Saturday, 12 November 2011

The devil is active!

One very important truth that has been lost in much preaching today is the emphasis on the existence of the devil.  Preachers, myself included, have tried to analyse the current situation facing our world and our countries, and the major emphasis has been on man, and on man's religious and moral failure to live as under the eye of God.  Man has undoubtedly done great wrong to life in this world, and only a fool would deny this. He has lifted up his heel against the sovereign Lord of all the earth, and refused to submit to His rule.  The result?  A world in religious and moral meltdown.

But this is not the only, or even the greatest, force for evil in the world today. What has been forgotten, and to the sheer delight of the devil himself, is that he has been largely forgotten in the contemporary church.  He has deceived multitudes within the church, not to mention all those outside her, into believing that he does not exist - his greatest achievement of all!  He has convinced 21st century educated, cultured and well-read men that he no longer is around!  And they have believed this lie.

Despite the evidence of his fingerprints everywhere, these great men do not preach about him, talk about him, rebuke him in the strong name of Jesus of Nazareth.  he has wrecked havoc in the world - obviously; but he has also destroyed large tracts of the Christian church. Many of his successes are clearly seen - many churches and chapels are now warehouses, living houses, restaurants, cinemas, etc.

But the less obvious signs of his work are seen in those churches that still exist but which no longer preach the pure Gospel of Christ with power.  Those dead churches that are perfectly orthodox; those lifeless churches that run mechanically.  Look also at those evangelical churches that have invited in, and welcomed, the world into the way the church is run and organised.  Look at much contemporary worship - it is unadulterated worldliness, and is unworthy of the term 'contemporary worship.'  True biblical worship is always 'contemporary worship.'  The world does not ave to be brought into the church in order to make its worship contemporary. When the living and risen Christ is present by His Spirit, the worship is contemporary; but if He is not present, the bashing of drums and the strumming guitars and the blowing trumpets does not, and cannot, make it contemporary. 

the devil has been at work; but evangelicals have not even identified his handiwork. Indeed, many evangelicals no longer believe in the devil, equating such a belief with belief in Santa Clause!  Why are so many churches full of unconverted members?  Because the devil has planted his agents within her membership with the express purpose of destroying her witness.  Why have church authorities acted to deal with troublesome evangelic preachers?  Because the devil does not want a passionate and powerful gospel message preached in the church.  Why are so many ministers at the pint of breaking and of giving up their God-given ministries?  Because the devil has been at work.  Why do ministerial colleagues refuse to support each other when the  very Gospel is at stake?  Because they may, wittingly or unwittingly, be in league with the devil!  I say that because when the devil launches an outright attack on Gospel ministers, it is in the hope that he can silence them.  If he cannot do it directly, then he inspires church members to go to the supervising body within that particular church (in Presbyterianism this is Presbytery), and call in its ecclesiastical support with a view to silencing the preaching the Gospel.  The hates the Gospel being preached with power because he also hates the results of such Holy Ghost empowered preaching, which is the changed lives of those who come under its life transforming power, thus making them holy.  Powerful Gospel preaching creates holy lives in both minister and recipients.  And as Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne once famously said, "A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hands of God."  The Gospel Gospel holiness, which very thing the devil hates.

Therefore we should not be surprised that satan's servants do not like the Gospel either.  In fact, they hate it with a perfect hatred.  They will do everything they know to get rid of Gospel influences in the church and in the world.  And they don't care how!  Within churches, if the ruling authorities help in this plan, so much the better, because this gives a level of credibility and a measure of cover to those who have fomented resistance to the Gospel when church leaders fall into line.

Keep this in mind.  In the church, we are not ministering in a playground, but in a battleground.  We are God's servants in a hostile world.  Often we are God's servants in a hostile church!  But a hostile church is a backslidden church, and one that has given in too much to the devil's strategies. And such a church knows only spiritual defeat.

How is your church today?  More importantly, how are you in this regard?

Friday, 11 November 2011

Calvin on the Surrendered Life

Reading John Calvin on any theological or biblical subject is a most delightful spiritual experience for those who love the Bible and its teaching.  But to those who love mere theology, it must be a most threatening thing to do.  For those who have departed from his balanced exegesis of the Scripture. will not find Calvin a comfort.

When it come to those issues that are somewhat 'foreign' to international Calvinism, one could be forgiven for believing that Calvin is in reality an Arminian in other dress!  In my early years as a Christian, there was a lot of Wesleyan Arminianism influence on my thinking, influence that I had absorbed lock, stock and barrel. I struggled with its emphasis on the surrendered life, and discovered that no matter how much I thought I had surrendered my life to the Lordship of Christ, there was always to be found in me a column of resistance raising its ugly head.  The issue of the surrendered life, while most appealing to the Christian, was unattainable so far as I was concerned.

The result was a revolt against this idea altogether!  Until, that is, I read that Calvin in his commentary on Ps.119 taught this very thing! I had believed that this was an Arminian emphasis, and not a reformed one; but how wrong was I?  Calvin speaks quite fully and openly on this idea of the surrendered life to Christ it's Lord.  It is a most challenging spiritual idea, and one that confronts the stubborn will.  And we must remember that "the stubborn will is a rebellious will."  The stubborn will has not been surrendered to the Lordship of Christ over it, so if Christ is not a man's Lord, how can He be his Saviour? Is this the theological thinking that lies behind the second blessing theology that is so much part of Arminianism?  If a preacher can cause his hearers to believe that they have not yet surrendered their lives fully to Christ, then they had better do it and the doing of it is the second blessing! 

Calvin's theology is based on something quite different.  His is based on his understanding of the three offices of Christ - Propohet, Priest and King.  For Calvin, faith, for it to be real faith, must embrace all three offices.  So, if we believe in Christ as King, than that demands that we surrender our lives to Him day by day, living under His kingship on a daily basis.  Dr Billy Graham and Dr J. Edwin Orr both emphasised this sadly neglected aspect of the Gospel, as did the FM people and those of a kindred spirit.  But it is also an authentically Calvinist emphasis, and one that needs to be reclaimed in our Gospel preaching.

Of course, because many reformed people 'cherry-pick' Calvin's theology, and accept only those parts that agree with Westminster theology, they not only miss out on the gems that Calvin possesses and shares with his readers,they are also in grave danger of mis-representing the great reformer, not a minor sin!

But whatever our theological background and convictions, the question that ought to haunt us is this: are you fully surrendered to Christ as lord of your life?

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Held in Suspense

It can be somewhat frustrating when we can not discern what it is that God is doing in our lives.  We feel that we are being held in suspense by our Father.  The Psalmist David found that, you know, and so have his countless servants throughout the running centuries. God is mysterious, and His doings are equally mysterious. 

In such times, what are we to do?  We are to do the only thing it is proper for us to do in these circumstances, and that it to repose our lives confidently in His Word.  He is faithful Who promised.  We cast ourselves unreservedly upon His grace and mercy.

Now, the last thing we ought to do, and the first thing we are often tempted to do, is to look for the consolations of the world.  What utter folly that would be!  It is vanity to look to the empty world to help and succour us when in difficulties.  The world has absolutely nothing to offer.  Indeed, this is exactly what worldlings do - they look around them everywhere to find something from the world that will mitigate their miseries.  But there's nothing there.  They may drown their sorrows with alcohol, but they still have them when they sober up.  They may use some kind of escapism, but that is OK now for the short time they have 'escaped.'  But they still have to return to the real world.

No, the world and its ways have nothing to offer the child of God.  They mock us, deride us, make fun of us. Let us be satisfied, rather, with God's marvellous Word.  Let us find our satisfaction in Him alone.  As Charles Wesley put it:

Thou, O Christ, art all I want; more than all in Thee I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, Heal the sick, and lead the blind.

Just and holy is Thy name; I am all unrighteousness,
False and full of sin I am; Thou art full of truth and grace

But be very, very careful; He might take you at your word, and withdraw everything from you, and leave you with Him alone, and nothing else.

The Slave of Christ.

If ever there was a man who had surrendered himself completely to Christ, it was John Calvin (1509-1564).  One of his biographers, Jean Cadier, entitled his book about Calvin, "The Man God Mastered."  Calvin was so mastered by God that his will was one with His!

And how do you tell a man who is mastered by God?  You can tell it from the extent of his submission to what God says in His inspired and infallible Word.  It is to be the 'slave of Christ.'  And a slave does not own his life, and has no plans for his own life. In fact, a slave has no future for himself! A slave is the property of his owner. He tells him to do this, and he does it; and to do that, and he does that. He is an obedient servant.  A slave is completely in the hands of his master/owner.  He is utterly submissive to his master's demands and wishes.

And do you know what?  Such a slave is most useful to his master.  He can depend upon him to do his bidding, and to do it immediately.  And that's precisely what God wants of us. Because Calvin was that kind of man, he could write the following words, possible from his own experience:  "The faithful, however readily and submissively they give themselves up to God..."  Have you given yourself up to God? Completely?  Is He your everything, your all?

Sometimes we find the going tough in life and sometimes this is because we are pitting our will up against His perfect will.  When we struggle against what God is doing in our lives, we find Him against us.  It becomes a battle of wills.  In fact, from our viewpoint, it becomes a sort of will-worship; our will is the god we worship and it is the alter before which we bow.  Such a man is not a good slave of Christ.

How careful we must be about these matters.  True safety is only found when we are abiding in Christ.  There, nothing can harm us.  There, and there only, are we safe. 

Where do you abide?  Where are you abiding today?

Fully Surrendered?

John Calvin wrote:
"...if any man yield implicit obedience to God, he will receive this as his reward, that he shall walk with a calm and composed mind; and should he encounter difficulties, he will find the means to overcome them."

What a statement!  No man is excluded!  "If any man" is reminiscent of our Lord's gracious words, "If any man come after Me...."  Do you want to "walk with a calm and composed mind"? Then yield yourself to the Lord.  Yield to Him in implicit obedience.  The man who does this is sure of a rich reward - calmness and comfort as he walks through life.  Being confident that God is always good to His children brings calmness and peace that the world neither knows nor can give or take away.  Only God can give this, and He gives it to those who surrender themselves, their wills, to His sovereign purposes.

Oh what peace this gives the soul!  What delight fills mind and heart!  What contentment this brings into the soul when all around is about to give way.  What consolation fills the heart!

This is how our God rewards everyone "who yields their life to Him."  "Follow Him!  Follow Him! Yield your life to Him, He has conquered death, He's the King of Kings."  It is this God Who will reward those whose life is surrendered to Christ.

The Gospel makes personal demands on us.  Here's one of them.  Have you surrendered your life to Christ?  Have you given your all to Him?  Are His plans for you, your plans?  Do you trust Him enough to take care of you?  Dare you trust Him?

Then when the difficulties come, as they most assuredly will (we're living in a battlefield, not a playground), you will find the means to overcome them all.  It is now that we need to prepare for difficulties, not when they arrive.  Start learning to surrender yourself as fully as you know how, to the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Systematic Persecution of Believers in Northern Ireland

Christians around the world are well aware that there are countries where their brothers and sisters in Christ are being severely persecuted by the devil's servants.  We pray for them regularly, and our hearts go out to them in love and compassion.  Many lose their lives in satanic camps, many are tortured to death, some are poisoned, others are beaten not just physically but emotionally and mentally until they are weakened to the point where they lose the will to fight and live.

However, in Northern Ireland, the same kind of thing is going on that does not hit the headlines.  There is systematic persecution of true Christians being carried out by 'church Christians' - and there is a very big difference that the churches will not admit - in a bid to remove them from their places of work, and to destroy their lives.  These 'church Christians' are the kind who have the church authorities giving them support, protecting them and promising them whatever they need.

Indeed, some of them, it would seem, are now in the pay of the government as they work to remove every trace of Christian influence from those organisations that the government funds.  It is heart-rending to read an email from a dear Christian sister who said that she just cannot take anymore harassment and threats from her former 'church Christian' employers.  These 'church Christians' are not just church members, though many of them are that; they even hold office within their local church, and have responsibility for the training of young people.  They have influence over the lives of the young people under their tutelage, and, by listening to them talk, cannot but influence them for the bad.  Satan's willing servants will never influence those under their care for Christ and the Gospel.  In fact, they so hate the Gospel of God's grace in Christ Jesus that the very thought of them showing any favour towards gospel matters is incredible.

But this is the kind of person who m the church has in its ranks. It reminds me of medieval religion where the worst possible people in the community have the right CV for church leadership.  Now that we are living in post-reformation times, the church has deliberately returned to the paganism of medieval times and has brought back into the church that heathen practice of having her own agents placed within the church to halt any Gospel progress.  Nor do they want Christian standards being brought into the workplaces of our land.  So the persecution of Christians goes on apace. 

The Christian lady told me that the harassment against her is terrible.  I don't doubt it.  Her persecutors are relentless.  Inspired by unmitigated evil, these satanic predators are out to destroy her and those she respects.  They will stop at nothing. Their armoury is full of all kinds of thing, including lies, deception, falsehood, etc.  Nothing is too bad for them to do - so long as it destroys true Christians.

But you have never heard of this, have you?  It has not been on the broadcast media, nor appeared in the print media.  But it goes on apace.  Relentless in their opposition to the Gospel, they lie in the beds at night inventing all kinds of evil to perpetrate against the children of God, even to the point of asking their god to bless their evil plans and schemes against God's children.   

We know that Gospel ministers have been subject to this kind of ill-treatment by 'church Christians' over the years, the church authorities egging them on and giving them their full support.  But non-ministerial Christians are not exempt from such hellish evil.

May I ask my readers to pray earnestly for the protection of true Christians against those false christians whom satan has placed within the church in order to destroy her.   Pray that God will raise up a standard of righteousness when the floods of wickedness come in.  Pray that He will protect His own children and servants against satanic schemes.  Ask Him to drive back the forces of darkness and wickedness. Ask Him to destroy every scheme and plan hatched against the children of God in Northern Ireland.  Beg Him to cause confusion in the enemies camps, to bring dissension amongst satan's servants, and for them to then turn against each other.  Ask Him to bring their own evil plans down on their own heads.  Pray that He will bring all of them into the pit they have dug for God's children.  That the traps they have set for us might be the means of them own hurt, not ours.  I am thinking about evil Haman who built the gallows on which Mordecai was to be hanged, and Haman ended up being hanged on his own gallows.

International Readership and Ministry

Given that much of my readership is from Russia and India and Canada, as well as from the USA and UK, I'd be prepared to go wherever in the world I am invited to go to to minister the Gospel. 

Just let me know via email by writing to me at JEHLynch [at] and we will take it from there. I minster regularly in Northern Ireland and in the Irish Republic, and occasionally in England.

Playing at Prayer!

Watching men at play can be a good measure of men at prayer.  Religion being the universally played game today, this ought not to surprise anyone.  The games that men play are governed by rules, albeit arbitrary ones, but rules nonetheless.  Players change teams and end up playing against their old team-mates. And on and on it goes.  But it's only a game!

If this were to be confined to the playing field, all would be fine.  But also, we see the same mental outlook firmly established within the church and its sanctuary.  People come and go, and nothing much changes.  They do their bit automatically - they stand to sing and maybe pray, they sit to listen, they lift their Bible to follow the Scripture reading - maybe!  They reach into their pockets or handbags to bring out their collection, and as soon as the benediction is pronounced, they make a bee-line for the door to get home to get the dinner?

Sound familiar!  Oh, yes, the church has its rules for the playing of the game called 'pious words.'  'Nice' exchanges are passed each Lord's day; the right things are said to each other; the minister's sermon and its length may be criticised; and so on.  But this is part of the game!  This is how it is played in church.

Then where you find a minister who is 'doing the business' in God's kingdom, he is talked about and described as "a troubler in Israel," someone who does not have a good way with people, who has a personality problem, who is not a good team player, does not know how to handle people.  But this is all part of the critics religious game.

Yet, and here's the disappointing thing: many of these 'game players' within the church are no different in life and character from the many who take no interest in religion whatsoever.  It is one massive word game, or word puzzle - and no more.  They say words, they sing words, they repeat words, they pray words, they preach words.

I remember one verse of a poem I heard many years ago, and goes something like this:

I may as well bow down and worship gods of stone;
as offer to the living God a prayer of words alone.

Yet how often this is done - all part of the game!

Certainly, ours is a religion of the Word, but it is not, and should never be, a religion of words alone.

How would you describe YOUR religion?

Not in Word Only, But Also in Power.

The Gospel, Paul tells us, is "the power of God for the salvation of every who believes in Jesus," (Rom.1:16).  When it is preached faithfully, it comes in both "word" and "in power." It is possible, as is very often the case, that it comes "in word only," and not "also in power."  There are the only two ways in which the Gospel of Christ can be received and experienced:  "in word only" without "power," or both "in word" and "also in power." To have the word with power is clearly the biblical way of preaching.

Yet here is the interesting thing: given that the message in truly based on the biblical text, it is the same message whether or not it comes with or without power.  However, there are great dangers whether message comes without power, one of which that an intellectual faith may well result - and there is enough and to spare of that kind of 'faith of devils.'

But when the Gospel comes "in word" and "also in power," it delivers a life-transforming blow on the person who receives it.  The change that it effects is so radical that Paul describes it as "a new creation."  Whoever receives the word in power cannot remain the same person.  if he can sit and listen to God-anointed preaching that is Holy Spirit empowered, and it has no saving or sanctifying effect on his life, then he is in a very bad and highly dangerous spiritual condition.  Such a person ought to be profoundly concerned about his spiritual condition and standing before God.  He has a name to live, but is dead! 

Where it is received into the heart and life, then the change becomes visible very quickly.  That person has been 'saved' from the other type of life, amongst other deliverances.  He is a man whom God can and will use.  And he will become the target of satanic attention very soon.  Such men must be prayed for frequently because they are the front line foot soldiers of the King of Kings. Their dedication to the Word of God will guarantee devilish attention - in fact, that's how you can tell the man who is serving the Lord Christ!  Just watch and observe what is happening within Christian circles. The time-servers have no such problems - their great concern is to be good churchmen, good servants of the church, which, in their opinion equates with being good servants of the gospel.  Not necessarily!  The good churchmen will always keep their noses clean so far as the church authorities and the local church officers and members are concerned.  They will not, under any circumstances, rock the ecclesiastical boat! 

That's why their ministry comes "in word only."  No power!  No unction!  No divine afflatus upon them.  Nothing to upset the devil and his angels, many of whom are church members!  But when the power descends, not only does the satan know it, so also do the church members.  And not too long after that, the church authorities!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Are You a Student of the Word or a Serious Christian?

A strange question, you might think.  But is it really?  Let's think about this for a moment.  It is very possible that you are only interested in what the Bible means so that you could score theological points over an opponent, and not to become more and more Christlike.  Did you realise that?  You might be a Bible junky, just going to it to get your religious kicks.  Some even use the Bible as a tranquiliser!  In order to get over to sleep, they read their Bible before going to sleep!

But you cannot ask me to believe that you are a serious Christian of that's your motivation, can you?  If you are only interested in religious ideas, where is it leading you? 

Dr A W Tozer wrote, referring to certain verses, "To one who is a student merely, these verses might be interesting, but to a serious man intent upon gaining eternal life they might well prove more than a little disturbing."  To be a mere student of the Word, studying it is often a pleasant experience.  But to the man who wants to meet with the living God, it can be deeply disturbing.  When a man meets with God, he often knows what he wants to say.  When God meets with him, there is silence.  In the presence of His Majesty, we are utterly speechless.  What can we say!  In the presence of shining brightness, what can defiled sinners say!  Nothing.  When confronted with the Shikinah Glory, we melt into insignificance.  When God is all in all, man is nothing.

The serious student of the Bible is an altogether different person from the mere student.  God meets with him in the Word.  God speaks to him, and God's holy closeness purges him of sin and iniquity.  The Blood of the Saviour is effective in removing the stain of sin. And man is speechless.  But Christ is everything.  In Him is Life and knowing Him is eternal life.  Knowing Him involves knowing ourselves, and that can be very upsetting and distressing.  In a very real sense, we will not come to know Christ until we come to know ourselves. 

Perhaps we do not know Christ because we do not know our own hearts!  And we do not know our own hearts because we are mere students of the Bible.  We have head knowledge but no heart knowledge of the Scriptures.

What a challenge!

Departing From the Gospel

Now we will look more deeply into the subject I touched upon earlier. I said that whereas Paul does not spare the Galatians, neither does he wish to shut the gate of salvation to them completely. He intends to bring them to repentance, and for this reason he speaks of the grace of God into which they had all been called. Yet, he does not flatter them; rather, he rebukes them for their sins. In particular, he rebukes them for their fickleness, for they had listened to deceivers who came in among them distorting the pure doctrine of the gospel. In order to make them better perceive their treachery, Paul says he marvels that they have forsaken their heavenly calling so quickly and easily. He wonders how it is that they have been led astray so swiftly, and how it is that they have remained in that state, given that they had felt and experienced the grace of God in our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Because he is seeking to restore them, he is not saying at the outset that they have completely turned away from the gospel, but rather that they have been overtaken by temptation through seducers, who sought no less than to pervert the truth of God. There is only one pure gospel, as also there is only one Jesus Christ on whom it is founded. It is not for us to create the gospel anew; indeed, if we seek to add anything to the pure seed which we have received from our Lord Jesus Christ, we are destroying what God has established. This, in sum, is what Paul is teaching us in this first verse.
Calvin is deeply challenging here.  When Paul writes to the Galatians, he is writing to the church in that place, the local church.  And in that church, there are unbelievers – he wants to keep the door of salvation open to them!  His desire is to bring them to repentance (cf. Rom.2:4).  They have all been called into the grace of God, but not all have responded properly.  Hence he rebukes them for their sins.  And rightly so.  Any good father or pastor would do that when he sees his children going astray.  Pity the church that has a minister who shows he does not love them or care for their souls by not rebuking them.  

But he is also deeply concerned for the purity of the Gospel in the church.  Not many ministers like that either!  These church members are in a backslidden state!  And they were quick to move away from the true Gospel.  Paul can’t believe it.  They haven’t completely deserted the gospel, but they are heading in that direction.  He wants to reclaim them for Christ. 
Seducers pervert the truth of God!  Beware of them!  Be vigilant!  Be alert!

Mixing Light With Darkness

It might seem that Paul is being overly harsh and severe in rebuking the Galatians’ weakness, seeing they had never once thought of rejecting the gospel, nor Jesus Christ who had been preached to them. But Paul pays no attention to the way they viewed the situation; he sees it as it really is — in other words, that once people turn away from the truth of God, they are rejecting Jesus Christ and cutting themselves off from him. Some people may think this strange, for many would like to mix light with darkness. Indeed, the confusion that exists in Popery is an outstanding example of this. They make many wonderful claims to the effect that they are upholding the Christian faith into which they have been baptised. But, for all this, it is clear that they have turned everything upside-down. Superstitions reign, and they practise open idolatry of a worse kind than has ever been known, even among the pagans. Any reverence for God is destroyed, since each one sets himself up as a saviour in place of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now, the Papists would respond by saying that they are not apostates, and that they have not abandoned Jesus Christ. But our Lord Jesus Christ is no ghost; he cannot change according to the whims of men. In short, he cannot be separated from his church.
What an object lesson the errors and apostacy of Romanism is!  We can still hold on to the name of Christianity, yet be as far away from Christ as it possible to be!  You can be an apostate and still call yourself a Christian. What authority does Jesus Christ have in your life, your family and your church?  Do you pay attention to what He says to you?  Are you quick to obey His call?  True, sometimes we are very slow to follow Him, and are all too quick to be led down some other road.  We doubt.  We weigh up the options.  Will it be this, or that?  Which will gratify me more, this or that? Which will bring me most immediate pleasure, this or that? We dither, we doubt, and we stray.
May God keep us from following the devil’s suggestions and enticements.  And may we, by God’s grace, stay on the path.

Calvin and the Papists

Thus, whatever the Papists may claim, they rob Jesus Christ of all his authority. ‘If there is only one mediator,’ [they say], ‘what about the male saints, our patrons, and the female saints, our advocates?’ If we speak to them of the sacrifice by which our Lord Jesus Christ has obtained perfect justification for all believers, once and for all, [they will say], ‘Are we not supposed to say Mass every day and offer Jesus Christ again as a sacrifice to appease the wrath of God?’ If we speak to them of free forgiveness of sins, [they will say], ‘What about the ways in which we have made satisfaction for our own sins, and thus earned God’s pity?’ If we say that we can only be made good by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, and that until God transforms us, we are full of sin and rebellion, [they will say], ‘What? What about our free will?’ In short, they will name the name of Jesus Christ often enough, and will still give him his title of Redeemer, but they will divide his office and put it on offer so that each man may claim a share in it for himself. They also imagine that the saints and angels in paradise are their patrons, and that, therefore, they have infinite means of coming before God, for so it seems to them. Now, we may well conclude that the Holy Spirit has good reason to call them apostates; for they have forsaken Jesus Christ, and cut themselves off from him. They even misuse his name. But Jesus Christ never changes; we have seen that Paul says in 2 Corinthians that we will not find in him yes and no (2 Cor. 1:19), because he remains constant. Thus, whatever the Papists babble about Christianity, it is nothing but mere hypocrisy and lies. They falsely and wickedly use the name of the Son of God, either as a mask or as an idol.
Beware of false religions, of which there are plenty.  They introduce their own man-made ideas and impose these on the church and bind men’s consciences to them.  They bring men into deep bondage.  There is no freedom in false religion, even of the Protestant kind!  It enslaves, it binds, it corrupts.  Romanism is one such false religion, but there are others.  If a ‘church’ places more store on creeds and confessions, there is a great and pressing danger that that church will go the way of Rome.  Can you see that?  Are you alert to that?  The church that brooks no rival to the reign of Christ in the Scriptures, is the church that honours Him. Join that ne, and forget the rest.

Straying Christians

In Gal.1, Paul accuses the Galatians of having been led astray. If we ask what they had done, the answer is that they sought to observe the ceremonies of the law as if they were necessary. Yes, it is true that these ceremonies had been ordained by God. Of course; yet, they were a temporary condition for the people of old, for at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ all this had to cease. Because the Galatians were mixing old figures and the shadows of the law with the pure light of the gospel, Paul, unable to bear it, says that they have rebelled and turned away from God. But there was something worse: namely, that they were making the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ altogether void, by believing that man can merit and acquire his own justification before God, and make himself acceptable in God’s service. When these deceivers introduced this particular error of keeping to the ‘former shadows’, it led the Galatians to believe that they were presenting God with meritorious service. Yet, our salvation must be free, or Jesus Christ is no longer anything. We call it free salvation simply because it is given to us by God, and we come to him to be fed, with nothing but a hungry desire for what we are lacking. We should approach God as miserable beggars, if we would be justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. For if we imagine that we have one drop of merit, we will not be motivated to come to him. One of the learned ancients said, and not without reason, that we cannot receive the salvation offered to us in our Lord Jesus Christ unless we can first erase the memory of all our merits, and acknowledge that we are only full of wretchedness. Paul, therefore, was completely justified in saying that the Galatians had fallen away from Jesus Christ and from God the Father.
Oh, the danger of mixing ‘old light’ with ‘new light.’  Oh, the foolishness of mixing good ingredients into the Gospel cake, with poisonous ones.  It might look like the real thing, but once you taste it, you’re a dead duck!  When you make the grace of God null and void, you are then open to anything.  But our salvation which is ours in Christ Jesus alone, must be a free salvation or else it is nothing.  It must be free because it was given to us by God; and in any case, we could never have bought it, not for all the good works in the world.  And to receive it, we must come to God as miserable beggars, and with nothing but a hungry desire to get it at all costs.
Are you like that?  Are you hungry?  Do you see yourself as a beggar?  Hungry beggars receive good things from the Lord, and not least His free salvation.  It’s for you; take it!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Donald Macleod the Amyraldian

Reading the books of the good professor, Donald Macleod, is a rare treat.  His popular books are gems, his wisdom warm, and his teaching inspiring.  And while he pretends not to be an Amyraldian, Prof. Macleod believes exactly the same as Amyraldians do.  Sadly, he confuses Amyraldianism with Arminianism, which is most strange for such a clever reformed theologian.

Amyraldians believe, with John Calvin, and more importantly with Scripture, that Christ died for all men, that He tasted death for every man, that God so loved the world that He gave..., that God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance, that Christ was the propitiation for the sins of the world.  That means that Christ's atonement can be offered to all the world because there is a real salvation for all the world.

In his book, "Shared Life," Macleod taught the following:

"...not only did the one God love the world but each Person within the Trinity loved the others."  (p.36).

"...we are to emulate the depth of love that God the Father showed for the world when he gave his only Son for it (Jn.3:16).   (p.72).   [Emphasis his].

"Matthew 11:28 ... are familiar words.  ..He invites the whole world (no less!) to come to him and he promises, 'Suppose they all come, I can give them all rest. I can teach them allI can carry the burdens of them all.  I can meet their deepest needs.  I can deliver them from every neurosis and every anxiety and make them whole and free."  (p.91).  [Emphasis his].

"[Jesus] ..claimed to be the Messiah not only of Jews but of the world."  (p.107).

"Indeed, he was only calling Israel back to its true calling as the channel of blessing to the whole world."  (p.107, 108).

This is authentic Calvinist, or Amyraldian, language, because it is Scriptural language.  Amyraldians do not force the texts of Scripture through some kind of confessional sieve, but they allow them to speak their own God-given message. 

For example, they do not do what John Owen did - make "the world" in John 3:16 mean "the world of the elect," but rather let "the world" be "the world."  This is letting the Bible speak its own divine message; and this is the great need of both the world and the church today.