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Posts Tagged ‘Total depravity’

From living by own merit to living by Christ’s merit – JC Philpot

August 26, 2012 Comments off

“If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.” – 1 Corinthians 3:18

The fruit and effect of divine teaching is, to cut in pieces, and root up all our fleshly wisdom, strength, and righteousness. God never means to patch a new piece upon an old garment; he never intends to let our wisdom, our strength, our righteousness have any union with his; it must all be torn to pieces, it must all be plucked up by the roots, that a new wisdom, a new strength, and a new righteousness may arise upon its ruins. But till the Lord is pleased to teach us, we never can part with our own righteousness, never give up our own wisdom, never abandon our own strength. These things are a part and parcel of ourselves, so ingrained within us, so innate in us, so growing with our growth, that we cannot willingly part with an atom of them till the Lord himself breaks them up, and plucks them away.

Then, as he brings into our souls some spiritual knowledge of our own dreadful corruptions and horrible wickedness, our righteousness crumbles away at the divine touch; as he leads us to see and feel our ignorance and folly in a thousand instances, and how unable we are to understand anything aright but by divine teaching, our wisdom fades away; and as he shews us our inability to resist temptation and overcome sin, by any exertion of our own, our strength gradually departs, and we become like Samson, when his locks were cut off. Upon the ruins, then, of our own wisdom, righteousness, and strength, does God build up Christ’s wisdom, Christ’s righteousness, and Christ’s strength: as Jesus said to his servant Paul, “My strength is made perfect in weakness;” and this brought him to that wonderful conclusion, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:9). But only so far as we are favoured with this special teaching are we brought to pass a solemn sentence of condemnation upon our own wisdom, strength, and righteousness, and feelingly seek after the Lord’s.

JC Philpot

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Seeing ourselves in the thief on the cross – Arthur Pink

April 25, 2012 Comments off

“Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.” — Matthew 27:41-44

Terrible indeed was the condition and action of this robber. On the very brink of eternity he unites with the enemies of Christ in the awful sin of mocking him. This was unparalleled turpitude. Think of it – a man in his dying hour deriding the suffering Saviour! O what a demonstration of human depravity and of the native enmity of the carnal mind against God! And reader, by nature there is the same depravity inhering within you, and unless a miracle of divine grace has been wrought upon you there is the same enmity against God and his Christ present in your heart. You may not think so, you may not feel so, you may not believe so. But that does not alter the fact. The word of him who cannot lie declares, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). That is a statement of universal application. It describes what every human heart is by natural birth. And again the same scripture of truth declares, “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7). This, too, diagnoses the state of every descendant of Adam. “For there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:22-23). Unspeakably solemn is this: yet it needs to be pressed. It is not until our desperate condition is realized that we discover our need of a divine Saviour. It is not until we are brought to see our total corruption and unsoundness that we shall hasten to the great physician. It is not until we find in this dying thief a portrayal of ourselves that we shall join in saying, “Lord, remember me“.

We have to be abased before we can be exalted. We have to be stripped of the filthy rags of our self-righteousness before we are ready for the garments of salvation. We have to come to God as beggars, empty-handed, before we can receive the gift of eternal life. We have to take the place of lost sinners before him if we would be saved. Yes, we have to acknowledge ourselves as thieves before we can have a place in the family of God. “But,” you say, “I am no thief! I acknowledge I am not all I ought to be. I am not perfect. In fact,! will go so far as to admit I am a sinner. But I cannot allow that this thief represents my state and condition.” Ah, friend, your case is far worse than you suppose. You are a thief, and that of the worst type. You have robbed God! Suppose that a firm in the East appointed an agent to represent them in the West, and that every month they forwarded to him his salary. But suppose also at the end of the year his employers discovered that though the agent had been cashing the cheques they sent him, nevertheless, he had served another firm all that time. Would not that agent be a thief? Yet this is precisely the situation and state of every sinner. He has been sent into this world by God, and God has endowed him with talents and the capacity to use and improve them. God has blessed him with health and strength; he has supplied his every need, and provided innumerable opportunities to serve and glorify him. But with what result? The very things God has given him have been misappropriated. The sinner has served another master, even Satan. He dissipates his strength and wastes his time in the pleasures of sin. He has robbed God. Unsaved reader, in the sight of Heaven your condition is as desperate and your heart is as wicked as that of the thief. See in him a picture of yourself. . .

. . .Here we see that man has to come to the end of himself before he can be saved.

Above we have contemplated this dying robber as a representative sinner, a sample specimen of what all men are by nature and practice – by nature at enmity against God and his Christ; by practice robbers of God, misusing what he has given us and failing to render what is due him. We are now to see that this crucified robber was also a representative case in his conversion. And at this point we shall dwell simply upon his helplessness.

To see ourselves as lost sinners is not sufficient. To learn that we are corrupt and depraved by nature and sinful transgressors by practice is the first important lesson. The next is to learn that we are utterly undone, and that we can do nothing whatever to help ourselves. To discover that our condition is so desperate that it is entirely beyond human repair, is the second step toward salvation – looking at it from the human side. But if man is slow to learn that he is a lost sinner and unfit for the presence of a holy God, he is slower still to recognize that he can do nothing towards his salvation, and is unable to work any improvement in himself so as to be fit for God. Yet, it is not until we realize that we are “without strength” (Rom. 5:6), that we are “impotent” (John 5:3), that it is not by works of righteousness which we do, but by his mercy God saves us (Titus 3:5), not until then shall we despair of ourselves, and look outside of ourselves to the one who can save us.

The great scripture type of sin is leprosy, and for leprosy man can devise no cure. God alone can deal with this dreadful disease. So it is with sin. But, as we have said, man is slow to learn his lesson. He is like the prodigal son, who when he had squandered his substance in the far country in riotous living and began to be “in want”, instead of returning to the father straightaway, he “went and joined himself to a citizen of that country” (Luke 15:15) and went to the fields to feed swine; in other words he went to work. Likewise the sinner who has been aroused to his need, instead of going at once to Christ, he tries to work himself into God’s favour. But he will fare no better than the prodigal – the husks of the swine will be his only portion. Or again, like the woman bowed down with her infirmity for many long years. She tried many physicians before she sought the great physician: so the awakened sinner seeks relief and peace in first one thing and then another, until he completes the weary round of religious performances, and ends by being “nothing bettered, but rather grows worse” (Mark 5:26). No, it is not until that woman had “spent all she had” that she sought Christ: and it is not until the sinner comes to the end of his own resources that he will betake himself to the Saviour.

Before any sinner can be saved he must come to the place of realized weakness. This is what the conversion of the dying thief shows us. What could he do? He could not walk in the paths of righteousness for there was a nail through either foot. He could not perform any good works for there was a nail through either hand. He could not turn over a new leaf and live a better life for he was dying. And, my reader, those hands of yours which are so ready for self-righteous acting, and those feet of yours which are so swift to run in the way of legal obedience, must be nailed to the cross. The sinner has to be cut off from his own workings and be made willing to be saved by Christ. A realization of your sinful condition, of your lost condition, of your helpless condition, is nothing more or less than old-fashioned conviction of sin, and this is the sole prerequisite for coming to Christ for salvation, for Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

– A.W. Pink (1886-1952)

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Evolution is voodoo science

April 24, 2011 Comments off

Drugs – Brian Schwertley

August 15, 2010 Comments off

Since the 1960s, there has been a dramatic increase in illicit drug use in our society. The drug revolution of the 1960s had its spiritual and philosophical beginnings in the “beat” culture of the 1950s. Beatniks and hippies took drugs not simply to get “high,” but also as a cultural and religious statement. They rejected the “Go-to-college, get a 9 to 5 job” suburban culture in favor of a casual nomadic existence. The hedonistic mysticism of the drug culture supplanted decaying liberal Protestantism and the rotting ritualism of Roman Catholicism. LSD drug guru, Dr. Timothy Leary perfectly summed up the whole movement, when he said, “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” When many people think of the hippie drug culture, they call to mind the “festival” at Woodstock. The image of sweaty, filthy, long-haired hippies gyrating, getting “stoned,” and getting naked, is an accurate picture of the 1960s drug culture. Today, most drug abusers have short hair and many even listen to “country” music. Drug abuse extends from the ghetto to the boardroom; from the “rock-n-roller” to the middle-aged housewife; and even to the elementary school. All drug users have one thing in common–they all are altering their consciousness and perceptual reality. Altering reality, for any reason other than medicinal purposes, is, according to the Bible, a form of sorcery.

This assertion may sound extreme to you, but consider God’s original intent for mankind. God, when He created Adam and Eve, created man in His own image (see Gen. 1:26-7). He created man as a self-conscious, self-reflective rational being. God gave man very sensitive sense perception. God gave man physical, emotional, rational, empirical and spiritual capabilities, so that man could have dominion over the earth (see Gen. 1:28). Adam and Eve were to reproduce, populate the earth and produce a godly culture. God created Adam just as He wanted him to be. Although Adam was a finite creature, he was still physically, ethically and spiritually good before God. “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). God created Adam and Eve to love and serve Him, with a certain consciousness and reality. Altering that reality is a rejection of the very nature in which God created man. It amounts to saying that God’s created consciousness is defective and needs finite human alterations.

Adam and Eve did not remain in their original sinless state. They ate of the forbidden fruit and died spiritually. Adam, as the covenantal head, the federal representative of the human race, brought sin and its curse (including bondage to sin and Satan, and the penalties of disease, suffering, calamity, death, etc.) to all men (see Rom. 5:18). God, being merciful and compassionate, promised a coming Redeemer who would defeat sin and Satan (see Gen. 3:15). God also providentially provided substances from plants that could be used as medicines. The sufferings and diseases, which resulted from man’s sin, to a certain extent, can be counteracted through the use of organic drugs.

After the fall of mankind into sin, it did not take long for unlawful drug use to begin. Drugs were used not for the healing of the body, as intended by the Creator, but for pagan religious rituals. Drugs became powerful tools in the hands of witch doctors and sorcerers. In the New Testament, the Greek word translated sorcery (cf. Gal. 5:20) is pharmakeia. The Greek word pharmakeia is related to our word pharmacy. The Greek word for drug is pharmakon. The sorcerer used various organic drugs found in plants, animals, molds, etc., to make potions and poisons. A sorcerer would often be hired to kill or incapacitate an enemy. In such a case, the sorcerer would mix the appropriate poisons. The sorcerer gained power over others by using drugs to alter their consciousness. Drugs were used for purposes of seduction. They were also used to bring people into slavery and bondage. Sorcerers, both ancient and modern, have not sought dominion through obedience to Christ and His law, but through mysticism, chaos and alchemy.

The modern drug user, whether he is aware of it or not, will be condemned by God as a sorcerer. “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissension, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand…that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God ”(Gal. 5:19-21). These are very strong words. God says that drug abusers are wicked. Drug abusers will be “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone…. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10). The person who gets high is rejecting God’s created reality. He is rejecting the meaning that God has given to all factuality. Creating one’s own autonomous reality through drugs is a form of idolatry. God’s creation, even after the fall, clearly presses upon the sinner the truth of God’s existence, power and attributes (cf. Rom. 1:18-21). The sinner takes refuge in a drug-induced illusion, a false reality.

It is no accident that beatniks were attracted to Zen Buddhism and hippies were drawn to Yoga. These youth movements were not just rebelling against the established social order, but against God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. People involved in eastern mysticism and drug mysticism are attempting to flee from the true God by “going within.” One seeks bliss or cosmic consciousness through meditation and asceticism; the other through a “joint,” a pill or a needle. As Dr. Timothy Leary once said, “It is of interest that the heroin addict and the illuminated Buddha end up in the same place, the void.” Drug users and Eastern mystics, in their flight from God and reality, seek integration into the void. In order to suppress, or hold down, the reality of God, the drug “head” must suppress meaning itself. Meaning and absolute truth are rejected in favor of a drug “experience.” The reality of a transcendent, a11 powerful, personal God, who will judge all men according to their works, is something that all unsaved sinners truly hate.

That drugs are a spiritual dead end is clearly evident in two ways. First, all drug highs have one thing in common–the trip is temporary. You eventually come down. Second, drugs are harmful to both the body and mind. While the drug user seeks pleasure, joy and freedom through the drug experience, his artificial pleasure is temporary and his freedom becomes slavery. The “pot head” not only destroys his lungs and memory, but his life is lived for and centered around the next bong hit. What foolishness! What vanity! Man was created to serve and glorify God and create a godly culture. Sitting around getting stoned neither honors God nor contributes to culture.

You must stop your rebellion against God and your flight from reality. Rather than living for God who created you, who gave you life, you ignore God and serve your flesh with your wicked lifestyle. Getting high (Gal. 5:20), getting drunk (Eph. 5:18), premarital sex (1 Cor. 6:18), debauched partying (Gal. 5:21), filthy speech (Eph. 5:4), unjust anger (Matt. 5:22), lust (Matt. 5:28), hatred (Matt. 5:44), lying (Deut. 5:20), stealing (Deut. 5:19), disobedience and disrespect for parents (Deut. 5:16), and the like, are a11 transgressions against God’s absolute, perfect, unchanging moral law. Every sin that you commit is recorded by God. On the Day of Judgment, all those who reject Jesus Christ “will be cast into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:12b). “The dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books, then death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:12b, 14,15).

There is only one way for you to escape the coming wrath of God, “let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man stands [healed] here before you whole. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone. Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10-12). Only those who have had their sins washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ and are clothed with His righteousness will be able to stand before God on that final day. The God who is, is absolutely perfect. God is infinitely holy and righteous. The moral law, summarized in the Ten Commandments, is based on God’s nature and character. God is so righteous that no one with a wicked heart and sinful record can stand in his presence. Because of sin, everyone deserves the eternal death penalty in the lake of fire. “The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good no not one ” (Ps. 14:2-3). Many people think they are following God, but they pick and choose which teaching in the Bible they like. What they don’t like, they reject. People who reject God’s Word reject God and are wicked idolaters. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14:12). “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9).

God justly could have cast the whole human race into hell. But God, being loving, compassionate, and merciful, chooses to save a people for himself out of the fallen and wicked human race. Jesus Christ came into the world as the second Adam. God the Son became incarnate in order to obey God’s law perfectly, and to offer himself as a blood sacrifice for his elect. Because God is righteous and holy, he can not simply overlook or disregard transgressions against His law. All sin deserves eternal separation from God. All sin brings the curse of the law, spiritual death, and the torment of hell. The only way that sinners can receive forgiveness of sins is if a substitute stands in the sinners’ place and takes the wrath that sinners deserve. Jesus, the divine-human Messiah, is the only person who ever lived who could provide substitutionary atonement for sinners. Why? Because Jesus is the only person who ever lived whom never committed sin. For a substitutionary sacrifice to be acceptable to God, the sacrificed one must be without sin–without spot or blemish. “For such a high priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Heb. 7:26). Jesus Christ is the perfect and only mediator between a righteous God and sinful men. Jesus Christ by his sacrificial death turned aside the wrath of God from sinners. The curse of spiritual death and eternal torment that sinners deserved was placed upon Jesus Christ on the cross. The believers’ sins are imputed or placed upon Christ in his agony and Christ’s perfect sinless life is imputed or credited to believers. “He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26b). “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13). On the Day of Judgment, those who believe in Christ will stand before God totally cleansed of all transgressions by Christ’s precious blood. And they will be fully clothed with Christ’s perfect righteousness.

After Jesus Christ died, he was placed in a tomb. But on the third day after his death, he rose from the dead and appeared to His disciples. The resurrection of Christ proves that he has defeated sin, death and Satan. “He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has exalted him and given him the name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:8,9). Your only hope of obtaining forgiveness of sins and eternal life is to believe in Jesus Christ. `“The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand. He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (Jn. 3:35,36).

Its time for you to stop wasting your life living for self and Satan, and become a disciple of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). You can reject the gospel, pretend that God does not exist and continue to try to create your own autonomous reality through drugs. But, “be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:7,8).

Some day you are going to die. When you stand before God on the Day of Judgment, will you be clothed with Christ’s perfect righteousness or will you stand before God and make excuses? “Well God, I had every opportunity to believe in Jesus Christ and to repent of my sins, but rather than serve you, I got stoned, went to debauched parties and fornicated like a wild beast.” You know that if you reject Christ your judgment will be just. “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?’ And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:19-23).

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and repent of your sins. If you are a new believer, then you must fellowship with other Christians and study God’s word. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2).

Depravity and responsibility – JC Ryle

May 27, 2010 Comments off

That great divine, John Owen, the Dean of Christ Church, used to say, more than two hundred years ago, that there were people whose whole religion seemed to consist in going about complaining of their own corruptions, and telling everyone that they could do nothing of themselves. I am afraid that after two centuries the same thing might be said with truth of some of  Christ’s professing people in this day. I know there are texts in Scripture which warrant such complaints. I do not object to them when they come from men who walk in the steps of the Apostle Paul, and fight a good fight, as he did, against sin, the devil, and the world. But I never like such complaints when I see ground for suspecting, as I often do, that they are only a cloak to cover spiritual laziness, and an excuse for spiritual sloth. If we say with Paul, “O wretched man that I am,” let us also be able to say with him, “I press toward the mark.” Let us not quote his example in one thing, while we do not follow him in another. (Rom. vii. 24; Philip. iii. 14.)

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Expelling Worldliness with a New Affection

March 24, 2010 Comments off
By Sinclair Ferguson

Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) was one of the most remarkable men of his time—a mathematician, evangelical theologian, economist, ecclesiastical, political, and social reformer all in one.  His most famous sermon was published under the unlikely title: “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.” In it he expounded an insight of permanent importance for Christian living: you cannot destroy love for the world merely by showing its emptiness. Even if we could do so, that would lead only to despair. The first world–centered love of our hearts can be expelled only by a new love and affection—for God and from God. The love of the world and the love of the Father cannot dwell together in the same heart. But the love of the world can be driven out only by the love of the Father. Hence Chalmers’ sermon title.

True Christian living, holy and right living, requires a new affection for the Father as its dynamic. Such new affection is part of what William Cowper called “the blessedness I knew when first I saw the Lord”—a love for the holy that seems to deal our carnal affections a deadly blow at the beginning of the Christian life. Soon, however, we discover that for all that we have died to sin in Christ, sin has by no means died in us. Sometimes its continued influence surprises us, even appears to overwhelm us in one or other of its manifestations. We discover that our “new affections” for spiritual things must be renewed constantly throughout the whole of our pilgrimage. If we lose the first love we will find ourselves in serious spiritual peril.

Sometimes we make the mistake of substituting other things for it. Favorites here are activity and learning. We become active in the service of God ecclesiastically (we gain the positions once held by those we admired and we measure our spiritual growth in terms of position achieved); we become active evangelistically and in the process measure spiritual strength in terms of increasing influence; or we become active socially, in moral and political campaigning, and measure growth in terms of involvement. Alternatively, we recognize the intellectual fascination and challenge of the gospel and devote ourselves to understanding it, perhaps for its own sake, perhaps to communicate it to others. We measure our spiritual vitality in terms of understanding, or in terms of the influence it gives us over others. But no position, influence, or evolvement can expel love for the world from our hearts. Indeed, they may be expressions of that very love.

Others of us make the mistake of substituting the rules of piety for loving affection for the Father: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” Such disciplines have an air of sanctity about them, but in fact they have no power to restrain the love of the world. The root of the matter is not on my table, or in my neighborhood, but in my heart. Worldliness has still not been expelled.

It is all too possible, in these different ways, to have the form of genuine godliness (how subtle our hearts are!) without its power. Love for the world will not have been expunged, but merely diverted. Only a new love is adequate to expel the old one. Only love for Christ, with all that it implies, can squeeze out the love of this world. Only those who long for Christ’s appearing will be delivered from Demas-like desertion caused by being in love with this world.

How can we recover the new affection for Christ and his kingdom that so powerfully impacted our life-long worldliness, and in which we crucified the flesh with its lusts?

What was it that created that first love in any case? Do you remember? It was our discovery of Christ’s grace in the realization of our own sin. We are not naturally capable of loving God for himself, indeed we hate him. But in discovering this about ourselves, and in learning of the Lord’s supernatural love for us, love for the Father was born. Forgiven much, we loved much. We rejoiced in the hope of glory, in suffering, even in God himself. This new affection seemed first to overtake our worldliness, then to master it. Spiritual realities—Christ, grace, Scripture, prayer, fellowship, service, living for the glory of God—filled our vision and seemed so large, so desirable that other things by comparison seemed to shrink in size and become bland to the taste.

The way in which we maintain “the expulsive power of a new affection” is the same as the way we first discovered it. Only when grace is still “amazing” to us does it retain its power in us. Only as we retain a sense of our own profound sinfulness can we retain a sense of the graciousness of grace.

Many of us share Cowper’s sad questions: “Where is the blessedness I knew when first I saw the Lord? Where is the soul-refreshing view of Jesus and his word?” Let us remember the height from which we have fallen, repent and return to those first works. It would be sad if the deepest analysis of our Christianity was that it lacked a sense of sin and of grace. That would suggest that we knew little if the expulsive power of a new affection. But there is no right living that last without it.

Sinclair Ferguson is an Alliance Council Member and associate professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary.

This article was previously published in Eternity Magazine, December 1987.

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The offence of the cross ceasing

March 14, 2010 Comments off

by Thomas Scott

Thomas Scott (1747-1821) was a Gospel preacher well equipped to demonstrate powerfully what is the difference between true Christianity and its false counterparts within the Church. The son of a Lincolnshire grazier, and the tenth of thirteen children, he was himself bound for the cattle farming business when he decided to opt for the ordained ministry, considering that occupation to be less arduous. At length his careless, liberal views and unsanctified life were brought to bear upon him – largely through the efforts of John Newton – and by the grace of God he repented at the feet of the Saviour. As an evangelical pastor he soon became a great force for good in the land and has long been remembered for his tireless work, including a Commentary on the Whole Bible.

THE OFFENCE OF THE CROSS CEASING

Leave out the holy character of God, the holy excellence of his law, the holy condemnation to which transgressors are doomed, the holy loveliness of the Saviour’s character, the holy nature of redemption, the holy tendency of Christ’s doctrine, and the holy tempers and conduct of all true believers: then dress up a scheme of religion of this unholy sort: represent mankind as in a pitiable condition, rather through misfortune than by crime: speak much of Christ’s bleeding love to them, of his agonies in the garden and on the cross; without shewing the need or the nature of the satisfaction for sin: speak of his present glory, and of his compassion for poor sinners; of the freeness with which he dispenses pardons; of the privileges which believers enjoy here, and of the happiness and glory reserved for them hereafter: clog this with nothing about regeneration and sanctification, or represent holiness as somewhat else than conformity to the holy character and law of God: and you make up a plausible gospel, calculated to humour the pride, soothe the consciences, engage the hearts, and raise the affections of natural men, who love nobody but themselves. And now no wonder if this gospel (which has nothing in it affronting, offensive, or unpalatable, but is perfectly suited to the carnal unhumbled sinner, and helps him to quiet his conscience, dismiss his fears, and encourage his hopes,) incur no opposition among ignorant persons, who inquire not into the reason of things; meet with a hearty welcome, and make numbers of supposed converts, who live and die as full as they can hold of joy and confidence, without any fears or conflicts. Its success perhaps may cause it to be cried up as ‘the only way of preaching for usefulness:’ while all discourse concerning the being, authority, and perfections of God; concerning the law; concerning the evil of sin; and concerning relative duties; is considered as only ‘hindering usefulness:’ and they only are thought to preach the gospel in simplicity, as they ought to do who preach in this manner. What wonder if, when all the offensive part is left out, the gospel gives no offence? What wonder if, when it is made suitable to carnal minds, carnal minds fall in love with it? What wonder if, when it is evidently calculated to fill the unrenewed mind with false confidence and joy, it has this effect? What wonder if, when the true character of God is unknown, and a false character of him is framed in the fancy,—a God all love and no justice, very fond of such believers, as his favourites,—they have very warm affections towards him? What wonder if, when these persons are of one mind, and admire and extol each other as the only favourites of heaven, they seem to be full of love to one another? It is not Christ’s holy image in them that they love, but their own image: and again I observe, Similis simili gaudet [like loves like].

The doctrines of the gospel would give no offence except to a few deep thinkers, were it not that, when properly stated, they imply the affronting truth, that every person, by sinning against a holy God, and breaking a righteous law, is justly deserving of eternal damnation, be his character in society ever so moral and respectable; and that we are all polluted and abominable, contrary to God, and loathsome through sin. Suppress this representation, and there is nothing affronting in any remaining doctrine, or offensive to any person, save to the reasoner, who, seeing so much done without any adequate cause, may scornfully exclaim, Cui bono? [What purpose is all this to answer?] —The bulk of mankind however belong not to the reasoning class, and will ever be ready to adopt any sentiments their teacher may inculcate, which do not alarm their fears, affront their pride, or call them to mortify their lusts: much more such as quiet their fears, soothe their pride, leave their corruptions untouched, and find them an excuse for not subduing them. And, though an outward reformation may generally be necessary; yet for the sake of a quiet conscience, sanguine hopes, and self-complacency, we all know how far men will proceed in this way.

I would not give needless offence. Let this matter be weighed according to its importance. Let the word of God be examined impartially. I cannot but avow my fears that Satan has propagated much of this false religion, among many widely different classes of religious professors; and it shines so brightly in the eyes of numbers, who ‘take all for gold that glitters,’ that, unless the fallacy be detected, it bids fair to be the prevailing religion in many places.—So far however as I can judge, no persons in the world express more acrimony against that sort of religion which strips the sinner of every plea, leaves him self-condemned and self-loathing, as a transgressor of a righteous law, and a rebel against a holy God, at the footstool of sovereign grace; which shews the sinner the absolute need there was of the death of Christ, the real nature of his satisfaction, the necessity of a total change of heart and life; and demonstrates that all true converts love the holy character and law of God, and are sincerely holy in all manner of conversation: no persons, I say, are more virulent haters, and more resolute opposers, of these views of religion, than those who are so full of the other affections, and of that sort of religion above described: which too plainly shews how things are with them.

Reference

Letters and Papers of Thomas Scott

Source