A WORD ON TRUE HOLINESS

A WORD ON TRUE HOLINESS

 William F. Bell

And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”  [Ephesians 4:24]. 

 But as He which hath called you is holy, so BE YE HOLY in all manner of conversation (conduct); Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” [1 Peter 1:15-16].

Evangelist Rolfe Barnard (1904-1969) once said that churchgoers in his day “were terribly afraid” of the word “holiness.” Today, many still are! I have often said that the only kind of Christian we should be is the “holiness” kind. God is the Holy One. We have a Holy Bible. We declare a holy gospel. Christ is the holy Son of God. The Spirit living within us is the Holy Spirit. The true children of God are called “THE HOLY PEOPLE” (Isaiah 62:12).

Note that Paul uses the expression, TRUE HOLINESS.” When we read that something is “true,” it is being contrasted with that which is “false.” Mere outward religion is false holiness! God is called “THE LIVING AND TRUE GOD (1 Thessalonians 1:9) in contrast to all “false” gods (Psalm 115:4-8).

WE MUST BE CONCERNED ABOUT “TRUE HOLINESS.” Simon Peter was quoting the Old Testament when he said, “BE HOLY IN ALL YOUR CONDUCT. Is not this highly important today when “sexual harassment” is constantly in the news? How we need to guard our thoughts, our words, and our actions! KEEP THYSELF PURE,” Paul admonished Timothy (1 Timothy 5:22), later saying to him, “FLEE ALSO YOUTHFUL LUSTS” (2 Timothy 2:22). How can these texts be misunderstood? But some religious people make fun of this doctrine of holiness, asking, “But how is it possible for unholy sinners to be holy and pure?” To answer that question requires a biblical knowledge of the doctrines of human depravity, election, redemption, justification, and sanctification.

Note that Peter is writing to the “elect,” those having been “born again” and “called” (1 Peter 1:2,3,15). Paul clearly says he is writing “TO THE SAINTS WHICH ARE AT EPHESUS, AND TO THE FAITHFUL IN CHRIST JESUS (Ephesians 1:1). “Saints” are “holy ones,” but only “in Christ Jesus.” Is not this crucial to understanding true holiness? God declares, “For I am holy,” but no sinner can ever say this! Only Christ our Lord was “holy” and “not defiled” with sin [Hebrews 7:26].

We know that “holiness” is far more than merely “abstaining” from certain outward things often called “sin.” But all the “abstaining” in the world from what men call outward “sins” could never produce true holiness! Mark that down. But no matter our view, the “be holy” texts of Scripture are powerful, including this one: “FOLLOW PEACE WITH ALL, AND HOLINESS, WITHOUT WHICH NO ONE SHALL SEE THE LORD” [Hebrews 12:14]. Note that we must “pursue” peace and holiness, that is, “be diligent” about it by the grace of God.

SINNERS “BORN FROM ABOVE” HAVE DIFFERENT  “CONDUCT” FROM THE UNREGENERATE. 

We desire to honor Christ in daily living, knowing assuredly that only God’s grace makes sinners differ from each other. None of us can ever “live holy” personally, for our fallen nature does not allow it. But those “born again” possess a new nature, being indwelt by the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-18; Romans 8:9; 2 Peter 1:1-4). Paul calls it being CREATED ACCORDING TO GOD.” We never “put off the old man” until the grace of God “renews” our minds in order for us to “put on the new man.”

Some indeed have a “holier-than-thou” attitude, but this does not destroy the biblical doctrine of “true holiness.” It is also true that our “conduct” does not save us legally, for the only ground of our salvation is the justifying righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24-26). But does not the cross of Calvary assure us that God will have a holy people? Yes! We know that “holiness” is an EVIDENCE of justification in our lives, for Simon Peter attributes it to the Spirit of God: “IN SANCTIFICATION OF THE SPIRIT, UNTO OBEDIENCE” [1 Peter 1:2]

Note, “sanctification of the Spirit” is “unto obedience.” How could it be any clearer?

Those “chosen” by the Father, “redeemed” by the Son, and “called” by the Spirit, are described in this gracious manner: “THAT WE SHOULD BE HOLY AND WITHOUT BLAME BEFORE HIM IN LOVE (Ephesians 1:4). Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ is our “holiness”  OBJECTIVELY (1 Corinthians 1:30), and because of that glorious fact the Spirit also works in us “holiness” of life SUBJECTIVELY (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4).

The true believer can never be “antinomian” (lawless) in life, anymore than a bird can live in water!

Sin is not a redeemed person’s element, and if we can sin without grieving over it, that spells no regeneration! But, beloved, if we have been justified through Christ’s work “FOR US,” then we experimentally “put on the new man” because Christ Jesus now lives “IN US.” And this is the glorious gospel, as the poet confirms by writing,

Ye souls, redeemed with blood,

And called by grace divine,

Walk worthy of your God,

And let your conduct shine;

Keep Christ, your living Head, in view,

In all you say, in all you do.

William Gadsby

 

WHAT WE MEAN WHEN WE DECRY ‘PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION’

WHAT WE MEAN WHEN WE DECRY ‘PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION’

My dear Brother Gary, thank you for sending me your thoughts on the matter of Sanctification. As in many other matters of theology I must say that your thoughts are the same as mine, as are your concerns in the matter. After nearly thirty one years of walking with the Lord and studying this subject on and off I be fully persuaded that ‘Sanctification’ is both a ‘one-time thing and a PROCESS!

You said in your letter – “We have been sanctified (set apart) and we ARE BEING sanctified as we grow in Christ, becoming more like him. It is dangerous to ignore this process. And all His children will experience this process for if we are without chastisement, then are ye bastards and not sons.”

I heartily concur with what you have written. Please allow me to particularize . . . .

When we decry ‘progressive sanctification’ all we are saying is that that which is born of the flesh is flesh.” (John 3:6) and will remain so till we are delivered from the body of this death. There is no promise made that in this life, we shall be set free from the indwelling and the in-working of sin.

As Brother Philpot said long ago – “Many think that their flesh is to become “progressively holier and holier” — that sin after sin is to be removed gradually out of the heart — until at last they are almost made perfect in the flesh. But this is an idle dream, and one which, sooner or later will be crudely and roughly broken to pieces!

The flesh will ever remain the same — and we shall ever find that the flesh will lust against the Spirit. Our fleshly nature is corrupt to the very core. It cannot be mended. It cannot be sanctified. It is the same at the last, as it was at the first — inherently evil, and as such will never cease to be corrupt until we put off mortality — and with it the body of sin and death.”

But that is not to say there is no ‘process’ of sanctification wrought in God’s saints from the time of their regeneration until they are called to glory. While the ‘Old man’ remains unchanged there is a change wrought in the ‘New man’ by the operation of the Spirit or the Apostle had not said – “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” [2Cor 3:18] THIS is a process! To the same effect he says, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” [2Cor 4:16]

“These blessings (of both Justification and Sanctification) walk hand in hand; and never were, never will be, never can be parted. No more than the delicious scent can be separated from the beautiful bloom of the rose or carnation: let the flower be expanded, and the fragrance transpires. Try if you can separate gravity from the stone or heat from the fire. If these bodies and their essential properties, if these causes and their necessary effects, are indissolubly connected, so are our justification and our sanctification” (James Hervey, 1770).

Justification is by a righteousness without us, sanctification is by a holiness wrought in us. Justification is by Christ as Priest, and has regard to the penalty of sin; sanctification is by Christ as King, and has regard to the dominion of sin: the former cancels its damning power, while the latter delivers from its reigning power.

 Justification is a judicial act, by which the sinner is pronounced righteous; sanctification is a moral work, by which the sinner is made holy: the one has to do solely with our standing before God, the other chiefly concerns our state. They differ in their cause: the one issuing from the merits of Christ’s satisfaction, the other proceeding from the efficacy of the same. They differ in their end: the one bestowing a title to everlasting glory, the other being the highway which conducts us there. “And an highway shall be there,…and it shall be called The way of holiness (Isaiah 35:8).

To sanctify, then, means in the great majority of instances, to appoint, dedicate or set apart unto God, for a holy and special use. Yet that act of separation is not a bare change of situation, so to speak, but is preceded or accompanied by a work which (ceremonially or experimentally) fits the person for God. Thus the priests in their sanctification (Leviticus 8) were sanctified by washing in water (type of regeneration: Titus 3:5), having the blood applied to their persons (type of justification: Romans 5:9), and being anointed with oil (type of receiving the Holy Spirit: 1 John 2 :20, 27). As the term is applied to Christians it is used to designate three things, or three parts of one whole:
First, the process of setting them apart unto God or constituting them holy: Hebrews 13:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:13.
Second, the state or condition of holy separation into which they are brought: I Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 4:24.
Third, the personal sanctity or holy living which proceeds from the state: Luke 1:75; 1 Peter 1:15.

We be fully persuaded that ‘Personal holiness’ or experimental sanctification is equally imperative as is the forgiveness of sins in order to eternal bliss! When the Apostle wrote to the Hebrew Christians that “without holiness no man shall see the Lord” [Heb 12:15] he was not speaking of their ‘positional sanctification’ in Christ but their practical living!

“This entire sanctification of our whole inner and outer man is absolutely indispensable. As there must be a change of state before there can be of life — “make the tree good, and his fruit (will be) good” (Matthew 12:33) — so there must be sanctification before there can be glorification. Unless we are purged from the pollution of sin, we can never be fit for communion with God. “And there shall in no wise enter into it (the eternal dwelling place of God and His people) anything that defiles, neither whatever works abomination” (Rev. 21:27). “To suppose that an unpurged sinner can be brought into the blessed enjoyment of God, is to overthrow both the law and the Gospel, and to say that Christ died in vain” (John Owen)

Way back in 1600 Walter Marshall wrote – “Conclude we, then, that holiness in this life is absolutely necessary to salvation, not only as a means to the end, but by a nobler kind of necessity — as part of the end itself. Though we are not saved by good works as Procuring causes, yet we are saved to good works, as fruits and effects of saving grace, ‘which God has prepared that we should walk in them’ (Ephesians 2:10). It is, indeed, one part of our salvation to be delivered from the bondage of the covenant of works; but the end of this is, not that we may have liberty to sin (which is the worst of slavery) but that we may fulfill the royal law of liberty, and that ‘we may serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter’ (Galatians 5:13; Romans 7:6). Yes, holiness in this life is such a part of our ‘salvation’ that it is a necessary means to make us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in heavenly light and glory: for without holiness we can never see God (Hebrews 12:14), and are as unfit for His glorious presence as swine for the presence-chamber of an earthly king.”

Experimental sanctification or personal holiness is indeed an integral part of salvation itself. One of the most serious defects of modern day ministry is the ignoring of this basic fact. Of too many present-day “converts” it has to be woefully said, “Ephraim is a cake not turned” (Hos. 7:8) — browned underneath, unbaked on the top. Christ is set forth as a fire-escape from Hell, but not as the great Physician to deal with the malady of indwelling sin, and to fit for Heaven. Much is said upon how to obtain forgiveness of sins, but little is preached on how to be cleansed from its pollutions. The necessity for His atoning blood is set forth, but not the indispensability of experimental holiness. Consequently, thousands who mentally assent to the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice, know nothing about heart purity.

Again; there is a woeful disproportion between the place which is given to faith and the emphasis which the Scriptures give to that obedience which flows from sanctification. It is not only true that “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6), but it is equally true that without holiness “no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Not only are we told “in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Galatians 6:15), but it is also written, “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God!” (1 Corinthians 7:19).

It is not for nothing that God has told us, “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). Not only is there in all the promises a particular respect unto personal, vital, and practical “godliness,” but it is that very godliness which, pre-eminently, gives the saint a special interest in those promises.

Alas, how many there are today who imagine that if they have “faith ,”it is sure to be well with them at the end, even though they are not holy. Under the pretense of honoring faith, Satan, as an angel of light, has deceived, and is still deceiving, multitudes of souls. But when their “faith” be examined and tested, what is it worth? Nothing at all so far as insuring an entrance into Heaven is concerned: it is a power-less, lifeless, and fruitless thing; it is nothing better than that faith which the demons have (James 2:19). Whereas the faith of God’s elect is unto “the acknowledgment of the truth which is after godliness” (Titus 1:1). Saving faith is a “most holy faith” (Jude 20): it is a faith which “purifies the heart” (Acts 15:9), it is a faith which “works by love” (Galatians 5:6), it is a faith which “overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4), it is a faith which brings forth all manner of good works (Heb. 11). In a word it quickens and motivates us to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God!” [2Cor 7:1]

To be sanctified or live a holy life is just as requisite as to be justified. He who thinks to come to enjoyment of God without holiness, makes Him an unholy God, and puts the highest indignity imaginable upon Him. There is no other alternative: we must either leave our sins, or our God. We may as easily reconcile Heaven and Hell, as easily take away all difference between light and darkness, good and evil, as procure acceptance for unholy persons with God. While it be true that our interest in God is not built upon our holiness, it is equally true that we have none without it.

Many have greatly erred in concluding that, because piety and obedience are not meritorious, they can get to Heaven without them. The free grace of God towards sinners by Jesus Christ by no means renders holiness needless and useless. Christ is not the minister of sin, but the Maintainer of God’s glory. He has not purchased for His people security in sin, but salvation from sin!

In closing please allow me to say that if a man has indeed received the ‘Grace of God’ as he claims he has, then it will teach him something and that is – “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, he should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world!” [Titus 2:12]

“Those who have been justified are now being sanctified; those who have no experience of present sanctification have no reason to suppose they have been justified.”  – F.F. Bruce

“None can know their election but by their conformity to Christ; for all who are chosen are chosen to sanctification.” – Matthew Henry

“Whom God legally saves, He experimentally saves; whom He justifies, them He also sanctifies. Where the righteousness of Christ is imputed to an individual, a principle of holiness is imparted to him; the former can only be ascertained by the latter. It is impossible to obtain a Scriptural knowledge that the merits of Christ’s finished work are reckoned to my account, except by proving that the efficacy of the Holy Spirit’s work is evident in my soul.”

“For just as weight cannot be separated from a stone, or heat from a fire; so cannot justification from sanctification.”– A.W. Pink

[Much of the above is gleaned and paraphrased from the works of John Owen and A.W. Pink. For controversy we have no taste, and we shall not accept any challenge against those who desire to debate the truths discussed in the above paper.]

THE TRUE CHRISTIAN CANNOT AND WILL NOT CONTINUE IN A KNOWN COURSE OF SIN

THE TRUE CHRISTIAN CANNOT AND WILL NOT CONTINUE IN A KNOWN COURSE OF SIN

J.C.  Philpot

 Truth wrapped up in vague, general declaration is the sword in the scabbard which, as it wounds no conscience, so it pierces no error. Clear, plain, positive statements of divine truth are the two-edged sword which pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit. This naked sword discovers the foundations of error unto the neck…

Much that passes for union in a church is merely natural feeling of friendship and regard as worshippers in the same place, and as from time to time brought together in a kind of social religious intercourse. REAL SOUL UNION IS ONE OF THE RAREST THINGS IN THE WORLD. There may be much warm shaking of hands, kind enquiry’s, and friendly looks and expressions, a few words about the sermon or general soul matters, where the Holy Ghost has neither given spiritual life nor cemented spiritual union…

Another prominent evil is the loose Antinomian spirit so widely prevalent in Calvinistic churches. This denial of practical godliness appears under a resting upon mere doctrinal truth in vain confidence of interest therein, without any vital experience of its liberating power or sanctifying effects manifest in the walk and life. Books, periodicals, and sermons are coming continually under our eye, sound in letter of truth, in which there is not the faintest attempt to enforce vital, practical godliness, either in its experience in the heart or in its influence on the life.

The highest doctrine is set forth in the most decided unflinching way; free will so called, is chased over hill and dale; the Arminians and Pharisees, soundly rated as the most weak and foolish of men, and shouts of victory are pealed forth to the triumph of sovereign grace. But there it begins and ends. A little shallow experience may be named; but of fruit, inward or outward, a godly life, a Christian walk, not a syllable.

Is fruit generally insisted upon as the mark of union with Christ?

Such fruits as self-denial, crucifixion of the flesh with its affections and lusts; laboring to know and do the will of God; repentance and godly sorrow for sin; mourning and sighing over a backsliding heart; a prayerful meditative spirit, and that sweet spirituality of mind which is life and peace – are not these vital realities positively ignored and not even named, much less insisted upon?

It would almost seem, from the general neglect of enforcement upon believers practical godliness, as if the elect might do anything they liked, and that we are saved not FROM SIN, but IN SIN; delivered from the curse of the law, not to walk in obedience of the gospel, but almost to do any abomination in which the carnal mind delights! (Jeremiah 7:10)

“To hope to be delivered by Christ while continuing in a known course of sin is one of the greatest delusions of the Devil!” [A.W. Pink]

THE DOCTRINE OF TRUE HOLINESS

THE DOCTRINE OF TRUE HOLINESS

 William F. Bell

And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”  [Ephesians 4:24]. 

 But as He which hath called you is holy, so BE YE HOLY in all manner of conversation (conduct); Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” [1 Peter 1:15-16].

Evangelist Rolfe Barnard (1904-1969) once said that churchgoers in his day “were terribly afraid” of the word “holiness.” Today, many still are! I have often said that the only kind of Christian we should be is the “holiness” kind. God is the Holy One. We have a Holy Bible. We declare a holy gospel. Christ is the holy Son of God. The Spirit living within us is the Holy Spirit. The true children of God are called “THE HOLY PEOPLE” (Isaiah 62:12).

Note that Paul uses the expression, “TRUE HOLINESS.” When we read that something is “true,” it is being contrasted with that which is “false.” Mere outward religion is false holiness! God is called “THE LIVING AND TRUE GOD” (1 Thessalonians 1:9) in contrast to all “false” gods (Psalm 115:4-8).

WE MUST BE CONCERNED ABOUT “TRUE HOLINESS.” Simon Peter was quoting the Old Testament when he said, “BE HOLY IN ALL YOUR CONDUCT.” Is not this highly important today when “sexual harassment” is constantly in the news? How we need to guard our thoughts, our words, and our actions! “KEEP THYSELF PURE,” Paul admonished Timothy (1 Timothy 5:22), later saying to him, “FLEE ALSO YOUTHFUL LUSTS” (2 Timothy 2:22). How can these texts be misunderstood? But some religious people make fun of this doctrine of holiness, asking, “But how is it possible for unholy sinners to be holy and pure?” To answer that question requires a biblical knowledge of the doctrines of human depravity, election, redemption, justification, and sanctification.

Note that Peter is writing to the “elect,” those having been “born again” and “called” (1 Peter 1:2,3,15). Paul clearly says he is writing “TO THE SAINTS WHICH ARE AT EPHESUS, AND TO THE FAITHFUL IN CHRIST JESUS” (Ephesians 1:1). “Saints” are “holy ones,” but only “in Christ Jesus.” Is not this crucial to understanding true holiness? God declares, “For I am holy,” but no sinner can ever say this! Only Christ our Lord was “holy” and “not defiled” with sin [Hebrews 7:26].

We know that “holiness” is far more than merely “abstaining” from certain outward things often called “sin.” But all the “abstaining” in the world from what men call outward “sins” could never produce true holiness! Mark that down. But no matter our view, the “be holy” texts of Scripture are powerful, including this one: “FOLLOW PEACE WITH ALL, AND HOLINESS, WITHOUT WHICH NO ONE SHALL SEE THE LORD” [Hebrews 12:14]. Note that we must “pursue” peace and holiness, that is, “be diligent” about it by the grace of God.

SINNERS “BORN FROM ABOVE” HAVE DIFFERENT  “CONDUCT” FROM THE UNREGENERATE. 

We desire to honor Christ in daily living, knowing assuredly that only God’s grace makes sinners differ from each other. None of us can ever “live holy” personally, for our fallen nature does not allow it. But those “born again” possess a new nature, being indwelt by the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-18; Romans 8:9; 2 Peter 1:1-4). Paul calls it being CREATED ACCORDING TO GOD.” We never “put off the old man” until the grace of God “renews” our minds in order for us to “put on the new man.”

Some indeed have a “holier-than-thou” attitude, but this does not destroy the biblical doctrine of “true holiness.” It is also true that our “conduct” does not save us legally, for the only ground of our salvation is the justifying righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24-26). But does not the cross of Calvary assure us that God will have a holy people? Yes! We know that “holiness” is an EVIDENCE of justification in our lives, for Simon Peter attributes it to the Spirit of God: “IN SANCTIFICATION OF THE SPIRIT, UNTO OBEDIENCE” [1 Peter 1:2]

Note, “sanctification of the Spirit” is “unto obedience.” How could it be any clearer?

Those “chosen” by the Father, “redeemed” by the Son, and “called” by the Spirit, are described in this gracious manner: “THAT WE SHOULD BE HOLY AND WITHOUT BLAME BEFORE HIM IN LOVE” (Ephesians 1:4). Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ is our “holiness”  OBJECTIVELY (1 Corinthians 1:30), and because of that glorious fact the Spirit also works in us “holiness” of life SUBJECTIVELY (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4).

The true believer can never be “antinomian” (lawless) in life, anymore than a bird can live in water!

Sin is not a redeemed person’s element, and if we can sin without grieving over it, that spells no regeneration! But, beloved, if we have been justified through Christ’s work “FOR US,” then we experimentally “put on the new man” because Christ Jesus now lives “IN US.” And this is the glorious gospel, as the poet confirms by writing,

Ye souls, redeemed with blood,

And called by grace divine,

Walk worthy of your God,

And let your conduct shine;

Keep Christ, your living Head, in view,

In all you say, in all you do.

William Gadsby

 

LETTER TO A DEAR BROTHER ASSERTING WHAT WE MEAN WHEN WE DECRY ‘PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION’

LETTER TO A DEAR BROTHER ASSERTING WHAT WE MEAN WHEN WE DECRY ‘PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION’

My dear Brother Glen, thank you for sending me your thoughts on the matter of Sanctification. As in many other matters of theology I must say that your thoughts are the same as mine, as are your concerns in the matter. After nearly thirty one years of walking with the Lord and studying this subject on and off I be fully persuaded that ‘Sanctification’ is both a ‘one-time thing and a PROCESS!

You said in your letter – “We have been sanctified (set apart) and we ARE BEING sanctified as we grow in Christ, becoming more like him. It is dangerous to ignore this process. And all His children will experience this process for if we are without chastisement, then are ye bastards and not sons.”

I heartily concur with what you have written. Please allow me to particularize . . . .

When we decry ‘progressive sanctification’ all we are saying is that that which is born of the flesh is flesh.” (John 3:6) and will remain so till we are delivered from the body of this death. There is no promise made that in this life, we shall be set free from the indwelling and the in-working of sin.

As Brother Philpot said long ago – “Many think that their flesh is to become “progressively holier and holier” — that sin after sin is to be removed gradually out of the heart — until at last they are almost made perfect in the flesh. But this is an idle dream, and one which, sooner or later will be crudely and roughly broken to pieces!

The flesh will ever remain the same — and we shall ever find that the flesh will lust against the Spirit. Our fleshly nature is corrupt to the very core. It cannot be mended. It cannot be sanctified. It is the same at the last, as it was at the first — inherently evil, and as such will never cease to be corrupt until we put off mortality — and with it the body of sin and death.”

But that is not to say there is no ‘process’ of sanctification wrought in God’s saints from the time of their regeneration until they are called to glory. While the ‘Old man’ remains unchanged there is a change wrought in the ‘New man’ by the operation of the Spirit or the Apostle had not said – “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” [2Cor 3:18] THIS is a process! To the same effect he says, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” [2Cor 4:16]

“These blessings (of both Justification and Sanctification) walk hand in hand; and never were, never will be, never can be parted. No more than the delicious scent can be separated from the beautiful bloom of the rose or carnation: let the flower be expanded, and the fragrance transpires. Try if you can separate gravity from the stone or heat from the fire. If these bodies and their essential properties, if these causes and their necessary effects, are indissolubly connected, so are our justification and our sanctification” (James Hervey, 1770).

Justification is by a righteousness without us, sanctification is by a holiness wrought in us. Justification is by Christ as Priest, and has regard to the penalty of sin; sanctification is by Christ as King, and has regard to the dominion of sin: the former cancels its damning power, while the latter delivers from its reigning power.

 Justification is a judicial act, by which the sinner is pronounced righteous; sanctification is a moral work, by which the sinner is made holy: the one has to do solely with our standing before God, the other chiefly concerns our state. They differ in their cause: the one issuing from the merits of Christ’s satisfaction, the other proceeding from the efficacy of the same. They differ in their end: the one bestowing a title to everlasting glory, the other being the highway which conducts us there. “And an highway shall be there,…and it shall be called The way of holiness (Isaiah 35:8).

To sanctify, then, means in the great majority of instances, to appoint, dedicate or set apart unto God, for a holy and special use. Yet that act of separation is not a bare change of situation, so to speak, but is preceded or accompanied by a work which (ceremonially or experimentally) fits the person for God. Thus the priests in their sanctification (Leviticus 8) were sanctified by washing in water (type of regeneration: Titus 3:5), having the blood applied to their persons (type of justification: Romans 5:9), and being anointed with oil (type of receiving the Holy Spirit: 1 John 2 :20, 27). As the term is applied to Christians it is used to designate three things, or three parts of one whole:
First, the process of setting them apart unto God or constituting them holy: Hebrews 13:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:13.
Second, the state or condition of holy separation into which they are brought: I Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 4:24.
Third, the personal sanctity or holy living which proceeds from the state: Luke 1:75; 1 Peter 1:15.

We be fully persuaded that ‘Personal holiness’ or experimental sanctification is equally imperative as is the forgiveness of sins in order to eternal bliss! When the Apostle wrote to the Hebrew Christians that “without holiness no man shall see the Lord” [Heb 12:15] he was not speaking of their ‘positional sanctification’ in Christ but their practical living!

“This entire sanctification of our whole inner and outer man is absolutely indispensable. As there must be a change of state before there can be of life — “make the tree good, and his fruit (will be) good” (Matthew 12:33) — so there must be sanctification before there can be glorification. Unless we are purged from the pollution of sin, we can never be fit for communion with God. “And there shall in no wise enter into it (the eternal dwelling place of God and His people) anything that defiles, neither whatever works abomination” (Rev. 21:27). “To suppose that an unpurged sinner can be brought into the blessed enjoyment of God, is to overthrow both the law and the Gospel, and to say that Christ died in vain” (John Owen)

Way back in 1600 Walter Marshall wrote – “Conclude we, then, that holiness in this life is absolutely necessary to salvation, not only as a means to the end, but by a nobler kind of necessity — as part of the end itself. Though we are not saved by good works as Procuring causes, yet we are saved to good works, as fruits and effects of saving grace, ‘which God has prepared that we should walk in them’ (Ephesians 2:10). It is, indeed, one part of our salvation to be delivered from the bondage of the covenant of works; but the end of this is, not that we may have liberty to sin (which is the worst of slavery) but that we may fulfill the royal law of liberty, and that ‘we may serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter’ (Galatians 5:13; Romans 7:6). Yes, holiness in this life is such a part of our ‘salvation’ that it is a necessary means to make us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in heavenly light and glory: for without holiness we can never see God (Hebrews 12:14), and are as unfit for His glorious presence as swine for the presence-chamber of an earthly king.”

Experimental sanctification or personal holiness is indeed an integral part of salvation itself. One of the most serious defects of modern day ministry is the ignoring of this basic fact. Of too many present-day “converts” it has to be woefully said, “Ephraim is a cake not turned” (Hos. 7:8) — browned underneath, unbaked on the top. Christ is set forth as a fire-escape from Hell, but not as the great Physician to deal with the malady of indwelling sin, and to fit for Heaven. Much is said upon how to obtain forgiveness of sins, but little is preached on how to be cleansed from its pollutions. The necessity for His atoning blood is set forth, but not the indispensability of experimental holiness. Consequently, thousands who mentally assent to the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice, know nothing about heart purity.

Again; there is a woeful disproportion between the place which is given to faith and the emphasis which the Scriptures give to that obedience which flows from sanctification. It is not only true that “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6), but it is equally true that without holiness “no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Not only are we told “in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Galatians 6:15), but it is also written, “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God!” (1 Corinthians 7:19).

It is not for nothing that God has told us, “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). Not only is there in all the promises a particular respect unto personal, vital, and practical “godliness,” but it is that very godliness which, pre-eminently, gives the saint a special interest in those promises.

Alas, how many there are today who imagine that if they have “faith ,”it is sure to be well with them at the end, even though they are not holy. Under the pretense of honoring faith, Satan, as an angel of light, has deceived, and is still deceiving, multitudes of souls. But when their “faith” be examined and tested, what is it worth? Nothing at all so far as insuring an entrance into Heaven is concerned: it is a power-less, lifeless, and fruitless thing; it is nothing better than that faith which the demons have (James 2:19). Whereas the faith of God’s elect is unto “the acknowledgment of the truth which is after godliness” (Titus 1:1). Saving faith is a “most holy faith” (Jude 20): it is a faith which “purifies the heart” (Acts 15:9), it is a faith which “works by love” (Galatians 5:6), it is a faith which “overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4), it is a faith which brings forth all manner of good works (Heb. 11). In a word it quickens and motivates us to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God!” [2Cor 7:1]

To be sanctified or live a holy life is just as requisite as to be justified. He who thinks to come to enjoyment of God without holiness, makes Him an unholy God, and puts the highest indignity imaginable upon Him. There is no other alternative: we must either leave our sins, or our God. We may as easily reconcile Heaven and Hell, as easily take away all difference between light and darkness, good and evil, as procure acceptance for unholy persons with God. While it be true that our interest in God is not built upon our holiness, it is equally true that we have none without it.

Many have greatly erred in concluding that, because piety and obedience are not meritorious, they can get to Heaven without them. The free grace of God towards sinners by Jesus Christ by no means renders holiness needless and useless. Christ is not the minister of sin, but the Maintainer of God’s glory. He has not purchased for His people security in sin, but salvation from sin!

In closing please allow me to say that if a man has indeed received the ‘Grace of God’ as he claims he has, then it will teach him something and that is – “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, he should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world!” [Titus 2:12]

“Those who have been justified are now being sanctified; those who have no experience of present sanctification have no reason to suppose they have been justified.”  – F.F. Bruce

“None can know their election but by their conformity to Christ; for all who are chosen are chosen to sanctification.” – Matthew Henry

“Whom God legally saves, He experimentally saves; whom He justifies, them He also sanctifies. Where the righteousness of Christ is imputed to an individual, a principle of holiness is imparted to him; the former can only be ascertained by the latter. It is impossible to obtain a Scriptural knowledge that the merits of Christ’s finished work are reckoned to my account, except by proving that the efficacy of the Holy Spirit’s work is evident in my soul.”

“For just as weight cannot be separated from a stone, or heat from a fire; so cannot justification from sanctification.”– A.W. Pink

[Much of the above is gleaned and paraphrased from the works of John Owen and A.W. Pink. For controversy we have no taste, and we shall not accept any challenge against those who desire to debate the truths discussed in the above paper.]

THE LAW IS GOOD

THE LAW IS GOOD

Joe Wilson

“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law!” [Rom 3:31]

THERE was a time when the Law of God occupied a large place in preaching from the pulpits.  The Ten Commandments were often expounded and applied.  Christian homes taught and honored the Ten Commandments. Start 50 years ago and go back through church history, and you will find a far different attitude toward the Law of God from that of this wicked and Antinomian age.  One of the reasons for this is the overdoing of dispensationalism … The Scofield Bible type of dispensationalism tells us that the Ten Commandments were never given to any except Israel, and to them only for a definite period of time — from Sinai to Calvary. But I believe the Bible teaches that they were given to all men of all time …

SALVATION does not deliver one from the obligation to live right.  All men, saved or unsaved, are always obligated to God’s Law.  If anything, being saved increases that obligation!  Love and gratitude to the Redeemer surely increases one’s obligation to live according to God’s Law. And SALVATION gives one the desire to live right.

If you do not have this desire, you are not saved! Salvation also brings the power of the Holy Spirit, enabling one to live right. “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:4).  “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16) … Now God’s standard of right living is His Holy law. We are not under the Law for salvation — no one ever has been — but we are under the Law as a rule of life for the believer.

— Joe Wilson, in The Baptist Examiner, January 1988.

 

PERVERTED PREDESTINATION

predestinating-judge

PERVERTED PREDESTINATION

Glen Berry

THE PREMISE of Predestination is true is without doubt. It is thoroughly Biblical.* But that it can be watered down by false teachers to the point of being meaningless ; or that it can find such doctrinal extremes by sincere men who want to glorify it, yet attempt such to the point of perversion is also a danger. Thus the need for our taking heed to

WARNING!

IT IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE but you will very seldom hear the truth of such Bible doctrines as “Predestination” on the radio or television. See footnote below.

SEVERAL YEARS before I was born, Charles Lindbergh made his famous solo night across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. Then in 1932 the 20-month-old son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh was kidnapped  and murdered from the family’s new mansion in Hopewell, New Jersey.

At the time, 1932, my father was working at an air-plane factory in California. He was known as one who believed “What is to be will be.” (It seems to me the alternative would be that one must believe, “What is to be won’t be”!) At any rate, he was often ridiculed for his belief. So then when the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped, some of his fellow-workers came in to make fun of him, saying, “I suppose God knew that was going to happen before it happened. My father, I think wisely, gave his answer, like “answering a fool according to his folly.” He simply said, “No. God did not know about it until it came out in this morning’s newspaper.”

OBVIOUSLY, we being finite and God being infinite, we cannot fully understand the deep mysteries of God. But He knows all things; He is all-knowing. Omniscient. As He says in Isaiah 46:9-11, “… I am God, and there is none else; I am God and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth My counsel from a far country yea I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass ; I have purposed it, I will also do it.

Jesus not only says, “I am Alpha and Omega” but explains the meaning, “the beginning and the ending.” Think about it: If God can tell His prophets what is going to happen hundreds and thousands of years before those things are done, don’t you realize that He absolutely MUST have control of all things, and the almighty POWER to overrule things? Otherwise, how could such prophecies come to pass for sure? What a mighty God!

Let us look at an example –

Here are some of God’s predestinating ways. He gave Joseph dreams that took place many years later. But note some highlights. When young Joseph related his dreams to his father and his brothers, it made his older brothers jealous. Yet God not only sees the end from the beginning, but note how He moves, rules and overrules to bring those events and His purposes to pass.

It even says in the Bible, in Psalm 76:10,”Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee : the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain!”  So God has the power to allow and the power to restrain. To test Job, He allowed the devil to do many things to Job, but would not allow him to take Job’s life. Even the book of Job depicts the truth of Psalm 76:10. But let us get back to Joseph.

The older brothers being moved by jealousy, they sought to kill him. that is, all of them but Reuben, who influenced them to rather just put him in a pit. There he would have died, but Reuben planned to return to the pit after the other brothers were at other duties, and he was going to lift Joseph out of the pit so he could return home to his father. But God had other plans. In the mean time, the brothers had sold Joseph as a slave to some Midianite merchants who were passing by.

Note two major truths : God is NOT the author of evil or confusion and yet He is in full control to His own glory, Note how the wickedness was on the part of the brothers, out of their innate evil nature, but God used even that to bring GOOD to both beginning tribes of Israel!

God, without being the author of sin and evil, used the opportunity also to eventually teach the brothers of their sin and to humble them, as well as the saving of many physical lives.

In God’s purpose Joseph had to go to Egypt. He had to end up in prison for several years before coming to the attention of the mighty Pharaoh. By that means, long story short, Joseph became second in command under the Pharaoh over all Egypt. Thus saving not only the nation of Egypt from vast starvation, but saving his own family which was the beginning of national Israel. And later, after the long famine had started, and after Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers, they were frightened and trembling at the thought of what he might do to take revenge for the sin they committed against him. Though God used it all, they were still guilty of the wrong-doing. So Joseph told them, “Now therefore be not grieved nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither for God did send me before you to preserve life. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”(Genesis 45 : 5-7) Then many years later just after the father Jacob had died, the brothers still thought Joseph might retaliate since their father was gone, but he told them,

“Fear not for am I in the place of God? But as for you, Ye thought evil against me ; but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Genesis 50 : 19-20)

No part of God’s plan was haphazard or by chance. God was behind all, overruling, controlling in order to bring His higher purposes to pass. A God who could not or would not predestinate, overrule and control could not do that. He would be but a weak God of chance, dependent on the whims of men.

Now look into the New Testament. The greatest evil in all history, by all mankind, is the slaying and crucifixion of the Christ, the Anointed of God, the very Son of God, God manifest in the Flesh. Yet Paul tells us in Acts 22-23,

“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracle s and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as you yourselves also know, Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of  God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.”

So we see again that God used evil in men for His own overruling purposes, leaving man still guilty before Him and bringing glory to HIMSELF as His own will is accomplished. Can we fathom it? Even believers with His Spirit can only fathom it to a very small degree. Great are the mysteries of both Godliness and of Iniquity. As they say in the modern vernacular, we can’t “unpack” it, or we can’t “wrap our minds around it” fully..

THE PERVERSION OF PREDESTINATION

But then where does the PERVERSION of Predestination come in? Just here, so listen closely:  Some believe and teach predestination in such a way that leads them to justify and excuse their own sins and failures. For example, if there is something that obviously should have been done but a “sin of omission” kept that person from doing what was a human duty, he might say, “Oh well, if it had been predestinated, I would have done it.” Since God is going to get glory even from the wrath of man, then my failure or even my disobedience will glorify Him just as much as my obedience would have.” This is also hiding your “sins of commission” behind a Bible doctrine, perverting it, and trying to make it a thing for which it was not designed by God. Hiding sin and failure behind predestination, as if blaming God for your sin and failure, is a false doctrine and makes a mockery of our holy God. Can you imagine Joseph’s brothers in this way excusing their sin they had suffered under?

As for the word “predestinate” itself, we find it in one place in the Bible. Romans 3:29 – “For whom He did foreknow, He also did PREDESINATE to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate them He also called and whom He called them He also justified and whom He justified, them He also glorified.”

FOOTNOTE – * Regardless of where you stand on “Predestination,”we suggest you go to the internet at http://www.moodychurch.org and click on “Watch Online.” Then click on “Archives.” Go to speaker Erwin Lutzer and the series on “The Inheritance of the Redeemed” (March 2016). The first sermon is “The Gift of Predestination.” Most excellent! (watch all the series.)

(You can also get it on YouTube, under “The Gift of Predestination.” Watch the video by Erwin Lutzer.)

BALANCE IN PREACHING

Serious 12-year old girl playing a harp

BALANCE IN PREACHING

Michael Jeshurun

“A false balance is abomination to the LORD”! [Prov 11:1]

This principle applies in the study and preaching of the Bible too!

If any doctrine be preached exclusively it is distorted. There is a BALANCE to be preserved in our presentation of the truth; while no part of it is to be suppressed, no part of it is to be made unduly prominent. It is a great mistake to harp on one string only. Man’s responsibility must be enforced as well as God’s sovereignty insisted upon. If on the one hand the minister must not be intimidated by Arminians, on the other he must not be brow-beaten by hyper-Calvinists, who object to the calling upon the unconverted to repent and believe the gospel” [Mark 1:15]. [A.W. Pink]

A brother recently wrote – “No. Some Calvinists are not Calvinists or Christians at all but antinomians, saying that grace won’t be grace if we obeyed”.

Oh how true this is!

Antinomianism is a very real threat, or godly men had not written against it.

If he could, the Antinomian would tear the book of James out of the Bible, for in it are contained verses which clearly expose his hypocrisy!

“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had
offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was
faith made perfect?
2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

But there is a Scripture which aptly describes the Antinomian, it is in Titus 1:19 – “They profess that they know God; but IN WORKS THEY DENY HIM, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate”!

This is one reason a lot of ‘Calvinists’ don’t like A.W. Pink very much. For he maintained a proper balance in his preaching! Unlike many, he refused to harp on one string only!

It is indeed sad to see many preachers in our day who should know better being ONE-SIDED in their preaching? I speak with regards to the ‘PRECEPTIVE’ part of the Word of God. When was the last time you heard a preacher (especially those of the Reformed camp) preach a searching message on God’s precepts. Or how many ‘Sovereign Grace’ websites do you know that have even a single sermon or article on the precepts?

“They preach a lot on doctrine, often on experience, but life conduct receives the scantiest notice. It is not too much to say that they seem to be afraid of the very word “duty.” They preach soundly and beneficially on the obedience which Christ gave to God on behalf of His people, but they say next to nothing of that obedience which the Lord requires from those whom He has redeemed”! [A.W. Pink]

But what is one of the primary things which the “grace of God’ teaches the Christian? Why, this: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, TEACHING US that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world”! [Titus 2:11,12]. Those who contend earnestly for the truth of ‘Limited Atonement’ need to bear in mind that one of the reason that Christ atoned for them is this – “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, ZEALOUS OF GOOD WORKS”! [Titus 2:14]

Do ‘good works’ or ‘holy living’ add anything to our salvation or our favour with God? ABSOLUTELY NOT! But they give US the assurance that we are indeed who we claim to be! The Apostle constantly admonished his hearers to ‘examine themselves’ as to whether they were in the faith! [2Cor 13:5] And how does one do this, but by searching his heart as to whether he is following a course of sin or righteousness!

Sadly, very little is spoken in ‘Reformed circles’ concerning the Christian’s war with sin and self! And I am here referring here to the ‘Precepts’!

Please allow me to quote J.C. Philpot here – “It is almost become a tradition in some churches professing the doctrines of grace to disregard the precepts and pass them by in a kind of general silence. Consider this point, ye ministers, who Lord’s day after Lord’s day preach nothing but doctrine, doctrine, doctrine; and ask yourselves whether the same Holy Spirit who revealed the first three chapters of the epistle to the Ephesians did not also reveal the last three? Is not the whole epistle equally inspired, a part of that Scripture of which we read, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17)?

To the same effect, he declared:

“To despise, then, the precept, to call it legal and burdensome, is to despise not man, but God, who hath given unto us His Holy Spirit in the inspired Scriptures for our faith and obedience…. Nothing more detects hypocrites, purges out loose professors, and fans away that chaff and dust which now so thickly covers our barn floors than an experimental handling of the precept. A DRY DOCTRINAL MINISTRY DISTURBS NO CONSCIENCES. The loosest professors may sit under it, nay, be highly delighted with it, for it gives them a hope, if not a dead confidence, that salvation being wholly of grace they shall be saved whatever be their walk of life. But the experimental handling of the precept cuts down all this and exposes their hypocrisy and deception”

May the Lord deliver us from Antinomianism and a ‘False Balance’ in our preaching and reading of God’s Holy Word!

 

WE NEED TO PRESERVE A BALANCE IN PREACHING

harp girl

WE NEED TO PRESERVE A BALANCE IN PREACHING

Michael Jeshurun

“A false balance is abomination to the LORD”! [Prov 11:1]

This principle applies in the study and preaching of the Bible too!

If any doctrine be preached exclusively it is distorted. There is a BALANCE to be preserved in our presentation of the truth; while no part of it is to be suppressed, no part of it is to be made unduly prominent. It is a great mistake to harp on one string only. Man’s responsibility must be enforced as well as God’s sovereignty insisted upon. If on the one hand the minister must not be intimidated by Arminians, on the other he must not be brow-beaten by hyper-Calvinists, who object to the calling upon the unconverted to repent and believe the gospel” [Mark 1:15]. [A.W. Pink]

A brother recently wrote – “No. Some Calvinists are not Calvinists or Christians at all but antinomians, saying that grace won’t be grace if we obeyed”.

Oh how true this is!

Antinomianism is a very real threat, or godly men had not written against it.

If he could, the Antinomian would tear the book of James out of the Bible, for in it are contained verses which clearly expose his hypocrisy!

“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had
offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was
faith made perfect?
2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

But there is a Scripture which aptly describes the Antinomian, it is in Titus 1:19 – “They profess that they know God; but IN WORKS THEY DENY HIM, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate”!

This is one reason a lot of ‘Calvinists’ don’t like A.W. Pink very much. For he maintained a proper balance in his preaching! Unlike many, he refused to harp on one string only!

It is indeed sad to see many preachers in our day who should know better being ONE-SIDED in their preaching? I speak with regards to the ‘PRECEPTIVE’ part of the Word of God. When was the last time you heard a preacher (especially those of the Reformed camp) preach a searching message on God’s precepts. Or how many ‘Sovereign Grace’ websites do you know that have even a single sermon or article on the precepts?

“They preach a lot on doctrine, often on experience, but life conduct receives the scantiest notice. It is not too much to say that they seem to be afraid of the very word “duty.” They preach soundly and beneficially on the obedience which Christ gave to God on behalf of His people, but they say next to nothing of that obedience which the Lord requires from those whom He has redeemed”! [A.W. Pink]

But what is one of the primary things which the “grace of God’ teaches the Christian? Why, this: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, TEACHING US that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world”! [Titus 2:11,12]. Those who contend earnestly for the truth of ‘Limited Atonement’ need to bear in mind that one of the reason that Christ atoned for them is this – “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, ZEALOUS OF GOOD WORKS”! [Titus 2:14]

Do ‘good works’ or ‘holy living’ add anything to our salvation or our favour with God? ABSOLUTELY NOT! But they give US the assurance that we are indeed who we claim to be! The Apostle constantly admonished his hearers to ‘examine themselves’ as to whether they were in the faith! [2Cor 13:5] And how does one do this, but by searching his heart as to whether he is following a course of sin or righteousness!

Sadly, very little is spoken in ‘Reformed circles’ concerning the Christian’s war with sin and self! And I am here referring here to the ‘Precepts’!

Please allow me to quote J.C. Philpot here – “It is almost become a tradition in some churches professing the doctrines of grace to disregard the precepts and pass them by in a kind of general silence. Consider this point, ye ministers, who Lord’s day after Lord’s day preach nothing but doctrine, doctrine, doctrine; and ask yourselves whether the same Holy Spirit who revealed the first three chapters of the epistle to the Ephesians did not also reveal the last three? Is not the whole epistle equally inspired, a part of that Scripture of which we read, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17)?

To the same effect, he declared:

“To despise, then, the precept, to call it legal and burdensome, is to despise not man, but God, who hath given unto us His Holy Spirit in the inspired Scriptures for our faith and obedience…. Nothing more detects hypocrites, purges out loose professors, and fans away that chaff and dust which now so thickly covers our barn floors than an experimental handling of the precept. A DRY DOCTRINAL MINISTRY DISTURBS NO CONSCIENCES. The loosest professors may sit under it, nay, be highly delighted with it, for it gives them a hope, if not a dead confidence, that salvation being wholly of grace they shall be saved whatever be their walk of life. But the experimental handling of the precept cuts down all this and exposes their hypocrisy and deception”

May the Lord deliver us from Antinomianism and a ‘False Balance’ in our preaching and reading of God’s Holy Word!

FALSE BALANCE IN PREACHING

Harping on one string

FALSE BALANCE IN PREACHING

Michael Jeshurun

“A false balance is abomination to the LORD”! [Prov 11:1]

This principle applies in the study and preaching of the Bible too!

If any doctrine be preached exclusively it is distorted. There is a BALANCE to be preserved in our presentation of the truth; while no part of it is to be suppressed, no part of it is to be made unduly prominent. It is a great mistake to harp on one string only. Man’s responsibility must be enforced as well as God’s sovereignty insisted upon. If on the one hand the minister must not be intimidated by Arminians, on the other he must not be brow-beaten by hyper-Calvinists, who object to the calling upon the unconverted to repent and believe the gospel” [Mark 1:15]. [A.W. Pink]

A brother recently wrote – “No. Some Calvinists are not Calvinists or Christians at all but antinomians, saying that grace won’t be grace if we obeyed”.

Oh how true this is!

Antinomianism is a very real threat, or godly men had not written against it.

If he could, the Antinomian would tear the book of James out of the Bible, for in it are contained verses which clearly expose his hypocrisy!

“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had
offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was
faith made perfect?
2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

But there is a Scripture which aptly describes the Antinomian, it is in Titus 1:19 – “They profess that they know God; but IN WORKS THEY DENY HIM, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate”!

This is one reason a lot of ‘Calvinists’ don’t like A.W. Pink very much. For he maintained a proper balance in his preaching! Unlike many, he refused to harp on one string only!

It is indeed sad to see many preachers in our day who should know better being ONE-SIDED in their preaching? I speak with regards to the ‘PRECEPTIVE’ part of the Word of God. When was the last time you heard a preacher (especially those of the Reformed camp) preach a searching message on God’s precepts. Or how many ‘Sovereign Grace’ websites do you know that have even a single sermon or article on the precepts?

“They preach a lot on doctrine, often on experience, but life conduct receives the scantiest notice. It is not too much to say that they seem to be afraid of the very word “duty.” They preach soundly and beneficially on the obedience which Christ gave to God on behalf of His people, but they say next to nothing of that obedience which the Lord requires from those whom He has redeemed”! [A.W. Pink]

But what is one of the primary things which the “grace of God’ teaches the Christian? Why, this: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, TEACHING US that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world”! [Titus 2:11,12]. Those who contend earnestly for the truth of ‘Limited Atonement’ need to bear in mind that one of the reason that Christ atoned for them is this – “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, ZEALOUS OF GOOD WORKS”! [Titus 2:14]

Do ‘good works’ or ‘holy living’ add anything to our salvation or our favour with God? ABSOLUTELY NOT! But they give US the assurance that we are indeed who we claim to be! The Apostle constantly admonished his hearers to ‘examine themselves’ as to whether they were in the faith! [2Cor 13:5] And how does one do this, but by searching his heart as to whether he is following a course of sin or righteousness!

Sadly, very little is spoken in ‘Reformed circles’ concerning the Christian’s war with sin and self! And I am here referring here to the ‘Precepts’!

Please allow me to quote J.C. Philpot here – “It is almost become a tradition in some churches professing the doctrines of grace to disregard the precepts and pass them by in a kind of general silence. Consider this point, ye ministers, who Lord’s day after Lord’s day preach nothing but doctrine, doctrine, doctrine; and ask yourselves whether the same Holy Spirit who revealed the first three chapters of the epistle to the Ephesians did not also reveal the last three? Is not the whole epistle equally inspired, a part of that Scripture of which we read, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17)?

To the same effect, he declared:

“To despise, then, the precept, to call it legal and burdensome, is to despise not man, but God, who hath given unto us His Holy Spirit in the inspired Scriptures for our faith and obedience…. Nothing more detects hypocrites, purges out loose professors, and fans away that chaff and dust which now so thickly covers our barn floors than an experimental handling of the precept. A DRY DOCTRINAL MINISTRY DISTURBS NO CONSCIENCES. The loosest professors may sit under it, nay, be highly delighted with it, for it gives them a hope, if not a dead confidence, that salvation being wholly of grace they shall be saved whatever be their walk of life. But the experimental handling of the precept cuts down all this and exposes their hypocrisy and deception”

May the Lord deliver us from Antinomianism and a ‘False Balance’ in our preaching and reading of God’s Holy Word!