One More Time on the “Onlys” of the Reformation

Quotes from the Early Fathers of the Church on the “onlys” of the Gospel:

Gregory of Nyssa, On the Making of Man:

If they, then, bear the delay who by faith only and by hope saw the good things “afar off” and “embraced them(2),” as the apostle bears witness, placing their certainty of the enjoyment of the things for which they hoped in the fact that they “judged Him faithful Who has promised(3),” what ought most of us to do, who have not, it may be, a hold upon the better hope from the character of our lives?

 

Chrysostom: Homilies on 2 Cor:

“Sound judgment.” And what can it be to have “a sound judgment?” To enjoy the health that pertaineth to the soul: for he that is held down by wicked lusts and dazzled(10) with present things, never can be sound, that is, healthy. But as one who is diseased lusteth even after things which are unfit for him, so also doth he. “And a virtuous mode of life,” for the doctrines need a mode of life [answerable]. Attend to this, ye who come to baptism at the close of life, for we indeed pray that after baptism ye may have also this deportment, but thou art seeking and doing thy utmost to depart without it. For, what though thou be justified(11): yet is it of faith only. But we pray that thou shouldest have as well the confidence that cometh of good works.

 

Homily, Acts 15:1

Everywhere he puts the Gentiles upon a thorough equality. “And put no difference between us and them, having purified their hearts by faith.” (v. 9.) From faith alone, he says, they obtained the same gifts. This is also meant as a lesson to those (objectors); this is able to teach even them that faith only is needed, not works nor circumcision. For indeed they do not say all this only by way of apology for the Gentiles, but to teach (the Jewish believers) also to abandon the Law. However, at present this is not said. “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples?”

 

Homily, Romans 3:

For if even before this, the circumcision was made uncircumcision, much rather was it now, since it is cast out from both periods. But after saying that “it was excluded,” he shows also, how. How then does he say it was excluded? “By what law? of works? Nay, but by the law of faith.” See he calls the faith also a law delighting to keep to the names, and so allay the seeming novelty. But what is the “law of faith?” It is, being saved by grace. Here he shows God’s power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting,(1) and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only. And in saying this he attempts to bring the Jew who has believed to act with moderation, and to calm him that hath not believed, in such way as to draw him on to his own view. For he that has been saved, if he be high-minded in that he abides by the Law, will be told that he himself has stopped his own mouth, himself has accused himself, himself has renounced claims to his own salvation, and has excluded boasting. But he that hath not believed again, being humbled by these same means, will be capable of being brought over to the faith. Do you see how great faith’s preeminence is? How it hath removed us from the former things, not even allowing us to boast of them?

 

Homily, Romans 4:

Ver. 2. “By Whom also we have access,” he says, “by faith unto this grace. (7 Mss. add, unto, etc.)

If then He hath brought us near to Himself, when we were far off, much more will He keep us now that we are near. And let me beg you to consider how he everywhere sets down these two points; His part, and our part. On His part, however, there be things varied and numerous and diverse. For He died for us, and farther reconciled us, and brought us to Himself, and gave us grace unspeakable. But we brought faith only as our contribution. And so he says,” “by faith, unto this grace” What grace is this? tell me. It is the being counted worthy of the knowledge of God, the being forced from error, the coming to a knowledge of the Truth, the obtaining of all the blessings that come through Baptism.

 

Augustine, On Faith, Hope, and Love, ch 67:

It is believed, moreover, by some, that men who do not abandon the name of Christ, and who have been baptized in the Church by His baptism, and who have never been cut off from the Church by any schism or heresy, though they should live in the grossest sin and never either wash it away in penitence nor redeem it by almsgiving, but persevere in it persistently to the last day of their lives, shall be saved by fire; that is, that although they shall suffer a punishment by fire, lasting for a time proportionate to the magnitude of their crimes and misdeeds, they shall not be punished with everlasting fire. But those who believe this, and yet are Catholics, seem to me to be led astray by a kind of benevolent feeling natural to humanity. For Holy Scripture, when consulted, gives a very different answer. I have written a book on this subject, entitled Of Faith and Works, in which, to the best of my ability, God assisting me, I have shown from Scripture, that the faith which saves us is that which the Apostle Paul clearly enough describes when he says: “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love.”(2) But if it worketh evil, and not good, then without doubt, as the Apostle James says, “it is dead, being alone.”(3) The same apostle says again, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?”(4) And further, if a wicked man shall be saved by fire on account of his faith alone, and if this is what the blessed Apostle Paul means when he says, “But he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire;”(5) then faith without works can save a man, and what his fellow-apostle James says must be false. And that must be false which Paul himself says in another place: “Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners; shall inherit the kingdom of God.”(6) For if those who persevere in these wicked courses shall nevertheless be saved on account of their faith in Christ, how can it be true that they shall not inherit the kingdom of God?

 

Chrysostom, 1 Timothy:

As the Jews were chiefly attracted by this, he persuades them not (2) to give heed to the law, since they could not attain salvation by it without faith. Against this he contends; for it seemed to them incredible, that a man who had misspent all his former life in vain and wicked actions, should afterwards be saved by his faith alone. On this account he says, “It is a saying to be believed.” But some not only disbelieved but even objected, as the Greeks do now.

 

Chrysostom, Homily on 1 Tim 5:8:

Then there is thanksgiving, and great glory, and joy, every one praying that such may be his own end, that so his own combat may terminate, and he may rest from his labor and struggles, and may see Christ. And if any is sick, instead of tears and lamentations they have recourse to prayers. Often not the care of physicians, but faith alone relieves the sick.

 

Chrysostom, Homily on Eph 2:11-12:

For he makes a wide distinction between “commandments” and “ordinances.” He either then means “faith,” calling that an “ordinance,” (for by faith alone He saved us,) or he means “precept,” such as Christ gave, when He said, “But I say unto you, that ye are not to be angry at all.” (Matt. v: 22.) That is to say, “If thou shalt believe that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Rom. x: 6-9.) And again, “The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thine heart. Say not, Who shall ascend into heaven, or who shall descend into the abyss?” or, who hath “brought. Him again from the dead?” Instead of a certain manner of life, He brought in faith. For that He might not save us to no purpose, He both Himself underwent the penalty, and also required of men the faith that is by doctrines.

 

Theodoret of Cyrus, Letters:

All this I say not for the sake of boasting, but because I am forced to defend myself. It is not the fame of my sermons to which I am calling attention; it is their orthodoxy alone. Even the great teacher of the world who is wont to style himself last of saints and first of sinners, that he might stop the mouths of liars was compelled to set forth a list of his own labours; and in shewing that this account of his sufferings was of necessity, not of free will, he added “I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me.”(2) I own myself wretched—aye thrice wretched. I am guilty of many errors. Through faith alone I look for finding some mercy in the day of the Lord’s appearing. I wish and I pray that I may follow the footprints of the holy Fathers, and I earnestly desire to keep undefiled the evangelic teaching which was in sum delivered to us by the holy Fathers assembled in council at the Bithynian Nicaea. I believe that there is one God the Father and one Holy Ghost proceeding from the Father:(1) so also that there is one Lord Jesus Christ, only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages, brightness of His glory and express image of the Father’s person,(2) on account of man’s salvation, incarnate and made man and born of Mary the Virgin in the flesh. For so are we taught by the wise Paul “Whose are the Fathers and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen,”(3) and again “Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness.”(4) On this account we also call the holy Virgin “Theotokos,”(5) and deem those who object to this appellation to be alienated from true religion.

 

Click the next line (“Reformation Solas in the Fathers of the Church” for more quotes)

Reformation Solas in the Fathers of the Church (May have to click this line more than once.)

(THE END)

Jesus Is Lord in Everything but Voting—Right?

© The Very Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.

9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9-11 NKJ)

The three expressions—in heaven, on earth, and under the earth—refer to angelic beings and perhaps those who have passed into the presence of the Lamb, to all those on earth at any point in time, and those demonic beings under the earth. It is comprehensive.

We see from these verses that not only is Jesus the medium of worship but also the object of worship. The world hates the name “Jesus” as seen in making fun of it, saying “O Jesus Christ” and not “O Buddha” or something like that. One can pray in public in any name but Jesus; one can pray to “God Almighty,” to Allah, but just don’t pray in Jesus’ name. The reason should be obvious—Jesus is the supreme enemy, which is why Christians, who wear His name, are hated so much.

It seems that at every turn we Christians are being marginalized in our USA culture. Liberals hate us, the sexually immoral despise us with every vile force they can muster and want to murder us, and the culture is being educated in public, godless, government schools not to listen to us, that Christianity is an outdated religion that has a very fallible book full of mistakes and errors. Organizations like the ACLU want us to keep Christ in our private churches, and they want “Caesar” to be lord in the culture. They say keep Jesus out of politics and the public arena, for that belongs to the “neutral” government. The upcoming vote for the president of the USA is to some extent a battle over who is Lord in our society, Satan, or the Messiah who is Jesus the Lord. But we cannot say that the RNC represents all  godly principles; rather, they are, at the moment, just less evil, but should we not want lesser evil than more evil?

But how should Christians engage in the spiritual warfare that is around us every day? Let us look at 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 in the Old Testament.

13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, THEN I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

This applied to the Old Testament people of God, but we are the new Israel of God (Gal. 6:16; Eph. 2:11-22) so it applies to us also. The passage says the covenant people of God who are called by His name (now “Christians”) are to do several things:

  • Humble themselves before God, which means to confess their sins
  • Pray and seek Him
  • And what is often overlooked: “turn from their wicked ways
  • “THEN” He will (notice the order) “forgive their sin, and heal their land”. Forgiveness is the basis for other blessings, and in turn forgiveness is conditioned on turning from our sins, or repentance (We Christians are eaten up with sins; click here to get my book on the Ten Commandments or go to Amazon and enter Curtis Crenshaw, NOT Ten Suggestions.)

Then in 2 Chronicles 20, the enemies of King Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, were coming against him, and they were too many and too powerful to fight. Here is what Jehoshaphat did:

  • He feared and set himself to seek the Lord (v. 3)
  • He invoked the covenant promises (“are not you our God”, v. 7)
  • “If disaster comes upon us . . . we will stand before this temple and in Your presence, and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save” (v. 9)
  • Here is what they prayed: “We have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (v. 12)

So, what did Judah do in the face of overwhelming odds? They prayed and worshiped, and they were granted victory. We are not Judah, but we are in covenant with God through the blood of Jesus, and we enter His presence to worship each Lord’s day. It is there, in His holy presence in worship, that we do battle with our enemies. Of course, we also use other human means, such as voting in this election. If the outcome is not what we think is best, we must submit to Him, for His plan will go forward. But WE MUST BE FAITHFUL where we are whatever the outcome. We cannot see the future, but Jesus has determined the future; thus, we must be faithful in whatever He has decided for us, whoever wins the election. There is only one Man who is the answer to all our sins and problems, and that is the One who became human in space and time, who became a slave, ill-treated, who was crucified, died a criminal’s death, resurrected, who in turn knows all the trials we go through because He went through them to conquer for us: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15 ESV).

But in the New Testament we see something similar as 2 Chronicles 20:

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Cor. 10:3-6 ESV)

This passage commands us to use our divine weapons, not physical ones, to destroy “strongholds” of Satan. We do so by proclaiming the gospel, by making known the Triune God and the Incarnation of the Son of God, and we can in turn do that by disseminating the word in books, tracts, sermons, voting, praying, helping girls to overcome abortion, etc.

Now the One who was completely obedient must be completely obeyed, for He is LORD! We can see how quickly things can change with the new evidence from the FBI regarding the new found emails. Who knows how that will turn out? If providence goes as usual (who knows!), it may turn out completely different from what anyone thinks! But we know who is in charge; thus, let us do our meager part in repenting,  praying, voting, and trusting in

“Him who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. AMEN.” Ω. (1 Tim. 6:15-16 NKJ)

God’s Persevering Grace

(The Rev. Dr. Curtis Crenshaw, Th.D.)

“He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6 NKJ)

Several years ago I had a discussion with someone who was ready to give up on the Christian life, saying it was too difficult, that it seemed that the Triune God did not care. In our frenetic speed of life,[1] we sometimes forget that God is persevering with us more than we are with Him. God finishes what He begins, unlike us. If He did not, we would never make it to heaven. As humans, you and I are always beginning things that we never seem to find time to finish. But consider God’s matchless grace in Philippians 1:6, that what He begins He finishes: “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Look at the butterfly wing—was it begun and not finished? Look at the woodpecker—was its specialized bill not finished? Look at the atom—was it a partial work? Look at the moon—is it a work abandoned? Are the tides out of control? Look at yourself, the apex of God’s creation—will you be thrown away after the work was begun? God works by a plan. He begins a work of grace in us, not as an experiment to see if we and He can make it together, but that He may complete His design in and for us. Can you imagine an architect who begins a project without plans, just going along to see how things work out? (Of course, non-Christians have no future except the judgment. Our appointment would be the same if God the Father had not chosen us to be His: Eph. 1:3-4.).

If the Triune God began a work in us but did not finish it, who would lose more, God or us? It would definitely be God, for then He would be known as a failure. Others could say that God just could not handle it, that He gave it His best effort but finally gave up on us, that we were just too much for Him, that our sins were more than He could overcome in us. But that would nullify the cross, that God the Father could not bring justice and mercy together, yet that is precisely what Romans 3:26 says He did; namely, that He was both just in His judgment and the justifier of sinners:

“to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

That is my favorite verse, and quite contrary to Islam. The verse says that God the Father was just in putting to death His Son but also quite merciful toward us. In other words, we deserved eternal death for our sins, but the Father is just so He offered One to take that judgment, even JESUS, the final solution for us, who volunteered to be our substitute. Moreover, the Father is merciful so He extended His mercy to us through the Son. Thus at the cross, God was both just and the justifier of us sinners. If He failed in this endeavor, He would not be God.

Islam, on the other hand, has a god who can’t be both just and justifier. Muslims say Allah does not require payment to show mercy but just hands out mercy. Thus, their god is compromised. But the Triune God, in the same act, the cross, demonstrates both justice and justification (mercy). My only hope in life and in death is the cross of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Moreover, according to Paul here in Philippians 1:6, who initiated the work in you, you or God? God! And if God did, will He decide against it later? As one man expressed it in a hymn:

  • “I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
  • “He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me;
  • “It was not I that found [Thee], O Savior true;
  • “No, I was found [by] Thee.”

And is it not true that we love Him because He first loved us?

“We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19 NKJ).

Notice, by the way, that most modern translations of this verse leave out the word “Him.” It is true of course that we cannot love anything without Him, but that is not the point John is making. Rather, he wants us to know that our love for the Triune God was not first, was not the cause of Him reciprocating His love back to us. No, indeed, God’s love initiates and we reciprocate. We are not masters of the sovereign King’s grace to use as we wish; we do not make Him “fall in love” (I hate that expression) with us because we are so lovely, and He could not help Himself. Our loveliness did not overwhelm Him, because we have none.  His love and grace are initial and ours responsive, for it was He who began the work in us, not we in Him!

And how do we know that God has begun a work in us? We can tell by our obedience, by the love we have for God, mankind, God’s Bible, by our faithful attendance at worship on the Lord’s Day, reading His word, the Bible, partaking of Holy Communion, praying, and so on. Faith, hope, and love will be the hallmarks of our lives.

Let me give you a good example. Years ago I led a man to Christ who was only 18 years old. He mouthed some words, good words, but I wondered how committed he was to them. He was very much in love with a young lady, but she was not a Christian. When I told him and showed him from the Bible that God did not allow a believer to marry an unbeliever, he paused for a long time and said with tears in his eyes: “If that’s what God says, that’s what I’ll do.” His life has revealed the same commitment for decades. More than anything else, one’s obedience to God reveals whether there has been true conversion or not, but our obedience does not merit our acceptance with God:

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1 John 2:3-4 NKJ).

And do you know why it is God who first seeks us, and why we are responsive to Him, why it is that He saves us in this way? One reason is so that we cannot boast (see Ephesians 2:8-10). We’ll never be able to say that God did 99%, but if it were not for the 1% I did, I would never have made it to heaven.

Let us rejoice that for all those who trust in the death and righteousness of Christ for forgiveness of sins, our Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, has taken charge of our salvation, that our sins are forgiven, that His Name and reputation are on the line, and that by His persevering grace, we shall make it home! AMEN.

PS:

(Just for the record, the word “him” is widely supported in many—if not the majority—of manuscripts. Here are some of those manuscripts: ‎‎  א 048 33 81 436 1067 Augustine Byz Lect etc. Here is why “Him” was left out of most modern versions as stated by modern critics of our NT: “Feeling the need of an accusative object after the verb . . . some copyists added Him.” How, in the name of all that is rational, can one get inside a copyist head to know he would “feel”? I call that subjective nonsense. Moreover, I can’t imagine why we would give our New Testament to unbelievers to determine what should compose it. As the 39 Articles states, “the Church [is] a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ”, Article XX). The Church, not unbelievers, should be in charge of our most precious deposit, the written word of God. Part of the problem today with so many versions is that we’ve given our most precious heritage to those who hate the Author. Publishing houses who translate and sell Bibles for money have control over the text and its translation, but that is the Church’s bailiwick. Barth Ehrman, who writes a lot in the area of textual criticism (what should be in the New Testament Greek) is an avowed atheist. I’ve read his books closely; they are full of subjective theories as the one I just quoted. More on this to come.)

 

[1] Our lack of time for anything significant is part of God’s judgment. In our refusal to obey His Sabbath, He is taking away time by rubbing our noses in so many details that we don’t have time for family or for Him. We run around doing nothing and think we are accomplishing something. We are self-deceived.

Loving Darkness

((c) The Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.)

Two main truths are presented in the following quote: I. There is condemnation; II. Some people practice evil

I. And this is the condemnation,  [two reasons for condemnation] that

(1)        the light has come into the world,

(2) and men loved darkness rather than light,

because their deeds were evil. [reason they love darkness]

II. For everyone practicing evil

                            hates the                             light

and does not come to the   light,

lest his deeds should be exposed. [Reason ungodly hate Christians]

(John 3:19-20 NKJ)

The “light” above is God’s holiness and righteousness. Read also in John 1 John 1:5-2:2) for the same idea.

I heard this on radio recently:

  • In China you can criticize evolution but not the government while here in the USA you can criticize the government but not evolution.

I don’t know which is worse; they are both ungodly tyrannies. Both countries engage in thought control, just as George Orwell predicted of the USA in his prescient novel, 1984. He was only off by a couple of decades.

My two smaller grandkids spent the night last night. My daughter and her husband have turned off their TV at home so the kids wanted to watch cartoons. I thought I would see what they are like. One was all violence, anger, revenge, yelling, screaming, blowing things up. We changed channels, and immediately two teen age cartoon characters were talking about a very racy lesbian scene in a movie they had seen, which was “cool.” I changed channels again. People tell me the comedy shows are just as bad, if not worse so I avoided them.

Next I scanned the menu on my satellite TV, and one program was called “Dating Naked.” My grandson had stepped out of the room, but I thought this surely can’t mean what it says—but it did! I quickly changed channels again before he returned. Finally, we found a nature show, but then there was the ever present evolution, though in this case only mentioned slightly. Whatever happened to the days of good clean cowboy violence, like the Lone Ranger, or Ramar of the Jungle, Tarzan, etc. Those may be on oldie channels if you can find them.

So now back to the “real” world. Could it be any worse? I guess you’ve seen lately that Obama by executive order has mandated that all public schools must honor LGBT people or lose their federal funding. (When will morality become more important than money? At least there are eleven states who are standing up to Obama: UT, AZ, OK, TX, OK, WI, LA, TN, AL, GA, ME. At least five states are in the South.) Obama is bypassing Congress in making laws. More particularly if one “feels” like a girl one day (regardless of the biological plumbing), he is permitted to enter the girl’s restrooms and showers. It is not objective biology that determines one’s gender but how one “feels,” and no one must challenge that or he will be guilty of discrimination. If one does not bow to the golden calf of newspeak, then follow misdemeanors, felonies, or civil fines in the tens of thousands or combinations thereof. Parents will wonder what has happened to their children as they self-destruct against God’s law, and children will murder their parents when they don’t get their way. PARENTS: You must take your kids out of public school and put them in a good Christian school, no matter what the cost is. Their precious souls are at stake. Your children are more important than new homes, new cars, nice clothes.

Christians are being setup as the great scapegoats, those who allegedly hate others (newspeak for holding people to a moral standard). No amount of logic makes any difference when you’re dealing with “feelings,” hate for righteousness, love for sin. If anyone challenges their love for their gods, it is all out media war, throwing bottles of urine and excrement at Christians, wanting to crucify (!) us. BUT in the long run, we Christians win; Satan has never learned that the Church is a gas fire: stomp it and it spreads; leave it alone, and it burns out. We have been somewhat successful in applying the Holy Scriptures to this land, so that we have been left alone, by which I mean, we’ve had few challenges. Now we have sown the wind, we are reaping the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7), and challenges are abounding.

Those who love darkness are becoming increasing irrational, such as the following.

Antony Flew was the leading atheist scholar in England for 50 years against theism. He embraced theism or intelligent design a few years before he died because nothing else explains the design of the universe, the laws of nature, the origin of life itself, our intelligibility,[1] or the delicate balance of nature for us to live on earth. How could something come from nothing; how could life come from lifeless matter, such as molecules in motion; how could consciousness come from raw matter (non-consciousness); how could reason come from non-reason; how could self-conscious thought come from physical objects; how could the consistent laws of science come from random particles; how could persons come from non-persons? The atheist tries to argue that random chance begets intelligence, persons, balance of nature, order, and meaning. In short, chance or chaos gave rise to order. At every point, the atheist is irrational, contradictory, and functions by faith that is irrational, and make no mistake that “irrationality is the prelude to destruction.”[2] John Dryden, the seventeenth century English poet, said:

  • “For those whom God to ruin has design’d,
  • He fits for fate, and first destroys their mind.”

Today we might say it this way: “Those whom God would destroy, He first makes mad.”

We are mad, not legally insane, but mad with rebellion against the Triune God and His character as revealed in His holy law, such as the Ten Commandments. The USA is mad against the Incarnation of the Son of God, against His perfect obedience to His Father, against His death on the cross for our sins, against His bodily resurrection. If it is true that to whom much is given much is required (Luke 12:28), then the USA is in for horrendous judgment. Those prosperity preachers who tell us we can have all the goodies we want if we just magically say the right incantation into the air audibly, will have nothing to say when judgment falls (and it has begun). Make no mistake: turning to darkness or sin darkens one’s reasoning abilities. Reasoning is then only used to support one’s desires, not to determine those desires.

There is only one solution, which the world hates with an unholy passion: repentance from our sins and faith in the Lord Jesus for forgiveness of sins. Anything else is damnation forever. AMEN.

 

[1] See the excellent work by Antony Flew, the former atheist, There Is A God, published in 2007. Flew announced his change from atheism to theism in 2004, though sadly as far as I know he did not become a Christian before his death on April 8, 2010.

[2] Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983), p. 165.

Godliness of Silence

“Be Still and Know that I Am God”

© The Very Rev. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.

Have you noticed that today’s culture MUST have noise, and have it just about all the time? It appears that no one wants to be alone with his thoughts. I would submit that one reason is that said thoughts are scary. If alone, they might have to think about their lives, their accomplishments, or more to the point, about the Last Day judgment.

Some say that we should be alone with our thoughts so we can hear from God. But what will they hear? Their imaginations? They claim to hear wonderful things about themselves from “God,” whoever that is, and then they “allow Him” (you’re in charge) to fill you with His grace. It is interesting that there are never any thoughts about the Last Day judgment that Jesus, when He was on earth, often proclaimed, such as: “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:46).

When our lives are jammed packed with activities, rushing to meet various meetings, doing good things but not the best things. When our souls are so jammed with activities we hardly have time to think, we open ourselves to the mores and values of the world, instead of God’s holy and infallible word. The world then programs us with its rebellious ideas. Have you seen someone who can’t stand to be alone, ever? As soon as they enter their cars, they turn on loud “music,” or put on a nerve jangling album. If it is your car, they may say, “Can we have some music?” which means “I don’t value time with you.” If it is a repair man, he goes from loud music in his car to loud music in your house while he listens to filthy words on his radio with some rap music. (Though there is some Christian rap music, I’m told.)

Moreover, the “moment of silence” in our culture means nothing but to leave God out of our lives publicly. What good is it to shove God out when we say nothing? We don’t want to offend people with our religious convictions so we offend the Triune God with our silence. We must not allow Him in our public lives, we think.

Then we are told of five ways to know that “God” is speaking to you, and the reason I keep putting quotes around the word “God” is that the articles never define who He (she, it) is. That is the reader’s job. But I will only give the first way to hear from God from the site.

Here is the first way to know “God” is speaking to us– He speaks in the Bible! Yes, indeed, and I would add, the Bible is enough. We don’t need other special revelations to our hearts or having people say “God told me” such and such. I managed a large Christian book store once, and a woman came into the store. She kept saying that “God” told him certain things; and when I could take it no longer, I said, “He told me the opposite.” She looked puzzled and said something like, “How is that possible?” I grabbed a Bible from one of the shelves, opened it to the idea that she was talking about, and read her what the Apostle Paul said, which was the opposite of what she said. Of course, she adamantly maintained that her infallibility trumped what the Bible said. That is the real danger, making the words of one’s own thoughts contradict and personal experience God’s written word. What did Isaiah say:

19 And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isa. 8:19-20)

Or as the Apostle Paul stated:

that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other (1 Cor. 4:6).

The Greek is clearer than the English. “Not to think beyond what is written” is a set quote that was very familiar to Paul and his churches, and usually the clue to this understanding is not translated into English. There is a definite article that functions like the beginning of a quote: “Not to think beyond what is written.” Then the expression “what is written” or sometimes rendered “it is written” is also a set clause that always invokes scripture the Old Testament when given in the New Testament. Finally, notice the last part of Paul’s sentence: “that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.” Is it not the case that Christians who allegedly receive a “word of knowledge” are often puffed up with pride against those who do not receive such?

Of course, the answer to biblical quotes is usually one’s experience. People will say something like: “I know that I heard from God because it happened to me, and it turned out to be true. So what if it came true that time; can we rely on our private bibles all the time? If not, we are wrong. Indeed, this is the proper way to engage in silence and hear from God:

1 Blessed is the man

Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,

Nor stands in the path of sinners,

Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,

And in His law he meditates day and night.

3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water,

That brings forth its fruit in its season,

Whose leaf also shall not wither;

And whatever he does shall prosper.

4 The ungodly are not so,

But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,

Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,

But the way of the ungodly shall perish. (Psalm 1)

So how do we know that the Triune God is speaking to us? Because we have understood His written Word in its proper context; that is how.

It is paganism that wants to manipulate God through one’s words, thoughts, or anything else. Why is not the written word enough? Why can’t we be alone with Him and His Word, both written and Incarnate, to hear and obey what He has already said?

AMEN. Ὡ

Warfield’s Critique of Lewis Sperry Chafer’s He That Is Spiritual

The following article by B. B. Warfield in 1918 is just one indication that the Reformed had many problems with dispensational theology, and that the perfectionistic ten­dency of dispensational thought is not my ima­gi­nation. The article is taken out of Bibliotheca Sacra, which jour­nal was at Princeton when Dr. Warfield wrote but now, iron­ically, is at Dallas Theological Seminary. The article is a critique of the still popular book by Lewis Chafer, He That Is Spiritual. We turn now to the great prince of Princeton, B. B. Warfield. All emphasis is his.

Mr. Chafer is in the unfortunate and, one would think, very uncomfort­able, condition of having two in­con­sistent systems of religion strugg­ling together in his mind. He was bred an Evangelical, and, as a minis­ter of the Presbyterian Church, South, stands committed to Evange­licalism of the purest water. But he has been long associated in his work with a coterie of “Evangel­ists” and “Bible Teachers,” among whom there flourishes that curious religious sys­tem (at once curi­ously pre­tentious and curiously shallow) which the Higher Life leaders of the middle of the last century brought into vogue; and he has not been immune to its in­fection. These two religious systems are quite in­compatible. The one is the product of the Protestant Refor­mation and knows no determining power in the reli­gious life but the grace of God; the other comes straight from the laboratory of John Wesley, and in all its forms―modi­fications and mitigations alike―re­mains incur­ably Arminian, subjecting all grac­ious work­ings of God to human deter­mining. The two can unite as little as fire and water.

Mr. Chafer makes use of all the jargon of the Higher Life teachers. In him, too, we hear of two kinds of Christians, whom he designates re­spec­tively “carnal men” and “spir­itual men,” on the basis of a mis­reading of 1 Cor. 2:9ff (pp. 8, 109, 146); and we are told that the pas­sage from the one to the other is at our option, whenever we care to “claim” the higher de­gree “by faith” (p. 146). With him, too, thus, the en­joy­ment of every blessing is sus­pended on our “claiming it” (p. 129). We hear here, too, of “letting” God (p. 84), and, indeed, we almost hear of “engaging” the Spirit (as we en­gage, say, a carpenter) to do work for us (p. 94); and we do explicitly hear of “making it pos­sible for God” to do things (p. 148),―a quite ter­ri­ble expression. Of course, we hear re­peatedly of the duty and efficacy of “yielding”―and the act of “yielding ourselves” is quite in the custom­ary manner discriminated from “consecrating” ourselves (p. 84), and we are told, as usual, that by it the gate is open­ed into the di­vinely appointed path (pp. 91, 49). The quietistic phrase, “not by trying but by a right adjust­ment,” meets us (p. 39), and naturally such current terms as “known sin” (p. 62), “moment by moment tri­umph” (pp. 34, 60), “the life that is Christ” (p. 31), “unbroken walk in the Spirit” (pp. 53, 113), “unbroken victory” (p. 96), even Pearsall Smith’s fa­mous “at once”: “the Christian may realize at once the heavenly virtues of Christ” (p. 39, the italics his). It is a mat­ter of course after this that we are told that it is not necessary for Christians to sin (p. 125)―the em­phasis repeatedly thrown on the word “necessary” lead­ing us to wonder whether Mr. Chafer re­members that, ac­cording to the Confession of Faith to which, as a Pres­byterian minister, he gives his adhe­sion, it is in the strictest sense of the term not nec­essary for anybody to sin, even for the “natural man” (ix, I).

Although he thus serves himself with their vocabu­lary, and therefore of course repeats the main sub­stance of their teaching, there are lengths, neverthe­less, to which Mr. Chafer will not go with his Higher Life friends. He quite decidedly repels, for example, the expectation of repe­titions of the “Pentecostal manife­stations” (p.47), and this is the more notable because in his exposi­tions of certain passages in which the charismatic Spirit is spoken of he has missed that fact, to the con­fusion of his doctrine of the Spirit’s modes of action. With equal decisiveness he repels “such man-made, unbiblical terms as ‘second blessing’, ‘a second work of grace’, ‘the higher life’, and vari­ous phrases used in the perverted state­ments of the doctrines of sancti­fication and perfection” (pp. 31, 33), including such phrases as “entire sanctification” and “sinless perfec­tion” (pp. 107, 139). He is hewing here, however, to a rather narrow line, for he does teach that there are two kinds of Christians, the “car­nal” and the “spiritual”; and he does teach that it is quite unneces­sary for spiritual men to sin and that the way is fully open to them to live a life of unbro­ken victory if they choose to do so.

Mr. Chafer opens his book with an exposition of the closing verses of the second and the opening verses of the third chapters of 1 Corinthians. Here he finds three classes of men contrasted, the “natural” or unre­gen­erate man, and the “carnal” and “spir­itual” men, both of whom are re­gen­erated, but the latter of whom lives on a higher plane. “There are two great spiri­tual changes which are possible to human experience,” he writes (p.8),―“the change from the ‘natural’ man to the saved man, and the change from the ‘carnal’ man to the ‘spiritual’ man. The former is divinely accom­plished when there is real faith in Christ; the latter is accomplished when there is a real ad­justment to the Spirit. The ‘spir­itual’ man is the divine ideal in life and ministry, in power with God and man, in unbro­ken fellowship and blessing.” This teaching is indi­stin­guishable from what is ordinarily understood by the doctrine of a “se­cond blessing,” “a second work of grace,” “the higher life.” The subsequent expositions only make the matter clearer. In them the changes are rung on the double salvation, on the one hand from the penalty of sin, on the other from the power of sin―“salvation into safety” and “salva­tion into sanctity” (p. 109). And the book closes with a long-drawn-out analogy between these two salvations. This “analogy” is announced with this statement: “The Bible treats our deliverance from the bond servitude to sin as a dis­tinct form of salva­tion and there is an analogy between this and the more familiar aspect of salvation which is from the guilt and penalty of sin” (p. 141). It ends with this fuller summary: “There are a multitude of sin­ners for whom Christ has died who are not now saved. On the divine side everything has been provided, and they have only to enter by faith into His sav­ing grace as it is for them in Christ Jesus. Just so, there are a multi­tude of saints whose sin nature has been per­fectly judged and every pro­vision made on the divine side for a life of victory and glory to God who are not now realizing a life of vic­tory. They have only to en­ter by faith into the saving grace from the power and dominion of sin. . . . Sin­ners are not saved until they trust the Savior, and saints are not vic­torious until they trust the Deli­verer. God has made this possible through the cross of His Son. Sal­vation from the power of sin must be claimed by faith” (p. 146). No doubt what we are first led to say of this is the quin­tes­sence of Arminianism. God saves no one―He only makes sal­vation possible for men. Whether it be­comes actual or not depends ab­solutely on their act. It is only by their act that it is made possible for God to save them. But it is equally true that here is the quin­tessence of the Higher Life teaching, which merely emphasizes that part of this Arminian scheme which re­fers to the specific matter of sanctifi­cation. “What He provides and be­stows is in the fullest divine per­fection; but our adjustment is human and therefore sub­ject to constant improvement. The fact of our possi­ble deliverance, which depends on Him alone, does not change. We will have as much at any time as we make it pos­sible for Him to bestow” (p. 148).

When Mr. Chafer repels the doc­trine of “sinless perfection” he means, first of all, that our sinful na­tures are not eradicated. Entering the old controversy waged among per­fec­tionists between the “Eradication­ists” and “Suppressionists,” he ranges himself with the latter―only preferring to use the word “control.” “The divine method of dealing with the sin nature in the believer is by direct and unceasing control over that nature by the indwelling Spirit” (p. 134). One would think that this would yield at least a sinless­ness of conduct; but that is to forget that, after all, in this scheme the divine action waits on man’s. “The Bible teaches that, while the divine provision is one of perfection of life, the human appro­priation is al­ways faulty and there­fore the results are imperfect at best” (p. 157). God’s provisions only make it possible for us to live without sinning. The result is there­fore only that we are under no necessity of sinning. But whether we shall sin or not is our own affair. “His provisions are always perfect, but our appropria­tion is always im­perfect.” “What He provides and be­stows is in the fullest divine per­fection, but our ad­justment is hu­man…. The fact of our possible deliv­erance, which depends on Him alone, does not change. We will have as much at any time as we make it possible for Him to bestow” (pp. 148, 149). Thus it comes about that we can be told that “the child of God and citizen of heaven may live a superhuman life, in harmony with his heavenly calling by an unbroken walk in the Spirit”―that “the Christian may realize at once the heavenly vir­tues of Christ” (p. 39); and that, in point of fact, he does nothing of the kind, that “all Christians do sin” (p. 111). A possibility of not sinning which is unillustrated by a single example and will never be il­lustrated by a single example is, of course, a mere post­ulate extorted by a theory. It is without practi­cal significance. A universal effect is not accounted for by its possibility.

Mr. Chafer conducts his discussion of these “two general theories as to the divine method of dealing with the sin nature in believers” on the presumption that “both theories can­not be true, for they are contra­dictory” (p. 135). “The two theories are irrec­oncil­able,” he says (p. 139). “We are either to be de­liver­ed by the abrupt removal of all tendency to sin, and so no longer need the en­abling power of God to com­bat the power of sin, or we are to be de­livered by the imme­di­ate and constant power of the indwelling Spirit.” This irreducible “either/or” is un­justified. In point of fact, both “eradication” and “control” are true. God delivers us from our sinful nature, not indeed by “a­brupt­ly” but by progressively eradicating it, and mean­while controlling it. For the new nature which God gives us is not an absolutely new somewhat, alien to our personality, inserted into us, but our old nature itself remade―a veritable recreation, or making of all things new. Mr. Chafer is quite wrong when he says: “Salvation is not a so-called ‘change of heart.’ It is not a transformation of the old: it is a regener­ation, or creation, of something wholly new, which is pos­sessed in conjunction with the old so long as we are in the body” (p. 113). That this furnishes out each Christ­ian with two conflicting natures does not appall him. He says, quite calm­ly: “The unregenerate have but one nature, while the regenerate have two” (p. 116). He does not seem to see that thus the man is not saved at all: a different, newly created, man is substituted for him. When the old man is got rid of―and that the old man has to be ultimately got rid of he does not doubt―the saved man that is left is not at all the old man that was to be saved, but a new man that has never needed any saving.

It is a temptation to a virtuoso in the interpreta­tion of Scripture to show his mettle on hard places and in startling places. Mr. Chafer has not been superior to this temptation. Take but one example. “All Christ­ian love,” he tells us (p. 40) “according to the Scrip­tures, is distinctly a manifestation of divine love through the human heart”―a quite un­justified asser­tion. But Mr. Chafer is ready with an illustra­tion. “A statement of this is found,” he de­clares, “at Rom. 5:5, ‘because the love of God is shed abroad (lit., gush­es forth) in our hearts by (pro­duced, or caused by) the Holy Spirit, which is given unto us.’“ Then he com­ments as follows: “This is not the working of human affection; it is rather the direct manifesta­tion of the ‘love of God’ passing through the heart of the believer out from the indwelling Spirit. It is the reali­zation of the last petition of the High Priestly prayer of our Lord: ‘That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them’ (John 17:26). It is simply God’s love work­ing in and through the believer. It could not be human­ly produced, or even imitated, and it of necessity goes out to the objects of divine af­fection and grace, ra­ther than to the objects of human desire. A human heart cannot produce divine love, but it can experience it. To have a heart that feels the compassion of God is to drink of the wine of heaven.” All this bizarre doctrine of the transference of God’s love, in the sense of His active power of lov­ing, to us, so that it works out from us again as new centres, is extracted from Paul’s simple statement that by the Holy Spirit which God has given us His love to us is made richly real to our apprehension! Among the par­en­thetical phi­lological comments which Mr. Chafer has inserted into his quotation of the text, it is a pity that he did not include one not­ing that “ekcheo” is not “eischeo,” and that Paul would no doubt have used “eischeo” had he meant to convey that idea.

A haunting ambiguity is thrust upon Mr. Chafer’s whole teaching by his hospitable entertainment of con­tradictory systems of thought. There is a passage near the beginning of his book, not well expressed it is true, but thoroughly sound in its fun­damental concep­tion, in which ex­pression is given to a primary prin­ciple of the Evangelical system, which, had validity been given to it, would have preserved Mr. Chafer from his regrettable dalliance with the Higher Life formu­las. “In the Bible,” he writes, “the divine offer and condition for the cure of sin in an unsaved person is crystallized in­to the one word ‘believe’; for the for­giveness of sin with the unsaved is only offered as an indivisible part of the whole divine work of sal­vation. The saving work of God in­cludes many mighty undertak­ings other than the forgiveness of sin, and sal­vation depends only upon believing. It is not possible to sep­arate some one issue from the whole work of His sav­ing grace, such as forgiveness, and claim this apart from the indivisible whole. It is, therefore, a grevi­ous error to direct an unsaved person to seek forgive­ness of his sins as a separate issue. A sinner minus his sins would not be a Christ­ian; for salvation is more than sub­traction, it is addition. ‘I give unto them eternal life.’ Thus the sin question with the unsaved will be cured as a part of, but never sepa­rate from, the whole divine work of salvation, and this sal­vation de­pends upon believing” (p. 62). If this pas­sage means anything, it means that salvation is a unit, and that he who is invited to Jesus Christ by faith re­ceives in Him not only just­ification―salva­tion from the penal­ty of sin―but also sancti­fication―salva­tion from the power of sin―both “safety” and “sanc­ti­ty.” These things cannot be sep­arated, and it is a grie­vous er­ror to teach that a true believer in Christ can stop short in “carnality,” and, though hav­ing the Spirit with him and in him, not have Him upon him―to use a not very lucid play upon prepositions in which Mr. Chafer in­dulges. In his attempt to teach this, Mr. Chafer is betrayed (p. 29) into drawing out a long list of char­acteristics of the two classes of Christians, in which he assigns to the lower class practically all the marks of the unregenerate man. Sal­vation is a process; as Mr. Chafer loyally teaches, the flesh continues in the regenerate man and strives against the Spirit―he is to be com­mended for pre­serving even to the Seventh Chapter of Romans its true reference―but the remain­ders of the flesh in the Christian do not con­stitute his characteristic. He is in the Spirit and is walk­ing, with however halting steps, by the Spirit; and it is to all Christians, not to some, that the great pro­mise is given, “Sin shall not have dominion over you,” and the great assurance is added, “Because ye are not under the law but under grace.” He who be­lieves in Jesus Christ is under grace, and his whole course, in its pro­cess and in its issue alike, is determined by grace, and therefore, having been predestined to be con­formed to the image of God’s Son, he is surely being con­formed to that image, God Himself seeing to it that he is not only called and justified but also glorified. You may find Christ­ians at every stage of this pro­cess, for it is a process through which all must pass; but you will find none who will not in God’s own good time and way pass through every stage of it. There are not two kinds of Chris­tians, although there are Christians at every conceiv­able stage of advancement towards the one goal to which all are bound and at which all shall ar­rive.