed to true grace, then we can understand why the people in Edwards’ day were alarmed. Perhaps we should also understand why we should be alarmed.

The glorious Gospel of the free-grace of God in Christ Jesus is not consistent with the teaching of free-will. The previous sentence is actually quite weak. It is more accurate to say that the Gospel of the free-grace of God in Christ Jesus is directly contradictory to the teaching of free-will. Grace is either contingent upon the character and pleasure of God or it is contingent upon the free-will of man. What men must come to see (according to Luther in the quote at the top) is that until man is humbled and broken and despairs of any hope from himself that man will not look to Christ alone. Men will look to Christ for some help, and perhaps for a lot of help. But until men despair of all help from themselves they will not look to Christ alone. Men will either look to their own will to participate or they will look to Christ alone. Men will look to their own will for faith or they will look to Christ for faith. The teaching of free-will is not just a little error; it strikes at the very heart of the Gospel.

In our day it is extremely, extremely rare to find anyone who thinks that free-will is a dangerous teaching. This is a sign that God has turned us over in our day to our own imaginations. It is extremely rare for men to teach on the inability of men and to strive with them over their need to be humbled and broken before they will be able to believe. Faith in Christ cannot come from a proud and self-reliant heart. This is to say once again that the teaching of free-will is extremely dangerous. When we see Arminianism and practical Arminianism among the Reformed in creed what we are seeing is the judgment of God. False prophets seem to be on every corner and they are wreaking havoc with the truth of the Gospel. On judgment day there will be many who will trust in their own will and the works that came from that will. How they will cry out about the preaching they have done. How they will cry out of how they did it in the name of Christ. But the Lord Jesus will still say to them, “’I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’”

Not So Random Thoughts 54

December 12, 2017

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 9:15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

“God has surely promised His grace to the humbled: that is, to those who mourn over and despair of themselves. But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled till he realizes that salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsels, efforts, will and works, and depends absolutely on the will, counsel, pleasure and work of Another—God alone. As long as he is persuaded that he can make even the smallest contribution to his salvation, he remains self-confident and does not utterly despair of himself, and so is not humbled before God; but plans out for himself (or at least hopes and longs for) a position, an occasion, a work, which shall bring him final salvation. But he who is out of doubt that his destiny depends entirely on the will of God despairs entirely of himself, chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work in him; and such a man is very near to grace for his salvation. (Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will)

The enormity of the deception that has happened to the professing Church in our day is most likely way beyond human comprehension. It is God Himself who turns people over to a darkened heart and it is God who gives people over in their sinful hearts to more sin. A deluded heart grows more deluded and a deceived heart is given over to more deception. Those who deny God in their hearts with the things of religion are given over to more and more religion and as such are given over to more and more darkness and less of the truth of God even while they are perhaps more and more religious. Those with proud hearts are given over to more pride in the things of their religion. While open sin is punished by hardening of the heart, it may be that the things of religion are used to harden even more.

We also live in a day where Arminianism and Pelagian thinking is by far the majority. This is true even among those who profess to be Reformed. It is not just that Arminian thinking is openly espoused by people, but Arminianism can control the heart when the head holds to Reformed creeds. The sleep inducing fog of Arminianism has to do with the power of the will. The proud heart wants to love and trust in self. The proud heart wants some little island of power that leaves something up to it. The proud heart will not have God to be sovereign over it and will not have a God be fully sufficient. The proud heart will not give up all rights and all power to God; though it may be clouded in the things to religion to think it has done so.

If we think of lawlessness as man following his own will and strength of will, then we can see how the things of religion are used by men in such a way as to be utter lawlessness. At the heart of the Arminian system is utter lawlessness because man is not following God as the sovereign God depending upon Him in all things, but instead man is following self and depending on self to follow God. How utterly and completely deceptive this is. The intoxicating mist of Arminianism is so powerful that it takes the mind and heart of men away from God and they are turned to trust in self and the things of religion that men have come up with. The Arminian system is built on the free-will of man rather than the sovereign grace of God and as such is directly opposed to the Gospel of the free-grace of God.

Romans 9:15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.”16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”

What we can see from this passage (Romans 9) is that it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs. Rather, it depends on God who has mercy. This is at the core of the Gospel and of all that pertains to Christianity. Does it depend on man or on God? Any system that puts the weight on the will of man or on the running (working) of man is directly opposed to the grace of God. It is not grace plus just a little of the will of man and it is not grace plus just a little of the efforts of man. It is grace alone. Indeed this is a narrow gate and a narrow path. Indeed the false prophets oppose this in many ways. Those at the end of the passage in Matthew 7 (as quoted at the top of the page) looked to themselves and their own religious works rather than grace alone. God’s grace is indeed to the humbled and the broken. As long as people trust in their own wills and that just a little, they will not rest in Christ alone and they will not look to grace alone. Trusting in our own will and our own effort, even if it is just a tiny bit, is at the heart of lawlessness.