Saturday, May 30, 2015

By Faith Alone? I Don't Think So!

Sola fide. By faith alone. The teaching that justification is received by faith alone without the need for works. If this concept originates with Martin Luther, it is easy to understand why. Martin Luther had no affinity for the book of James. In fact, he did not even believe it should be part of Scripture. Martin Luther, like many other professing Christians today, failed to realize that Paul and James were on the exact same page regarding faith and works. Paul was basically saying that works alone will not save you, while James was basically saying that faith alone will not save you. Both have to be working in tandem. A person is not saved because of their works; their works are the result of their salvation.

Let us see precisely what James had to say:
What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, "You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works." You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS," and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works, when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. James 2:14-26
As you can see from what James writes, it is not sola fide—by faith alone. Faith without works is dead. Without the evidence that demonstrates true faith, faith is merely an empty and vain profession. If justification is received by faith alone without the need for works on the part of the individual, then why does James declare otherwise? "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected... You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone." Our theology says that we are justified by faith alone, but the Bible, God's holy Word, says we are "justified by works, and not by faith alone." The two must be working in tandem. You cannot have one without the other. "Faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself." Works without faith are dead, and faith without works is dead. Our works are the result of our salvation; they do not earn us salvation. If we have true faith, good works will follow. If we have a false faith, we will cling to either works only (like the Catholics and many other cults) or faith only (like many false converts in the church today who think salvation begins and ends with faith in Jesus and nothing more—no repentance, no changed life, no living in holiness, etc.).

Genuine faith will be reflected through outward action.

Addendum 01/16/2016:
James quotes the exact same passage that Paul uses to support justification by faith (Rom. 4:3), but he uses it entirely differently. Before quoting the passage, James tells us, "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected." After quoting the passage, James informs us, "You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone." Twice, he tells us that Abraham was justified by his works. That fact cannot be escaped or ignored.

If you look through the entire Old and New Testaments where someone appears to be justified by faith alone, if you take a closer look at the story, you will see that they are also being justified by their works. Take the woman with the issue of blood, for example (Matt. 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48). On the surface, all most people see is her faith. They then attempt to build their presumptuous conclusion off Jesus' words: "Your faith has saved you." But take a closer look at the story. What do you see? You see her works saving her as well, just as James points out with regard to Abraham: "You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected." She reached out and touched his garments (works) while believing that doing so would heal her (faith). If she had merely said to herself, "If I only touch His garment, I will be saved," believing it wholeheartedly, and then turned and went home having done nothing, would she have been healed? Think about it. "Faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself." The two were working in tandem. You will find the same with every story in Scripture.

Think of it like this: I am hanging mid-air from whatever (cliff, roof, tree), about to fall and hurt myself severely. You are standing below and you tell me, "Let go and I will catch you." I can earnestly and wholeheartedly believe that you will catch me with every fiber of my being, but if I do not let go, all that belief counts for nothing. It is dead faith. By letting go, my works (letting go) perfect my faith (believing that you will indeed catch me). What we truly believe is always verified by what we do, regardless of what our mouths speak.

John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Apostles preached repentance (works) and belief (faith). If you preached the Gospel to me and I wholeheartedly believed every word of it, but that was it, nothing changed in the way I live, then I am still dead in my trespasses and sins and I will go to hell. If I truly believed the Gospel preached to me (faith), there will be repentance at the same time (works). If my faith in the Gospel is genuine, I will no longer do many of the things I used to once do. The evidence that I truly believed (faith) would be seen in my repentance (works), which perfects that faith. Otherwise, faith alone is dead! Other good works will inevitably follow, but there is always an initial work present with faith in order to perfect that faith, just as James said: "as a result of [Abraham's] works, [his] faith was perfected." It is never one or the other by itself. If we are justified by faith alone, then all I have to do is believe, without repentance, without any following works, without any kind of demonstration of that faith. Sadly, this is what most professing "Christians" in the church today believe. "All I need is faith. I just need to believe. I don't have to repent. I don't need to do any kind of good works. All I need to do is believe and keep that belief to myself, never letting it show."

It does not matter what traditions we hold to, it does not matter what system of theology we follow, it does not matter what denomination we belong to, we must compare all teachings with the Scriptures and hold the Scriptures as the only authority. I agree with most of Reformed theology, the doctrines of grace, and the five solas, but where they do not agree with Scripture, we need to reject tradition and conform our beliefs to the Word of God. Reformed theology, the doctrines of grace, and the five solas are not infallible. Any true student of the Word, a Berean at heart, understands this and will subject these, and all systems of theology, to the scrutiny of the Word of God. How we were raised, what we were taught, and what we believe must conform to Scripture. Otherwise we are blind, ignorant, disobedient, rebellious fools.

Saving Faith: The Mark of a True Christian

So... You call yourself a Christian, do you? If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? No? Then by what self-deceptive means do you profess to be a Christian? A person is not a Christian in name only, but 'Christian' defines their entire character; from their talk to their walk, from Sunday to Saturday, from morning to night, in public or in private. No, this is not legalism; it is holiness. Try cracking your Bible open some time and reading what it actually has to say about being a Christian.

"You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder." James 2:19

You see, claiming that you believe in Jesus carries absolutely no weight with it whatsoever. Even the demons believe in Jesus. Does that mean they are saved? Born again? Going to heaven? Not on your life! Do you know what your profession is worth? Absolutely nothing!

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'" Matthew 7:21-23

In case you are not aware, the key statement in that passage is this: "He who does the will of My Father who is in heaven [will enter the kingdom of heaven]." This accords perfectly with what James had said: "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves" (James 1:22). There is a very grave reason why Jesus warned us to "Count the cost." It is because "all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:12). Following Jesus is a hard path. There is nothing easy about it. As Arthur Pink once said, "A dead fish can float with the stream, but only a living one can swim against it. Just so, the unregenerate mechanically follow [the broad road], for there is nothing in them to resist the law of gravity. The going is smooth and easy—because it is all downhill!" "For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it" (Matthew 7:14).

So... Where is your evidence to support your claim of being a Christian?

"What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? ... Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, 'You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.' ... But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? ... You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone. ...  For just as the body without [the] spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." James 2:14, 17-18, 20, 24, 26

Not all kinds of faith will save a person. Most will condemn a person right where they stand. So... You need to ask yourself what kind of faith you actually possess, because if it is not saving faith, no matter how much you profess Jesus as Saviour, you will find yourself in hell for all eternity.

Kinds of Faith
  1. Intellectual or Historical Faith.
    This apprehends the truth intellectually as a result of education, tradition, rearing, etc. It is human and does not save. Matthew 7:26, Acts 26:27-28, James 2:19
  2. Miracle Faith.
    This is faith to perform or have performed a miracle and may or may not be accompanied by salvation. Matthew 8:10-13, 17-20, Acts 14:9
  3. Temporary Faith.
    It seems similar to intellectual faith except that there seems to be more personal interest involved. Luke 8:13
  4. Saving Faith.
    This is a reliance on the truth of the Gospel as revealed in the Word of God (intellectual, emotional and volitional [act of will] faith).
TO BELIEVE (verb) in the full sense is to rely on, trust in, commit oneself to the object of belief.

Charles Spurgeon once said:
When we hear of men living in sin and yet claiming to be Christians, we are disgusted with their pretenses—but we are not deceived by their professions.

In the same manner, we care little for those who are orthodox Christians in creed if it is clear that they are heterodox in life. He who believes the truth, should himself be true. How can we expect others to receive our religion if it leaves us foul, false, malicious, and selfish?

We sicken at the sight of a dirty dish, and refuse even good food when it is placed thereon. So pure and holy is the doctrine of the cross, that . . .
     he who hears it aright will have his ear cleansed,
     he who believes it will have his mind and heart purged,
     he who preaches it should have his tongue purified.

Woe unto that man who brings reproach upon the gospel by an unholy walk and life!
The person who claims to be a Christian and goes to church on Sunday, but conducts their business affairs dishonestly from Monday through Friday is living a heterodox life. The evidence of their walk contradicts the profession of their talk. Likewise, the person who claims to be a Christian and goes to church on Sunday, saying "Amen" after everything the preacher says, but as soon as he leaves the church and for the rest of the week lives as though he did not hear a single word the preacher said, is living a heterodox life. Again, the evidence of their walk contradicts the profession of their talk. As Spurgeon said, "He who believes the truth, should himself be true."

"They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed." Titus 1:16

"Holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power." 2 Timothy 3:5

Disciple means… learner.

A Disciple Is…
…under Jesus’ authority in every area.
…actively seeking to learn His teachings.
…actively seeking to do what He does.

Being With and Like Jesus Involves…
…talking with Him in prayer.
…listening to Him in the Bible.
…reaching out to those He wants to touch.
…sharing your life with His other disciples.
…entrusting your life (every area of it) to His guidance.

Is any of this true of your life? If you are a babe in Christ (a recent convert), it will take some time for this to develop in your life. Nevertheless, it will develop. If it has not, or it never does, then you may want to follow Paul's advice and "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!" (2 Corinthians 13:5). If you are truly a genuine born-again believer who has received salvation, then be sure to "bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance" (Matthew 3:8). Your walk should evidence your talk. Your works—doing the will of the Father—are the result of saving faith and bear witness to your saving faith. They are the evidence and testimony of your saving faith.

If your walk does not reflect Romans 6:11 and 8:13, then you can be sure you do not belong to Jesus and that you are not in the least a Christian.

For those of you who walked away from the faith and claim to have once been a "Christian," I suggest you pay attention to what Scripture says because you were never a child of God! "They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they are not all of us" (1 John 2:19).

Friday, May 29, 2015

Orthodox In Creed—But Heterodox In Life

by Charles Spurgeon

When we hear of men living in sin and yet claiming to be Christians, we are disgusted with their pretenses—but we are not deceived by their professions.

In the same manner, we care little for those who are orthodox Christians in creed if it is clear that they are heterodox in life. He who believes the truth, should himself be true. How can we expect others to receive our religion if it leaves us foul, false, malicious, and selfish?

We sicken at the sight of a dirty dish, and refuse even good food when it is placed thereon. So pure and holy is the doctrine of the cross, that . . .
     he who hears it aright will have his ear cleansed,
     he who believes it will have his mind and heart purged,
     he who preaches it should have his tongue purified.

Woe unto that man who brings reproach upon the gospel by an unholy walk and life!

Lord, evermore make us vessels fit for your own use, and then fill us with the pure juice of the grapes of sound doctrine and wholesome instruction. Do not allow us to be such foul cups as to be only fit for the wine of Sodom!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones On Romans 7:14-25

"As I see it, and explain at length in my exposition, the greatest cause of trouble is to become obsessed by the so-called ‘man of Romans 7’, and to approach the entire chapter, as a consequence, from the standpoint of Christian experience." —D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

"It is a small and narrow mind that is afraid to change; it is a sign of greatness that one is prepared to admit at times that one has been mistaken, and that therefore you have had to change your position." —D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
"[W]e must approach this matter with care, and above all, with great humility. Nothing is quite so bad and reprehensible as a party spirit. Whatever party we belong to, or whatever views we may hold, a party spirit is always wrong. Our great concern should be the Truth. Of necessity, we all hold a particular point of view and adhere to some system of doctrine. We cannot avoid doing so. People who say that they do not hold to any particular system, and that they are ‘just biblical’, are simply confessing that they have never really understood the teaching of the Bible. But though we may find ourselves, in general, following a certain line of exposition, a particular school of thought and of teaching, a particular view of dogmatic theology, we must never allow that to turn into a party spirit. Though this is true of us, we must come to every particular statement of the Scripture with an open mind; we must try to discover what the Scripture is saying, because no system is perfect, and at particular points even the best system may have certain defects. No system worked out by man ever has been, or ever will be perfect. Therefore, though we are governed in general by certain views, that does not mean that we must slavishly follow in every detail what has generally been taught by that particular school of thought. We must always be honest, we must seek earnestly for ‘the unction of the Holy Spirit’, we must realize that no teachers in the Church have had a complete monopoly of Truth. We must realize that at certain points the best systems can be somewhat defective because they are human products. So we approach this section of Scripture with great humility, with great carefulness and concern, and yet without a prejudiced mind.

As we approach this problem we are confronted by two possible procedures. One is for me to outline immediately the view I hold of this section, and then, as we come to the particular statements, to proceed to prove that this is the correct view. But I have rejected that way of approach because I believe there is another method which is not only better in itself, but also more Scriptural. It is the method we have hitherto adopted and is as follows.

First, let us look at the particular statements as if we held no view with respect to the whole section; let us try to discover what each statement says, and then, having arrived at what seems to be the meaning of each particular part, let us gather all together and try to arrive at a conclusion.

That is undoubtedly the better method, the method to be followed in any realm and department of thought. It is always right to listen to the evidence before you give a verdict. He is a very poor judge who starts with his verdict, and then proceeds to turn down everything that opposes it, instead of listening first to all the arguments, and giving them their full value. And any ordinary fair-minded man would follow the same procedure. As Christians, we should know the terrible danger of prejudice, and how it has so often led to rancour, wrangling, a bitter party spirit, and even cruelty and war, in the long history of the Church. It behoves us, therefore, more than anyone to adopt this second method. So we shall proceed to take this passage in the way in which we have approached so many other passages of Scripture. We shall adopt the inductive method and work up to a conclusion." —D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

It is generally agreed that most of the Fathers of the Church, during the first three centuries, regarded these verses as being a description of the unregenerate man. That is just a fact of history.

Let us now take a somewhat closer view of the argument. What is the main thrust of the section? What is the Apostle really concerned to do here? We start with the word ‘For’, with which verse 14 opens. Never has this word been more important than at this point; because it tells us that Paul is not introducing an entirely new section here, not starting upon a new subject; he is continuing with the previous one. This section is an elaboration and a further and a deeper exposition of what he has already been saying. The next term settles that once and for ever. ‘For’, he says, ‘we know’. What do we know? ‘That the law is spiritual’. In other words, from verse 14 and onwards the Apostle is still dealing with the Law and its functions, as has been the case from the 1 st verse of this chapter. That is still the theme; he has not finished with the Law, he has not finished with his exposition with regard to the Law and its function.

I am suggesting, therefore, that from this 14th verse to the end of the chapter Paul is still dealing with the same major theme that has occupied him from the beginning of the chapter. He is answering the charge brought against him with respect to his teaching concerning the Law. And we have seen that there were two main charges brought against his teaching, and two subsidiary charges. The general charge was that he was dismissing the Law altogether, and saying that the Law was of no value at all. That charge he answers in the first six verses. But in doing so he seems to be saying two things about the Law to which certain people objected. The first is conveyed in verse 7. ‘What shall we say then? Is the law sin?’ That arises because in verse 5 he seemed to say that the Law was sin - ‘For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law (energized by the law), did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death’. And we have seen that from verse 7 to verse 11 Paul has been dealing with that charge and proving that the Law is not sin; it is sin itself that has so abused and twisted and misused the Law that it has produced, and led to, sin. But a second objector asks in verse 13, ‘Was then that which is good made death unto me?’ And Paul answers immediately, ‘God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.’ But he was not satisfied with that. This is always his method. In verse 7, having raised the question, ‘What shall we say then? Is the law sin?’ he replies, ‘God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law.’ Then he proceeds to expound that in the following verses. He does precisely the same here. He asks the question, ‘Was then that which is good made death unto me?’ and answers immediately in the remainder of verse 13. But he does not stop at that; he goes on to expound it: and that is what we have in verses 14 to the end of the chapter.

Or we can put it positively and say that Paul is concerned here to show his actual view of the Law, to show what the Law is in and of itself, what it was meant to do, and especially what it was not meant to do. The Law is God’s Law; it is ‘holy, and just, and good’; it was meant to do certain things, but equally clearly it was not meant to do certain other things, and it cannot do them.

That is why we have to become ‘dead to the law’ before those things can happen. I suggest that he is still concerned with that theme; and that his fundamental object in particular is to show what the Law could not do. In other words, the Apostle in this section is not primarily concerned to ‘give his experience’; he has not set out just to tell us something about himself. He is telling us and setting out before us his view of the Law - the nature of the Law, what it is meant to do, and what it is not meant to do, or the limits to the Law. In other words in this section he is, in particular, refuting the charge that he had taught in verse 5 that the Law is death or produces death. But at the same time he is showing how the Law, because of sin in man, becomes a minister of death. He had already shown this with respect to the charge that the Law is sin. He says that the Law is not sin, but because of the character of sin in man the Law aggravates sin, ‘produces it’, in a sense makes a man sin, and so brings out the ‘exceeding sinfulness of sin’.

That is my suggestion as to the meaning and purpose of this section. May I offer a little proof of this at this point, before we proceed any further. Look at what the Apostle says in verses 2 and 3 of the next chapter. Verse z: ‘For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.’ Here we find the same two thoughts again. The Law, because of sin in man, has become ‘a law of sin’, a law that aggravates sin.

It has also become a Law that produces ‘death’, or leads to death - again because of sin. So he now calls it ‘the law of sin and death’. That is the same Law of which he has been speaking since the beginning of chapter 7. He has proved that in terms of the relationship between husband and wife. Having said all he has said about it in chapter 7, in chapter 8, verse 2, he sums it up as ‘the law of sin and death’. Then to make his point doubly sure he says in verses 3 and 4, ‘For what the law could not do’ - that is what he is concerned about - ‘what the law could not do because it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: (in order) that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit’. In other words I suggest that in chapter 8, verses 2, 3 and 4, he is summing up all that he has been saying in chapter 7. He seems to say, ‘Well now, there I have proved it to you; that is what I have been saying all along; that now “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” hath set us free altogether from the Law which had become to us a law of “sin and death”.’ Above all, I repeat, his original intention is to prove that the Law was never given either to justify or to sanctify us, that indeed it has become an actual hindrance in both respects, and we have to be set free and delivered from it before we can be either justified or sanctified.

I suggest, then, that that is the theme of this section. It is about the Law, what it does do, what it does not do, what it cannot do. The Apostle is not primarily writing about himself or his experience, but about the Law and the truth about the Law.

There is one other general point which I must take up - the point that is so constantly made - that here the Apostle changes the tense in which he speaks. Hitherto he has been talking about the past. He has said ‘I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.’ He is talking about the past and we have agreed that he was talking about the past. But now, says someone, here he suddenly changes his tense and he says, ‘We know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal’ - not ‘I was carnal’ - ‘sold under sin’. And he goes on in the present tense, ‘For that which I do’ - not that which I did - ‘that which I do I allow not: for that which I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I’. It is all, they say - and rightly - in the present tense. What do we say to this?

There are those who say that this settles the whole matter, and that when he says ‘I am’ he means ‘I am’, when he says ‘I do’ he means ‘I do’, and that clearly enough, he is describing his personal experience at the very time of writing. But that does not follow for a moment, and of itself does not prove anything whatsoever. If there were such a proof there would never have been the great discussion I have described, and a man like Augustine would never have changed from one position to the other. That the matter of tense does not settle the question, and that the matter cannot be disposed of so simply, can be stated in the following way. A form that is very often adopted in pleading a case, or in establishing a point, is to employ the method of speech known as the ‘dramatic present.’ This is done very often by preachers. I often use this method myself. I say to a man who puts a certain proposition to me, ‘Well now, if that is so, the position you leave me in is this’. I am putting it in the present - I do this, I say that. I am dramatizing the argument, saying, ‘Well now, this is the position in which you leave me’; and then I proceed to put it in terms of that position; ‘This is how I find myself if what you are saying is right.’ It is a very common way of establishing a point. So we are entitled to say that the Apostle here is putting this whole position in this personal and dramatic way in order to make it objective. He puts it in terms of a person and how that person finds himself, and what he finds in himself, in the light of this particular position.

In other words, all I am saying at the moment is that we must not be carried away by the notion that the mere change in the tense establishes the only possible interpretation of this particular section. And let me add that the great men who have taken the different points of view are on the whole ready to grant that what I have just been saying is a simple and well-known fact, namely, that this personalizing, this dramatic representation, is a form of expression frequently used in the Scriptures.

I am carnal, sold under sin.
But, alas, we know something else also - ‘I am carnal, sold under sin’. We have here what is, in many ways, the key statement of the whole of this section; and, as is his custom, the Apostle puts it right at the beginning, so that we may be able to understand throughout what he is saying. Here is the first fundamental and general statement. ‘Carnal’1 The word itself actually means ‘fleshy’, ‘pertaining to the flesh’, ‘fleshly’. We have already met with it several times. It is a description of man as he is by nature in contrast with the life of the spirit. The contrast is always ‘flesh’ and ‘spirit’. It means man’s life as organized and lived apart from God and the power of the Holy Spirit in his life. It is really present in verse 5: ‘For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.’ You have it again in verse 6: ‘But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.’ We interpreted that as saying that‘the oldness of the letter’ is characteristic of being ‘under the law’, which is the same as being ‘in the flesh’. A man who is ‘in the flesh’ is ‘under the law’. So when he says here, ‘I am carnal’, he does not mean that the flesh which remained in him was carnal, he does not say that there was something that was still within him which was carnal; he says that he himself is carnal - ‘I am carnal’.

In Scripture the term ‘carnal’ is used in two main ways. The first is the one I have already been expounding, and which you find again, for instance, in the next chapter in verses 5-9. ‘They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit’ - mark the contrast - ‘the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh’ - these carnal and carnally minded people - ‘cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.’ Such is the common use of the term.

But there is a second use of the term ‘carnal’. We find it in the First Epistle to the Corinthians at the beginning of chapter 3. Notice how the Apostle puts it: ‘And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not carnal?’ There Paul describes the ‘carnal’ person as one who is ‘a babe in Christ’, an immature Christian, a Christian who lacks fuller understanding. He says, ‘I could not give you the fuller truth that I would have liked to have given you, because you are still carnal’. Obviously he means that though they were born again and had become Christians, they are still ‘babes in Christ’, and so much of their thinking is still that old type of thinking. In other words he says that they were behaving as if they were still ‘carnal’. What else can he possibly mean? They are born again, and they are therefore ‘in the Spirit’; and yet he says that they are ‘carnal’. The Apostle can only mean that they are carnal in the sense that they go on thinking in the old way in which they used to think before they became spiritual.

Those are the only two uses of this word carnal that we find in the Scripture. What light does the first use throw on this statement, ‘We know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal?’ Are we not already in a position to draw out an inference? This statement cannot possibly be about the mature Apostle Paul. He cannot say of himself as the Apostle who wrote this Epistle to the Romans ‘I am carnal’, if by ‘carnal’ you mean what he says it means in the next chapter, verses 5-9. But it cannot possibly carry the second use either, because that would mean that the Apostle is a mere ‘babe in Christ’, for in writing to the Corinthians he not only tells them that they are babes, and that he cannot give them the spiritual teaching which a spiritual man could give them, he also tells them in chapter 2 of that Epistle that there are other Christians of whom it can be said that they are ‘spiritual’, that they have the ‘mind of Christ’, and that ‘he that is spiritual judgeth all things’, etc. There is the type of Christian who can follow his exalted teaching; the Corinthians cannot do so because they are ‘carnal’, mere ‘babes’. It is patently clear, therefore, that the Apostle cannot possibly be saying of himself, ‘I am carnal’, in that sense.

Whatever is being taught here, therefore, we can say that this is not a statement about a man who is unregenerate, neither is it a statement about a man who is as fully developed as a Christian as anyone can possibly be in this life, and in this world. The unregenerate do not know and cannot say that ‘the law is spiritual’; and the Apostle who wrote this Epistle could not possibly be in the same condition as the Corinthians.

‘But I’ - who is this? He is someone who is ‘carnal’. Look through your Bibles as to the meaning of the word carnal; try to find something over and above what I have put before you, and then face this question. Is this a description of the Apostle Paul when he wrote this Epistle? Is it a description of a Christian man who has matured as much as it is possible for a Christian to mature and to develop while he is alive in this world? For the moment do not go further than that. This is a preliminary and a key statement. We must not rush past it. ‘I am carnal’. It is not the only thing that is true about this ‘I’; there is something further which we shall go on to consider - ‘sold under sin’. We have surely realized already that there is no glib or easy answer to the problem posed by this section. We must proceed cautiously and reverently, giving every word and statement its full value, and above all, free from a desire to assert our particular point of view. May we all seek that ‘unction’ and ‘anointing’ from ‘the holy One’, for the matter with which we are dealing is beyond the realm of grammar and intellectual dexterity.

*For the whole exposition on this passage, see D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones' Exposition of Romans.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Worm-eaten By Secret Sin

by Theodore Cuyler, "Beulah-Land" or, Words of Cheer for Christian Pilgrims

"The righteous will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green." Psalm 92:12-14

He alone is a cedar of Christ's training and polishing who is sound to the very core! For the cedar was famous for its solidity of wood. It knew no decay. It afforded no asylum to any stealthy insect, which turned its aromatic wood into dust and ashes. So stands every faithful, fearless, unflinching, incorruptible Christian! They bid defiance to the worm of sin while they live, and to the worm of calumny when they are dead.

But insidious worms gnaw out the very heart of the pretended piety of the false professor. When the community is shocked by the scandalous sin of some prominent man in the church, it is only the crack of a beam which was worm-eaten by secret sin long before!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

So Many Millions of Nominal Christians

by Arthur Pink

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven." Matthew 7:21

"Holding to the form of godliness but denying its power." 2 Timothy 3:5

Never have there been so many millions of nominal Christians as there are today, and never has there been such a small percentage of real believers. Never has Christendom been so crowded with those who have a form of godliness, but who are strangers to its transforming power. We seriously doubt whether there has ever been a time in the history of this Christian era when there were such multitudes of deceived souls within the churches, who truly believe that all is well with their souls, when in fact the wrath of God abides on them!

It is not that those empty professors who call themselves Christians are all conscious hypocrites, rather are they deceived souls; and the tragic thing is that in most churches there is nothing in the preaching which is at all calculated to un-deceive them; instead, there is only that which bolsters them up in their delusion!

There is a large class in Christendom today who are satisfied with a bare profession. They have heard some of the fundamentals of the Christian faith, and have given an intellectual assent thereto, and they mistake that for a saving knowledge of the Truth. Their minds are instructed, but their hearts are not reached, nor their lives transformed! They are still worldly in their affections and ways. There is . . .
    no real subjection to God,
    no holiness of walk,
    no fruit to Christ's glory.

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Constant Multiplication of Corrupted Copies

by J. A. James, "Earnestness in Personal Religion" 1847

Our idea of the nature of earnest individual piety must be taken, not from the conventional customs of the age, but from the Word of God. Once give up the Bible as the only true standard of personal piety, and there is no rule left but custom, which is ever varying with the opinions and corruptions of the times.

Yet how prevalent is the disposition to conform ourselves to the prevailing religion of the day and of the church to which we belong, and to satisfy ourselves with the average measure of piety around us! "I am as good as my fellow members!" is the shield with which many a professor wards off the allegation of his living below his Scriptural duty.

This has been the fatal practical error of the church through every age of its existence, by which . . .
    its beauty has been disfigured,
    its power weakened, and
    its usefulness impeded!

Professing Christians, instead of looking into the perfect standard of Scripture, and seeing themselves reflected from that faithful mirror, and adjusting their character and conduct by its infallible revelations, placed before themselves the standard of the Christian profession as it was found in the church of the day, and regulated their behavior by what they saw in the prevailing character of their fellow Christians!

Thus a constant multiplication of corrupted copies has ever been going on! And religion, as seen in the conduct of its professors, compared with that which is described in the pages of its own inspired rule, have been quite different things!

Let us turn away from the religion we see in the church to the religion we read in the Bible! Let us not go to the imperfect and blurred copy, but to the perfect and unspotted original! The Bible's representation of the nature of true piety is intended for us as our guide, and is obligatory upon us!

But the inspired, unalterable, and infallible standard of Scripture is . . .
    too spiritual,
    too devout,
    too unearthly,
    too humbling,
    too self-denying,
for many professors.

This is still the stern, unbending demand of Christ: "If any of you wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me!"

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Modern Weddings: Why Are They Completely Backwards?

Let me ask you a question in order to hopefully jump-start your brain.

When you have a birthday, do YOU do all of the work just so that YOUR GUESTS can enjoy YOUR special day?

No! Quite obviously not.

So why is it that in our modern day and age weddings are treated this way? Most weddings these days, the bride and groom are expected to do all the work and spend all their money in order to make their guests feel comfortable and allow them to enjoy THEIR (the bride and groom's) special day. When did we get so backwards?

Today, the bride and groom spend thousands (if not tens of thousands) of dollars on their wedding day and then end up fighting over money problems for the next several years. In many cases, this leads to divorce. The bride and groom are just starting a new life together and will need what little money they have in order to start that life. Maybe they will need that money for a down payment on their first house. Who knows? Regardless, the bride and groom should not be expected to pay for the enjoyment of their guests. It is the guests who should be taking care of the bride and groom, not the other way around! The guests should be helping to prepare everything for the bride and groom, coming together in order to celebrate THEIR (the bride and groom's) special day and support THEM, just as it used to be historically.

Historically, the church and/or community used to come together and setup the decorations for the ceremony and prepare a potluck meal for the reception. Everyone contributed a little something so that everyone could share in the celebration. The church and/or community supported the newly weds so that they could use what little money they had in order to start their new life together. If a bride and groom spend all their money on their wedding day and their guests, what are they going to have in order to start out their new life? Nothing!

If a bride is selfish and self-centered enough that she wants everything "her way," then obviously she had better have the money to pay for it herself, or someone should slap her upside the head and get her head on straight. The only time the bride and groom should bother preparing everything for their wedding and paying for everything is if they are wealthy and can afford it. A bride and groom should never go in debt in order to get married. If your guests are not willing to help prepare, setup, and celebrate YOUR special day, then perhaps those people should not be invited. The bride and groom should be able to sit back and relax and enjoy THEIR special day. If the bride and groom are going to be expected to spend money in order to make their guests happy, then they would be better off not inviting anyone and simply having the civil marriage done by the government with a couple witnesses.

We need to get back to the church and/or community (family and friends) supporting the bride and groom, and not the other way around. It is pretty sad when a bride and groom are struggling to try and get married and their friends and family do not even bother to offer their help. Really shows how much they love them, does it not?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Love: Lacking In the Church

"Whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?" 1 John 3:17

"The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love." 1 John 4:8

"...the one who loves God should love his brother also." 1 John 4:21b
As the above passages imply, when your heart conveys an attitude of indifference toward the plight of your brothers and sisters in Christ, not offering to help them in their time of need, not giving of your abundance to help with their poverty, not reaching out to them because they are not part of your clique (inner circle of friends), then perhaps you might want to examine yourself to see if you are truly a Christian, because your claim to love God is contradicted by the lack of love you show for and toward your brothers and sisters in Christ.
"Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin." James 4:17

"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it." Proverbs 3:27

"Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth." 1 John 3:18
Indifference is apathy. Apathy is the opposite of love. If you do not care one way or another about the plight of your brothers and sisters in Christ, and will not lift a finger to help them, you are in direct contradiction to what the Bible says about loving your brother and neighbour.
"If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen." 1 John 4:20
Apathy is akin to hatred. When a brother or sister in Christ makes known their plight and you offer to do nothing, when it is well within your hands to do so, it is the same as hatred toward them. Your claim to love God is null and void because you clearly do not love the brethren. Whether or not they are part of your inner circle of friends is irrelevant; whether or not you know them well or intimately is irrelevant. The Bible does not condition our love of the brethren upon whether or not they are our closest friends or how well we are familiar with them. The Bible makes it clear, "Whoever...beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?" "...the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen." "Do not be deceived; God is not mocked."
"We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death." 1 John 3:14

"We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." 1 John 3:16
Is any part of the above verses unclear? He who does not love his brother is in darkness and abides in death. Truly loving the brethren involves sacrifice. If a brother or sister is without work and struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table, you who are better off are responsible for helping them. To look at your money as if it is your money and refuse to help because you "earned it" yourself, your money will be your condemnation because you proudly refused to love your brethren as you were commanded to do. The money you have was given to you by God. "Freely you have received; freely give."

It is utterly amazing how when we read the Bible we see the church selling everything they owned and everyone having everything in common. Yet us proud North Americans will go to hell on a greased pole because of our great pride in our possessions. Our attitude is, "I worked hard to earn this, why should I share it with someone else, regardless of their plight?" If that person is family and/or part of our inner circle of friends, we might consider giving up a little in order to help them, but how is that biblical? How is that being a Christian? How is that showing love for the brethren? That is no different than the condemnation pronounced upon the Pharisees, for your family and inner circle of friends would willingly do the same in return for you. So what have you gained? Where is your sacrifice? How have you lain your life down for the brethren?
"...he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law." Romans 13:8

"For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'" Galatians 5:14

"If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,' you are doing well." James 2:8
Loving your neighbour as yourself. The same way you would look after yourself, prove your love for God and your love for the brethren by looking after your brothers and sisters in Christ in the same way when they are struggling. "Whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?" You may profess to be a Christian, but not offering to help them in their time of need, not giving of your abundance to help with their poverty, not reaching out to them because they are not part of your clique, contradicts that profession. "...the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen." Paul makes his statement even more clear:
"Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2
Bear one another's burdens! Meaning, when your brother or sister in Christ is suddenly without work and struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table, you who are well off should lift a finger and help them out. Pay off some of their bills for them. Take them to a grocery store and buy them some food. Lay your life down for them by sacrificing yourself. This may even include what you cannot afford but are still able to do. Remember the widow and her mite?

Not every situation will be about money, but money is the biggest issue and the one where most people suffer from pride. They have an anti-Christ attitude concerning their money. They worked hard to earn it and do not want to give any part of it up to help anyone else struggling. If it were up to them, they would not even tithe because of how hard they had to work to earn it. Remember, "God loves a cheerful giver." I find it interesting, and extremely sad, how those with very little are willing to share it with others, but those who have been blessed with abundance are unwilling to share it at all. A good friend of mine, apart from a couple hours of work one or two days a week, is stuck living off Welfare because he cannot obtain other work. When he goes out for coffee, or whatever, with friends inside or outside of the church, he frequently offers to pay. Those friends of his who are extremely better off than he is never offer to pay. While it gives him joy to do this, at the same time he is disheartened when he is less than able to pay, and they are aware of it, and yet they do not offer to pay for him in return.

Years ago, when I was recovering from my hernia surgery, I walked to a nearby church that, unbeknownst to myself, was practically cult-like in its beliefs and practices. Having just been there that first Sunday, learning of my situation, the members of this church showed more love toward me than any other church I have ever belonged to. I was not in any of their circles of friends; none of them knew me well or intimately; and yet they prepared and brought over meals for me, even though I never asked them to and was more than capable of preparing my own food (and had the food in my apartment to do so). I know firsthand the indifference, apathy, and lovelessness that exists within the church because I have faced it during my hardships and trials. I am genuinely thankful for what little help that was extended, but that does not excuse the vast indifference and lovelessness that exists within the whole of the church. Since 2008, I have struggled with trying to obtain full-time work, and yet despite the little I earn I am more than willing to take others out to eat and give what little I can afford to help others I learn of who are in need. Likewise, when I traveled to Peru, I saw more love in the churches down there than I have ever witnessed in any church that I have been to here in North America. They do not have much to begin with, and yet they give it away to others in need willingly. It is not unheard of for them to help a brother or sister from a nearby country who is struggling, either. They will get together and prepare food or make items or whatever in order to help these families. I have never seen such Christian love in my entire life, sad to say. It is these kinds of people that inspire me and encourage me.

A person who gives only to receive will have his/her reward in hell. If you give only because you will receive something in return, like a tax receipt, then you are not giving sacrificially; you are not laying your life down for the brethren. Your pride and your money will be your condemnation. God help the church that will not lift a finger to help its struggling members, or struggling brothers and sisters around them. The church is not limited to your building or your denomination. Remember the good Samaritan? That is what a Christian is supposed to be like!
"And now I ask you, lady, not as writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it." 2 John 1:5-6

If You Cannot Do Likewise, Accept It As True

"And if ye are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a Sura [chapter] like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (if there are any) besides Allah, if ye are truthful." Qu'ran, Sura 2:23

"But if ye cannot make one [a revelation] like unto it, ye are under condemnation if ye do not bear record that they are true." Doctrines and Covenants, Section 67:8
It is a bit ironic that two of Satan's false religions both make the same ridiculous circular arguments in an attempt to try and defend their supposed authenticity. Could you imagine the Bible, or any of God's prophets or apostles, saying, "If you cannot write a chapter or make a revelation as good as ours, then you should accept ours as true"? In fact, we see quite the opposite approach in the Bible. Regarding everything surrounding Jesus' life, in 2 Peter 1:18, Peter essentially says "You can believe us because we were there and we witnessed it," but he does not stop there. He says:
"We have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place..." 2 Peter 1:19
Like the Bereans who searched the Scriptures to see if the things the apostle Paul was telling them were true, Peter is telling his listeners to search the Scriptures to verify that what he is telling them, what he was witness to, is true. What he is saying is either true or it is not. He does not attempt to manipulate them with circular reasoning.

False religions created by the devil in order to deceive the nations and keep them in bondage to their sins and share an eternity in hell with him will try to use circular reasoning to try and prove themselves. If your religion cannot stand on its own, as Christianity can and has through centuries of scorn, skepticism, and disbelief, then your religion is false. Only one book, and only one religion, has stood the tests of time and constantly been proven to be accurate and true. Such a book can only be supernatural in origin and such a religion can only be the creation of God. The Bible is that book, and Christianity is that religion. All other religions are man-made and fall apart under scrutiny and examination. Skeptics have attacked the veracity of the Bible for centuries, and yet science, history, and archaeology continually unearth evidence that supports and verifies the authenticity of the Bible.

The Bible is the only book that hangs its credibility on its ability to write history in advance—without error!

The Bible is true from cover to cover, whether you choose to believe it or not. It does not attempt to manipulate you the way the Qu'ran and the Mormon book Doctrines and Covenants do. It is true on its own merits. You do not have to believe it if you are unable to write anything nearly as good. Even with all the scientific, historical, and archaeological evidence to support the Bible, the choice to believe it is entirely up to you. God invites you to believe it and to respond accordingly, but many refuse to because they do not want to be accountable to anybody other than themselves. Nevertheless, they will be held accountable for their life and actions and their rejection of God and His Son and the work performed on the cross at Calvary. You can reject the truth of Scripture, but you cannot deny it. We all know in our heart of hearts that it is true and that we are responsible. We can try and convince ourselves otherwise all we want, most of the time unconvincingly, but it will not change a thing. Rejecting God, His Word, His Son, and His salvation is like rejecting the concept of gravity, walking off a cliff and plummeting to your death. If you are going to make such a decision, do not make it lightly. Make sure you understand the ramifications of your decision.