Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I Testify to You

That there is one true and eternal God, unchangeable, unique, all-powerful.1

That this one true God created all things; there is nothing that exists anywhere that He did not bring into existence.2

That this one true God is spirit, and is not limited to time and space, both of which He himself created.3

That man is the creation of God, and God should not be thought of as an exalted man.4
That Jesus Christ has eternally existed as God.5

That Jesus Christ created all things.6

That the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin.7

That man is spiritually dead, enslaved to sin, unable to come to Christ outside of the Father’s enablement.8

That full and complete salvation is the work of God’s grace.9

That the Bible is God’s inerrant, authoritative, and sufficient revelation to man, in need of no supplements.10

This is my testimony, one that I believe is given to me by the Holy Spirit of God. The Bible says the Spirit of God witnesses to our spirits that we are the children of God (Romans 8:16) and that He leads His people into all truth (John 16:13).

I share this testimony with you because I believe the issues mentioned above define the gospel itself. The gospel requires that we know the one true God (John 17:3); a false god cannot save us. The gospel requires that we know the true Jesus Christ, for a false Christ cannot save (John 8:24, 2 Corinthians 11:4). And the true gospel alone can bring salvation, which is why we are warned about those who would preach a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, however, denies every single one of the beliefs I shared with you above. Every one.* It is because of this that I share this literature with you. If you are LDS, I sincerely wish to warn you that you have been misled. If you are not LDS, I wish to inform you of the great differences that exist between Christianity and Mormonism at the most fundamental levels. While we often use the same words, we fill those words with very different meanings.

If you are LDS: I have given you my testimony. Doubtless you may say you have your own. The two testimonies contradict each other, however. What can we do now? The difference between us, my friend, is just this: my testimony does not determine truth. My testimony is a wonderful and precious thing, but it is not how I know the truth. My testimony must be subjected to a higher authority: the Bible. No matter how strongly I may "feel" about something, I must submit my feelings to the correction of the Word of God. So while you and I may have testimonies that conflict, I can take my testimony to the Word of God and demonstrate how it is consistent not only with some of the Bible, but with all of the Bible. My beliefs come from the Bible, and I would be glad to demonstrate this to you.

If you are not LDS: Christianity claims to be God’s truth. As such, there is no room, nor reason, for compromising on the essential elements of the faith. Mormonism is a fundamentally different religion, for Mormonism openly proclaims a "plurality of Gods" (see the Doctrine and Covenants 132:19-20, 37, Book of Abraham chapters 4-5, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith pp. 345ff). Christianity is unalterably monotheistic: we believe in only one true and eternal God. Mormonism presents a different God, a different Christ, and a different gospel. Because we love God, honor His truth, and desire others to know Him, we share this information with you.

(1) Deut. 6:4; Isa. 43:10, 44:5-8; Psalm 90:2, 96:5; Mal. 3:6; James 1:17. (2) Isa. 40:22, 41:4, 44:24; Jer. 10:10-11; (3) 2 Chron. 6:18; Jer. 23:24; John 4:24. (4) Zech 12:1; Psalm 50:21; Isa 29:16; Hosea 11:9. (5) John 1:1, Phil. 2:5-6; Heb 1:10. (6) John 1:3; Col. 1:15-17; Heb. 1:1-3. (7) Col. 1:19-20, 2:13-14; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1 John 1:7. (8) John 6:44, 65; Eph. 2:1-5. (9) Eph. 2:8-10. (10) 2 Tim. 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21

HAT TIP: Alpha & Omega Ministries

Monday, January 28, 2008

She's a Harlot

The Romish system of works righteousness must adhere dogmatically to the false belief that the atoning work of Christ on the cross is not finished or else the rest of their house of cards comes tumbling down upon their heads.

This is the case because in their perverse view the RCC is the only instrument whereby "sacraments" may be given and received. They must categorically deny Sola Fide because to do otherwise would be to remove the foundation of their false authority. If men are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone - as scripture plainly teaches - then the RCC loses its death grip on its deceived adherents. If men are saved outside the auspices and authority of the RCC - as they are to the glory of God alone every minute of every day - then the RCC must face the truth of its own irrelevancy. Hence the RCC must reject the finished work of the cross and assert Christ's "continual sacrifice" because this is the entire point and meaning behind the mass and their myriad other sundry and false beliefs.

They also, by papal decree, demand idolatry by requiring the "adoration of the Eucharist" which is effectually giving worship to a cracker. To fail to worship the created instead of the Creator is anathema to the RCC. This is blasphemous!

And we need not delve into Mystery Babylon's pernicious infatuation with all things Marian. They've simply committed spiritual suicide and whoredom with their devotion and veneration of a sinful woman who was in just as much need of a Savior as the most heinous harlot or murderer one can imagine.

Lastly these blind leaders of the blind smugly invent false scriptures and then pretend they are canonical so as to support their otherwise unsupportable, extrabiblical, unscriptural, ungodly anti-christ system.

Consider the following from Proclaiming the Gospel:

Concerning 2 Maccabees

When discussing such matters as the supreme authority of the scriptures over tradition Catholic apologists love to ask, "Who gave you the canon of the Bible" .

While it is arrogant and presumptuous for any Church or individual to claim to have given us the canon of Scripture, it also is a foolish argument. We know, or should know, that God gave the canon. He promised to preserve His word.

I have encountered Catholics who were willing to concede that, while God may have given us some of the Old Testament canon, Rome made it complete by the addition of apocryphal writings. Having created its improved canon of Scripture, the Magisterium now had a full set of tools for completing the work of revelation that God had only started. It is in 2 Macabbees, for example, that Rome finds support for the doctrines of purgatory and praying for the dead that God apparently forgot to include in the Old Testament Canon He delivered to His Chosen People.

Is 2 Maccabees canonical? In the introduction to this book in one Catholic Bible we read:

The author of 2 Maccabees states (2, 23) that his one-volume work is an abridgment of a certain five-volume work by Jason of Cyrene; but since this latter has not survived, it is difficult to determine its relationship to the present epitome. One does not know how freely the anonymous epitomizer may have rewritten his shorter composition, or how closely he may have followed the wording of the original in the excerpts he made.

The book is not without genuine historical value in supplementing 1 Maccabees, and it contains some apparently authentic documents (11, 16-38). Its purpose, whether intended by Jason himself or read into it by the compiler, is to give a theological interpretation to the history of the period. The author sometimes effects his purpose by transferring events from their proper chronological order, and giving exaggerated figures for the size of armies and the numbers killed in battle; he also places long, edifying discourses and prayers in the mouths of his heroes, and inclines to elaborate descriptions of celestial apparitions
(3, 24-34; 5, 2ff; 10, 29f; 15, 11-16). -- New American Bible, Introduction to 2 Maccabees, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

For those interested in seeing for themselves how the Romish dreamworks is able to create doctrine founded on books that even it appears to view as the creations of man, the rest of the Introduction discusses briefly the theological importance of the author’s teachings, which include saying prayers and making supplication for the dead. As you read, ask yourself how a book understood to be of dubious origins can be considered to be a valid part of God's written revelation. The introduction acknowledges that the purpose of the work was "to give a theological interpretation to the history of the period." This is a practice condemned by the Roman Church, for such interpretation is not, we are to believe, either sanctioned or done by the Magisterium.

We do not know who wrote 2 Maccabees, but we do know that it is an abridged version of a work by a man identified as Jason of Cyrene. By her own admission in the introduction, the Roman Church simply cannot know whether 2 Maccabees is an accurate rendering of the original work. Add to this the fact that the original author never claimed his work to be canonical, that the introduction admits to historical inaccuracies and the admitted creative liberties the author took in placing words in the mouths of characters in the book and you end up with nothing more than historical fiction. If we allowed the true canon of Scripture to be filled with works of such dubious merit it would be impossible for the church to convince anyone that the Scriptures were authentic. While 1 Maccabees was written in Hebrew, 2 Maccabees was authored in Greek. Were 2 Maccabees truly canonical then it would be either the only O.T. book written in Greek or the first N.T. book; written some 150-200 years prior to any other N.T. book (and before the birth of Jesus Christ!).

Yet, the Roman Church would have us believe that she and the early fathers have always considered these books (and the rest of the Apocrypha) as canonical. That this is a fabrication may be discovered in these examples of patristic writings on the subject:

14. Accordingly when I went East and came to the place where these things were preached and done, I learned accurately the books of the Old Testament, and send them to thee as written below. Their names are as follows: Of Moses, five books: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, 1310 Deuteronomy; Jesus Nave, Judges, Ruth; of Kings, four books; of Chronicles, two; the Psalms of David, 1311 the Proverbs of Solomon, Wisdom also, 1312 Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job; of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah; of the twelve prophets, one book 1313 ; Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. 1314 From which also I have made the extracts, dividing them into six books." Such are the words of Melito [of Sardis] -- Cited by Eusebius in Church History, Volume IV, Chapter 26

"But it should be known that there are also other books which our fathers call not 'Canonical' but 'Ecclesiastical:' that is to say, Wisdom, called the Wisdom of Solomon, and another Wisdom, called the Wisdom of the Son of Syrach, which last-mentioned the Latins called by the general title Ecclesiasticus, designating not the author of the book, but the character of the writing. To the same class belong the Book of Tobit, and the Book of Judith, and the Books of the Maccabees. In the New Testament the little book which is called the Book of the Pastor of Hermas, and that which is called The Two Ways, or the Judgment of Peter; all of which they would have read in the Churches, but not appealed to for the confirmation of doctrine." - Rufinus, A Commentary on the Apostles' Creed, 38

And what of that great doctor of the Catholic Church, Jerome? provides a clear insight into Jerome's view of the Apocrypha:

"As, then, the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, but does not admit them among the canonical Scriptures, so let it read these two volumes for the edification of the people, not to give authority to doctrines of the Church. If any one is better pleased with the edition of the Seventy, there it is, long since corrected by me. For it is not our aim in producing the new to destroy the old. And yet if our friend reads carefully, he will find that our version is the more intelligible, for it has not turned sour by being poured three times over into different vessels, but has been drawn straight from the press, and stored in a clean jar, and has thus preserved its own flavor." - Jerome, Comments in his Preface to "Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs

Jerome made it crystal clear that he did not consider the Apocrypha to have a place in the Old Testament canon:

"And so there are also twenty-two books of the Old Testament; that is, five of Moses, eight of the prophets, nine of the Hagiographa, though some include Ruth and Kinoth (Lamentations) amongst the Hagiographa, and think that these books ought to be reckoned separately; we should thus have twenty-four book of the old law…This preface to the Scriptures may serve as a "helmeted" introduction to all the books which we turn from Hebrew into Latin, so that we may be assured that what is not found in our list must be placed amongst the Apocryphal writings. Wisdom, therefore, which finally bears the name of Solomon, and the book of Jesus, the Son of Sirach, and Judith, and Tobias, and the Shepherd are not in the canon. The first book of Maccabees I have found to be Hebrew, the second is Greek, as can be proved from the very style. -- Jerome, Preface to The Books of Samuel and King

It appears that the Roman Church has declared 2 Maccabees (along with the rest of the Apocrypha) to be canonical only because they are the sole sources to which she can point to in support of some of her heretical beliefs and practices. Her wrongful doctrines can nowhere be found in the true canon of the Old Testament. Intelligent people likely would not base important decision on information as flimsy as that offered by Rome in support of her bad doctrine. I have to wonder why otherwise intelligent Catholics so readily swallow what Rome teaches concerning eternity. Lack of discernment? I reckon so.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Paul Washer On Witnessing

Is the Church Militant MIA?

The Reformed Gadfly investigates and reports.

What Love is This?

I posted the following comment over at Jesus Christology today in response to yet another unbiblical, unthinking, knee jerk response by Frank Turk (a.k.a. Centuri0n) of Team Pyro.

With friends like Frank Turk the true church doesn't need enemies:

Coram Deo Says:
January 27, 2008 at 1:48 pm

Once again Frank Turk (a.k.a. Centuri0n) has completely missed the boat.

Frank Turk would have us believe that "church discipline" as administered in the case of Karolyn Caskey (and apparently in every case) is legitimate. This is his first and gravest error and is the one from which much of the remainder of his errors on the role and responsibility of the local church - which are legion - flows.

By making his original aforementioned erroneous assumption he then, by extension, moves on toward the logical conclusion of his deluded view which is that anyone and everyone in general should "leave and be at peace" whenever "church discipline" has been administered, regardless of its legitimacy.

Interestingly this is also the modus operandi of the Purpose Driven Deception of "Pastor" Rick Warren and his hangers on, and is also a favorite of cultists everywhere. They invoke words like "division", and "unity" and "authority" in order to cast out the saints of God who earnestly contend for the faith once delivered so that they as self proclaimed "God's anointed leadership" can go about rending Christ's little flock with impunity.

It's simply amazing to me that someone like Frank Turk who is on record stating that individual Christians don't have the moral authority to leave their local church of their own volition turns around and passionately advocates for the absolute supremacy and final decision making authority of any and every act of "church discipline" administered, irrespective of the circumstances involved.

Never mind that hirelings like Burrick usurp the Biblical model of church leadership in order to attain unbiblical CEO like powers, it's all good! Thus saith Frank Turk.

In Frank Turk's twisted, upside down world the Reformation could never have occurred. In fact the RCC, the LDS, and the JW's must surely be model organizations for Mr. Turk and his blind, legalistic ilk!

Frank Turk would have men obey the doctrines of men rather than having men obey the oracles of God.

If the Caskey case is representative of "church discipline making a comeback" then those who are called by name of Lord ought to recognize the signs of the times and realize that the Lord is calling His faithful remnant out of the last days harlot church that whores itself with the world.

I also think it's worth noting in this instance that "Pastor" Burrick - and I use that term advisedly - is a graduate of Hyles Anderson which has quite the reputation for cranking out numerous wolves in sheep's clothing.

I wonder why men like Frank Turk can't discern the difference between spiritual abuse and church discipline, and if they can why they can’t (or won’t) articulate disparate courses of action for each case?

I wonder why Frank Turk believes true regenerate Christian men and women don't have the moral ability to leave their local church of their own volition, yet will simultaneously teach that the moment a hireling, a usurper, an infiltrator - a wolf in sheep's clothing of the type which the Holy Scriptures repeatedly warns us against - rises to power and begins to rend Christ's little flock by throwing out the truly regenerate membership that those same regenerate members should bow down to the "authority" - so called - of that wicked leadership and walk away instead of standing boldly and earnestly contending for the faith?

It would seem that men like Frank Turk either don’t know, or else are unable to make any distinction as to when to walk away, when to run, or when to stand and fight. For men like Frank Turk it would seem that you just walk away when you're told to walk and that's that - case closed. Holding to and espousing this sort of unintelligible, absurd dichotomy highlights the truth that a double minded man truly is unstable in all his ways.

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church. (3 John 1: 9-10)

Perhaps most concerning is where Mr. Turk correctly states, "it's not 'her' church anymore than it is that pastor's church. It is God's church if it is right, and o the road to being Satan's if it is wrong": It's simply breathtaking that one can recognize this truth and still take the position that the regenerate church membership ought to just "let things go to hell" by sitting quietly and doing exactly as they're told; or else when they do take a stand for the Word of God that they must to fawningly submit to being thrown out by ungodly, wicked usurpers who have cunningly slithered into positions of church leadership. What love is this?

This sort of twisted thinking is representative of the predictably bitter fruit that's been born of the effeminization and doctrinal dumbing-down of the professing church. The men-in-skirts spiritual sissies who promote this worldview from the pulpit, the seminary, and yes, even from their blogs, will be accountable before the Infinite Creator and Judge of the Universe for their false teachings and will incur greater damnation because of it.

FACT: Mrs. Caskey was not excommunicated according to her church's due process to seek repentance and reinstatement.

FACT: Mrs. Caskey never one maliciously interfered with the church or any church service nor did she disrupt any assembly at any time.

FACT: Mrs. Caskey has behaved graciously and remained steadfast to the Lord despite the persecution she has received from the wicked servants of Baal who have taken control of her local church.

FACT: According to eyewitnesses in attendance ”Pastor” Burrick spent 30+ minutes going on a prolonged tantrum about “the Caskey case” which included jumping on furniture, stalking up and down the church aisles, and getting directly and literally in people’s faces.

Has even one pastor censured the hireling Burrick from the pulpit? Has even one committee of concerned Christian elders from a Bible-believing church come to rebuke him? Why is most everyone piling on and pointing accusing fingers at Karolyn Caskey?

Why do people like Frank Turk create or enter into forums like this and flatly state that Karolyn Caskey – and by extension everyone else – simply leave and surrender their local church to hirelings like Burrick as if this were a good thing or the appropriate course to follow? By doing this they willfully ignore the fact that if everyone followed their sage advice then any and every cultist, heretic, and blasphemer who slithers or swoops into a pulpit with a few backers can turn the local church into a brood of vipers effectively turning it into a cult of personality. Is this okay with everyone? Is it good for the saints of God to leave these churches so they can continue to abuse and corrupt their flocks? Again I ask, what love is this?

Confronting this type of error in the church is commanded by scripture and is part and parcel of true Christian love. Why can’t the very people who profess Christ see this truth? I feel sorry for those who are so ignorant of scripture, or so enamored and blinded by the doctrines of men that they actually think it’s good and right to let open evil such as that displayed in the Caskey incident to go unconfronted and unrebuked.

Those who believe this way are spiritual cowards.

Those who believe this way are spots on the true Body of Christ, and are an offense to God Almighty.

Those who believe this way draw close to God with their lips but their hearts are far from Him.

From Knowing When to Walk Away, When to Run:

Ingrid Schlueter of Slice of Laodicea has posted a very timely and important piece on the relationship between the true believer and the false church:

A Slice reader poses this question to fellow Bible-believing Christians:

“When do we leave a church? That’s the overwhelming question that I’m seeking an answer to. I do not believe in church hopping or getting disgruntled over a minute issue (wallpaper in the nursery)and uprooting your family and leaving a church. But, in dealing with error or what we believe to be apostasy, when and where IN SCRIPTURE does God say “Leave that church!”?

There are some who seemingly think there is no such thing as a reason to leave the local church and who will - not unlike the papist lapdogs in Rome - actually go so far as to question whether or not the believer in Christ even has the moral liberty to abandon the local church! One has to wonder if such a question is intended to invite genuine prayerful reflection, or if it's merely a silly prank.

But thanks be unto the Lord that there are still clearheaded and serious minded believers who understand the gravity of this matter. Jim Bublitz of Old Truth posted the following response to the Slice reader's inquiry: Says:

AW Pink on when you are OBLIGATED to leave a church:

If any [pastor] usurps that office [established by Christ Himself], and under cloak thereof do teach or enjoin things contrary to what Christ has instituted, then no obedience unto them is required by this command. But it is just at this point that most difficulty is experienced today. For many years past large numbers of professing Christians have been demanding that the religious leaders should speak unto them “smooth things”, yea, prophesy unto them “deceits”, declining to listen unto what condemned their carnal and worldly lives and refusing to heed the holy requirements of God. In consequence, He has suffered their descendants to reap the evil sowings of their fathers, by largely withholding “pastors after His own heart”, and allowing thousands of unregenerate men to occupy the modern pulpit. Instead of “obeying” and “submitting” to them, God requires His people to turn away from and have nothing to do with them. –AW Pink, Exposition of Hebrews

From Robert Reymond’s - New Systematic Theology Of The Christian Faith:

Separation from one’s local church or denomination is appropriate if it will not discipline heretics (2 Cor. 6:14-18). If a church rejects discipline for theological errors that subvert the foundation of the gospel and becomes theologically pluralistic in practice (even though it may retain an orthodox confession by which it promises to be guided), that church has become “heretical” in that it no longer stands under the authority of God, and the orthodox are compelled to separate from it to bear witness to the marks of the church.

There's no disputing the sad fact that apostatizing professing church is leading countless thousands - millions? - of souls down the broad path that leads to destruction with their Purpose Driven Deceptions, Emergent new age mysticism, Word Faith heresies, and feel good easy-believism. This is no light matter and the alarm must continually be raised in order that by God's grace some might escape the flames which are even now licking at the feet of these blind leaders of blind. May the Lord of Hosts continue to call his own to "come out of her" (Rev. 18:4), the harlot church - the scarlet woman of Revelation.

Continue reading "Knowing When to Walk Away, When to Run" here

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Let Us Not Grow Weary in Well Doing

I found the message written by A.W. Tozer below to be of no small comfort as it seems that a life devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ that endeavors to adhere to the lofty standards He sets forth often encounters conflict upon conflict with the very professing church which claims His Name!

In surveying the sad state of today's apostate evangelical church I'm reminded of the Pharisees of Jesus day which outwardly appeared righteous but who were in truth full of ravening and wickedness. The barren, desolate spiritual landscape of professing Christianity is a wretched reminder of the predictable result each time man perverts the Word of God. When the counsel of God Almighty is exchanged in whole or in part for utilitarian political agendas, false temporal "peace"- so called -, or ecumenical unity you can rest assured that the judgment of God will quickly follow.

The Christian God, Creator and Judge of heaven and earth will not honor a man-centered false gospel, for His name is Jealous and He is jealous for His bride.

In today's climate of "anything goes" evangelical easy-believism unsuspecting millions have been fed a poisonous pseudo-gospel message that measures on how man feels as opposed to measuring upon the immutable, unchanging, absolute Word of God. The existential root of this evil tree can be traced back to the fountainhead of ecumenical deceit; the Roman Catholic Church. Rome's twisted theology is subjective and mysterious, complicated and contradictory, while the revealed Word of God is eminently objective and forthright. The wickedness of Mystery Babylon is clearly seen in her highly ritualized masses, vain repetition, idolatrous Eucharistic adoration and blasphemous worship of the created instead of the Creator.

The leaven of Rome has crept into the American evangelical church through heresy mongers such as Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Rob Bell and many, many others. Unfortunately the church is ripe for these ravening wolves who seek to rend the flock because of its weak-kneed effeminate leadership.

Where are the Davids who will oppose the spiritual Goliaths that threaten the Lord's little flock?

Where are the Elijas who will stand boldly before wicked Ahab and proclaim the Word of God?

Where are the watchmen upon the wall who will sound the alarm in Zion?

I for one say "Here am I, send me!" It's no longer a matter of being labeled as "divisive", or "contentious". It's time for men of God to stand up and earnestly contend for the faith.

Taking action will mean the loss of your comfort zone. Taking action may mean the loss of friendships, churches or even ministries for some, but God will honor those who honor Him, and He will utterly reject those who esteem the praise of men or worldly goods higher than they esteem the praise of God Almighty!

Choose this day whom you will serve.

Below is the excerpt from Tozer's foreword to Leonard Ravenhill’s book "Why Revival Tarries". I hope reading it brings you as much encouragement as it brought me:

Great industrial concerns have in their employ men who are needed only when there is a breakdown somewhere. When something goes wrong with the machinery, these men spring into action to locate and remove the trouble and get the machinery rolling again. For these men a smoothly operating system has no interest. They are specialists concerned with trouble and how to find and correct it.

In the Kingdom of God things are not too different. God had always had His specialists whose chief concern has been the moral breakdown, the decline in the spiritual health of the nation or the church. Such men were Elijah, Jeremiah, Malachi and others of their kind who appeared at critical moments in history to reprove, rebuke, and exhort in the name of God and righteousness.

A thousand or ten thousand ordinary Old Testament priests or New Testament pastors and teachers could labor quietly on almost unnoticed while the spiritual life of Israel or the Church was normal. But let the people of God go astray from the paths of truth and immediately the specialist appeared almost out of nowhere. His instinct for trouble brought him to the help of the Lord and of Israel.

Such a man was likely to be drastic, radical, possibly at times violent, and the curious crowd that gathered to watch him work soon branded him as extreme, fanatical, negative. And in a sense they were right. He was single-minded, severe, fearless, and these were the qualities the circumstances demanded. He shocked some, frightened others and alienated not a few, but he knew Who had called him and what he was sent to do. His ministry was geared to the emergency, and that fact marked him out as different, a man apart.

Those who know Leonard Ravenhill will recognize in him the religious specialist, the man sent from God not to carry on the conventional work of the Church, but to beard the priests of Baal on their own mountaintop, to shame the careless priest at the altar, to face the false prophet and warn the people who are being led astray by him.

Such a man as this is not an easy companion. The professional evangelist who leaves the wrought-up meeting as soon as it ends to hurry over to the most expensive restaurant to feast and crack jokes with his sponsors will find this man something of an embarrassment, for he cannot turn off the burden of the Holy Ghost as one would turn off a faucet. He insists upon being a Christian all the time, everywhere; and again, that marks him out as different.

Toward Leonard Ravenhill it is impossible to be neutral. His acquaintances are divided pretty neatly into two classes, those who love him out of all proportion and those who hate him with perfect hatred. And what is true of the man is sure to be true of his books, of this book. The reader will either close its pages to seek a place of prayer or he will toss it away in anger, his heart closed to its warnings and appeals.

Oh Lord God Almighty, call us forth who may serve you steadfastly, turning neither to the left hand nor the right, but who walk in the very center of Your perfect will! Teach us your ways Oh God! Write your statutes upon the tables of our hearts that we may always have a ready answer for the hope that is within us!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

On Sin

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (Romans 3:20-24)

The modern (false) professing church has gone to great lengths to minimize the concept of sin in the lives of its members:

by watering down the definition of sin.
by calling most sins trespasses, mistakes, oversights, etc.
by focusing its members on a form of works righteousness.
by insinuating that in most cases deliberate action is required to commit a sin.

In other words instead of being taught to see their sin, they are conditioned to see their worthiness. This results in many false converts who place great stock in not having committed particular sins. These false converts are conditioned to build themselves up by seeing the sins they do not commit while simultaneously being taught that they are forgiven for the pet sins they rebelliously and stubbornly continue in. This being the case the natural and obvious result is that modern (false) professing church conditions a person to focus on self, self worth, self progression, and self reliance which diminishes the need for prayerful reflection and self-examination against the standard God has set in His Word.

The false “Plan of Salvation” taught by the modern (false) professing church is thus actually contingent on an individual’s progression in worthiness, that is, self righteousness. When confronted by this truth most modern (false) professing Christians and their false teachers will react angrily and make the requisite claim that they believe that “salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ alone” and they’ll quickly point you toward their dusty old Statement of Faith that contains some creedal language and possibly a few tidbits from scripture. However upon closer examination we find that what these churches and false converts say they believe and what they actually practice are two very different things. To borrow a phrase they often ”talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk”. Yet according to scripture both are equally important and true believers are effectively commanded to “walk the talk”. Not only are true believers commanded to “walk the talk”, according to the scriptures only true believers are empowered by the Holy Spirit to actually do so. The Bible is clear that true Christians will walk according to God’s commands because God Himself will see to it. No one is able to walk according to the precepts of God, and all human efforts to do so are in vain.

Certainly true born-again believers can (and do) sin both miserably and frequently. But the difference herein is that the true born-again child of God will hate the sin and flee from it with a heart of true contrition and repentance as opposed to simply blowing it off as “already forgiven at the cross” and moving right along in continual patterns of unbroken disobedience and rebellion. True repentance is marked by a turning away from sin; true repentance is not marked by a trite “I’m sorry God”, or a temporary feeling of remorse that’s quickly discarded and disregarded as one continues in trespass and sin.

In practice (false) professing Christians are conditioned to think that as they avoid sins or “do good”, they are, in some way, building a positive bank account of their own righteousness. To aid them in this, the modern (false) professing church twists and wrests myriads of commands and requirements from God’s Word in order to bolster their false teachings. Many times these (false) teachings will consist of 100% Old Testament law that’s been reworked for application in the New Testament church. Frequently these false teachings will consist of scriptural sounding phrases like, “As you honor God and step out in faith He’ll respond and move on your behalf’, or “As you are faithful to God and pass His tests you will move into higher realms of spiritual truth”, or “The Bible teaches that life is a test and a trust. God give you a certain amount of ability, possessions, and time so that you can serve Him and gain heavenly rewards based on how you use what He’s given you.” In truth none of these concepts are to be found anywhere with application to the New Testament church. These teachings are spawned by the unbiblical error of interpreting the New Testament with the Old Testament, which is an egregious mistake. The OT is ALWAYS to be interpreted using the light of the NT, however the NT is NEVER to be interpreted using the OT. The OT is likened to a dark room which, while richly decorated and beautifully textured, nevertheless cannot be clearly seen due to the obscurity and dimness of light. Only when exposed to the brilliant light and revelation of the NT can the OT can be seen as it truly is and its message understood.

Sadly some of these manipulated false teachings are held in higher regard than biblical commands especially with respect to separation from the world and being holy unto God. Many of the manufactured commands that are used to display temporal holiness are easily kept because they deal only with actions and not with the attitudes of the heart allowing false converts to believe they can be true, born-again, Spirit-filled Christians while still keeping one foot in the world and holding onto their secret pet sins.

By manipulating God’s Word and providing flesh pleasing commands and requirements that a (false) professing Christian can keep the modern (false) professing church leadership actually enables their false converts to perceive themselves as worthy. This perverse and unbiblical self-righteous self-perception thereby serves to perpetuate the prevalent man-centeredness of today’s modern (false) professing church including that of its false teachers and false converts as well. Therefore the self-righteous products of today’s modern (false) professing church are unable to see themselves as they really are, desperately wicked and sinful and in need of true contrition and repentance unto salvation.

In order to maintain the outward appearance of spiritual health and growth the modern (false) professing church puts filters around its false converts with a man-centered false Gospel. These filters work to distort the Gospel message, even to prevent its message from being ‘heard’. Not understanding God’s message has as damaging an effect as never hearing it. Jesus makes this point in his explanation to his disciples of the parable of the sower:

When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. (Matthew 13:19)

God’s true requirement for salvation (attaining to eternal life instead of eternal damnation) is absolute perfection. The Holy Bible plainly teaches:

God’s absolute demand for perfection.
God’s universal definition of sin.
The rebellious nature of sin.
The consequence of sin.
The severity of even one sin.
The breadth of God’s commands.
How prevalent sin is in a person’s life.

Based on God’s requirements we can see the futility and utter folly of the modern (false) professing church’s “Plan of Salvation” which clearly and irrefutably has borne much bad fruit. Jesus Christ says a good tree cannot bear bad fruit. Is Jesus Christ a liar, or is man a liar? What does the Holy Bible have to say about sin and sinners?

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (John 3:20-21)

Matthew 5:48 states God’s requirement for perfection:

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
The Apostle John provides a universal definition of sin:

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4)

In short, any violation of any command of God is a sin.

Sin is serious not only because of how often we sin, but also because of whom we sin against. Whenever we sin we are, in reality, sinning against God. King David, even though he committed adultery, confessed that he had sinned against God.

We can illustrate the magnitude of sin’s seriousness by showing its relative impact based against whom the sin is committed. This short story illustrates this:

“Think of a young man who takes a swing at his brother. His brother might swing back, but that will probably be the extent of the consequences. Now think of that very same young man taking that very same swing at a police officer. Same swing, but the consequences are a whole lot more serious. Take it one step further. Imagine that young man taking that very same swing at the President of the United States. Same swing, but even more consequences. The seriousness of the action often is determined by whom the action affects.”

Now we can witness that sin is against God! That sin is rebellion against the majestic Lord! That’s serious! When we do not follow the precepts (commands) of God, we sin against our Maker.

The consequence of sin is the opposite of God’s gift of eternal life, namely eternal death.

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

In vast swaths of the (false) professing church, eternal death is not necessarily a horrendous thing. Much of today’s post-modern doctrine (if you can call it doctrine) secretly adheres to and espouses a form of Universalism. This sort of thinking obscures what occurs death, claiming that “we can’t be sure” what happens if, for example, a “good Buddhist”, or a “good Hindu” or a “good Muslim” or a “good atheist” dies without a saving knowledge of and relationship with Jesus Christ. Did you notice the utter subjectivity of this kind of thinking? Who gets to decide what “good” means? We’ve already established that absolute perfection is the benchmark for what is to be considered “good”. The Holy Bible clearly demonstrates the falseness of a “universally inclusive” soteriology:

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

The wages of sin, death, earns people a place in the lake of fire and brimstone! The Gospel message preached by Jesus Christ is incredibly narrow and exclusive and the rewards and punishments meted out by God to mankind are clear cut and unmistakable. There’s no reasonable way to deny these points which are reiterated again and again by the Lord Himself!

Because of His infinitely and absolutely perfect and Holy nature God views any and every form of rebellion as an eternally fatal and damnable offense against His Person. Because of God’s Holiness; because of Who He Is; and because of His standard of absolute perfection, sinful man’s breaking of even one command is as bad as breaking every command. Because God is perfect He is also infinitely Just and therefore the breaking of God’s commands demands God’s Holy Justice against all those guilty of transgression.

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (James 2:10)

Christ’s requirement is to be as perfect as our Heavenly Father. Only absolute perfection avoids the penalty of sin. All others are cursed.

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. (Galatians 3:10)
And God will deal harshly with the cursed:

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: (Matthew 25:41)

At this point some would claim that God is also Love and therefore it would be “out of character” for God to be so harsh and unloving toward sinners. If this is our attitude then we must ask ourselves, does our heavenly Father love sin?
According to His Word He hates sin with a perfect hatred. How can this be? How can a God Who is love also hate perfectly? It’s because of something else that we’ve already mentioned; God is JUST. I submit to you God must hate sin and all unrighteousness precisely because He is love. Perfect love cannot tolerate sin and unrighteousness because these things are compatible with God’s absolutely HOLY, PURE, PERFECT, RIGHTEOUS and JUST nature. Men ought to be careful not to elevate one of God’s divine attributes and characteristics above another. He is completely and absolutely perfect beyond our ability to comprehend and explain and thus all of His divine attributes operate in perfect harmony with one another within Himself accordingly.

The truth is that the Bible says God is angry with the wicked every day. If our conception of God is that He is so kind and loving that He simply overlooks His own divine requirement for justice then we make Him into an unjust and unrighteous Judge of our own vain imagining. Some would have Him winking at all unrighteousness and wickedness, simply waving His hand and patting abomination upon the head with a holy blessing and tacit approval. God forbid!

According to His self-revelation in scripture we know that God cannot simultaneously be loving and be unjust. God’s holy justice demands punishment for sins, and unless one’s sins were paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary then that one is condemned already. Yet the scriptures further teach that Jesus Christ paid only for the sins of HIS OWN on that cross and only those who belong to Jesus Christ by grace through faith in Him alone - and not of works lest any man should boast - are miraculously “born-again” of the Spirit of God and translated from spiritual death unto spiritual life. Those who are purchased by Christ’s atoning blood are made a new creature in Christ and become partakers of His divine and eternal life. To deny divine justice against sin is to call Jesus Christ a liar since He himself spoke of certain judgment to come. In fact this concept is in full view throughout the scriptures.

The Bible is clear that there are only two types of people in the world - the saved and the lost. The redeemed and the unredeemed. The forgiven and the unforgiven. The blessed and the cursed. Those who will go to heaven and those who will go to hell. The born-again and the damned. Those who belong to the family of God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and everyone else. Herein is wisdom - just as He did in the first act of creation God is still separating the light from the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.

Those who are in spiritual darkness fail to comprehend their sinful, damned position before God Almighty, and the Bible teaches that they prefer it this way:

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (John 3:20-21)

Still the Holy Bible continues providing evidence of sin’s breadth and depth. First, we sin in our thoughts and in our words, as well as in our deeds:

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40)

First man is directed to keep these greatest commandments, and all the others which ‘hang’ on them, in our hearts, our souls, and mind. In fact, when stating the greatest command; Jesus does not even discuss actions. The core of sin is in our hearts, not in our actions. Sinful actions may or may not follow sinful thoughts. We will look again at these “greatest commandments” in the list of sins.

Second, not only do we sin by breaking God’s commands (sins of commission), we also sin when we don’t do the positive things God commands us to do (sins of omission):

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. (James 4:17)

Third, we can and do sin unintentionally:

Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them. (Numbers 15:29)

Fourth, we are not even aware of every sin we commit:

Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. (Psalm 19:12)

We can use the Apostle Paul as an example of the prevalence of sin in a person’s life. Paul offers his own personal confession of the prevalence of sin in his life. He references both sins of commission and omission. He makes it clear that because of his flesh (sinful nature) he will continue to sin. He says sin lives (dwelleth) in him!

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (Romans 7:18-20)

God offers many expressions of the futility of attempting to gain (or retain) eternal life through obedience to His laws, or to man made doctrines, precepts, requirements, or commands. In fact God states this futility outright, calling such people “cursed” (see Galatians 3:10 above). He demonstrates it by giving laws we can never continuously keep (see Matthew 22:36-40 above). He makes a single transgression the same as breaking all his commands (see James 2:10 above). In addition He tells us that He gave us commands so that sin can increase! Is this because God desires increased sin? God forbid! It’s because He wants to make it perfectly clear to men that they cannot overcome sin through their own efforts. It’s impossible, and the realization of this cold, hard fact should cause sinners to realize that they need a Savior in order that GRACE (God’s grace which brings glory to Him alone) might “much more abound”!

Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: (Romans 5:20)

With the exception of the Lord Jesus Christ the Bible teaches us that no one has ever been sinless or will ever stop sinning in this life.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23)

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)

For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not. (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

He tells us that even our good works are corrupted by our sin, calling them “as filthy rags”.

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:21-22)

We sin not only when we murder, but when we are unjustly angry. Even if this anger takes no action, it is still a sin against God. If we feel a flash of anger at a team mate because he took the shot instead of passing us the ball, we sin. If we resent our spouse, if only for a moment, because he left his dirty dish on the counter instead of putting it in the dishwasher, we sin. When we yell angrily, and out of patience at our children, we sin. When we are angry at a coworker because she honestly forgot a meeting, we sin. Sinful action need not occur; these sins are present whenever such thoughts are in our hearts!

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28)

We sin not only when we commit adultery, but when we lust. Even if this feeling takes no outward form, and we keep it to ourselves, it is still a sin against God. If we feel that tingling in the loins when we see a young person at the beach and entertain the thoughts brought about by that feeling, we sin. When we fantasize about a sexy movie star, or a sports figure, we sin.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. (Matthew 5:38-39)

Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work. (Proverbs 24:29)

We sin when we retaliate, even if the injury done us was wrong (evil). When someone insults us and we fire an insult back, or even if we say nothing, but later get even by telling others bad things about the person, we sin. When we are cut off in traffic and think a private “I hope you get yours”, we sin.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (Matthew 5:43-44)

We sin when we do not love our neighbor. As seen in the parable of the Good Samaritan, all men are our neighbors. We sin when we do not love our enemy. These commands are not referring to the emotion of love, but to the action of love.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8Charity never faileth: (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Love never fails (charity in the King James Version); therefore, we sin every time we fail to perform a loving act for our neighbor or our enemy (i. e. any of the actions referred to by these passages!). We are also to pray for our enemies, when we don’t; we sin. When we don’t sincerely want the best for our enemies we are sinning. Jesus prayed to his Father to forgive those who had put him on the cross. When we do less for our enemies, we sin.

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 6:1)
We sin when we perform a “good” work for the purpose of inflating ourselves. Such a work is not seen as “good” by God, but hypocritical. A good work is not defined so much by the action as by the heart!

Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Matthew 15:7-9)

Paying a tithe or giving an offering to keep up appearances or to make one feel good makes the tithe or offering a sin. Accepting a church assignment because you think refusing it would make you look bad, turns the fulfillment of the assignment into sin. If we serve God with an eye towards being menpleasers in order to bring attention to ourselves or to what we’ve done, we sin. We may be able to fool others, sometimes even ourselves; but God can see into our hearts.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: (Matthew 6:19)

We sin when, regardless of how much we may give to God, if there is something we hold dear that we would be unwilling to part with. This might include reputation, family, position, job, income, recreation, money, leisure, time, comfort, hobby, investments, house or anything else you might imagine. If any of these things become more important or get in the way of loving and serving God with our entire being, we sin. Every time we fail to use our treasures to glorify God, we sin. God does not want us to be friends of the world (that is, love our worldly life), when we are; we sin. When we are so comfortable that we don’t want to serve the Lord, give to the Lord, or be with the Lord, we are sinning. When we don’t singularly desire the Lord above all else, we sin. When we knowingly or unknowingly place anything whatsoever as a priority above or before Him, we sin.

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. (John 12:25)

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? (Matthew 6:25)

We sin when we worry. When we worry about our finances, we sin. When we worry about our popularity, we sin. When we worry about our appearance, we sin. When we worry about our health, we sin. When we worry about whether our home will impress our visitors, we sin. When we worry about whether we are good enough, we sin. When we worry about whether we will gain eternal life, we sin. God wants us to cast all our cares on him. He wants us to trust in him and his promises.

Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. (Psalm 55:22)

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
When we worry about our sin, worry about whether we’re forgiven, we sin.

Judge not, that ye be not judged. (Matthew 7:1)

This passage is often misunderstood. A person is not ‘judging’ when he or she tells another about God’s decrees. Say a person has a friend who is living with another person as ‘man and wife’ outside of marriage; it is a loving act to say “What you are doing is a sin against God and will affect your relationship with him”. In this situation the focus is on the act, the message is that it is against God’s decrees and has consequences. Pointing out those consequences is not ‘judging’ in the context of this passage.

God’s command here deals with judging, or making assumptions about, another person’s intentions or motives. In this case the focus is on the person, on the contents of the person’s heart. Only God can judge another person’s heart. When we think or say “She did that just so she would look good” or “He did that on purpose, he thinks he is better than me”, we sin. If we think “It won’t do any good to talk this out with her, she won’t listen… or she’ll just throw it back in my face later”, we sin. When we feel superior to another person because “he’s so sinful”, we sin. When we attempt to see the sin in the heart of another person, we only pass judgment on ourselves; because that sin is in our own heart as well.

Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. (Romans 2:1)

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40)

The greatest command is to love God; completely, continuously, with every part of our heart, soul, and mind. When we fall short of this complete dedication, we sin. When we are distracted by this world and what is in it, we sin. When we take God for granted, we sin.

How many ways can we break the commandment “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”? Anytime we question his plan for us. Anytime we are not content with what he has given us. Anytime we are angry about what ‘life has dealt us’. Anytime we fail to give God the glory, the credit. Anytime we want control over our lives instead of searching out what God has prepared for us. Anytime we “rely on our own understanding” instead of turning to God’s Word for our answers. Anytime when we are out in the world and we don’t stand up for God. Anytime we hide our faith. Anytime we don’t test the words of men by searching scriptures. Anytime we allow our feelings to sway us in a direction different from God’s revealed word. Ultimately, anytime we sin we rebel against God and break this command as well.

When we cut a person off in traffic; rather than letting him in, we sin. When we greedily hide the last few cookies so that we can secretly eat them later when everyone else is gone, we sin. When we fail to offer help to an ill neighbor, we sin. When we shun the people living around us, not wanting to be bothered by them, we sin. When we consider the command to “love our neighbor as ourselves” we must consider our sins of omission. The command is not “When you interact with your neighbor treat him with love”. The whole world is our neighbor, especially those who by His providence God has placed into our lives. This command is broken many times by omission for every time by commission.

He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matthew 19:18-19)

Several commands are repeated from above. Additions are “do not steal”, “bear false witness”, and “honor your parents”. When we get ‘creative’ with our tax report, or bring the office’s supplies home to use, shave a little time off the clock by leaving early or taking long breaks, or don’t tell the cashier about an error in our favor, we commit the sin of stealing. We can steal not just money and valuables, but also time, privileges, and honor.

When we talk a person down behind his back, when by our silence we fail to stick up for someone being ‘bad talked’, when we’d rather feel justified in our bitterness towards a person than admit our own complicity, we bear false witness and sin. When we pay a person false complements, exaggerate qualifications, or hide faults, resulting in a false representation of a person, we also commit this sin.

“Honor your father and mother” is more than just a command for children to obey their parents until they become adults. When we fail to respect our parents, we sin. When we distance ourselves from our parents, ‘not listening’, we sin. When we hold resentments, we sin. If they have hurt us through their sinful actions and we fail to approach them with our pain and address the situation openly and in love, we sin. When we fail to forgive our parents, or hold them to unrealistic ideals, we sin. When we place ourselves above our parents, we sin.

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. (Ephesians 4:25)

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29)

When we say something that is untrue, we sin. Even when we don’t actually say something, but by our silence create a false impression, we sin. Or, when we fail to state the truth when it is needed, we sin. When we tear someone down, rather than build that person up, we sin. When we hold back the truth because we fear it might make us unpopular or the other person “will take it the wrong way”, we sin. Our society has sayings like “white lies don’t hurt” and attitudes such as false humility, and ‘kissing up to someone’. These things are in fact lies and manipulation, and are sins.

A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin. (Proverbs 26:28)

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21)

A long list. When we consider ourselves better than another, we sin. Failing to return evil with love is sinful. When we shun people “of a lower class” or people who “are different”, we sin. Again, actions alone do not satisfy these commands. Feeding our enemy while not wishing him well and actually desiring him well in our heart is still a sin.

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:3-5)

When we are not content with the things God has given us, and desire more, we sin. When we share a coarse joke, we sin. Any kind of impure or unclean thought, word, or deed is a sin.

But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; (Colossians 3:8-9)

Dont’s - most of these have been covered already; but Paul makes the clear point that avoiding sins of commission is not ‘good enough’. He follows these “Dont’s” with a list of “Do’s”.

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. (Colossians 3:12-14)

When we don’t show kindness, we sin. Patience is said to be a virtue, but the absence of patience is a sin. When we withhold unconditional forgiveness from someone, we sin. This includes ourselves. That is, when we fail to forgive ourselves and hold onto transgressions as some form of false humility, we sin. These do’s are centered in the heart. No act is truly compassionate if compassion is not its motivation.

The true goal of God’s magnification of sin is to mercifully and lovingly help mankind see their need for a Savior not merely as their example and creditor, but as the One and only provider of eternal life. It’s out of God’s abundant pity and longsuffering patience that He continually demonstates to sinful mankind that they must give up on their own efforts to earn forgiveness, to become perfect, or progress in worthiness toward earning God’s favor. Through witnessing God’s view of sin as revealed in the Holy Bible we can show sinful man’s utter hopelessness in order that we might point toward a sure hope in the Savior Jesus Christ! This hope is realized only by abandoning any hope in ourselves and fleeing to and trusting in Him and Him alone as He is revealed by the Spirit in the Holy Bible!

I’ll restate what has already been said in the study above; the Bible is clear that there are only two types of people in the world - the saved and the lost. The redeemed and the unredeemed. The forgiven and the unforgiven. The blessed and the cursed. Those who will go to heaven and those who will go to hell. The born-again and the damned. Those who belong to the family of God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and everyone else.

Dear reader, which are you?

Adapted from a teaching by Truth In Love to Mormons

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Posts from Laodicea - A Clarion Call to the Modern Church

More than a decade ago, John MacArthur called modern churches to return to sound doctrine--we need to hear that call again.

Christians historically have understood that their calling is to be in the world but not of the world. As Os Guinness pointed out in a perceptive series of articles on the church-growth movement, traditional evangelicalism not only resisted worldly influences, but also used to stress "cognitive defiance" of the world spirit.

Now, however, "the world has become so powerful, pervasive, and appealing that the traditional stance of cognitive defiance has become rare and almost unthinkable" ("Recycling the Compromise of Liberalism," Tabletalk [May 1992], 51.). At some point, evangelicals decided to make friends with the world.

Guinness pointed out that although we are called to be in the world but not of the world (John 17:14-18), many Christians have reversed the formula, becoming of the world while not really being in the world. They did this by allowing cable television, VCRs, radio, and other forms of communication to infuse worldly values into their thinking, while isolating themselves from any personal involvement with the people in the world who most desperately need the gospel.

"Evangelicals are now outdoing the liberals as the supreme religious modernizers--and compromisers--of today," Guinness writes (Ibid.). The market-driven philosophy so popular among modern evangelicals is nothing more than "a recycling of the error of classical liberalism" (Ibid.).

The reason most evangelicals were caught unaware by modernism a hundred years ago is that liberals rose from within evangelical ranks, used evangelical vocabulary, and gained acceptance through relentless appeals for peace and tolerance. New church-growth movements are following precisely the same course, and that tactic has taken evangelicals by surprise once again.

Most of the market-driven megachurches insist they would never compromise doctrine. They are attractive to evangelicals precisely because they claimed to be as orthodox in their doctrine as they are unorthodox in their methodology. Multitudes have been sufficiently reassured by such promises and have simply abandoned their critical faculties, thus increasing their vulnerability. Unfortunately, real discernment is in short supply among modern evangelicals.

Like the modernists a century ago, churches in the user-friendly movement have decided that doctrine is divisive--peace is more important than sound teaching. Wanting to appeal to a modern age, they have framed their message as a friendly, agreeable, and relevant dialogue, rather than as a confrontation with the gospel of Christ.

The relevant issues of our modern age--radicalism, abortion, feminism, homosexuality, and other politically charged moral issues--pose the most obvious threat for user-friendly churches. Their undefined theology and seeker-sensitive philosophy do not permit them to take a firm biblical stance on such matters, because the moment they defy the spirit of the age, they forfeit their marketing appeal. They are therefore forced to keep silent or capitulate. Either way, they compromise the truth.

If a church is not even willing to take a firm stand against abortion, how will it deal with the erosion of crucial doctrine? If a church lacks discernment enough to condemn such overt errors as homosexuality or feminism, how will it handle a subtle attack on doctrinal integrity?

Many evangelical churches have wholly abandoned strong preaching about hell, sin, and the wrath of God. They claim God's primary attribute is benevolence--one that overrides and supersedes His holiness, justice, wrath, and sovereignty.

Rather than addressing humanity's greatest need--forgiveness of sins--modern sermons deal with contemporary topics, psychological issues (depression, eating disorders, self-image), personal relationships, motivational themes, and other matters a la mode.

The market-driven philosophy of user-friendly churches does not easily permit them to take firm enough doctrinal positions to oppose false teaching. Their outlook on leadership drives them to hire marketers who can sell rather than biblically qualified pastors who can teach. Their approach to ministry is so undoctrinal that they cannot educate their people against subtle errors. Their avoidance of controversy puts them in a position where they cannot oppose false teaching that masquerades as evangelicalism.

In fact, the new trends in theology seem ideally suited to the user-friendly philosophy. Why would the user-friendly church oppose such doctrines?

But oppose them we must, if we are to remain true to God's Word and maintain a gospel witness. Pragmatic approaches to ministry do not hold answers to the dangers confronting biblical Christianity today. Pragmatism promises bigger churches, more people, and a living church, but it is really carnal wisdom--spiritually bankrupt and contrary to the Word of God.

Marketing techniques offer nothing but the promise of popularity and worldly approval. They certainly offer no safeguard against the dangers of the down-grade toward spiritual ruin.

The only hope is a return to Scripture and sound doctrine. We evangelicals desperately need to recover our determination to be biblical, our refusal to comply with the world, our willingness to defend what we believe, and our courage to defy false teaching. Unless we collectively awaken to the current dangers that threaten our faith, the adversary will attack us from within, and we will not be able to withstand.

Yet, surely, there must be some who will fling aside the dastard love of peace, and speak out for our Lord, and for his truth. A craven spirit is upon many, and their tongues are paralyzed. Oh, for an outburst of true faith and holy zeal! (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)

Adapted from Ashamed of the Gospel, © 1993 by John MacArthur.
HAT TIP: Grace to You

Come, Let Us Reason Together

Sinful human reasoning is the touchstone for all subsequent delinquent behavior. It's out of the abundance of our hearts that our mouths speak, and what fills our hearts is unfailingly filtered through our minds. Yet those very minds - if unregenerate - have by default set themselves up as the High Court of Appeals, Ultimate Judge, and Final Arbiter of all truth claims. Sinful human reasoning automatically usurps the throne of Christ and sets itself up as an idol god. This is as natural for all men as breathing air and is an inescapable fact of life.

Objective truth is found only in view of the revealed Word of God as found uniquely within the Holy Bible and cannot be known by man apart from the inner working, regenerative power of the Holy Spirit. Sinful men suppress the truth in unrighteousness and pretend that they are able to operate in a moral, righteous, self-willed state of grace. Man compares himself to himself and to other fallen men instead of measuring himself against the absolutely Perfect, Righteous, Holy, Just and Infinite Creator and Judge of the universe. Why is this? It's because man is inherently self-righteous, desperately wicked, and utterly corrupted apart from the saving grace of God which comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

This is why Jesus Christ could boldly claim that He was The Way, The Truth, and The Life and that NONE came to the Father but BY HIM! Only HE was worthy. Only HE could meet the standard of perfect, sinless equality with God. Only HE lived a life that fully pleased His Father meaning death had no claim on Him, yet he laid down His life as a ransom for many for the joy set before Him knowing full well He would take it up again as the Firstborn of the dead, a sign and a promise that all those who are called by His Holy Name will partake of His glorious resurrection unto life eternal!

But the lost ought to tremble at the thought of the resurrection of Christ! They ought to fall on their faces in terror! For if this same Christ who was raised from the dead imputes eternal life in an eternal, incorruptible body unto His own as He's promised, then it's just as sure that His promise of the resurrection unto damnation and torment follows for those who are counted as His enemies!

Sadly we know that the reasoning powers of the unregenerate are under the curse of sin and death just like the body, soul, and spirit. Man's mind - his capability for intellectual reasoning - isn't exempt from the corruption and power of sin. Prior to the fall Adam had a perfect mind, and therefore his reasoning powers were also perfect - in fact he was for a time sinless. But despite his sinless perfection Adam found the world around him - his environment - unintelligible apart from God's special verbal revelation. Adam was the creation and God was the Creator. God had to explain to Adam where he came from, what his position was in the created order, what to eat - and what not to eat - and what his duties were. Bear in mind that at this point all the created order was in perfect sinless harmony with God's original design meaning that all nature literally screamed out with God's natural revelation - yet a perfect and sinless man with perfect and sinless reasoning powers - which were as of that point yet untainted with sin - still couldn't make sense of anything without God's special verbal revelation!

How much less should fallen, sinful men today place their trust in their own corrupted minds and take a high view of themselves and a low view of God's special verbal revelation as preserved in the Holy Bible? God forbid! As fallen and corrupted sinners all men ought to fall on their faces before the Infinite Creator and Judge of the universe and praise the Redeemer and Savior of men, Jesus Christ the Son of God as our Lord and Savior forsaking all in service and humble obedience to Him!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Problem of Evil

I posted the following comment over at Dubunking Christianity in response to an October 2006 thread regarding the supposed "problem of evil" (POE):

There is no problem of evil for the Christian; rather the problem of evil exists for the atheist.

The Christian God - as I presume most here are aware - is clearly attributed with BOTH absolute benevolence and absolute omnipotence by the Holy Bible which purports to be the very Word of God (i.e. self-testifying).

"The POE" is purportedly among the most difficult faced by Christian theists because of the apparent logical difficulty within the Christian outlook when juxtaposed against the personal perplexity which any sensitive human being will feel when confronted with the terrible misery and wickedness that can be found in this world. Man's inhumanity toward man is notorious in every age and even in the natural world we come across so much needless suffering and pain - birth defects, parasites, animal attacks, mutations, diseases, starvation, crippling injuries and natural disasters.

When an unbeliever looks at this unhappy situation he or she feels there's a strong reason to doubt either the goodness or omnipotence (or both) of God, or even His very existence. After all, logically if He were ALL good and ALL powerful He'd be doing something about the mess He's made, or He would have done it differently in the first place, right?

Evil is real. Evil is ugly.

But upon further analysis we discover that "the problem of evil" ends up confirming the Christian outlook rather than infirming it.

I'm encouraged when I see unbelievers who are taking evil seriously as opposed merely holding the casual position that evil is a matter of personal preference or convention. It's for this reason (outrage, indignation about evil expressed on the part of the unbeliever) that I realize it won't be difficult to show why the POE is not a problem for the Christian theistic believer - more on this later.

But back to the logical challenge at hand. At its root the POE is intended to be a serious challenge to the Christian faith. It amounts to the charge that there is a logical incoherence within the Christian outlook and this incoherence would itself render Christian faith intellectually unacceptable. The challenge is that a Christian cannot accept all three of these premises and remain intellectually coherent: God is all-powerful, God is all-good, and evil exists in the world.

At first glance the task seems daunting, even insurmountable. It appears to be an untenable position for the Christian to hold. But then one simply asks; "for whom is evil logically a problem?" It should be obvious that there can be no POE to press upon Christian believers unless one can legitimately assert the existence of evil in this world. The crucial point of this argument is that the unbeliever must assert that there is evil in the world - to point to something and have the right to evaluate it as an instance of evil. If it should be the case that nothing evil exists, or ever happens, then there is nothing inconsistent with Christian theology that requires an answer.

So what then does the unbeliever mean by "evil", or by what standard does the unbeliever determine what is "evil"? What are the presuppositions in terms of which the unbeliever makes any moral judgments whatsoever? Maybe "good" evokes public approval? Based on that basis the statement "The vast majority of the community heartily approved of and willingly joined in the evil deed" could never make sense. The fact that a large number of people feel a certain way should not rationally convince anybody that this feeling is correct. Ordinarily people think of goodness as something evoking their approval rather than approval constituting its goodness! Even unbelievers talk and act as thought there are personal traits, actions or things which possess the property of goodness or evil irrespective of the attitudes or beliefs or feelings people have about those traits, actions or things.

Is "happiness" good? Is "suffering" or "misery" evil? Philosophically speaking, the problem of evil turns out to be a problem for the unbeliever. In order to use the argument from evil against the Christian worldview he must first be able to demonstrate that his judgments about the existence of evil are meaningful - which is precisely what his unbelieving worldview is unable to do.

The complaint before us is that plain facts about human experience are inconsistent with the Christian's theological beliefs about the goodness and power of God. This complaint requires the non-Christian to assert the existence of evil in the world, but what has been assumed here? I believe there is evil. Both I and the unbelievers here insist that certain things are truly, objectively and intrinsically evil and not simply expressions of personal taste, preference or subjective opinion.

Now my question, logically speaking, is how can the unbeliever make sense of taking evil seriously and not simply something inconvenient, or unpleasant or contrary to his or her desires? What philosophy of value or morality can the unbeliever offer which will render it meaningful to condemn some atrocity as objectively evil?

The moral indignation expressed toward evil by unbelievers doesn't comport with the theories of ethics which unbelievers espouse, theories which prove to be arbitrary or subjective, or perhaps merely utilitarian or relativistic in character. From the unbeliever's worldview there's no good reason for saying that anything is evil in nature, but only by personal choice, feeling or societal convention. Expressions of moral outrage or indignation is personal evidence that unbelievers know God in their heart of hearts since they refuse to let judgments about evil be reduced to subjectivism.

If the unbeliever argues that evil is, in the final analysis, based on human reasoning or choices - thus being relative to the individual or culture - then we find a logical incoherence within the unbeliever's worldview. On the one hand he speaks as though some activity is wrong in itself (e.g. child abuse) but on the other hand he believes and speaks as though that activity is wrong only if the individual or culture chooses some value which is inconsistent with it (e.g. greatest happiness of the greatest number).

When the unbeliever professes that people determine ethical values for themselves then the unbeliever implicitly holds that those who commit evil are not really doing anything evil given the values they've chosen for themselves. What we discover is that the unbeliever must secretly rely upon (or borrow from) the Christian worldview in order to make sense of his argument from the existence of evil which is urged against the Christian worldview! Antitheism presupposes theism to make its case.

The problem of evil is a logical problem for the unbeliever rather than the believer. As a Christian I can make perfectly good sense of my moral revulsion and condemnation of child abuse. The non-Christian cannot. This is not to suggest that I can explain why God does whatever He does or allows whatever He allows, it simply means that my moral outrage is consistent with my worldview. The unbeliever's worldview eventually cannot account for such moral outrage. It cannot explain the objective and unchanging nature of moral notions like good or evil. Unbelievers are required to appeal to the very thing against which they argue - a divine, transcendent sense of ethics - in order for their argument to be warranted.

By now the unbeliever is still demanding that even if he, as a non-Christian cannot meaningfully explain or make sense of the view that evil objectively exists, nonetheless there remains an unresolved paradox within the set of beliefs which constitute the Christian's own worldview. The unbeliever argues that regardless of the ethical inadequacy of his own worldview, the Christian is still - on the Christian's own terms - locked into a logically incoherent position by maintaining; God is all-good, God is all-powerful, and evil exists. However the critic here overlooks a perfectly reasonable way to assent to all three positions.

The Christian believes that God is perfectly and completely good - as scripture teaches and requires Christians to accept - then he is committed to evaluating everything in his experience in light of that belief. Accordingly the Christian when observing evil in the world can and should retain consistency with his belief that God is good by inferring that God has a morally good reason for the evil that exists. God certainly must be all-powerful in order to be God. And God is certainly good as the Christian will profess so any evil we find in the universe must be compatible with God's goodness. This is just to say that there are evil events occurring for reasons that are morally commendable and good from God's perspective.

To put it another way the apparent paradox created by the above three propositions is readily resolved by adding a fourth premise; God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil which exists. When all four of these premises are maintained there is no logical contradiction to be found, not even an apparent one.

The problem men have with God when they come face to face with evil in the world is not a philosophical problem, but a psychological one. It's often emotionally very difficult to have faith in God and trust in Him when we're not given any reason for why bad things happen.

The believer often struggles with this situation, walking by faith rather than by sight. The unbeliever, however, finds the situation intolerable for his pride, feelings or rationality. He refuses to trust God. He will not believe that God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil which exists, unless the unbeliever is given that reason for his own examination and assessment. To put it briefly, the unbeliever will not trust God unless God subordinates Himself to the intellectual authority and moral evaluation of the unbeliever. It becomes a question of ultimate authority within a person's life.

In conclusion it should not be thought that "the problem of evil" is anything like an intellectual basis for a lack of faith in God. It is rather simply the personal expression of such a lack of faith. We find that unbelievers who challenge the Christian faith end up reasoning in circles. Because they lack faith in God, they begin by arguing that evil is incompatible with the goodness and power of God. When they are presented with a logically adequate and Biblically supported solution to the problem of evil they refuse to accept it, AGAIN because of their lack of faith in God. They would rather be left unable to give an account of any moral judgment whatsoever (about things being good or evil) than to submit to the ultimate and unchallengeable moral authority of God. That's too high a price to pay, both philosophically and personally.

(HAT TIP: Christian Research Network and Greg Bahnsen)

UPDATE: At some point the comments section of the thread to which I posted was removed. Praise the Lord for the victory is His!

How Terrible the Cross, How Glorious!

There are many reasons why the cross of Christ may be accurately described as both terrible and glorious. For example we know from the infallible truth of revealed scripture how terribly the Lord Jesus Christ suffered on the cross. The Holy Spirit within us testifies to the greatness of His sacrifice for us. We also know the glory of the cross because He who knew no sin was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (Jesus); (2 Cor. 5:21).

Beyond the traditional meanings behind the terrible and glorious nature of the cross we can easily find other meanings and applications. As if often the case with scripture when we meditate upon it (I’m not speaking of apostate “centering” or Eastern meditation here, but rather quiet and prayerful reflection upon the Word); we find that it is likened to a brilliant diamond that has multiple facets and colors, each captivating us as we turn and admire it. It has long been known and accepted that there is a “threefold” application to scripture: One, the literal message of the text to the literal audience in context of the time it was written. Two, the universal moral or philosophical application to all men at all times. And thirdly, the scripture’s life application to the individual who is responsible before, and ultimately accountable to God our Creator and Judge.

This brings me to the thrust of our subject today, how terrible the cross, how glorious! For we shall see that because of the truth of the cross men are wholly without excuse for failing to recognize and acknowledge their Creator God and bow their knees in humble submission to His Christ.

When the Apostle Paul was at Corinth the Lord spoke to him in the night by a vision: “Be not afraid, he was told, but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee…for I have much people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10). Had Paul been afraid to bring the simple gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to the city of Corinth with its Jews and with its Greeks? If so, he was afraid no longer after the vision had been given to him. “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Cor. 1:20-21).

If the Corinthians would but look at the facts as they were, and particularly as they had shown themselves in the course of history, they would be compelled to acknowledge the bankruptcy of the wisdom of man. What answer had Socrates, Plato and Aristotle been able to give the deepest problems of life? Shall we say they gave no answer? No, indeed for they could not escape giving an answer. But the answers they gave were wrong. Their wisdom had been made foolishness with God. In the light of the challenge which Paul brought, the wisdom of the Greeks was not merely inadequate, it was downright sinful! Man had originally been made perfect. He had then in Adam broken the covenant that God had made with him (Romans 5:12). Man was now a covenant breaker and, as such, subject to the wrath of God.

Having such a view of the true nature of man Paul did not merely plead for a "more complete system" for recognition of the "spiritual" or "supernatural" dimension in addition to the material. Paul did not want to merely add the idea of the personal confrontation with Jesus Christ to that of the impersonal study of the laws of nature or science – so called. In short, he did not ask for the privilege of erecting an altar to the living God, Creator of heaven and earth, next to the altars to gods that had been born of human minds. Rather he pleaded for, and in the name of the Lord required of men a complete reversal of their point of view in every dimension of life. The entire house of their interpretation of life had to be broken down. Many of the building blocks they had gathered could no doubt be used, but only if the totally new architectural plan that Paul proposed were followed.

It has been a repeated mistake of Christian apologists to approach unbelievers as though their interpretation of certain areas of reality (e.g. nature) were quite intelligible in terms of their professed philosophy (regarding reality, knowledge, and ethics) and acceptable as far as it goes, simply needing to be supplemented with some propositions about the supernatural. In reality the apologist’s focus should not be restricted to the supernatural dimension, but rather should encompass the entire range of human knowledge since God is the author and source of all true knowledge.

But back to Paul; how could he expect that covenant-breakers should become covenant-keepers? How could those who worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator be expected to turn from their evil ways? Would they turn as soon as it was shown to them intellectually that the wisdom of this world has been made foolishness with God? Absolutely not. Their minds being darkened, they would appear to others to see while yet they did not see. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). Or could they – being natural men - be expected to desire and will to believe that which might seem intellectually paradoxical to them? No, Paul did not expect that, “because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7).

Yet the apostle did not despair. He did not lower the requirements of the gospel in order to get men to accept it. Being truly all things to all men, sacrificing himself without limit for the sake of Jew and Gentile alike, he yet continued to insist always on the complete rejection of the “wisdom” of man and the substitution for it of the “foolishness” of God. For this he had good reason. The reason is that the Christian conversion calls for a completely new intellectual outlook or orientation regarding everything that exists, not simply a change of opinion on a few particular points regarding God. The basic assumptions that were previously taken for granted and professed as one’s philosophy, being based on worldly and human thinking in rebellion against God, must be discarded in their entirety in favor of the “philosophy according to Christ” (Col. 2:8, 2 Cor. 10:5).

Furthermore Paul knew all the evidence was for the truth of his message. Since there is no evidence that is intelligible apart from the Christian worldview, there is no evidence that counts against the truth of Christianity. And since no evidence counts against Christianity, it is not merely probably true or probably provable, but is known with absolute certainty as the self-testifying scriptures state. There is no reason, no evidence that stands against it.

Can anyone really doubt that God, the God whom Paul preached, does exist? The eternal power and Godhead of Paul’s gospel are clearly visible to all men everywhere (Rom. 1:19). He spoke at the beginning of history in direct supernatural fashion to Adam. All men are therefore without excuse. There is no fault in the objective revelation of God to men. It is ubiquitous, no one can escape being confronted with it. There is no area of relationship where the face of God the Creator and Judge does not confront man. It is not as though the evidence shows that some god exists, or that God probably exists. If such were the case then there would be some excuse for man if he did not bow before his Maker. Paul boldly claims that all men know deep down in their hearts that they are creatures of God and have sinned against God their Creator and Judge.

Nor is it as though the evidence for “theism” were clear but the evidence for “Christian theism” were obscure. Paul boldly asserts that men are bound to believe the facts of Christianity to be true as soon as they hear of them. When he declares the fact of the resurrection of Christ, he asserts that through it all men have been given assurance of the day of final judgment by the Son of man (Acts 17:31).

Through Paul’s gospel presentation we see that God’s objective truth stands before men as a challenge. Men cannot react neutrally towards it; they must accept or suppress it because they do not want to believe it. Paul knows that those who cling to the “wisdom” of the world do so against their better judgment and with an evil conscience. Every fact of theism and every fact of Christianity points with an accusing finger at the sinner saying: “You are a guilty covenant-breaker; repent and be saved!”

The truth Paul brings requires a response, the response of repentance, and repentance is produced by a contrite heart. Paul’s truth is “existential”. He who rejects it commits both intellectual and moral suicide. Yet Paul also knows that sin is of such a nature as to make men prefer intellectual and moral suicide to the truth of God in Christ. Repentance means the recognition of bankruptcy. It involves the suppliant’s attitude – begging for mercy, for pardon, for life. It means fleeing from the city of destruction and pressing toward the celestial city even when all your “worldly and wise” friends are going in the other direction. It means bearing the offense of the cross in all its terror and glory. Will any of the wise of this world accept the gospel and repent?

Yes, they will. Paul is quite sure of that. He knows that God “has much people in the city”. He knows that he himself had been a persecutor. He remembers vividly how the Lord had appeared unto him. “Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are not ye my work in the Lord?” (1 Cor. 9:1) Now that Jesus has come into the world to save His people, His Spirit will set them free. That Spirit will take the things of Christ and give them to His people. God’s work is one. God the Father so loved the world that He gave His Son that they who believe might be saved. God the Son came into the world to do the will of the Father. God the Spirit will give men hearts of flesh instead of hearts of stone. The believers in Corinth were the work of the Apostle. “Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the Living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. (2 Cor. 3:3)

The natural man who of himself cannot discern the things of the Spirit is by that Spirit renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him. (Col. 3:10) With this assurance that the Spirit of God, who had enveloped him in heavenly light and turned him from being a persecutor to being an Apostle, can and will enable men to turn from the wisdom of the world in order to accept his gospel, Paul goes forth boldly among men everywhere. Speaking for Him who spoke to Lazarus in his tomb, Paul does not hesitate to speak for those who are dead in trespasses and sins. (Eph. 2:1). He expects that the spirit will in sovereign mercy enable men to repent.

Shall we as Christians, facing the wisdom of the world in modern form, dare to do what Paul tells those who are his work in the Lord to do? Shall we dare to be steadfast and unmovable, never doubting that the wisdom of the world has again been made foolishness with God? Shall we have full confidence that our labor for the Lord will not be in vain? In truth the God has made foolish the wisdom of this world in the modern day no less than in the day of Paul. Instead of accepting the favors of modern man and his wisdom – so called – we should challenge the wisdom of this world. It must be exposed for what it is - utterly destructive of true knowledge in any field. It has frequently been shown to be such. It is beyond the possibility of the mind of man to weave together the ideas of pure determinism and pure indeterminism and by means of that combination give any meaning to life. Either modern man will have to admit that he knows everything or else he will have to admit that he knows nothing. The only alternative to this is to claim both absurdities at the same time.

Let us be reminded that we as Christians are not in ourselves wiser than other men. What we have we have by grace unmerited. We must be “all things to all men”, but it is not kindness to tell patients that need strong medicine or immediate surgery that nothing serious is wrong with them. Christians are bound to tell men the truth about themselves; that is the only way of bringing them to recognize the mercy, the compassion, of Christ. For if men are told the truth about themselves and if they are warned against the false remedies that establish men in their wickedness, then by the power of the Spirit of God, they will flee to the Christ through whom alone they must be saved. For herein we see how terrible is the cross to them who perish, and how glorious it is to those who are being saved! May we who are called by the name of the Lord stand boldly and proclaim His Gospel to a sinful and fallen world!