Feelings, whoah, whoah, whoah, feelings...
I recently stumbled upon this line on a blog post:
"People who believe themselves saved are no more saved than their automobile."
I wrote this person and asked them these questions:
1) How do you think such a circumstance, such as the one you describe for us above in your quote, happens? How do you think people who are not saved, nevertheless believe themselves saved?
2) How are you made aware personally of people who believe themselves saved but aren't? What are the indications that someone who believes himself saved is rather unsaved?
To which she answered:
"I can answer both of those through George Whitefield's powerful sermon 'Method of Grace'."
The text of this sermon can be found here : Method of Uncertainty and Doubt
I read the text of this sermon and here is how I responded:
I see that you have John MacArthur's book, "Hard to Believe" on the front page of your blog. The name of the book comes to mind when I read this sermon.
How can I "speak peace" to my soul, according to Whitefield. Lets see:
1)One must be "made to weep, "made to bewail," "made to feel" his transgressions. One must feel "the arrows of the Almighty".
How much must I weep, how much must I bewail, how much must I feel my transgressions? Is a little enough? How much of a frenzy must I be whirled into in order to fulfill this requirement? How long must I be in this state before I can get onto the next obligations to have peace?
How much did you mourn over your sin? How do you know you mourned enough, that you felt enough? When assurance is based upon inherently subjective means such as these given by Whitfield, certain assurance becomes impossible.
But this is not enough. Someone can wail and weep and bereave his sins but "still be strangers to Jesus Christ".
2) "Conviction must go deeper." One must understand "original sin". It is not enough to show contrition for one's sins. They must understand that they sin because of Adam, and because of Adam's sin, they deserve hell.
Can a child be born again? This hard-believism being taught seems to preclude children from being saved. The gospel is beautiful and simple, that even a child can understand and be saved. Yet this man is heaping burdens upon men and women in order to secure some peace. How much do children have to weep over their sins? How much weight of original sin must a child feel before they can fulfill this obligation to secure peace of heart?
3) One must "acknowledge that God would be just to damn him, just to cut him off, though he never had committed one actual sin in his life." You cannot call yourself a Christian "if you have never felt the weight of original sin".
To what degree and how much must one be torn over their ancestor's sin that causes them to be damned even if they never sinned even once? Is their a degree scale? How is it that i could not look back at these conditions for peace and ask myself if I fulfilled them enough? Seems to me fertile ground of the devil to instill doubt and uncertainty in the mind:
"You didn't repent enough, you didn't grieve enough, you didn't show enough remorse, you didn't dispay sufficient contrition." How much is enough for peace?
These things aren't enough. You can get this far and still be rejected by Christ and have no peace.
4) Next you must realize that your works are "a menstruous cloth -- that God hates them". "There must be a deep conviction".
How deep must one's conviction be? How would one realize how deep they actually are? Could you not later wonder if you were sufficiently convicted of the utter lack of worth of your righteous deeds?
These things aren't enough to have peace in your heart. There are more. This next one enumerated for us by Mr. Whitefield is a bit ambiguous and bizarre:
5)"Before you can speak peace to your heart, you must be troubled for the unbelief of you heart."
Unbelief of what? Has he told us what we should be believing? How much am I to be troubled? Is it sufficient to merely be sad that I have unbelief? Or must I be utterly distraught over it?
Listen to what he says to his church:
"if you would not think me uncharitable, if I doubted whether any of you believed in Christ; and yet, I fear upon examination, we should find that most of you have not so much faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the devil himself."
How can you tell if you have insufficient faith? What is your definition of faith and how can you know if you have the right kind or the right amount of faith? Could this not be used of Satan to instill more doubts? "You don't believe in Jesus, you have a false faith, you have a spurious faith, you are merely a spritual phoney, and are a hypocrite."
Is he calling the majority of his church unsaved? I wonder how long he had preached there!
Next he says:
"Now, my dear friends, did God ever show you that you had no faith? Were you ever made to bewail a hard heart of unbelief? Was it ever the language of your heart, Lord, give me faith; Lord, enable me to lay hold on thee; Lord, enable me to call thee MY Lord and MY God? Did Jesus Christ ever convince you in this manner? Did he ever convince you of your inability to close with Christ, and make you to cry out to God to give you faith? If not, do not speak peace to your heart."
So does everyone have to go through this process to have peace? I must have a false peace. I never asked God to give me faith, I never grieved over my lack of faith, I never thought of my inability to "close" with Christ. As soon as I heard that Jesus Christ guaranteed for me eternal life if I took Him at His word, I believed it.
The appropriation of peace just keeps getting harder and harder...
6) Next, one "must be enabled to lay hold upon the perfect righteousness, the all-sufficient righteousness, of the Lord Jesus Christ; you must lay hold by faith on the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and then you shall have peace."
How thoroughly must I lay hold? How can I be enabled? How can I know if I have been enabled? How can I know that it is not a faith of my own doing but actually a faith that God gave me as a gift?
We have to both be enable to lay hold, then lay hold. Then we must "apply Christ to our hearts". We must be "married to Jesus Christ". We must feel and have "Jesus Christ give himself" to us. We need to "feel Christ" in our hearts. We need to hear him "speak peace to our souls".
How can I know I am married to Christ, how can I be sure that Christ gave Himself to me? Could it not be a counterfeit feeling given by Satan, who has made himself out to be a minister of light? How do I know it isn't Satan whispering a false "peace" to my soul?
Next he says "you may be at peace" but it is a false peace.
He seems to contradict himself. Some have peace that is false, but they know no better. Some have peace, but it is a genuine peace, and others have no peace, but are saved, yet backslidden.
I suppose it is possible to believe one has grieved enough over his sin, over original sin, over his lack of righteousness, over his unbelief, and still have a false peace and be unsaved. Why? He deceived himself into believing he had those feelings. Maybe he did not have them to the proper degree. Possibly they were counterfeit from the devil.
Next, God and Christ must be our "friend".
How can we know if God is truly our friend? Can't the devil deceive us here as well?
Next he says "There are many of us who lose our peace by our untender walk; something or other gets in betwixt Christ and us, and we fall into darkness"
How do we know if we really ever had peace to begin with? How do we know that the peace we originally felt was not some Satanic counterfeit? Every time we sin, do we then lose our peace? How can we ever have peace with all of these provisos, caveats, and strings attached?
Did your father remove peace from you until you jumped through his hoops? "You have every reason to believe that I am not your father because of this, that, this and that!"
He then writes:
"we should be growing up to a faith of assurance"
How long must one suffer and plead with God and wait before one can have assurance and peace?
John says that "we can know" at the very moment that we are children of God, without all this riga-morrow that this man burdens people with.
The end of the matter is this:
With this man's advice, you can have no real peace, you cannot have certain assurance of your eternal relationship with God.
Assurance looked for in our feelings and attitudes will not yield the certian assurance that God desires for us to have.
Labels: Assurance of Salvation