Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Identity - Part 3

Is Saving Faith "blind faith"?

If Saving Faith is not blind then it must be placed in something known, or understood. If something must be known or understood does this add something to Salvation by Grace through Faith? I say that Saving Faith is not blind but is placed in One Who is made known through revelation by testimony of His Own works. The process of revelation is processed by reasoning in the mind of the Sinner as ministered to by the Spirit of God. This results in one exclusive identity of the person of Christ that cannot be impersonated or usurped by any created thing, thus results in a faith in Him alone.

Isa 1:18 puts it this way.

"Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.

The Lord our God does not want “simple faith” that is simple to knowledge of Him but wise to our desire for Eternal Life. For does not all the world want to live, yet have nothing to do with the Lord God Almighty? The Faith the Lord wants is that which is placed in Him. And I echo the Apostle Paul saying “How can they call on One of Whom they have not heard?” We must know His identity in order to call on Him.

But those who reduce the Gospel (The Saving Message which must be received) to something akin to “Believe Jesus for Eternal Life” do not just misidentify the Object of Saving Faith they also misidentify the effect of it. Let us read and hear again what our ministry is.

2 Cor 5:18-20

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.

Eternal Life is a benefit but our ministry is that of reconciliation to God Himself. Heaven is not a wonderful place where God hangs out. Heaven is a wonderful place BECAUSE the One True Holy and Perfect God is there. He is the glory of Heaven.

I submit to the reader that those who say “We just can’t know for sure” what the actual Saving Message is are like the agnostics of the World. They are comfortable with non-committal supposing they offend no one, and cannot be in error if they do not take a stand. This comfortable status quo leaves one luke-warm in their convictions.

Be sure the Lord Our God is near to all who call on Him in truth. Ps 145:18 We ought to “consider” His works. Eccl 7:18.

Here are a couple of quotes from Warren Henderson’s book, In Search Of God (Gospel Folio Press 2007)

Modern philosophy considers reason and faith to be disassociated, but the Bible teaches that both must be exercised to know God and to understand truth. Philosophy teaches that these are conflicting agents – the former intellectual and the latter emotional. But is this true? Is there no common ground in which both faith and reason might labor together for a greater benefit than either could accomplish alone? What is the consequence of determining reality solely through a philosophical means?” Pg 13

Biblical Christianity has this distinction over the religions of the world- the seeker is challenged to test the Scripture to validate its truthfulness.” Pg 22

The Law of Sin & Death states “The soul that sins shall die.” Ezk 18:4 & Ezk 18:20 If one has sinned they must die. They can do that themselves, or they can be baptized into Christ’s death (& resurrection) by grace through faith. But they cannot choose Christ unless they know Him, and they can’t know Him unless they know what He did.

Thus one must properly identify the object, content and result of our Saving Faith, or it cannot be Saving Faith.

Ref: My work about reasoning here is derivative of Henderson's presentations in his book.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Identity - Part 2

In my previous post I got into the Scriptures about the importance of properly identifying Our Lord. Today I want to briefly discuss the implications of not properly identifying Him. I showed in the previous post how those who were speaking with and learning from the "right Jesus" were not saved because they had not properly identified Him. Today, I'm interested in what it means for a Christian to improperly identify Him before the world.

Some men who claim to be believers in "Free Grace" say that one need not know that Jesus is The Christ in order to be saved. These same men lift the Apostle John's testimony of Our Lord's humiliation and resurrection above the rest of Scripture. They say one must "Believe in Jesus for Eternal Life" to be saved.

My dear friends, brethren and others reading if we claim to be believers in "Free Grace" we must acknowledge Who brought us this Grace. Let us read and hear what the dear Apostle John says in his first chapter.
John 1:14-18
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’”
16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ, who the Apostle makes very clear IS God in the flesh.
John 1:1-4
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
Today, if we claim to believe in "Free Grace" but deny the Truth we make ourselves liars do we not? It's a question I ask you to consider.

I'm reminded of Paul's question in Galatians 4:21 and myself ask this. "You who wish to limit Evangelism to John's testimony do you not hear John's testimony?"

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Identity - Part 1

Never mind what men think. How important is it to the God of the Bible that we properly identify Him?
Mark 12:28-30
28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”

29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. 30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5
4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

He declares that He is one. A particular God, not just God. The word translated as one there is actually "a unity of one." Which God? Your God.
Exodus 20:1-7
1 And God spoke all these words, saying:
2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain

He identifies Himself, not by name but by what He has done. And then He commands that any who should "take His name in vain" will not be held guiltless.

While I would agree that to use His Name and/or His Titles as a curse word would be to take His Name in vain this is actually a much broader subject. We take someone's name in vain when we use it to validate what we are saying. When we say "Thus saith the LORD.." when He didn't say any such thing. Or when we say He is someone who He is not.

How many people were named "Jesus" when Jesus The Christ was in His humiliation? Thousands I suspect. The Bible doesn't tell us to put our faith in someone named Jesus. It tells us to put our faith in The Christ.

When Paul declares the Gospel He identifies the Christ as the One who did the things "in accordance with the Scriptures." God is again identified by what He has done because NO ONE ELSE could do these things.

If you study the LORD's Names in Scripture they tell of what He has done and does do. When the Bible says to put your faith in Jesus, it has already identified Who this Jesus is. We read this in the often abused verses;
John 20:30-31
30
And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
Notice these things are written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Proper identity.

Many doing abuse to these verses ignore that this statement by the Apostle John comes immediately after John's description of Christ's resurrection. Read the chapter yourself John 20:1-31

Christ is only properly identified when the full Gospel is presented, just as Israel was to recognize only the LORD who had brought them out of Egypt.

Jesus Christ, is the Jesus Who is the Son of God so that He could die for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, and Who actually did die for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures. Who was buried and rose on the third day according to the Scriptures and Who was seen alive in the flesh by more than 500 people.

They wanted a sign to show that Jesus was God or they would not believe. THIS IS THE SIGN GIVEN IAW Jesus' own words to identify Him as God. We see this explained in John 6 very well.
John 6:22-40
22
On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone— 23 however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks— 24 when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. 25 And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?”

26
Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”

28
Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”30 Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’32 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Today people will tell you that the Gospel preached by Paul, and all the Apostles 1 Cor 15:1-11 is a stumbling block to sinners. That it violates "Free Grace" to preach such a Gospel. That to believe one must know Who and what they trust is just plain too much to ask. They separate, mock and ridicule those who stand within the Gospel preached by the Apostles and those who seek to do as they did.

But today is no different than the day the Lord spoke those words I've just quoted.
John 6:41-42
41
The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” 42 And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
But it was not just those who had not had some fellowship with Him. Even those acting as disciples turned away.
John 6:60-66
60
Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”

66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.
The Lord didn't back down from what He was preaching. He did not give an easier message for people to accept. He identified Himself as He is to be identified. Here is what He said to the faithful.
John 6:67-69
67
Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”
68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
These men knew Who Jesus is.

Why did Jesus tell the Scribes that the most important commandment was ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. 30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’

Because they were not recognizing Him as God, they knew He was Jesus of Nazareth. They knew He was a Rabbi. They knew He had done many miracles. But they denied He was God, and that He was the Bread of Life. They denied the truth of the Gospel that Christ would give His own to preach to all the world. They had the wrong identity even though they were talking to the right Jesus.

So reader, never mind what men think. How important is it to the God of the Bible that we properly identify Him?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wife's father has had a heart attack

You don't get warnings before most dramatic events. I got the news today as I was checking phone messages from work. He is awake and stable.

It seems that I need to have a that all important conversation with him about Christ. He lives in another province and I have not witnessed to him previously. I trust those in Christ will be praying for his recovery and his reception to the Gospel of Christ.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Gospel Delusion - Part 6

The Gospel Delusion

A review of John MacArthur's The Gospel According To Jesus 20th Anniversary Edition

Part 6: A Cross Examination


Please begin reading this series at Part 1: The Obligatory Introduction

In Part 5 I discussed how the Gospel is fundamental to our walk as Christians, that we are saved by reception of this declared Good News of Jesus Christ, and showed how Dr. MacArthur says that all the years of [his] ministry” (1) were about learning what the Gospel actually is.

The fruit of the doctor’s long search is summed up in his statement What we need is a complete reexamination of the gospel.” (2). He says that his work of pasturing includes re-baptizing people who once made a decision but who later come to a true conversion. He says that they hear testimonies of people in this situation nearly every week at his church. That truly is a sad state of affairs.

He states the purpose of his writing as “… to deal with the biblical accounts of Jesus major evangelistic encounters and His teaching on the way of salvation.” He goes on to state several questions that will be answered in the accomplishing of his purpose and finishes with “…they are not theological trivia.” I would fully agree, there is nothing about the Gospel that is trivia.

Though Dr. MacArthur to this point in the book has not actually defined this “Gospel According To Jesus” he makes several statements that can allow us to have some idea of what it is. He says that Jesus called sinners to a submissive surrender to the truth, including the truth of His Lordship.” (3). He also calls a gospel that makes no moral demands” a new gospel.” (4) So, we can infer that the gospel the doctor wants us to know about would be about a submissive surrender to the Lordship of Christ that makes moral demands. Since the topic of this work is about Eternal Salvation it’s clear that Dr MacArthur’s “Gospel According To Jesus” is one which states the Sinner must meet the demands of God in order to attain that Eternal Salvation.

Scripture stands in stark contrast to this I have inferred the doctor is presenting. For Scripture in Romans 6:32 says;

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Some translations go so far as to render the Greek χάρισμα as the “free gift of God.” Even if we leave out the word free what does giving someone a gift have to do with demanding something of them. If Scripture describes Eternal Life in Christ Jesus Our Lord as a gift, how can we make the offer of this gift a demand? For if one meets conditions for a gift is it really a gift?

Think of how fast food establishments advertise offers as free when they really are not. If you buy this special package then you’ll get a free cookie. Well the cookie isn’t free because you had to buy the package to get it. Fast food establishments get away with this because they are not perfectly holy. The Lord Our God cannot even give the appearance of evil. What He says is free, truly is.

Dr. MacArthur plainly states the seriousness of the consequences of how we handle the Gospel of Christ by quoting Galatians 1:6-9. He quotes this passage, and I think I should do the same.

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

Before we go on, let us consider the Apostle’s words carefully. He states that if anyone preaches another gospel other than the one the Apostle preached, and they received let such a one be accursed. Which Gospel is the Apostle speaking of? Well he summarizes it in the verses just before those the Doctor quotes. Galatians 1:3-5 NKJV

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

But we have the Gospel that all the Apostles preached, and all Christians must receive declared word for word in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 NKJV

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.
After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Be, sure that when the Apostle said even if an angel of light were to come and preach another gospel other than the one he had been given from Christ to preach, and all Christians must receive that we must let him be accursed.

Sadly, this must include someone who devises a message and uses our Lord’s name as an appeal to authority to give it credence which is different than the message the Apostle preached and anyone who would preach a “new gospel.”

The Gospel that Paul preached as of “first importance” was also the standard by which he instructed Pastors to evaluate the teachings of men. We read in 1 Timothy 1:3-11 NKJV

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.
Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.
But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this:
that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.

Of Galatians 1:6-9 the Doctor notes That is a sober warning of eternal damnation to those who would tamper with the message of salvation and corrupt it to make it a ‘different gospel.’” I would argue that we are to see one as accursed, not that we have the power to actually have one be so. I do not say, nor do I believe the Word of God says, that one who preaches a different gospel must be eternally damned.

Dr. MacArthur recognizes that some opponents to “Lordship Salvation” have labeled it as “another gospel” and says this has led him to be serious in his study. He rightly says that We cannot confidently point people to the way of life unless we get the gospel right.” (5) He is right about this. The Gospel is of “first importance” 1 Cor 15:3 there is no life without it. Though many of those who respond to the Lordship Salvation gospel truly do, do their fleshly best to look alive without receiving that life.

In this installment of The Gospel Delusion series I have repeated some information, but only because Dr. MacArthur used Galatians 1:6-9 for his purposes. In the last installment we saw how the Doctor sought to look elsewhere than Scripture to find his “Gospel According To Jesus” and in this installment we applied the same standard he uses to evaluate his gospel.

His message of Salvation through surrender evidenced by works is not the Gospel preached by the Apostles. By definition then it is another gospel. I have tried not to let this be a “cross” examination by keeping my own self-righteous anger out of it. Instead I’ve endeavored to have it be a “Cross” examination because the Gospel is the Good News of what Christ accomplished at the Cross. It is not a demand of what we must accomplish in order to have our part in it.



References:

All references (unless otherwise stated) are from The Gospel According To Jesus: What is authentic faith? Revised & Expanded Anniversary Edition By John MacArthur Copyright 2008

1. Pg 19

2. Pg 21
3. Pg 11
4. Pg 20
5. Pg 22