What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to
the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast
about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham
believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." Now to the one
who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the
one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is
counted as righteousness ...
Sunday, September 30, 2007
A Sermon on 2 Kings 6: 11-17
I preached this yesterday at a Brehren assembly:
2 Kings 11 ¶ Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not show me which of us is for the king of Israel?
12 And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Eli'sha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber.
13 And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan.
14 Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.
15 ¶ And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, a host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
17 And Eli'sha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Eli'sha.
In looking at this passage, I want to say something about faith.
The servant in this story is given special vision that he may see the wonderful creatures of heaven, God’s angels in their glory and in their power. But that is not the real wonder of this story. What is amazing in this story is that Elisha knew these things were there without needing the vision. He was able to say with certain confidence that ‘those that are for us are more than those that are against us.’ He had a spiritual insight that went beyond this world. His eyes were open to the things of heaven. The servant got into a panic because his thoughts were only of carnal things. He could not look beyond the material world. But Elisha saw with the eyes of faith that God was in control.
We are told in Hebrews that faith is the substance of things unseen. This is true for the Christian today. We have never laid eyes upon the Lord Jesus Christ. We have not seen the wonderful kingdom that He will establish upon the earth. We have no seen the glorious heavenly city. The Christian has confidence that these things are certain, though she has never seen them.
Our Lord said ‘Thomas because thou hast seen me thou believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.’
There are two kinds of faith, the faith of the one who sees, and the faith of the one who does not see. The servant needed to see before he could believe. But Elisha, having the things of God in his thoughts could believe without sight.
That is not to say that a faith with sight is not a real faith. Our Lord told Thomas that he believed; in Greek have faith and believe are the same words. A lot of unbelievers think that faith is blind. That a man who has faith has no reason for believing. This is not so. The Bible that the Christian believes has been shown to be reliable. Nothing in the Bible has ever been demonstrated to be false. The Bible is not a book of stories, but a book of history. It concerns real men that we can read about in the pages of history books. We may not have seen Christ, but we have every reason to believe that He truly is risen from the dead. And if He is then His claim to guarantee eternal life to the believer is confirmed. We must look to Him for life and peace with God.
Just as Thomas looked upon the risen Christ and believed, we look to the pages of God’s Word and see that He is the resurrection and the life, the Son of God who gives everlasting life to those who place their trust in Him. The servant saw his vision and he believed. We look to the promises in God’s Word the Bible. And we see that Christ Jesus offers eternal life. It says ‘these things written that yet might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and in believing ye might have eternal life through His name.’
I would like to say something about the things that the servant sees in this vision.
The servant saw a legion of God’s angels. The Bible does not tell us all that we might like to know about angels, but it does tell us some things.
We as Christians believe in angels. A lot of unbelievers scoff at the notion of angels. They might believe in space aliens, but they don't believe in angels. Other people get obsessed with angels. If you go to most bookshops you can find lots of crazy books on angels. Did you know there is book entitled 'How to get the most out of your guardian angel'? These things are deceptions from Satan. They are of the Occult.
There are spiritual forces at work in this world. God rules a vast kingdom that includes thousands upon thousands of angels. We do not know all that they do, but they do his bidding.
The Bible does not say that everybody has a guardian ange, but we know that they are involved in our lives. Our Lord said that there is rejoicing in heaven when a sinner repents. God’s angels delight in the salvation of sinners. If you turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, angels will rejoice at your conversion.
The chariots that the servant saw were fiery. God’s angels reflect His glory and his perfect holiness. The Bible says that God is a consuming fire. His holiness is unapproachable. It cannot accept that which is impure. But through Christ we are able to approach God and be cleansed, not through fire, but through Hs blood shed on the cross. Through the cross we can be reconciled to God. The apostle Paul says that Christians are made the righteousness of God in Christ. They have come to partake in God’s holiness and are made acceptable in Christ.
We also see that these angels are ready for war. Did you know that there are battles in the heavenly realms? There is war in heaven.
The Bible speaks of principalities and powers in the heavenly realms. These seem to exercise some kind of authority over this world. Just as God has His angels, Satan has his. God has His kingdom, Satan has his counterfeit kingdom. Satan is the god of this world. All of the governments and societies and false religions of this world are under Satan’s influence. That is why so much of man’s activity is directed against God or at least leaves God no part in directing it.
The politics of this world will occupy you with trying to make something of this world. You need Christ, not politics. The pleasures of this world will distract you from Christ. You need Him. The false religions of this world will tell you that you can approach God through your own efforts and by doing rituals.
The philosophy and the thinking of human society under Satan’s system is meant to teach man that he does not need God. That he make whatever he chooses of himself without God getting involved. From such a system we need to be delivered. And that deliverance is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. He will have the ultimate victory over Satan and his lies. This world will pass away, but Christ is going to establish His kingdom.
The fiery chariots in this passage were amazing. We read about the awesome cherub with the flaming sword in Genesis. We read about the fantastic Serpahim in Isaiah. Great as these angels may seem, Jesus Christ the Son of God surpasses all of them.
We read in Ephesians that Christ is exalted above every principality, every power, every might and every dominion. He is glorified over all. And those who are in Christ are likewise blessed over all. If you are in Christ you are seated with Him in the heavenly realms, far above every principality and power. We might well ask, like the Psalmist, ‘What is man that thou art mindful of him?’ We are made a little lower than the angels and yet in Christ we can have the highest place in the universe. If we overcome, we can inherit all things. Let us set our minds on the glorious things of heaven. If we do that, like Elisha, we shall be able to have that discernment to look beyond this world and to the things of God. Let us set our affections on things above, not things below. Elisha had his mind on things above. He had seen Elijah, his predecessor taken up into heaven. Because he had his mind on things above he could look with the eyes of faith and see God at work. It is so easy to get caught up in our own plans and desires and be focused on this world. But this world is going to pass away. We must set our affections on things above, not things below.
If you are not in Christ. If you have not yet trusted in Him, I would urge you to look to the risen Christ. He is able to lift you up and bring you to share in the marvellous heavenly life that the Christian can enjoy. You can know God and have the confidence of being in His heavenly kingdom. I would say to you, look with the eyes of faith and receive that free gift of eternal life in Christ.
Lou has equated repentance with: 1) Sorrow and grieving over sins 2) Confessing one's sins 3) Turning from one's sins
Furthermore, Lou Martuneac's doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints is hardly any different (if indeed there is any differnce) than that espoused in the Westminster Confession of Faith. Although he believes that a Christian can be in carnal behavior (the WCF states this as well), Lou believes that fruits will be evident throughout one's life, and increase. He apparently believes in a temporary, spurious, or false faith, the same as Lordship Calvinism.
The following is an explanation from Lou Martuneac how he has invited the lost to be born again. The problems with this testimony of his are multitudinous. I would like to discuss the dangers of Lou's evangelistic style. Would anyone care to point out exactly what is wrong with this? There may be some people here who agree with this type of evangelism. Why do you?
I believe that we can identify several dangerous errors in this type of invitation.
For those of you who do not agree with this way of doing evangelism, please give us the reasons.
For those of you who agree that such a method of evangelism is correct, please tell us why you would think so.
Oh, if you all could have been in the room at the Primrose High School in Johannesburg where I taught the Biblical Studies class to over 300 high school students each week. There were four classes of 80-85 in each. After several weeks of groundwork on the Inspiration and Infallibility of the Bible I began a four week series on the gospel. There is too much for this post, but I will say that when I came to the matter of faith and repentance I taught and illustrated very clearly they are inseparable and necessary.
God blessed and more young people than I could have hoped or imagined responded once I began to give an invitation.
You might be interested to know how I conducted the invitation. The class was third hour, followed by a 30 minute school recess. I told each class that if any desire to be born again, they would have to leave the room, go out to the playground with everyone else and then return to my class where I would remain waiting.
My purpose was to let those young people go out among their peers and see if the conviction was so strong that in front of all of their friends they would turn back to the classroom with all of their friends knowing why they were coming back.
The ones who did return I met them at the door, and asked each, "Why are you here?" Most understood, some did not, some were just curious. Once I seated those who knew why they were back I asked again to make sure each knew they were lost, on the way to Hell, and understood that through faith and repentance they would be born again. Some of those seated still did not quite understand and I kindly dismissed them. I believe I was left with a group of young people who genuinely understood the gospel, and why they needed to be born again through the power of God in Jesus Christ.
Well, there is much more, but I promised to keep that event from South Africa brief.
You can find the context of this by Lou at this link http://www.sharperiron.org/showthread.php?t=3332&page=11&pp=7 Lou's post is the one dated September 20th, 2006, 07:25 PM.
Beware of commentators who divert attention from the plain meaning of these texts. What would you think for example, of the following typical comment on Luke 14:13-14 "The promise of reward for this kind of life is there as a fact. You do not live this way for the sake of reward. If you do you are not living this way but in the same old selfish way."
Is this true- that we are selfish and not loving if we are motivated by the promise of reward? If so, why did Jesus entice us by mentioning the reward, even giving it as the basis ("for") of our action? And what would this commentator say concerning Luke 12:33, where we are not told that reward will result from our giving alms, but we are told to actively seek to get the reward "Provide yourselves with purses!"?
So it is simply wrong to say that Jesus does not want us to pursue the reward he promises. He commands that we pursue it (Luke 12:33, 16:9). More than forty times in the Gospel of Luke there are promises of reward and threats of punishment connected with the commands of Jesus.
Desiring God, p.166
John Piper is not Free Grace. The chapter in this book on conversion is absolutely appalling. I think John Piper's teaching on Desiring God is rather unbalanced and I would not recommend it. Neverthelss these paragraphs are a rare gem and are possibly the best part of the whole book.
How do you deal with cults, the ones who knock on your door?
by Antonio da Rosa
I am wondering how you all deal with the Mormons and JWs who come to your door. Some people kindly say that they are not interested. Others invite them in and offer them tea.
What do you do?
The Mormons and the JWs, I think, have marked my house; they don't come around here anymore. I have actually called the phone numbers on the Mormon commercials to ask for a free book of Mormon (they send missionaries out to deliver them). I have had many visitors of both cults come to my house. It always pleases me to have visitors from these groups. The Mormons are always young, usually about 18-22. But the JWs always seem to be older folks. Mormon young adults are encouraged to do a 'mission' which is a 2 year stint. JWs, as one of their obediences to the gospel, have to do regular door-to-door canvassing or visits to other JWs.
I love inviting them in and offering them refreshments. I truly want to hear what they have to say. Why have they come to my house? What message do they bring? I usually have a few questions for them as they give their presentations.
After they are done I ask them to return the favor and allow me to share something with them. I try to keep it simple. I tell them that Jesus Christ has made an absolutely certain promise to immediately impart irrevocable eternal life as a free gift to all who simply believe in Him for it. I like to share a couple of verses from John to show this. After that, to give a greater understanding that eternal well-being is received only through simple faith in Jesus, I love to show them verses like Romans 4:4,5; Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; and Romans 11:6.
I keep from any quarrelling. I am hoping to plant seeds that the Holy Spirit can use to draw these people to Jesus. I will entertain any questions that they may have, still, keeping it simple. Invariably they bring up James 2:14ff. I have very concise and easy to understand answers to this passage.
At the end, I like to ask them if they wouldn't mind allowing me to pray for them. I have never been turned down. I also allow them to pray if they so choose, and they usually do. In my prayer I like to briefly hit on the simple points I gave during my sharing time with them.
I invite them back, and thank them for coming. I have had Mormons come back a few times, but the JWs do not return. Unfortunately, they do not come around anymore. I like to take their names so that I may pray for them later.
There are unfortunate practices by some modern fundamentalists who take such opportunities to condemn those who go door to door. This is tragic. I ran across such an illustration of this in a quote from Lou Martuneac's book, 'In Defense of the Gospel'. This is Lou's suggested way to deal with cult members:
"Many times, I have had representatives of these cult religions at my door seeking a dialogue with me. The only dialogue they receive from me is this, “Jesus is equal with God the Father and as long as you regard Jesus as less than God, I can tell you from the authority of the Bible, you are dead in your sins and on your way to Hell!" (p. 172).
This in your face condemnation is awful. I surely hope that none of the readers of this blog would consider doing such a horrible thing. This type of behavior does indeed steer men from the water of life.
During the latest GES Southern California Regional Conference, I heard a speaker discuss his evangelism with a Mormon missionary. This man invited the Mormon to study the book of John. He was pleased to come every week. Yet it was soon that this man's mission was over, and he returned to New York. The teachings from the book of John could not get out of his head. He decided to drive all the way from New York to California so that he could be around the teaching he had heard previously. In time, this Mormon became convinced that he had irrevocable eternal life simply by believing in Jesus, and now attends church with the evangelist.
Has cult members come to your house? How have you dealt with them? Are there any ways you have thought of to improve your next visit with them?
The publication of the minutes of the 1770 Methodist Conference, referring to good works as a 'condition' of salvation, provoked an outcry from Calvinists such as Rowland Hill and Augustus Toplady. Wesley seemed to be rejecting no less a doctrine than justification by faith. In reality he did not. Good works, according to Wesley, were not the way to justification, but were essential to final salvation. So the 'Calvinistic Controversy' of the 1770s that drove Methodism further apart from other Evangelicals was based in part on a misunderstanding.
(D.W. Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain, p.28)
Just a misunderstanding or a fundamental denial of grace?
There is a difference between a theological requirement and a psychological requirement. The theological requirement for eternal life is to believe in Jesus for it. But there may be many psychological requirements to get the individual to the point of entrusting his eternal destiny to Jesus. Appropriate and sufficient answers to this question from those we evangelize, "Why should I believe in Jesus for eternal life?" would represent psychological necessities in the lost.
There are many different ways and combinations that Christ can be presented to the lost in order to persuade them that Jesus guarantees their eternal destiny. We must minister to them where they are. Like I said of the Jew (see my post at Free Grace Theology Blog: How I might do evangelism with a Jewish man), it may be well to take him through the OT Scriptures that prophesy about Christ's first advent.
Why would we who are members of GES state that we should not present the cross? The cross is the single most persuasive consideration in our evangelism. But we do not confuse that which brings men to saving faith with saving faith itself. It is abundantly clear that those who oppose the GES have a bitter axe to grind.
Evangelism should not be a rote message, a canned presentation. We are free to discuss those things that would keep the individual from entrusting her/her eternal well-being to Jesus. There is only one way to eternal life: faith in Jesus for it. But there are a multitude of ways the lost can come to believe that they have eternal life through faith in Jesus. We must tailor our evangelistic conversations to the interests and perlexities of those who are party to them. I don't need to present everything and the kitchen sink! Jesus is a prophet, a king, the messiah, a priest, healer and miracle worker. He is the judge of the living and the dead, He is God, man, savior. Jesus is the creator, the lamb of God, the head of the church.
People have heard of some of these things, and they may be interested to know more about some area of Christianity and Jesus.
Here is a quick illustration:
Let us say that a man was both a manager and the owner of a restaurant. But you don't know that he is either. He comes up to you on the street and says, "Do you want a free meal at the posh Brigantine Seafood Restaurant? If you do, just meet me there tonight at 6 and you and another will eat for free."
The restaurant is about 20 miles from your home and you don't want to risk going down there and it turning out to be a joke or fake offer!
You ask the guy, "How can you offer such a thing!?"
He says to you, "I am the manager of the restaurant."
If this statement of his strikes you as truth, then you believe that he is able to give you the free meal.
But guess what? You didn't know that he is also the owner! You were persuaded that he would give you the free meal based only on your understanding to be true the fact that he was the restaurant's manager.
There is no one static way to evangelize. People come to the evangelistic conversation with an array and assortment of subjective personality and psychological factors. We must meet them at their greatest needs that would preclude them from trusting in Jesus for eternal life.
They have their set of issues, curiosities, and interests that they would like addressed. If I address them to their fullest and at that point they are persuaded that they have eternal life simply by faith in Jesus, who am I to invalidate their faith?
This verse has always been a favorite, but I believe it may have just become my new "life verse!" Listen once again to the glory of this wondrous truth: "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." How hard can this be? Rose I believe this goes along with your previous post about Spurgeon's sermon concerning the simplicity of faith. No one has to teach even a tiny baby to drink water! Just let the little one be thirsty, & put the water to his mouth, & the deed is done! Thirst is quenched! I'm glad the Lord made His salvation that easy for dummies like me. No treatises necessary regarding the definition of faith, or believe. Even less, to "take." I like that: take the water of life freely! There's more I could say, but I'll leave it at that! I just had to post this to remind us of the glory of God's wonderful salvation & its utter simplicity! If you want it, take it! It's that simple. Shame on us for making something so charmingly simple into something so difficult & unclear.
by Spurgeon (It's Spurgeon Week at UOG! This is long, but worth the time. It is a very easy read.)
TO MANY, FAITH SEEMS a hard thing. The truth is, it is only hard because it is easy. Naaman thought it hard that he should have to wash in Jordan; but if it had been some great thing, he would have done it right cheerfully. People think that salvation must be the result of some act or feeling, very mysterious, and very difficult; but God's thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are his ways our ways. In order that the feeblest and the most ignorant may be saved, he has made the way of salvation as easy as the A, B, C. There is nothing about it to puzzle anyone; only, as everybody expects to be puzzled by it, many are quite bewildered when they find it to be so exceedingly simple. The fact is, we do not believe that God means what he is saying; we act as if it could not be true.
I have heard of a Sunday-school teacher who performed an experiment which I do not think I shall ever try with children, for it might turn out to be a very expensive one. Indeed, I feel sure that the result in my case would be very different from what I now describe. This teacher had been trying to illustrate what faith was, and, as he could not get it into the minds of his boys, he took his watch, and he said, "Now, I will give you this watch, John. Will you have it?" John fell thinking what the teacher could mean, and did not seize the treasure, but made no answer. The teacher said to the next boy, "Henry, here is the watch. Will you have it?" The boy, with a very proper modesty, replied, "No, thank you, sir." The teacher tried several of the boys with the same result; till at last a youngster, who was not so wise or so thoughtful as the others, but rather more believing, said in the most natural way, "Thank you, sir," and put the watch into his pocket. Then the other boys woke up to a startling fact: their companion had received a watch which they had refused. One of the boys quickly asked of the teacher, "Is he to keep it?" "Of course he is," said the teacher, "I offered it to him, and he accepted it. I would not give a thing and take a thing: that would be very foolish. I put the watch before you, and said that I gave it to you, but none of you would have it." "Oh!" said the boy, "if I had known you meant it, I would have had it." Of course he would. He thought it was a piece of acting, and nothing more. All the other boys were in a dreadful state of mind to think that they had lost the watch. Each one cried, "Teacher, I did not know you meant it, but I thought—"No one took the gift; but every one thought. Each one had his theory, except the simple-minded boy who believed what he was told, and got the watch.
Now I wish that I could always be such a simple child as literally to believe what the Lord says, and take what he puts before me, resting quite content that he is not playing with me, and that I cannot be wrong in accepting what he sets before me in the gospel. Happy should we be if we would trust, and raise no questions of any sorts. But, alas! we will get thinking and doubting. When the Lord uplifts his dear Son before a sinner, that sinner should take him without hesitation. If you take him, you have him; and none can take him from you. Out with your hand, man, and take him at once!When inquirers accept the Bible as literally true, and see that Jesus is really given to all who trust him, all the difficulty about understanding the way of salvation vanishes like the morning's frost at the rising of the sun.
Two inquiring ones came to me in my vestry. They had been hearing the gospel from me for only a short season, but they had been deeply impressed by it. They expressed their regret that they were about to remove far away, but they added their gratitude that they had heard me at all. I was cheered by their kind thanks, but felt anxious that a more effectual work should be wrought in them, and therefore I asked them, "Have you in very deed believed in the Lord Jesus Christ? Are you saved?" One of them replied, "I have been trying hard to believe." This statement I have often heard, but I will never let it go by me unchallenged. "No," I said, "that will not do. Did you ever tell your father that you tried to believe him?" After I had dwelt a while upon the matter, they admitted that such language would have been an insult to their father. I then set the gospel very plainly before them in as simple language as I could, and I begged them to believe Jesus, who is more worthy of faith than the best of fathers. One of them replied, "I cannot realize it: I cannot realize that I am saved." Then I went on to say, "God bears testimony to his Son, that whosoever trusts in his Son is saved. Will you make him a liar now, or will you believe his word?" While I thus spoke, one of them started as if astonished, and she startled us all as she cried, "O sir, I see it all; I am saved! Oh, do bless Jesus for me; he has shown me the way, and he has saved me! I see it all." The esteemed sister who had brought these young friends to me knelt down with them while, with all our hearts, we blessed and magnified the Lord for a soul brought into light. One of the two sisters, however, could not see the gospel as the other had done, though I feel sure she will do so before long. Did it not seem strange that, both hearing the same words, one should come out into clear light, and the other should remain in the gloom? The change which comes over the heart when the understanding grasps the gospel is often reflected in the face, and shines there like the light of heaven. Such newly enlightened souls often exclaim, "Why, sir, it is so plain; how is it I have not seen it before this? I understand all I have read in the Bible now, though I could not make it out before. It has all come in a minute, and now I see what I could never understand before." The fact is, the truth was always plain, but they were looking for signs and wonders, and therefore did not see what was nigh them.
Old men often look for their spectacles when they are on their foreheads; and it is commonly observed that we fail to see that which is straight before us. Christ Jesus is before our faces, and we have only to look to him, and live; but we make all manner of bewilderment of it, and so manufacture a maze out of that which is plain as a pikestaff.The little incident about the two sisters reminds me of another. A much-esteemed friend came to me one Sabbath morning after service, to shake hands with me, "for," said she, "I was fifty years old on the same day as yourself. I am like you in that one thing, sir; but I am the very reverse of you in better things." I remarked, "Then you must be a very good woman; for in many things I wish I also could be the reverse of what I am." "No, no," she said, "I did not mean anything of that sort: I am not right at all." "What!" I cried, "are you not a believer in the Lord Jesus?" "Well," she said, with much emotion, "I, I will try to be." I laid hold of her hand, and said, "My dear soul, you are not going to tell me that you will try to believe my Lord Jesus! I cannot have such talk from you. It means blank unbelief. What has HE done that you should talk of him in that way? Would you tell me that you would try to believe me? I know you would not treat me so rudely. You think me a true man, and so you believe me at once; and surely you cannot do less with my Lord Jesus? Then with tears she exclaimed, "Oh, sir, do pray for me!" To this I replied, "I do not feel that I can do anything of the kind. What can I ask the Lord Jesus to do for one who will not trust him? I see nothing to pray about. If you will believe him, you shall be saved; and if you will not believe him, I cannot ask him to invent a new way to gratify your unbelief." Then she said again, "I will try to believe"; but I told her solemnly I would have none of her trying; for the message from the Lord did not mention "trying," but said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." I pressed upon her the great truth, that "He that believeth on him hath everlasting life"; and its terrible reverse—"He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God." I urged her to full faith in the once crucified but now ascended Lord, and the Holy Spirit there and then enabled her to trust. She most tenderly said, "Oh, sir, I have been looking to my feelings, and this has been my mistake! Now I trust my soul with Jesus, and I am saved." She found immediate peace through believing. There is no other way.
God has been pleased to make the necessities of life very simple matters. We must eat; and even a blind man can find the way to his mouth. We must drink; and even the tiniest babe knows how to do this without instruction. We have a fountain in the grounds of the Stockwell Orphanage, and when it is running in the hot weather, the boys go to it naturally. We have no class for fountain-drill. Many poor boys have come to the Orphanage, but never one who was so ignorant that he did not know how to drink. Now faith is, in spiritual things, what eating and drinking are in temporal things. By the mouth of faith we take the blessings of grace into our spiritual nature, and they are ours. O you who would believe, but think you cannot, do you not see that, as one can drink without strength, and as one can eat without strength, and gets strength by eating, so we may receive Jesus without effort, and by accepting him we receive power for all such further effort as we may be called to put forth?
Faith is so simple a matter that, whenever I try to explain it, I am very fearful lest I should becloud its simplicity. When Thomas Scott had printed his notes upon "The Pilgrim's Progress," he asked one of his parishioners whether she understood the book. "Oh yes, sir," said she, "I understand Mr. Bunyan well enough, and I am hoping that one day, by divine grace, I may understand your explanations." Should I not feel mortified if my reader should know what faith is, and then get confused by my explanation? I will, however, make one trial, and pray the Lord to make it clear.
I am told that on a certain highland road there was a disputed right of way. The owner wished to preserve his supremacy, and at the same time he did not wish to inconvenience the public: hence an arrangement which occasioned the following incident. Seeing a sweet country girl standing at the gate, a tourist went up to her, and offered her a shilling to permit him to pass. "No, no," said the child, "I must not take anything from you; but you are to say, 'Please allow me to pass,' and then you may come through and welcome." The permission was to be asked for; but it could be had for the asking. Just so, eternal life is free; and it can be had, yea, it shall be at once had, by trusting in the word of him who cannot lie. Trust Christ, and by that trust you grasp salvation and eternal life. Do not philosophize. Do not sit down, and bother your poor brain. Just believe Jesus as you would believe your father. Trust him as you trust your money with a banker, or your health with a doctor.Faith will not long seem a difficulty to you; nor ought it to be so, for it is simple.
Faith is trusting, trusting wholly upon the person, work, merit, and power of the Son of God. Some think this trusting is a romantic business, but indeed it is the simplest thing that can possibly be. To some of us, truths which were once hard to believe are now matters of fact which we should find it hard to doubt. If one of our great grandfathers were to rise from the dead, and come into the present state of things, what a deal of trusting he would have to do! He would say tomorrow morning, "Where are the flint and steel? I want a light;" and we should give him a little box with tiny pieces of wood in it, and tell him to strike one of them on the box. He would have to trust a good deal before he would believe that fire would thus be produced. We should next say to him, "Now that you have a light, turn that tap, and light the gas." He sees nothing. How can light come through an invisible vapor? And yet it does. "Come with us, grandfather. Sit in that chair. Look at that box in front of you. You shall have your likeness directly." "No, child," he would say, "it is ridiculous. The sun take my portrait? I cannot believe it." "Yes, and you shall ride fifty miles in an hour without horses." He will not believe it till we get him into the train. "My dear sir, you shall speak to your son in New York, and he shall answer you in a few minutes." Should we not astonish the old gentleman? Would he not want all his faith? Yet these things are believed by us without effort, because experience has made us familiar with them. Faith is greatly needed by you who are strangers to spiritual things; you seem lost while we are talking about them. But oh, how simple it is to us who have the new life, and have communion with spiritual realities! We have a Father to whom we speak, and he hears us, and a blessed Savior who hears our heart's longings, and helps us in our struggles against sin. It is all plain to him that understandeth. May it now be plain to you!
2 Corinthians:18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
It seems like this is teaching that, like Isaiah 53:6, the Suffering Servant took on all the sins (all we like sheep have gone astray ... and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all) so that they would not be counted against anyone. Before jumping to any conlcusion, please know I am not a universalist ... but what to do with this verse?
Spurgeon on Regeneration Preceding Faith; and on Repentance, should it be added to faith as a Requirement?
by Antonio da Rosa
Matthew posted today. I realize that I am posting over him, but I have waited 5 days to post and this is his 3rd post in as many days. To see his post, please click here:
Who Else is on the Throne? It is a great post for Calvinists who do not give to man the honor that God has graciously bestowed upon him. Matthew states that God has given man the opportunity to be deified in the world to come.
On now to my post:
Spurgeon recognized the danger of mixing law with grace and adding things to God's simple command to believe on God's Son. I'm going to quote at length from one of Spurgeon's sermons entitled, "The Warrant of Faith." This sermon is based on 1 John 3:23--"And this is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ." In this sermon you will see that Spurgeon despises the doctrine of regeneration preceding faith and also the preaching of repentance along with faith in Jesus for eternal salvation. The emphasis in this sermon will all be from me.
This sermon had me saying amen so many times that I could not believe that it was coming from someone who is regarded as a Calvinist! If this were all we had from Spurgeon, he would be a Free Gracer!
The following is a lengthy quote taken from this sermon by Spurgeon:
O, when will all professors, and especially all professed ministers of Christ, learn the difference between the law and the gospel? Most of them make a mingle-mangle, and serve out deadly potions to the people, often containing but one ounce of gospel to a pound of law, whereas, but even a grain of law is enough to spoil the whole thing. It must be gospel, and gospel only.
"Believing" is most clearly explained by that simple word "trust." Believing is partly the intellectual operation of receiving divine truths, but the essence of it lies in relying upon those truths. I believe that, although I cannot swim, yonder friendly plank will support me in the flood-I grasp it, and am saved: the grasp is faith. Thus faith is accepting God's great promises, contained in the Person of His Son. It is taking God at His Word, and trusting in Jesus Christ as being my salvation, although I am utterly unworthy of His regard. Sinner, if thou takest Christ to be thy Saviour this day, thou art justified; though thou be the biggest blasphemer and persecutor out of hell...if thou wilt honor God by believing Christ is able to forgive such a wretch as thou art, and wilt now trust in Jesus' precious blood, thou art saved from divine wrath.
The WARRANT OF BELIEVING is the commandment of God. This is the commandment, that ye "believe on His Son Jesus Christ."
They (certain Calvinists) preached repentance and hatred of sin as the warrant of a sinner's trusting to Christ. According to them, a sinner might reason thus-"I possess such-and-such a degree of sensibility on account of sin, therefore I have a right to trust in Christ." Now, such reasoning is seasoned with fatal error. Whoever preaches in this fashion may preach much of the gospel, but the whole gospel of the free grace of God in its fullness he has yet to learn.In our own day certain preachers assure us that a man must be regenerated before we may bid him believe in Jesus Christ; some degree of a work of grace in the heart being, in their judgment, the only warrant to believe. This also is false. It takes away a gospel for sinners and offers us a gospel for saints. It is anything but a ministry of free grace.
If I am to preach the faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate. Am I only to preach faith to those who have it? Absurd, indeed! Is not this waiting till the man is cured and then bringing him the medicine? This is preaching Christ to the righteous and not to sinners. "Nay," saith one, "but we mean that a man must have some good desires towards Christ before he has any warrant to believe in Jesus." Friend, do you not know that all good desires have some degree of holiness in them? But if a sinner hath any degree of true holiness in him it must be the work of the Spirit, for true holiness never exists in the carnal mind, therefore, that man is already renewed, and therefore saved. Are we to go running up and down the world, proclaiming life to the living, casting bread to those who are fed already, and holding up Christ on the pole of the gospel to those who are already healed? My brethren, where is our inducement to labour where our efforts are so little needed? If I am to preach Christ to those who have no goodness, who have nothing in them that qualifies them for mercy, then I feel I have a gospel so divine that I would proclaim it with my last breath, crying aloud, that "Jesus came into the world to save SINNERS!"
Secondly, to tell the sinner that he is to believe on Christ because of some warrant in himself, is LEGAL, I dare to say it-legal. Though this method is generally adopted by the higher school of Calvinists, they are herein unsound, uncalvinistic, and legal.
If I believe in Jesus because I have convictions and a spirit of prayer, then evidently the first and the most important fact is not Christ, but my possession of repentance, conviction, and prayer, so that really my hope hinges upon my having repented; and if this be not legal I do not know what is...If I lean on Christ because I feel this and that, then I am leaning on my feelings and not on Christ alone, and this is legal indeed. Nay, even if desires after Christ are to be my warrant for believing, if I am to believe in Jesus not because he bids me, but because I feel some desires after him, you will again with half an eye perceive that the most important source of my comfort must be my own desires. So that we shall be always looking within. "Do I really desire? If I do, then Christ can save me; if I do not, then he cannot." And so my desire overrides Christ and his grace. AWAY WITH SUCH LEGALITY FROM THE EARTH!
If you tell a poor sinner that there is a certain amount of humblings, and tremblings, and convictions, and heart-searchings to be felt, in order that he may be warranted to come to Christ, I demand of all legal-gospellers distinct information as to the manner and exact degree of preparation required. Brethren, you will find when these gentlemen are pushed into a corner, they will not agree, but will every one give a different standard, according to his own judgment. One will way the sinner must have months of law work; another, that he only needs good desires; and some will demand that he possess the graces of the Spirit--such as humility, godly sorrow, and love to holiness. You will get no clear answer from them.
And let me ask you, my brethren, whether such an incomprehensible gospel would do for a dying man? There he lies in the agonies of death. He tells me that he has no good thought or feeling, and asks what he must do to be saved. There is but a step between him and death-another five minutes and that man's soul may be in hell. What am I to tell him? Am I to be an hour explaining to him the preparation required before he may come to Christ? Brethren, I dare not. But I tell him, "Believe, brother, even though it be the eleventh hour; trust thy soul with Jesus, and thou shalt be saved."
How DANGEROUS is the sentiment I am opposing. My hearers, it may be so mischievous as to have misled some of you. I solemnly warn you, though you have been professors of the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for twenty years, if your reason for believing in Christ lies in this, that you have felt the terrors of the law; that you have been alarmed, and have been convicted; if your own experience be your warrant for believing in Christ, it is a false reason...
Sinners, let me address you with words of life: Jesus wants nothing of you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as ye are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
Our preaching, on the theory (erroneous theory) of qualifications, should not be, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved;" but "Qualify yourselves for faith, be sensible of your sin, be regenerated, get marks and evidences, and then believe."
They (the apostles) ought not to have commenced with preaching Christ; they should have preached up qualifications, emotions, and sensation, if these are the preparations for Jesus; but I find that Paul, whenever he stands up, has nothing to preach but "Christ, and him crucified."
Sinner, whoever thou mayest be, God now commands thee to believe in Jesus Christ. This is his commandment: he does not command thee to feel anything, or be anything, to prepare thyself for this. Now, art thou willing to incur the great guilt of making God a liar? Surely thou wilt shrink from that: then dare to believe. Thou canst not say, "I have no right:" you have a perfect right to do what God tells you to do. You cannot tell me you are not fit; there is no fitness wanted, the command is given and it is yours to obey, not to dispute. You cannot say it does not come to you-it is preached to every creature under heaven!
To me Calvinism means the placing of the eternal God at the head of all things.
This is all well. But we must go beyond this. God has also put a man on the throne as the head of all things. That man is Jesus Christ. He is exalted above all. Those who are in Christ positionally share in His glory. In Him, they have a title to the government of the universe. If they overcome the world and serve their Lord faithfully, they may enjoy that privilege, sharing in the sovereign rule of God over all things.
Hebrews 1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
3 who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
4 being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
Hebrews 2 6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?
7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:
8 thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.
9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
10 ¶ For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,
Calvinism is weak in its anthropology because of its lack of a doctrine of deification. The Calvinists may deride the idea of free-will as the enthronment of man, but this is in actuallity the glorious truth of the Word of God! The goal of the Christian should be to be lifted up onto the throne of God and to share in His sovereign rule over all things.
I Have a Question - Please - for Calvinists and Non-Calvinists Alike
UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: I am not asking what is the difference BETWEEN the two labels, but on their own, what is each label's defining charcteristic - or - put it this way: what is the main reason why you would accept or reject either label for yourself?
What, in your opinion, is the defining, differentiating characteristic of these two labels:
I want to know what makes the system that the label represents different. Please be specific. (For example, this means you wouldn't want to answer "the sovereignty of God" for the Calvinist defining point - because Arminians would say that they also believe in the sovereignty of God, they just define it differently.)
I had the opportunity of speaking with a person that wants to be a believer. That sounds strange, you say. Either they are, or they are not, right? That is the question I raise in this post. This dear soul believes in Christ as Savior. Yet, this person also has bi-polar disease, & hardly ever "feels" born again. This struggling soul has "asked Christ" for salvation over and over, but wonders if he "did it right." I tried to go over salvation again with him & assured him that if he believes in Christ as his Savior, that the Bible says he is saved forever. We also looked at some Scriptures, including Romans 10:13-14, and 1 John 5:9-13. I asked him if he had believed Christ had given him eternal life when he asked in faith, & the answer was a positive, "Yes!" But, the clouds of doubt & depression remain. I ache for him. What do you think we can tell this person?
The Importance of Free-Will in a Truly Cosmic Soteriology: Does free-will deify man?
The Calvinists charge that belief in the freedom of the will deifies man. I would plead guilty to this charge. Indeed, the fact that man's will is free serves only to affirm the truth of Scripture that the deification of man is within God's purposes. Furthermore, in a real sense, the Bible affirms the sovereignty of man, both in his determination of his destiny and in God's delegation of sovereignty to redeemed and glorified humanity, who in the kingdom will constiture a class of gods or divine beings; a celestial aristocracy who will exercise rule over the universe.
Firstly, man has been created in the image and likeness of God.
Genesis 1 26 ¶ And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
The Eastern Orthodox distinguish between image and likeness. While this distinction has no certain exegetical basis, it does make sense in practical and experimental terms. Image is static, but likeness is dynamic. Image constitutes that part of every human being that reflects God. A strong case can be made that this is free-will or at least that free-will has a part in it. Likeness, however, is dynamic. The extent ot which we are in God's likeness varies. As we draw close to God and yield ourselves to Him, we begin to think His thoughts and act in accordance with His will and thus realise to a greater extent our likeness to Him.
And God gave man dominion over the earth. He gave him the responsiblity to exercise ruleship over the planet. This was a delegation of sovereingty. God stepped back from exercising complete sovereignty over the planet and allowed man to reign over it, determining its direction. That man allowed the world to fall into Satan's grip is the greatest tragedy in history.
Although Adam and Eve were godlike, both in their created capacity and in their responsibility, they wanted to be more like God, or at least Eve did. They wanted a quick and easy route to full deification.
Thus, Eve fell to Satan's promise 'Ye shall be as gods.' There is a true deification which is by God's grace and there is a false deification, the promise of many false religions. The idea is that man can become divine by his efforts, not by grace. Thus, the use of rituals and magic principles in the Occult. Such ideas have been secularised by the evolutionists and humanists.
It is possible that Adam and Eve might have been permitted to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil had they been faithful in the responsiblity that God had apportioned them. There dominion might well have been extended to the rest of the cosmos, as it will be for the faithful Christian who inherits the kingdom in the eschaton. But no, they desired progress at a faster speed than that which God intended.
The result of Adam and Eve's fall was the fracture of creation and the turmoil of all human society. Thus, it was necessary for God to introduce another principle and delegation of His sovereignty after the terrible judgment of the Flood.
This was the principle of human government:
Genesis 9 3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require: at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man.
6 Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
God delegated authority to men to form governments and to wield judicial power. Because man is made in God's likeness he is able to exercise God's judgment on the evildoer, even to the point of taking life. Hence it says in Psalm 86, of the judgees of Israel 'ye are gods':
6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High.
The authority of king is a reflection of God's own power. Hence it says in Ecclesiastes 8:
4 Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?
It is God's purpose for His heavenly people; the Church of this dispensation, and the resurrected saints of the Old Testament, to have power over the whole of creation. To share in God's sovereign rule beyond this sphere. Thus, the redeemed man is created to be a god or at least a divine being; one who can have dominion over all.
This relationship is formed through union with Christ. The Christian is first and foremost deified in Christ. He is indentified with Him and shares in Christ's vital union with the godhead. Just as Christ's flesh becomes God through its union with His deity, our flesh becomes God in its union with the risen Christ, first spiritually and then physically in our resurrection and glorification. In a sense that will be our Transfiguration.
The Christian is identified in His regeneration with the sphere of heaven:
Ephesians 1 3 ¶ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
Ephesians 2 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5 even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
The Christian is identified with the sphere of heaven, the sphere of divine glory. This is the sphere of government over the universe. He is also identified with Christ, who is the heir of all things, appointed to be the head of the universe. Thus, the Christian has a title to the government of the universe.
However, God has His tests, His probationary period. Before a Christian is granted that incredible privilege of ruling creation, she must show herself to be a faithful servant. She must overcome the world and live for her Lord in this world:
Revelation 3 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
To inherit the kingdom one must live as God would have us live.
Even in this we have the responsiblity to use the free-will that God has given us. A lot of Christians fall into error in this area. They think that God has a specific calling for every Christian to a very specific area of ministry. Often Christians never use the gifts that the Holy Spirit has entrusted them with because they believe that they must be certain that they have a 'calling.' However, there is little indication in Scripture of this doctrine of a 'calling.' God has given us gifts and He expects us to make decisions as to how we use them. We see this in the parable of the talents. The lord does not tell his servants what they are to do; rather he expects them to make decisions as to how they will make use of their talent. Likewise in 1 Corinthians 3:
10 ¶ According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Every Christian must take care how she builds. She needs to make decisions about how she will use the gifts that God has given her.
It is most awesome indeed to trace the history of God's dealings with man and how the free-will of man is placed under responsibility to divine service. That we are lifted up to the heights of divinity in our relationship to God should not be an embarassment to us; but it should be an incentive to worship, an incentive to seek more of God's presence and the proportionate deification in which that leads and an incentive to seek the wonderful privileges that the Lord will grant to those who occupy until He comes. Let us labour for the master from dawn until setting sun!
Referring to Ephesians 2:1, a Calvinist friend at the church prayer meeting yesterday told me:
You dont believe unbelievers are dead in trespasses and sins, do you?
I replied that I certainly did, though he had a point. I have seldom given much thought to what that term 'dead' actually means.
It occurred to me that people focus too much on what it means to be dead and not enough on the fact that the death is the absence of life.
An unbeliever does not have life. And that life is the life of God. The divine energy by which God acts towards us in grace, cloaking us in His holiness, granting us His mind, His wisdom and transforming us into the pattern of the divine humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The life that is imparted in regeneration is a dynamic life, not a static quality but a force that changes the whole being.
In regeneration, we come to share in the vital union of God and man that Jesus posesses. We become God-men, not as Christ is, for there can only be one true God-Man, but in our position in Him. Our sharing in His divine life and in Him, the eternal love of the Triune God. We experience His love and in turn, He produces love in us.
That is the life that the unbeliever lacks. In her lack of this, she is dead.
Dennis Rokser and Tom Stegall have publicly shamed and misrepresented the Grace Evangelical Society, Bob Wilkin and Zane Hodges in writing. They had at one time stated that they desired public interaction on issues that they disagreed with. What they really wanted is for the GES to step in line behind them and their cult-like practice of excommunicating anyone who does not agree with every jot and tittle of their doctrine. They want their little peice of the lime-light and are envious of the national support of the GES.
Bob Wilkin was only too happy to interact with these antagonists. Yet after it was apparant that Bob was not going to get on their bandwagon, Dennis Rokser and Tom Stegall resorted to pejoratives, name calling, misrepresentations, and shady debate tactics and ploys in their written journal. Bob Wilkin called them on this and publically challenged both men to a debate. Apparantly these two men have given up their desire to personally interact with Bob Wilkin on these subjects, for they both, without given reason, have refused to debate.
This is nothing but rank cowardice. How is it that they are so bold to print misrepresentations and pejoratives, shaming godly men, yet when push has come to shove, they shrink back into reclusion? They have forfeited any credibility and respectability that they may have had, leaving us all wondering how we are to take such men seriously when they feel no moral compunction to stand their ground and defend their attacks against those whom they shame.
Enter Lou Martuneac. After posting these happenings on my blog, Lou came up with every reason in the book why there should not be a public debate on these things. He, in essence, was defending the cowardice of the men who show themselves bold in writing and to their flocks, but who remain safely tucked away in the confines of their cultish assemblies. Lou stated that he was morally and biblically against a public debate.
For instance, Lou wrote:
It is IMO foolish and dangerous to intentionally expose believers to known error. The debate you suggest is allowing trhe [sic] teacher of false doctrine to teach and instruct within the confines of a debate. Some believers, who may be suseptible to buying into error, could well be lead astray, and that is a serious issue.
IMO, the best place to hammer out doctrinal discussions is in the written forum. This way men can carefully reason through the Scriptures.
If I were asked to host a debate such as is being suggested; No Thanks!
I would never agree to host a debate/open forum on the interpretation of the Gospel being debated in recent months.
Lou Martuneac has been emotionally affected because I have discussed a debate and the Duluthian Antagonist's cowardly refusal to stand up like men and defend their shameless attacks against godly teachers. I get the idea that Lou felt the shame of his heroes in the faith as they dastardly refused to show themselves reputable by standing their ground in an open square. Since Tom and Dennis refused to debate, I asked Lou himself if he would. He didn't even answer. We have seen his grasp of the issues and how he has conducted himself on the blogs. He has been quick to point the finger, and charge the GES with heresy, but he himself cannot put two sentences together which equate to some form of biblical argument against the GES. He merely balked, asserted, and proof-texted.
Lou Martuneac's heroes wouldn't debate, being scared to death of such a consideration, so he came up with excuses why it would be unwise and unbiblical to debate. He can't do it, for how can someone who only can charge error to his opponents and proof-text be effective? He is on record that he would never agree to sponser a public debate in an open forum on this specific subject of evangelism, soteriology, and the 'gospel'.
Like I said, I suggested that Lou debate Bob. When I did so, Lou responded this way:
Question to Antonio:
Does Bob Wilkin know you are trying to encourage and arrange a debate/open forum for him?
Do you have his permission and blessing to be speaking on his behalf?
But Lou has now shown a forked tongue, his duplicity, and has flip-flopped. Since the shame of Lou's refusal to debate and his heroes' refusal to debate has been so weighty on Lou, seeing it shows their weak position and character, he has changed his mind on the morals and biblical considerations of a public debate. He has since tried to find a any opponent willing to debate Bob Wilkin. He has said this in an entry on his blog, speaking about an email he sent Bob Wilkin:
I expanded my proposal to help him realize the open forum/debate he has been calling for on the [GES position]. I asked if he is still eager to go ahead with a debate if a man from the opposing view can be found who would agree to publicly debate him...
I trust Bob is willing to go ahead when and if a man will agree to meet him in this open debate format he is pressing for.
So I have a question for Lou Martuneac, the same he asked me, "Does Bob Wilkin know you are trying to encourage and arrange a debate/open forum for him? Do you have his permission and blessing to be speaking on his behalf?" LOL!
How is it that Lou charged me with what he has now done? How is it that Lou has changed his mind on a debate? It is duplicity, and rather humorous as well. Lou has stated that he would "never agree" to sponser a debate on this particular 'gospel' issue, but this is what he has been attempting to do now. Is this not the tell-tale sign of hypocrisy?
It wasn't his morals or biblical compunction that made him state categorically that he "would never agree to host a debate/open forum on the interpretation of the Gospel being debated in recent months". It was the refusal of the Duluthian antagonists to debate Bob, and his own cowardice to do so.
The most vocal antagonists of the GES's position have declined a debate. They obviously didn't want their names to be disreputed by their mouths being shut in a public forum. What could Lou do? He has pounded the pavement, desperately, to find someone who has the constitution to debate Bob Wilkin. Noone who has made a name for themselves in writing against the GES could be found, so Lou has had to find someone in obscurity.
Lou has indeed found someone. The person he found has a few good credentials. His name is Ron Shea. I want to reserve judgment on this fellow. I have done a little research on him and found out some things that may not make him the best candidate to debate. Furthermore, this man has not even put one thing out concerning this issue with GES, not written a single peice, or gone on record about it. When you can't get the 'biggies' to debate, because they are scared, just go fishing and find anyone willing to. But I sure would like to see a debate, and if the details can be ironed out, and places to debate can be found, I would be for it.
But what about Lou? His lack of character has shown forth in his own commentaries. Let me leave you with this last statement from Lou, which I received today in an email, and decide if this is a man who you would be pleased to associate with:
I have informed a wide circle of interested persons that you are now being considered irrelevant to any discussion of the [pejorative] gospel by any of us who are in the debate. You can post anything you want at your site or any site that you have not been banned from [Ed. Note: and which ones are those again, Lou?], but be assured you will not be recognized, acknowledged or interacted with at any level.
You are effectively out-of-the-loop of relevant discussion. You, your site, your articles, comments and behavior are irrelevant. As far as we are concerned you are a non-entity in the discussions and will be accordingly ignored.
PS: Now we'll see if Bob Wilkin wants to have his debate, won't we?
Who is this Lou, and where does he get such presumption? He says, "As far as we are concerned..." Who is the 'we'? Lastly, who cares!? What utter childishness! I ask again, who is this LOU!?
As far as I am concerned, not a single thing that comes from the keyboard, pen, or mouth of Lou has any credibility whatsoever. Back to the carlot for him.
The blessed assurance of salvation, and of justification in particular, is based squarely upon our position in the Lord Jesus as our righteousness. Being non-experiential, justification can never be founded upon our condition. Assurance of justification results when we realize what our Father has done and said; it is never based on feelings. Someone has said, “Because God has spoken, I am sure; because I am sure, I feel at rest.” “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2, NASB).
It is here that the first major mistake in our Christian life is often made. In taking the position of justification by faith in the Lord Jesus, this new standing of life began to make a marked difference in our state. Because of this, we shifted the basis of our assurance from eternal position to temporal condition. We looked, and felt, and sounded saved, hence we were assured of our salvation.But then, one morning came the dawn! We didn’t look very saved, we didn’t feel at all saved, and so we didn’t sound saved either. All day long everything and everybody went wrong, and by nightfall we found ourselves at the end of our assurance. Thoroughly shaken, we determined to rectify matters the next day. On that day we strove to look saved, to feel saved, and to sound saved. But, because we were centered in our condition, all was wretched failure. We even began to question our salvation. “…If the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us?” (Judges 6:13).
In the Lord’s time, the Comforter refocused our faith upon our position by means of the Word, and our assurance of salvation was again anchored upon the Rock, Christ Jesus. With this assurance reestablished, our condition began to improve as a result of the position in which we stood by faith. We had learned our first important lesson: the necessity of knowing and abiding in our position. Apart from this abiding, there is nothing but frustration and failure. “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever” (Isa. 32:17).
A Member of Tom Stegall's Church Reasons that his Pastor should Debate
by Antonio da Rosa
New INFORMATION: Bob Wilkin told me himself that Zane Hodges would join Bob in a debate if Dennis Rokser and Tom Stegall (those who fiercely object to the doctrinal positions of the Grace Evangelical Society, GES) would field the other side; or even if Dennis or Tom wished to bring in another. Zane Hodges, 74 years old, would take the stage and defend his biblical position against those who have publically shamed him! Where are the Duluthian Antagonists who are so fierce on paper but have run from the public accountability of an open forum and debate? They have shriveled back into dastard discomfiture.
I read this in the comments on the bluecollar blog (I see now it is also in the comments here) - Antonio had written a long comment and I thought this was such a great snippet, I did not want anyone to miss it. This is exactly why I see a problem with some of the current teaching on salvation. There seems to be a contradiction. I am not sure how one can deny the easy logic in the paragraphs below.
Antonio said: First off, if someone is told that they must repent in order to “come to Christ” ...how is it in their minds that they do not see this as a requirement for whatever "coming to Christ" means? And if they see repentance as something they do, how is it they will not consider it their part of the salvific transaction? And if they consider is their part in the salvific transaction, how is it that they are not in some degree relying upon their repentance for the intented result, the ... “coming to Christ to be saved”?
You may answer, "Well, God will supply the repentance." Why preach it then, when invariably the psychology of the hearer will consider repentance as indispensible for “coming to Christ for salvation”? He will consider it a condition to this salvation in addition to simple faith in Jesus.
Therefore it takes at least two things for eternal life: #1 repentance and #2 faith in Jesus.
#1 is an action that one does #2 is passive reliance upon Jesus
Therefore, psychologically, how is this person not relying both upon self and God for salvation, when he is being told that repentance is a condition for salvation?
In this connection, I would like to encourage Christians who delight in finding the Lord Jesus Christ on every page in Scripture. Do not permit yourselves to be frightened by those overcautious souls who cry against what they call "too much typology." Doubtless there are some things which may properly be catalogued as "types" and others not. But whatever you may call it, it is the privilege and the highest duty of the Christian to discover and behold the face of the Lord Jesus Christ in Scripture- everywhere! Far better to break a few rules of classic hermeneutics than to miss the vision of His blessed face.