THE TWO PILLARS OF SOUND DOCTRINE

THE TWO PILLARS OF SOUND DOCTRINE

Matthew Pacifico 

While we in no way discount the value of learning, in its proper place, it can’t be sufficiently emphasized that the key to a correct understanding of holy Scripture is not in theological seminaries. In order to receive the great teachings of Grace, there are two FOUNDATIONAL OR PIVOTAL truths which must, by the enabling of the blessed Spirit, be thoroughly established in the heart; these are:

(1) THE ABSOLUTE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD – “But our God is in the heavens: HE HATH DONE WHATSOVER HE HATH PLEASED,” (Ps.115:3)
(2) THE TOTAL MORAL AND SPIRITUAL DEPRAVITY OF ALL MEN. “Behold, I am VILE!” (Job 40:4).

We repeat, these two great truths are the pillars which support all scriptural teaching, so that a failure to fully grasp them will unfit us to correctly interpret the Bible – especially its teachings regarding the salvation of man. And it is just with these two pivotal truths that we encounter an enormous difficulty – our deep-rooted PRIDE AND SENSE OF SELF-SUFFICIENCY.

O how unwilling we are to acknowledge these strongholds of inherited depravity within us! And how unaware we are of the way that they pervert our interpretation of holy Scripture! For many a year did this poor writer zealously war against the God Who could do AS HE PLEASED. And for just as many years did he loudly contend that, though sinful, man was not TOTALLY DEPRAVED AND CORRUPT – that he had a WILL, perhaps as sovereign and sacred as God Himself (I say it to my deep shame) -a will that not even God “had a right to interfere with.” O the amazing patience and longsuffering of God!

Reader, the Lord be very gracious to you and bless you to see the path of error that brings you to oppose the glorious truth of the true Christian’s eternal security. Don’t you believe that though it was absolutely necessary that Christ should die for your sins, yet ultimately, IT WAS YOUR CHOOSING, YOUR WILLING, YOUR DECISION which made you a partaker of salvation? And can’t you see that SINCE (AS YOU BELIEVE) IT WAS BY AN ACT OF YOUR WILL THAT YOU CAME TO CHRIST, THEN LOGICALLY, BY AN ACT OF THAT SAME “SACRED” WILL, YOU CAN CHOOSE TO ETERNALLY DEPART FROM CHRIST?

Ah, beloved reader, as this writer once did, and as all rejectors of the saints’ security in Christ always do, it is your blindness to your total moral ruin that hinders you from seeing the precious truth. It is this little bit of IMAGINARY good or virtue which you unconsciously see in yourself, which also makes you see yourself as the DETERMINER of whether or not you come to come to Christ, and whether or not you stay in Christ after coming to Him. For your own sake, O do admit the awful, solemn truth! : In the matter of your eternal salvation you see – not God, BUT YOURSELF “IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT”, with the abiding prerogative to “take it or leave it” as seems good to YOU.

No, don’t be deceived, it’s not a humble sense of weakness and insufficiency that makes you believe you may yet “lose your salvation”. If, like Job, you saw yourself thoroughly “vile”, unable to contribute an atom to your own salvation, you would be constrained to cast yourself entirely on the precious Christ, and then the eternal security of your poor soul would shine into your heart like a glorious sunrise. Seeing our most glorious Redeemer as not only the Author, but also the FINISHER of your faith (Heb.l2:2), you would also immediately see what a horridly proud, deceitful perverting of Gospel truth you have been involved in. But alas! this is not your case, you’re not able to see yourself for the utterly bankrupt, naked and sinful creature that you really are, with the result that you see your destiny as ultimately IN YOUR OWN HANDS. Are you sure you really want that?

For many centuries Roman Catholics and Anglicans have been deluded by “Baptismal regeneration” or the belief that it is water baptism which puts a person in Christ. But there is an error, more subtle and much more recent, which has greatly overspread what we might call Evangelical Christendom, and that is the teaching of “Decisional regeneration”, the belief that what really clinches a man’s salvation is an ACT OR DECISION OF HIS WILL; and the awful irony is that this deception was introduced by men who otherwise can only be called honored servants of God.

It was the gifted Charles G. Finney (l792-l875) who originally popularized this error by rejecting the truth of man’s total depravity, and also teaching that the sinner COULD, and SHOULD come to Christ BY AN IMMEDIATE ACT OF HIS OWN WILL. Dwight L. Moody (l837-l899) and Reuben R. Torrey (l856-l928) avoided Finney’s other unscriptural methods, but his “Decisional regeneration” was an unmistakable element in their campaigns. However, it was Billy Graham, with his prominent emphasis on “decision”, who brought this semi-Pelagian, unwarranted, but highly congenial exaltation of man’s will to world-wide acceptance.

This delusion quickly overtook the “Fundamentalists”, Independent and Southern Baptists, Wesleyans, Pentecostals, Charismatics and virtually all who professed salvation in Christ. Thou knowest, most gracious Lord, how often I tried to lead poor sinners through the “steps of salvation”, had them “pray the sinner’s prayer” and then told them that they were saved. I was acting on what knowledge I had, but I was SO WRONG! O, why could I not see that by birth and nature we are not only BLIND (Luke 4:l) and LOST (Luke l5:32), but also DEAD (luke l5:32)?

And who but Thou, most glorious Prince of Life, can raise the dead? By Thy gracious instruction I now know that until Thou dost “REVEAL THINE ALMIGHTY ARM” (Isa.53:1) we remain in our graves, though professing to be Christians or even prominent preachers.

O what great mischief has the enemy worked through this “Decisional regeneration”, this daring to exalt the will of polluted man above the will of God! This is the great engine that has produced the “emerging super churches”, has well-nigh extinguished the light of true Christian testimony in America, is steadily bringing the nation to its total ruin and has influenced some of Thine own beloved people to believe that the salvation purchased by Thy most, precious, precious Blood can be lost. O the horrid and damnable lie that so exalts the corrupt will of man! O Lord, make known Thine own holy, sovereign, irresistible will to every reader. “In Whom we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of HIM WHO WORKETH ALL THINGS AFTER THE COUNSEL OF HIS OWN WILL.” (Eph.1:11)

Exalted Prince of life! we own the honors of Thy throne;
‘Tis fixed by God’s almighty hand, and seraphs bow at Thy command.
Exalted Savior! we confess the sovereign triumphs of Thy grace;
Where beams of gentle radiance shine, and temper majesty divine.
Wide Thy resistless scepter sway, till all Thine enemies obey;
Wide may the Cross its virtues prove, and conquer millions by Thy love.
Mighty to vanquish and forgive, Thine Israel SHALL repent and LIVE –
And loud proclaim Thy healing breath, which works their life who wrought Thy death. . . . . . . P. Doddridge

 

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