Not So Random Thoughts 36

November 3, 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.

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.”

The doctrine of free justification by faith only, which became the storm-centre of so much controversy during the Reformation period, is often regarded as the heart of the Reformer’s theology, but this is hardly accurate. The truth is that their thinking was really centered upon the contention of Paul, echoed with varying degrees of adequacy by Augustine, and Gottschalk, and Bradwardine, and Wycliffe, that the sinner’s entire salvation is by free and sovereign grace only. The doctrine of justification by faith was important to them because it safeguarded the principle of sovereign grace; but it actually expressed for them only one aspect of this principle, and that not its deepest aspect. The sovereignty of grace found expression in their thinking at a profounder level still, in the doctrine of monergistic regeneration—the doctrine, that is, that the faith which receives Christ for justification is itself the free gift of a sovereign God, bestowed by spiritual regeneration in the act of effectual calling. (Johnson and Packer’s introduction to Luther’s Bondage of the Will).

If the gate to life and the road to life are as narrow as Jesus sets it out to be, then it would behoove us to be so very careful regarding our own souls and the souls of others. It would be so important to actually beware of false prophets since they are disguised (perhaps to themselves as well) to others. It appears that they are disguised quite well, yet in our pride we think that we are immune to this. People can disguise themselves in academic robes. People can disguise themselves with a great attachment to orthodoxy. People can disguise themselves with the ministry. People can disguise themselves with moral activism and moral causes.

We can quote the idea that the false prophets will be known by their fruits and yet if we are wrong about the distinction between what true fruit is and is not we will have no ability to recognize them. If we think morality and niceness are spiritual fruits, we will not recognize false prophets. If we think that false prophets will be known by their lack of orthodoxy, we may not recognize false prophets. If we think that good fruit is known by being in the ministry, then we may not recognize false prophets. If we think that false prophets will be obvious due to their liberalism or their open sinfulness, we may not recognize false prophets.

What would the Reformers call people who did not believe and teach monergistic regeneration? What would the Reformers have thought of those who were opposed to the very heart of the Reformation? What would the Reformers have thought of those who did not teach people that their very faith (true faith) itself was a gift of God? We need to be very careful at these points and others as well. We must remember that the way to life has a narrow gate and a narrow path and few find it. The broad gate and the broad way that lead to destruction are found with many on it, though those many think that they are on the narrow road. Jesus did not say that only those who think that they are on the broad road are on the broad road, but all who are on it are on the road to destruction.

The false prophets would not be obviously false prophets or Jesus would not have warned us in this manner. There were false prophets in the day of Luther and Calvin as well, and at times they were often in the company of Luther and Calvin. False prophets that we are told to beware of are not the liberals who are obviously false prophets, but they are those who might appear to be on the narrow road. These false prophets bear fruit that if not inspected closely will appear as true fruit. Even the fruit can appear as genuine fruit. As it takes time for a tree to become known by its true fruit, so it may take time to assess the fruit of men. The fruit of our own hearts need to be inspected as well. After all, our own hearts must bear true fruit in order to recognize if the fruit of others is false or not. One hint in the matter is that the true Christ and His true glory are true fruits.

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Not So Random Thoughts 35

October 31, 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.

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.
The doctrine of free justification by faith only, which became the storm-centre of so much controversy during the Reformation period, is often regarded as the heart of the Reformer’s theology, but this is hardly accurate. The truth is that their thinking was really centered upon the contention of Paul, echoed with varying degrees of adequacy by Augustine, and Gottschalk, and Bradwardine, and Wycliffe, that the sinner’s entire salvation is by free and sovereign grace only. The doctrine of justification by faith was important to them because it safeguarded the principle of sovereign grace; but it actually expressed for them only one aspect of this principle, and that not its deepest aspect. The sovereignty of grace found expression in their thinking at a profounder level still, in the doctrine of monergistic regeneration—the doctrine, that is, that the faith which receives Christ for justification is itself the free gift of a sovereign God, bestowed by spiritual regeneration in the act of effectual calling. (Johnson and Packer’s introduction to Luther’s Bondage of the Will).

It is what is known and celebrated as Reformation Day, though Reformation Sunday was two days ago. Okay, people have remembered and celebrated, but now what? Okay, many books were written and some pointed to that great time in the past, but now what? It may be something like December 25th, which is what some say is a celebration of the birth of Christ. The day comes and the day goes but nothing seems to change. Is that what has happened to Reformation Day? It is a day to remember as we remember other historical events and yet nothing really changes? It is a day we remember, nod our heads toward, and claim we are like that. But are we really?

Could it be that Reformation Day is something we celebrate in our own way and think of in a self-righteous way and yet are like the man that the Scriptures speak of who looks in the mirror and yet goes on his way without changing anything? Could it be that instead of looking at Reformation Day as a time to examine the works of God in the past and noting the things He used and seeking His face for those things again that we just think of it as a time to congratulate ourselves that we are Reformed?

Do we live in a day where the Gospel of grace alone is preached so that it is clear “that the sinner’s entire salvation is by free and sovereign grace only”? Do we live in a day where justification is preached in a way where it is clear that it is safeguarding the fact of sovereign grace? Do we live in a day where monergistic regeneration is taught and preached with boldness and clarity? Do we live in a day where people are taught and that it is preached to lost sinners that faith itself is a gift of God? If not, do we need to think again about what God did during the Reformation and seek those things from the hand of God? Do we not only need to remember the Reformation, but seek the God who was sovereign over the Reformation?

Year after year we hear of the Reformation. Year after year the presses are churning out books about the Reformation. Since this year was the 500th year celebration of the Reformation, a greater number of books flooded the shelves. It will do no good to read those books and it will do not good to remember the Reformation unless we are broken and humbled before God by His grace and seek His grace to do it again in our day. Luther was not just some folk hero; he was a man that God broke and then used according to His good pleasure. Luther was not just some academic who was popular, but he was a man burning with a love for God and His glory. It will do us little to no good to remember the Reformation unless we seek God to become people who burn for His glory.

This coming Sunday will the preaching of the preachers be any different? Will they give a nod at Luther or Calvin and then go on to preach a poor pottage of red stuff that is far from the Gospel in truth? Will the preachers in our day seek God for His presence and power that they may preach for His glory and preach His sovereign grace or will they continue on with their academic approach to the Scriptures? Will the preachers in our day continue on in their dry and stale expositions and forget Christ and His glory? Will the preachers in our day continue on in a neglect of the cross and grace of Christ? Will the preachers continue on their same ole dull preaching of morality and moralism? If so, we can know that they looked in the mirror of the Reformation but for a moment and are going on their same ole path. May God deliver us from the same ole path and come down and revive His people as He did during the Reformation with Himself.

Not So Random Thoughts 34

October 29, 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.

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

The doctrine of free justification by faith only, which became the storm-centre of so much controversy during the Reformation period, is often regarded as the heart of the Reformer’s theology, but this is hardly accurate. The truth is that their thinking was really centered upon the contention of Paul, echoed with varying degrees of adequacy by Augustine, and Gottschalk, and Bradwardine, and Wycliffe, that the sinner’s entire salvation is by free and sovereign grace only. The doctrine of justification by faith was important to them because it safeguarded the principle of sovereign grace; but it actually expressed for them only one aspect of this principle, and that not its deepest aspect. The sovereignty of grace found expression in their thinking at a profounder level still, in the doctrine of monergistic regeneration—the doctrine, that is, that the faith which receives Christ for justification is itself the free gift of a sovereign God, bestowed by spiritual regeneration in the act of effectual calling. (Johnson and Packer’s introduction to Luther’s Bondage of the Will).

The Scriptures of truth are so clear, but they are read and heard by those who are full of self and pride which blinds to the truth. The wide gate and broad road lead to destruction and there are many who are on it. The narrow gate and the narrow road that leads to life are populated by only a few. After stating that, Jesus then tells people to beware of the false prophets. The two are clearly connected. False prophets are not justified by grace alone and so it is in their self-interest (in the eyes of self) to preach and teach what is false about salvation. They preach what they want to hear and what satisfies their pride and self. Their preaching of a false gospel can come from their love of money and it can come from pride, but it can also come from a desire to justify themselves in their enmity toward the true God.

The heart of the Reformation was clearly a God-centeredness in all things and particularly the sovereignty of God. The heart of the Reformation, therefore, was directly opposed to free-will and man-centeredness. The stress was on God and His freeness to do as He pleased rather than God standing back and waiting on man to do as man pleased. It was God who had mercy and compassion on whom He pleased rather than man having mercy and compassion on himself. It was God who made man willing according to His will rather than man exercising a free-will to make God willing. It was God in Christ who completed all the running needed to save sinners and so no running on the part of man was needed or wanted. In fact, when a man runs or wills in salvation apart from the grace of God that willing and running is pride and self working for salvation. That is opposed to the grace of the Gospel and of God Himself.

The clearest line of demarcation between Rome and Luther was at the point of the sovereignty of God and the nature of bondage or freedom of the will. The Gospel Luther preached depended on the sovereignty of God while the false teaching of Rome depended on the freedom of the will of man. As has been stated before, perhaps many times, William Cunningham was clear on this when he said that the will is the point where the sovereignty of God and the depravity of man meet. Rome stressed the will of man and Luther stressed the sovereignty of God. Luther’s doctrine of justification by faith alone was really justification by grace alone and justification by Christ alone and justification to the glory of God alone.

In modern America (and other places) we seem to be afraid to talk plainly and clearly on the sovereignty of God in terms of the Gospel. We appear to be more afraid of treading on the toes of free-will than we are on the “toes” of Divine sovereignty. When we do so, however, we are choosing to please men (and ourselves) rather than God. When a person tries to speak clearly on the sovereignty of God others are so quick to rush in and speak of the responsibility of man. What ability does man have to respond to God with? Man only has ability when God sovereignly gives it to him. What must be seen, then, is that when back off from the sovereignty of God they are backing off of the Gospel of Christ alone and grace alone. They may think that they are preaching justification by faith alone, but they are not preaching the truth about it and cannot preach the truth of it apart from preaching the sovereignty of God. It appears that preachers in our day have jettisoned the true Gospel of justification by faith alone that is necessarily God-centered and have replaced it with one centered upon man and his will. That is what false prophets to and we are to beware of them.

It may not be necessary to say this, but most likely it is. When one backs off of the true doctrine of justification that is centered in the sovereignty of God, one is also backing away from the Gospel of the glory of Christ. All the glory in saving sinners belongs to Christ. All the glory of dying for sinners belongs to Christ. All the glory of a perfect righteousness given to sinners as a free gift of grace belongs to Christ. All the glory of making sinners willing to come to Christ belongs to Christ. All the glory of bringing sinners to God belongs to Christ. The ravenous wolf rips the glory of Christ from the poor sheep and tries to have it for himself. Christ tells us that sinners must be humbled and broken and become as little children, but the wolf tells sinners to trust in themselves and their sinful flesh to come up with an act of the will that God will respond to. In other words, in the day of the sinner’s power of free-will God is made willing to save them. Really? How abominable.

Not So Random Thoughts 33

October 27, 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.

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
The doctrine of free justification by faith only, which became the storm-centre of so much controversy during the Reformation period, is often regarded as the heart of the Reformer’s theology, but this is hardly accurate. The truth is that their thinking was really centered upon the contention of Paul, echoed with varying degrees of adequacy by Augustine, and Gottschalk, and Bradwardine, and Wycliffe, that the sinner’s entire salvation is by free and sovereign grace only. The doctrine of justification by faith was important to them because it safeguarded the principle of sovereign grace; but it actually expressed for them only one aspect of this principle, and that not its deepest aspect. The sovereignty of grace found expression in their thinking at a profounder level still, in the doctrine of monergistic regeneration—the doctrine, that is, that the faith which receives Christ for justification is itself the free gift of a sovereign God, bestowed by spiritual regeneration in the act of effectual calling. (Johnson and Packer’s introduction to Luther’s Bondage of the Will).

It is the 500th anniversary period of what is thought of as the beginning of the Reformation. Some argue that the beginning was many years earlier with John Wycliffe and Luther was simply the one that God used to build on Wycliffe and others. However, the ones we think of as the Reformers would wonder what happened to the Reformation if they were allowed to walk around in our day. They would not recognize what they started when they observed the vast majority of Protestantism today. Luther would most likely call preachers in our day wolves in sheep’s clothing.
It is possible and it has happened and is happening for men to use the language of the Reformers and yet have an entirely different context. I recently heard two different professors from a seminary preach/teach on faith alone and grace alone. Each of them missed the mark widely. It is impossible to preach justification by grace alone through faith alone as the Reformers did unless we are defending the great truth “that the sinner’s entire salvation is by free and sovereign grace only.” If we preach justification by faith alone and preach it in a way that salvation is in any way dependent upon the free-will and choice of man, then we are far from what the Reformers taught.
Roman Catholicism made great efforts to use biblical language in a way where they could think of themselves as biblical and appear as biblical to the people. Their use of language to make them appear to conform to Scripture was quite successful, but not in the eyes of God. The same thing has happened in our day. People are using language in a way that makes them think that they are in line with the Reformers and yet they are not. Their language also makes them appear to others to be in line with the Reformers and yet they are not. There are many who are dressed in sheep’s clothing today who are in reality nothing but wolves. They may speak be well-spoken with nice accents (or not), they may hold to the ancient creeds in some way, and they may be the nicest and most helpful (in appearance) of men. However, a wolf is a wolf when it is disguised and when it is not. The Gospel is all about God and not about the ability of man. A wolf is always pointing to the responsibility or ability of man, the true preacher will point to the grace of God in Christ and the ability of God.

Not So Random Thoughts 32

October 25, 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.

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

CS Lewis spoke of how that if we could see an unbeliever as they really are we would be repulsed and horrified by them. He also said that if we could see a believer as they are or will be we would be tempted to bow down and worship them. Jesus pulls back the curtain and tells us that false prophets are really like ravenous wolves that are tearing at the flesh of the sheep. Imagine that as what is the reality behind the outwardly appearing nice man who is giving a nice message and perhaps one that is biblical in many ways. That man is like a wolf that is tearing at the sheep as they suffer and bleed to death. The ravenous wolf goes beyond the normal wolf tearing at the sheep as it is driven by a great hunger.

The picture that Jesus has given of this should at least inform us of the great danger of false prophets. Despite how nice they are and how well-spoken they are, the reality of the matter is that these types of men are wolves who are tearing at the flock and destroying them. Despite their appearances, they are destroying the flock and they are doing it with great strength. Jesus said that people must be turned and become like children or they would not enter the kingdom. The false prophet says that one can simply say a prayer and/or turn from some outward sin to enter. How many people have been destroyed and are being destroyed by being told that all they have to do is to say a prayer and become more moral?

Many false prophets basically leave God out of the equation. God has done all He can do and now it is up to the person to either work hard of do some act of the will (they say). But Romans 9:15-16 tells us that it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs. Instead, it depends on God who will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy and have compassion on whom He will have compassion. False prophets leave it up to the choice of man, but the Bible says it is up to the choice of God. False prophets tell us that we must have an act of the will to believe, but the Bible says it is an act of God’s will and not man’s.

The Gospel of the grace of God is focused on God as set out in and through Christ. The Gospel of the grace of God teaches us that God the Father planned and initiated the whole of salvation, Christ has performed the whole work of salvation, and the Holy Spirit applies the whole of salvation. There is no work of man left to do that has not been planned by God, performed and earned by Christ, and applied by the Holy Spirit. The Gospel is really and absolutely of grace alone from beginning to end or from eternity past through eternity future. The false prophet always wants for men to focus on men to do something rather than have men look to God to humble them and break their hearts from all hope in self and all hope in what self can do. The false prophets are tearing at the sheep when they get the sheep to trust in themselves rather than in the Shepherd.

Not So Random Thoughts 31

October 20, 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.

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

Jesus told us to beware of false prophets, but it appears that our land is full of them in our day. There are numerous buildings in each city that have “church” on the sign or door and yet false prophets are the ones preaching. There are buildings which house huge numbers of people, yet false prophets are the ones preaching. Where is God in our day? It is not that God is absent, but He is working to judge people by giving them what their itching ears want to hear and what their wicked hearts long for.

Jeremiah 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds.

A false prophet or preacher is not limited to one way of deception, but there are many ways to deceive. The false prophets spoke in God’s name, but they prophesied falsehood. They prophesied falsehood because God had not spoken to them and had not sent them. They prophesied what was false and what was futile because what they prophesied was the deception of their own minds rather than the mind of God. Anyone who preaches his own mind rather than the mind of God is preaching falsehood. Anyone who preaches what he wants to preach rather than what God has set out is preaching falsehood.

It would seem to be that there are fairly easy questions to answer in terms of preaching. Is it better to preach what God really and truly says or is it better to preach in accordance with my own sinful heart? Is it better to preach the easy things and things that tickle people’s ears or is it better to stick to preaching the true and real character of God as set out in and by Christ Jesus? Is it better to preach in a way that will bring the accolades of the people or is it better to preach for the glory of God in a way that is pleasing to Him? Is it better to preach in a way where the crowds will flock in or is it better to preach in a way where God may bless His people with His presence? Is it better to preach a Christ that is centered upon man or preach a Christ who loved His Father? Is it better to preach things that are in the power of man to do or is it better to preach that apart from Christ there is nothing good or spiritual that we can do? Is it better to preach a broad road or a narrow one?

It is easy to preach the letter of orthodoxy and yet leave spiritual things untouched. It is easy to preach the letter of the Gospel and yet leave the Gospel itself untouched. It is easy to preach some great truths of Christ and yet not get at the real heart of Christ. It is easy to preach against sin and yet leave the real nature of the sinful heart undisturbed. False prophets are good at the externals and yet they are always on the surface. False prophets do not always appear evil and perhaps are learned and well-spoken. False prophets can be quite orthodox and be defenders of orthodoxy. False prophets can preach hard things too. Jesus told us to beware of false prophets. Why is that? A false prophet will not look like a false prophet to the unaware. The false prophet will be dressed up like a sheep and may be self-deceived regarding his own nature. But the false prophets are like ravenous wolves in that they cause a lot of destruction and pain. A deception about what road one is on is a terrible and eternal deception.

Not So Random Thoughts 30

October 17, 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.

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

If the verses of Scripture listed above are true (and they are), then what would the devil be hard at work doing? He is the deceiver and as such he always wants and tries to deceive human beings so that they will be deceived regarding their salvation. God, who is love within Himself as triune, has as His opposite the devil that is hate within himself. God leads His people in love while the devil does all he does out of hate. It is a kind thing to tell people that the gate is narrow that leads to life, but it is a hateful thing to deceive people into thinking that they are on the road to life when in fact they are on the road to destruction.

When professing preachers and professing evangelists try to speak to people about their souls, they will either be aware of the truth of the narrow gate or they will not. The devil may have already deceived them and now they are out deceiving others. This is not a minor issue and is not something that is rare, but instead it seems that the devil has been hard at work and now he has many of his helpers who are hard at work deceiving people from the pulpits and from religious schools and churches. If the very light which a person thinks he has is in fact darkness and deception, how great is the darkness in that person and how earnest that people may be in the deception of others.

Just because a man or a woman make a claim to be a minister or professor of the Bible, that does not mean that the person is an accurate teacher of the narrow gate that leads to life. In the same context of teaching us how there are few who go through the narrow gate and are on the narrow road to life, Jesus teaches us to beware of the false prophets (false preachers and professors). What does beware mean in this context? It means for people to pay close attention to what men are teaching. It means that there are people out there (perhaps many) who are deceiving others regarding the narrow gate and the narrow path that leads to life.

In a very practical application, Jesus has warned us about those who are wolves in sheep’s clothing. The wolf is a wolf regardless of his appearance. The person that appears to be a sheep may in fact be a very orthodox person, yet there are many orthodox people on the broad road and think that they are on the narrow road. The person that appears to be a sheep is one that is not a regenerate person and so is a child of the devil and yet wants to appear as an angel of light. A wolf in sheep’s clothing is really a picture to those used to wolves killing and eating sheep of the nature of those who are preaching a false gospel. The preacher of a false gospel will not announce that he is preaching a false gospel, but he does so in a sneaky way and in a way that appears true and perhaps loving. The preacher of a false gospel wreaks great destruction and causes a lot of damage to the souls of others. We must beware of this as Jesus said. We must be on our guard and not be fooled by the nice words and appearance of men.

Not So Random Thoughts 29

October 15, 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.

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 may not be obvious to people from the immediate context is that the narrow gate is really Christ. It is Christ that we must go through to enter onto the road that leads to life. It is Christ that we must have and it is Christ who must be in us if we are to have life. The gate is narrow because Christ is the only way to the Father. The gate is narrow because those who trust in themselves are not trusting in Christ alone. The most important part of faith is Christ Himself. The truly converted soul is a soul that has Christ and true faith comes from the Spirit of Christ, is fixed on Christ, and is united to Christ. Faith is not a human work and is not the result of the human free-will, but instead faith comes from a new heart which is a believing heart that is united to and fixed on Christ Himself.

True conversion is not the result of a man who wills or a man who runs. True faith is not the result of a man who wills it or works it up. True faith comes from a God who has mercy on whom He has mercy and true faith is His work and not the work of man. The Gospel of grace alone does not teach us that man is to look for faith in himself so that God will respond to that faith and save him, but instead it teaches us that God saves sinners by grace alone from beginning to end and that includes faith. Christ has purchased true faith for His people and part of that is that He has purchased the Spirit for His people and His work guarantees Himself to His people.

There is a narrow gate, yes, but that does not set us on a path of rigid works by the strength of self. It should teach us that we must die to self and the works of self. It teaches us that we must have Christ alone and that really and truly means that we must have Him alone by grace alone. It is a mockery of the Gospel of Christ alone and grace alone to make it contingent on man coming up with faith himself. The fleshly nature of man cannot please God and so the fleshly nature of man cannot come up with a true faith which God will respond to and save man. We are told that apart from Christ we can do nothing (bear spiritual fruit and please God), so why do we think that we can come up with faith that pleases God? No, the gate is narrow and it is Christ Himself who is our gate.

The soul must truly be turned and become as a child in order to enter the kingdom. But again this shows us that there is a narrow gate or a narrow way to enter. Salvation is not obtained by any work and that includes the work of becoming a child. The soul must be humbled by the hand of God in order to become like a child, but the soul must be like a child in order to receive all from Christ. The child-like faith is a faith that does not look to self for works or merit, but instead it simply receives. A young child looks to receive simply because of the nature of the parent who gives, so the child-like faith receives because of who Christ is and not because of whom the person is or what the person has done. The gate is narrow because one must have Christ by grace and grace alone.

Not So Random Thoughts 28

October 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.

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

It is not just a topic of smattering interest to a few here and there regarding the narrow gate, but this is a universal statement which covers and is true of every human being on the planet. This is an enormous statement and people just walk by this teaching about the narrow gate as if it is virtually meaningless. Perhaps it does not register or perhaps they have come up with their own gate and think that it is sufficiently narrow. Perhaps they simply have no idea of what the Bible means when it speaks of the narrow gate. The person that has not been born from above that thinks that s/he has entered at the narrow gate will think that entering the gate is up to him or her in some way. This is a sign that the heart has not been broken from self and pride. This is a sign that the heart does not truly understand the Gospel of grace alone.

The proud heart has no ability to resign self to grace alone. The proud heart will always interpret the Bible in some way where the Gospel is not all of Christ and of His grace. The proud heart is puffed up with self and will have self to be part of its own salvation in some way, even though the part will be small. The proud heart can also be proud of an intellectual knowledge of grace and be deceived by the knowledge of grace and think that it has been shown that grace. We must know and have it driven into the depths of our souls that knowing that there is a gate is not enough to enter life. We must know that knowing that the gate is narrow is not enough to enter life. It is only those who in fact enter through the narrow gate that have life.

The great and grand doctrine of justification by faith alone (justification by grace alone through faith alone) is indeed a majestic doctrine of the glory of God in saving sinners. But it is not enough to know about justification; one must actually and in fact be justified. It is not enough to know that one is justified by grace alone, but a person must actually and in reality be justified by grace alone. Thus, it is not enough to know that a person must be turned to enter the kingdom. It is not enough for a person to know that a person must become like a child to enter the kingdom. A person must in fact and in reality become like a child to enter the kingdom. It is not enough to know that a person must be humbled, one must actually be humbled. It is not enough to know that God will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy and as such it is not of the one who wills and the one who runs, but God must actually have mercy upon a person for them to be saved. A person, then, would be wise to seek the Lord seeking deliverance from his or her own will and from trusting in any way in his own running. This being delivered is not just from the theory, but from a heart that trusts in self. It must really happen and God alone can do it.

Not So Random Thoughts 27

October 10, 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.’

The narrow gate is quite narrow and will not allow any false gospel to be a means of entering it. The narrow gate was built by God and shut by God and no one can open that gate and go through but those He has prepared to do so. While this may sound odd to some, that is no argument against the truth of it. The gate is not there for people to walk in and out of as they please. The gate is not there for people to make up their own gate to enter. The gate is not there for just any theological preference to walk through. The gate is not there to allow any proud heart to enter. Jesus told us that the gate is narrow that leads to life and we can are safe in knowing that He (Truth incarnate) meant what He said. Jesus said that the gate was narrow and so the gate is narrow.

In the modern day people think we are to be tolerant and open to many views of the Gospel. However, it is far safer to listen to Jesus and Paul (and the other apostles). Jesus is the only sacrifice for sins and the only Mediator. It is only the Lord Jesus who can give a perfect righteousness as a free gift. It is only the Lord Jesus who can send the Holy Spirit who can regenerate souls and make them new in the new birth. Paul told us with great clarity that anyone who preached a different gospel (which was no real gospel at all) was to be accursed. Yet it is so hard for us to think that way when we like the preacher. It is so hard to think that way when the preacher is nice, is dressed well, speaks well, and is so charming. It is really hard to think that way when the preacher has a lot of knowledge and seems so concerned about people. But Jesus did not say that the gate was narrow but to the nice preachers. He did not say that the way was narrow for all but those who speak well. He said it was narrow.

When Jesus taught that the soul must be turned (passive) and the soul become like a child or it could not enter the kingdom (Matthew 18:1-4), we should not doubt this. He did not say that unless a person prays the prayer or walks an aisle that person will not enter. He did not say that unless a person practices certain forms of religion that person will not enter. He said that a person must be converted or turned and become like a child that person will not enter the kingdom. He then said that the person who was the most humble was the greatest in the kingdom. It is quite a narrow gate if a person must become like a child to enter. It is quite the narrow gate if someone other than the person must turn that person. It is quite a narrow gate when we see that the greatest person in the kingdom is the most humble. This should instruct us as to what it takes to enter the kingdom.

Habakkuk 2:4 tells us that soul of the proud is not right within him. We see that the Scriptures tell us that God is opposed to the proud and yet gives grace to the humble. The narrow gate, then, is so narrow that a person cannot enter with a proud heart. It is only the humble who can enter and it is not just any humility, but it is a humility that comes from the hand of God. It is a form of humility that at the root of it is a life from Christ. Pride is a puffing up of self, but humility is a letting out of that puffing up. It is a returning of the creature (not perfectly) to where it takes its proper place before the sovereign of the universe. It is a return of the proud and self-sufficient creature to the proper place for it and that is utter and total dependency upon God. That is quite a narrow gate and only God can create a new heart in the creature, break the pride of the creature, and deliver the creature from self which fits them to enter the gate where Christ is all.