Saturday, October 31, 2009

Refuting Charges of Neo-Gnosticism - Part 1

I Corinthians 15:1
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

I Corinthians 15:2
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

I Corinthians 15:3
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

I Corinthians 15:4
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

The Gospel Outline

The passage above is one of the most common passages given to define the Gospel. However, when we look at it carefully, we see that this passage is not a strict definition of the Gospel, but rather, an outline/summary of it.

Why an outline, and not the actual definition?

When we consider the use of the phrase "according to the scriptures," we see that we must look beyond this passage alone to determine its true definition. We must consider all of the relevant biblical passages to come to a proper understanding of, and definition for, the Gospel. It only serves as a Gospel definition for those who already have a knowledge and understanding of the scriptural context that gives fulness and meaning to this passage.

Moreover, when we consider the passage carefully, we see that whatever the true Gospel is, it must address the following questions (and do so in a manner that is harmonious with the Scripture):

Who and what is meant by "Christ"in verse 3?

Why did Christ come to this Earth and why did he have to die?

Who are the "our" in "....our sins" in verse 3?

What is the significance of Christ's burial? - v4;

What does it mean that Christ rose again? - v4;

and what was accomplished by His death, burial, and resurrection?

Righteousness Revealed

Another way to determine whether I Corinthians 15:1-4 is the full Gospel message, or an outline or summary of it, is to apply this simple test:

Imagine saying to someone: "the Gospel is the good news that Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day;" and then imagine proceeding to ask them to explain to you, based on this one sentence, "what is the righteousness of God that is revealed in this Gospel" (Romans 1:16-17).

If they have never been exposed to Christianity or to the pseudo-Christian religions of christendom, they will probably look at you like a deer caught in headlights (not having any idea how to properly answer this question). They may say something to the effect that "God is a righteous God; He doesn't do anything wrong; God is good;" however, they will have no idea (from that one sentence) about the righteousness that The Lord Jesus Christ established for His people. They will not understand that Christ is the end of the law for them (i.e., law-keeping as a supposed means of being accepted before God), and that when His righteousness is imputed to them, all aspects of their salvation were guaranteed and sealed.

The Spirit of Compromise

Christians (as opposed to Arminians, Arians, Sacramentalists, those within the reformed community that embrace them, etc.) are often accused of making the Gospel "too complicated" or too "doctrinally inclusive."

They lodge the false charge that "unless someone has studied calvinism for some time (we say) they can't be saved." This is foolishness.

This has nothing to do with "studying Calvinism."

It has to do with the fact that our accusers want a "simpler" gospel (supposing the True to be too complicated); they want a watered-down gospel, one that has nothing to do with election, predestination, righteousness imputed, or perhaps any of the other vital precepts that make up the Doctrine of Christ. Although these doctrines are associated with Calvin's teachings, they stem not from Calvin, but from God as revealed in the Bible. These doctrines are all very much biblical, and they are intimately tied-into the Gospel and God's plan of salvation.

Now, there are many amongst these false accusers who claim to support the doctrines of free and sovereign grace. In "fairness" to them, many of them do indeed speak often and eloquently on such vital precepts as election, predestination, effectual atonement, sola scriptura, and other key doctrines (including righteousness imputed). However, they absolutely do not believe (in a spiritual, saving sense) the things that they say. They are not submitted to these Gospel truths because they willingly embrace not only those who deny these truths, but those who do so openly and teach others to do the same. By doing so, by openly embracing those who embrace heresy, they set these vital truths at naught before their congregations, and before all people. These compromisers make the precepts to appear as nothing more than interesting truths, enlightening truths, accurate and beneficial truths, but not truths that are essential components of the Gospel Truth. These false accusers simply do not see certain vital truths as being vital; they see them as optional (thinking that one can be saved though they are in clear rebellion against them).

Thus, such accusers (who account for a large, and growing, number of those who identify as Reformed, Calvinistic, Predestinarian) want a gospel that allows them to embrace nearly anyone as "Christian." You see it's so much easier, so much more comfortable, palatable, and "loving," to take on an ecumenical mindset, even if it means compromising the Gospel. It is so much less painful to the flesh to avoid the reviling, persecutions, and tribulations that arise out of making accurate and needful judgments based upon what the Bible declares. Believers, think about how many more friends you would have; how many more church members; how many more council/association affiliations and "guest speaker" requests you would have if you (and your church) would simply abstain from clearly defining the Gospel and distinguishing it from all counterfeits. You could gain the world, and lose your own soul (thus evidencing that you were never true believers). However, God's people find such notions repugnant; choosing Christ (by God's grace) and the tribulations associated with following after Him, rather than selling-out to the wicked of this world.

These false accusers compromise in various degrees. Some will speak out against the ills of Popery (Romanism), but will openly embrace Arminians. Some will speak boldly about the truths embodied in the acronym "TULIP" but will argue that God saved them and allowed them to remain "Jehovah Witnesses" and Pentecostals for months or years on end. These compromisers come in many different (spiritual) shapes and sizes; however, one thing is always true, they will embrace the heretic of their choosing if it suits there ungodly purposes.

The Charge of Neo-Gnosticism

Since these false accusers believe that they are saved, they must distinguish themselves from those who are truly saved. They most often do so by employing inaccurate arguments, outright lies, and corrupt appeals to human logic and emotion. One tactic in their arsenal is to accuse Christians of being Neo-Gnostic in doctrine. If such an accuser can mislead others, and convince them that those who preach the True gospel are really just making "deep doctrinal knowledge" a requirement (and/or a prerequisite, or precondition) for salvation, they can deflect the fault from themselves and make it appear that the error lies elsewhere.

The Gnostics of old misused the scriptures, and "spiritualized" it in ways that not only were not in harmony with the entirety of the Bible, but utterly undermined it. They brought in many pagan (mystery cult) beliefs and practices and rejected many of the core beliefs of Christianity (the virgin birth, the deity and/or humanity of Christ, the Trinity, etc.). As a result, heresy after heresy arose from those who claimed they had this "higher knowledge (gnosis)" of Scripture. They believed that only those initiated and immersed in their ways could truly understand the Bible. Such thinking by no means describes the true believer; and when the Neo-Gnostic charge is lobbied against God's people, it only serves to reveal the depths of wickedness, ignorance, and spiritual blindness of those making the accusation.

You see, true believers do not make doctrinal knowledge a prerequisite for initiating, maintaining, "improving upon," or sealing their salvation. Christ is the Author and Finisher of our Salvation; He that began a good work in us is faithful to complete it until the end. The Holy Spirit is our Seal and Earnest. The elect are maintained due to the divine, free, and sovereign will of the Father, as it was made possible solely by the Finished work of Christ, and made effectual in the elect sinner's life by the Holy Spirit. Our man-mustered, knowledge, faith, understanding, repentance, etc, has no bearing on getting a man saved or keeping him saved.

However, there are things that accompany salvation; a belief in the true Gospel is one of those things. When God regenerates and converts a person, He does teach them. We read that when the Spirit comes, and works that work in a person, He reproves them of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. He leads them into all truth pertaining to the essentials of the Gospel and the knowledge of God. God does not save a person, and then allow them to proclaim a false Gospel for days, weeks, months, or years. He doesn't save them so that they can still the glory from God for a season, and give that glory to man, or man's fallen will. God saves His people for His Name and Glory's sake, and He sends them out to be ambassadors of the Truth (not of lies, half-truths, and other falsehoods).

We read that Paul was "not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith." (Romans 1:16-17)

These compromisers are ashamed of, and in rebllion against, the Gospel. Though they may speak great, swelling words, they are ultimately ignorant (in a spiritual sense) of that righteousness revealed in the Gospel; especially as it relates to the value and necessity of it.

By Curt Wildy

Refuting Charges of Neo-Gnosticism - Part 2

What is the True gospel?

The Gospel is a declared message; it is not an offer or an invitation. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for sin-sick souls; it is the good news and glad tidings of God, His kingdom, and His glorious plan of salvation (the complete salvation of elect sinners conditioned upon the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone, without any contribution from the sinner as it pertains to their becoming saved, staying saved, or improving upon their salvation). It is a message that is full of vital truths; and the Holy Spirit gives His people faith to belief and to understand those vital truths when He quickens them.

My goal is to show that when the True Gospel is declared, the questions listed in the first section are answered and the Kingdom, Grace, and Righteousness of God are clearly revealed (Romans 1:16-17; Ephesians 2:8-9; and Matthew 24:14). My goal is to show that when these things are not revealed in supposed "gospel preaching," it isn't because the speaker is refraining from adding extraneous material from their message; instead, it is because they are preaching a diminished gospel, a watered-down gospel, an inaccurate gospel, or better put, a false gospel. There is only one Gospel, either it is preached faithfully, or it is despised and replaced with counterfeits.

At this point, let us consider I Corinthians 15 again (considering it prayerfully, systematically, and Lord willing, harmoniously with the Scripture). Let us also verify again whether the charges of Neo-Gnosticism are at all accurate.

Christ!

I Corinthians 15:3
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ....

Who is Christ?

You cannot properly understand this verse without first understanding who and what Christ is. When we search the Scriptures, comparing all relevant passages, we see that the Lord Jesus Christ is God the Son, co-equal with the Father and Holy Spirit in the Triune Godhead. We see that He is the God-Man mediator who kept the law perfectly on behalf of His people, atoned for them, and who alone makes their salvation possible (having reconciled them to God).

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made....
(John 1:1-3)

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14)

But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
(John 5:17-18)

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form (external appearance) of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
(Philippians 2:5-8)

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6)

Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust [it] into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
(John 20:27-28)

Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. Psalm 45:6 -- But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. Hebrews 1:8

We know from numerous other passages that these precepts are true, and that they perfectly accord with the Scriptures. So, any gospel that denies the full humanity, and the full and co-equality of deity of Christ, is a false gospel. Such a "gospel" reveals a false Christ; one that is utterly unable to save. Such a false Christ is preached in many a pulpit today.

Died!

I Corinthians 15:3
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died... according to the scriptures.

Why did He die, how did He die?

You cannot properly understand this verse without first understanding how and why the Lord Jesus Christ had to die. When we search the Scripture we see that Christ was made a curse for His people (cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree - Galatians 3:13), so that they would be free from the curse of the law and free to enjoy eternal communion with God in Heaven. The Bible declares that He "was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5).

Again, by searching the Bible, we know that these precepts are true. So, any gospel that denies the death of Christ, the Atonement, the doctrine of imputation, or any other related vital doctrine is a false gospel. Such a "gospel" reveals a false Christ, one that can save no one. Again, such a false Christ is preached in many a pulpit today.

Romans 5:1
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Romans 5:2
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God....

Romans 5:6
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

Romans 5:7
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

Romans 5:8
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:9
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Romans 5:10
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

For our sins!

I Corinthians 15:3
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

For whom did Christ die?

You cannot properly understand this passage without first understanding *who* is in view when the Holy Spirit moved the Apostle Paul to declare "for our sins." Who are the "our," is it only those in the Church of Corinth? Surely not, or else this would have no application to believers in our day.

Is it the entire world?

Many teach this; however, despite its popularity, it is a repugnantly inaccurate doctrine as we shall see below.

Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
(Ephesians 1:3-5)

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
(Ephesians 2:4-9)

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
(John 6:37-39)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father's hand. I and [my] Father are one.
(John 10:27-30)

I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.....I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
(John 17:6-10)

But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(II Thessalonians 2:13)

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
(I Peter 1:1-2)

There are many more passages that refer to the fact that the "our sins" refers to the sins of God's elect, and only His elect. It does not refer to the sins of every person that has ever lived, or ever will live. God's atonement is effectual for all those for whom He died. Simply put, Christ died to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21) by paying the penalty they deserved. In so doing, He did all that was necessary to establish a righteousness for them that guarantees all aspects of their salvation. Christ came to save His sheep, and all of them will hear His voice and believe the Gospel unto salvation (by the grace, mercy, and effectual working of God).

So we see that any gospel that denies that "our sins" refers to God's elect, all of His elect, and only His elect, is a false gospel. Such a false gospel reveals a false Christ that cannot save. Such a false gospel often takes the form of Arminianism/Semi-Pelagianism/Sacramentalism and declares the abominable lie that Jesus' blood was shed commonly for all and that He died to atone for all (even though He knew the majority of them would end up in Hell); what utter, and blasphemous, foolishness. The Lord Jesus Christ is no fool, no failure, and He is by no means guilty of double jeopardy; He is both a Just God and a Saviour, both Just and Justifier.

By Curt Wildy

Refuting Charges of Neo-Gnosticism - Part 3

Buried!

I Corinthians 15:3
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

I Corinthians 15:4
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

What is the importance of His burial?

In Isaiah 53:8-9 we read of Jesus

Isaiah 53:8
He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

Isaiah 53:9
And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

We see that the Lord Jesus Christ was buried, evidencing the fact that He was truly dead. Many a heretic of old, and even in our day, denied the actual Crucifixion, death, and burial of Christ (supposing that He was spared death just in the nick of time).

Though Christ, in His deity, could not die - His fleshly body (His humanity) did. He died in the stead of His people, as a guilty sinner. Not guilty in Himself, for He was perfectly pure, spotless, and free from sin. Nonetheless, He was guilty in the eyes of God, having the sins of His people imputed to Him (so that the righteousness He established for them would be imputed back to them).

As such, He made His grave with the wicked, having died as a guilty man (in that He willingly accepted the guilt and unspeakable punishment due His people, paying for every last one of their sins).

However, consider also the following passages:

Romans 6:1
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

Romans 6:2
God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Romans 6:3
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

Romans 6:4
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:5
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

Romans 6:6
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Romans 6:7
For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Romans 6:8
Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

Colossians 2:8
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Colossians 2:9
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

Colossians 2:10
And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

Colossians 2:11
In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

Colossians 2:12
Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

The burial of the Lord Jesus Christ is directly tied into the precept that we were buried with Him; the very image of the ordinance of water baptism typifies His death, burial, and resurrection and ours in Him. We will address the resurrection aspect shortly. But in the meantime, let us boldly declare that if any gospel denies the death and burial of Christ (and the precepts associated with it), it is a false gospel. If any gospel denies the relationship between his death and burial, and the elect being buried with Him (indicating that our sins, embodied in the old man, were legally done away with forever in this life; and completely done away with in the life to come), it is a false gospel. Such a false gospel manifests in our day as true antinomianism (as opposed the groundless charge often laid against God's people), and is a root of such false doctrines as purgatory, and the notion that a true believer can lose their salvation.

Resurrection!

I Corinthians 15:3
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

I Corinthians 15:4
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

What is the significance of Christ's resurrection?

You cannot properly understand the importance of the resurrection without understanding that the Lord Jesus Christ evidenced that He completed all that was necessary to guarantee the salvation of His people by being first raised Himself. His resurrection, and His subsequent return to Heaven as our Prophet, Priest, and King, proves and guarantees (beyond all shadow of doubt) that all of His elect people will likewise be raised and will reign with Him for all eternity.

Romans 4:23
Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;

Romans 4:24
But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

Romans 4:25
Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Romans 8:11
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

I Corinthians 6:14
And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.

I Corinthians 15:15
Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

I Corinthians 15:16
For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

I Corinthians 15:17
And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

I Corinthians 15:18
Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

I Corinthians 15:19
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

I Corinthians 15:20
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

I Corinthians 15:21
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

I Corinthians 15:22
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

II Corinthians 4:14
Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

Ephesians 2:4
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

Ephesians 2:5
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

Ephesians 2:6
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

I Thessalonians 4:14
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

I Thessalonians 4:15
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

I Thessalonians 4:16
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

I Thessalonians 4:17
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

I Thessalonians 4:18
Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Thus, if any gospel denies the literal resurrection of Christ, or if any gospel denies that that resurrection of Christ evidences the fact that His people were raised in Him and are guaranteed all aspects of salvation (from regeneration to final glorification in Heaven) due to His finished work alone, it is a false gospel.

By Curt Wildy

Refuting Charges of Neo-Gnosticism - Part 4

I Corinthians 15 revisited

Based upon what has been written in the previous parts, we can see that the Gospel is not simply the "Death, Burial, and resurrection of Christ;" as if these words existed in some vacuum.

Rather, the Gospel is the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ "according to the scriptures." Thus through the scriptures, the Gospel reveals:

Who (and what) Christ is;

He is God the Son (co-equal to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit in the Triune Godhead)

He is the promised Saviour and Messiah who came to actually seek AND save that which was lost (God's elect);

He is the God-Man mediator that makes communion between God and His elect possible.

Why He became incarnate and why He had to die;

To keep the law of God perfectly as a man;

Though being spotless and without sin, to suffer the wrath of God (equivalent to eternal damnation for all of the sins of His people), so that He would atone for them, and establish for them a righteousness that guarantees their salvation.

All those for whom He died;

Every single one of God's elect (none one more and not one less).

The significance of His burial;

Setting for that He truly died for His people, and that His people are buried with Him being dead to the law, having the old man crucified, and being free from the dominion of sin.

The significance of His resurrection; and

Irrefutable proof that His work was finished; that atonement had been made for His people; that His people would be raised again with Him; and that He was our King victorious (conquering Satan, Death, and Hell and reigning over Heaven and Earth).

What was accomplished by His finished work?

Our blessed Prophet, Priest, and King, the Lord Jesus Christ, saved His people to the utmost by His atoning blood and imputed righteousness. His faithfulness to the Father in atoning for the elect glorified God in the highest. He reigns supreme, and His bride (the elect church) will be with Him forevermore. No one, and no thing, has ever, nor can ever frustrate His divine will, purpose, kingdom, honour, and glory.

Romans 1:16-17 and the Gospel revisited

We also see that the righteousness of God (established and imputed to all of God's elect) will be revealed when the true Gospel is declared. When a faithful preacher, teacher, or witness in general proclaims the Gospel, you can guarantee that the truths of free and sovereign grace and righteousness imputed will be affirmed.

When false prophets and false brethren bring their counterfeits, these doctrines will either be rejected, maligned, ignored, or water-down to make them of no real effect (in the hearts and minds of carnal men and women).

Too complicated?

Too extraneous?

The assertion that believers proclaim a Gospel that is too in-depth and confusing for the young believer is nonsense. To claim that the true Gospel is "Gnostic teaching" is bewildering at best. This argument could be plausible perhaps, if a man-mustered faith and a carnally-obtained understanding were prerequisites for salvation. However, for the true saint, drawn of the Father and regenerated and taught by the Holy Spirit, there is nothing complicated or extraneous about this Gospel. It is all very clear, especially when worked out in the heart, mind, and experience of the saved sinner.

The reality is that the essence of the Gospel can be laid out in a very short period of time (not that we are rushing, or that the time is at all relevant, but since our accusers pretend that our Gospel is too difficult, excessive, complicated, and time-consuming to be the true, it is worth pointing out). True believers know that there is no need to artificially "shorten" the Gospel, water it down, or make it more palatable (by leaving key elements out). Those who feel the need to do such things do not know the truth, they are those who have "made lies [their] refuge, and under falsehood have hid [them]selves" (Isaiah 28:15).

A sample message

But let's test it, let's see how complicated the Gospel really is.

Consider the following:

All of us are sinners by nature, guilty of the wrath of God. We all fell in Adam and we all commit an innumerable number of sins, the very first of which was enough to send us to Hell for all eternity. Nonetheless, despite our wretched state by nature, God sovereignly purposed to save a people for Himself. Through the Gospel, God declares to us the good news of His promise to save His people from their sins based upon the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

From before the foundation of the world, out of the mass of fallen humanity, God the Father elected a people for Himself; in multitude, they are a number that no man can count (though they are a remnant compared to the whole of mankind). In the divine covenant, the Father purposed to give His people to His son, that they would be His bride (His church or body of believers). Jesus likewise covenanted with the Father to save the elect, knowing that this would mean (a) humbling Himself, (b) becoming Incarnate, (c) keeping the law perfectly on their behalf; (d) dying in their stead (suffering both physically and spiritually under the wrath of God though He, himself, was pure and innocent); and (e) being raised again (evidencing that God's law and wrath were fully satisfied, Christ reigns victorious, and that His people are guaranteed all aspects of salvation - from regeneration to glorification in Heaven). Thus when Christ, in willing obedience to the Father, became incarnate, kept the law, died on the cross (declaring "it is finished"); and was raised again, we can rest assured that He completed all that was necessary and that all who truly believe in the Gospel are saved, and will persevere until the end.

However the Bible makes clear that a person believes only because they have been given the gift of faith and repentance to believe. They believe due to the fact that, as part of the salvation covenant, the Holy Spirit purposed to save all of the elect of the father, all for whom Christ atoned. At God's appointed time, the Gospel is brought to the elect sinner, and He is regenerated by the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit converts that individual, and reproves him of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He convicts them of their sins, and points them to that blessed remedy (the Lord Jesus Christ). From the declared gospel, He reveals to them both doctrinally and experientially (experimentally) that their only hope for salvation is in the finished work (atoning blood and imputed righteousness) of Christ and that nothing they say, do, think, abstain from doing, etc. plays any part in getting them saved or keeping them saved. The Holy Spirit causes them to throw all of their hopes on Christ, and on Him alone (causing them to reject will-worship and any notion that salvation is conditioned in any way upon them).

God saves a person so that they will go out and testify of the great things the Lord has done for them. That saved sinner is commissioned to go forth and witness to others both in word and in deed. Since no one can determine whether a person is elect by outward appearance, the believer is to witness to all mankind as God gives opportunity. Our focus isn't on determining who is elect or not, but on prayerfully and faithfully declaring the word of God (knowing that if the hearer is of God, the Holy Spirit will quicken and convert them). As each elect sinner becomes saved, we see the advancement of the promise of the Kingdom (i.e. the good news and glad tidings of Christ and his coming Kingdom). God reigns in Heaven and in Earth and His people reign with him as they seek to do His will (knowing that it is god who worketh in them both to will and to do of His good pleasure). Come judgment day, the Kingdom will be visibly manifest in all of it's glory and splendor as God's people are raised to be with Him in Heaven and the reprobate (those whom God never planned to save) are judged and cast into hell for all eternity.

What I have written above is what I often say when I witness to others. Words change here and there, as with order; and surely questions are asked and objections raised. Nonetheless, the truth is summarised in what I believe to be a clear, succinct, and accurate way. From there, I can then go on to address whatever questions or concerns the hearer may have. But nothing above is "too complicated" for them; or too lengthy and time-consuming. Nothing in the above is extraneous, unnecessary, or unimportant as it pertains to the salvation of souls.

So, does the charge still stand?

Is the charge of Neo-Gnosticism accurate when it comes to those who proclaim the true Gospel?

In light of the above (and the previous parts) are Christians really guilty of making human knowledge and understanding a requirement, precondition, or prerequisite for initiating salvation?

I think the clear answer is "no." We are simply guilty of affirming and proclaiming the God-ordained Gospel in a way that does not allow for corruption or compromise.

So let the false accusers tell you what they think about the matter of true Gospel preaching; let them tell you how they feel you are going beyond what the Bible declares the Gospel to be. Let them tell you how unloving you are, unkind, and how you hold to too strict a definition. Let them lament how you refuse to fellowship spiritually with those who deny the true Gospel (or compromise it by speaking spiritual peace to those who deny it).

As they do so, notice how these accusers rarely (a) use biblical means in an attempt to refute the arguments and proof-texts set forth herein; and how they (b) are rarely able to set-forth the scriptural proof-texts necessary to systematically support their own arguments.

You will find that, far more often than not, their biblical exegesis and hermeneutic is based primarily upon biblical misquotation and misinterpretation, carnal feelings/emotions, and their ties to their own groundless opinions and "insights" on the matter (or those opinions and "insights" of other men whom they respect).

All of this leads to one last question...

From whence did these errors derive?

When the "Reformed," "Calvinistic," and "Predestinarian" compromisers water-down the Gospel to embrace heresy, where did they get their arguments to justify such things?

When the Arminians (Semi-Pelagians), Romanists (Sacramentalists), Arians (false-Jehovah Witnesses), and other heretics bring forth their polluted gospels (which are no gospels at all), from where do their arguments originate?

The answer should be simple given that such error did not stem from God; His prophets and apostles; or from any of His faithful witnesses.

So where did this working of error stem?

From Satan, himself, and from the bellies and lusts of corrupt men and women who want to give themselves (and others) the glory in the working-out of their supposed salvation. Trace it back; those who proclaim such heresies can no doubt trace them back (if records survive and they are diligent) to those who "went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." (1 John 2:19).

By Curt Wildy

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What Name Have You Called On?

The Scriptures make it quite clear that every sinner elected by God the Father in the everlasting covenant of grace, is justified freely by Christ's substitutionary work of redemption at Calvary, and will call on the name of the Lord.

"And because YE ARE sons, (an event that has already occurred in spiritual adoption) God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father."
(Galatians 4:6)

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
(Romans 10:13)

The Scriptures declare boldly that "Because ye are sons", you will in time evidence your sonship by calling on God as YOUR FATHER.

Here is an important question:

‘If almost everyone we know (including ourselves) has at some point called on the name "Jesus," and asked Him to save them, can we assume they are indeed God's children?'

Before answering, HEAR GOD'S WORD:

"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."
(Matthew 7:21)

"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble."
(James 2:19)

Now that simple verse, "For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved," doesn't seem so simple.

Dear friend, this is a life or death matter, and we must be certain of the name we have called on as the God of our salvation.

You might be asking yourself: What NAME must I call on?

First of all, you need to realize that your calling on God (faith) isn't the ground, cause, or hope of your salvation.

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
(Titus 3:5-7)

Secondly, you need to understand that God's name is uniquely revealed to each of His children, AND THEY ALL KNOW HIS NAME.

"And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, (know in an intimate relationship as Adam KNEW Eve, and she conceived) THE ONLY TRUE GOD, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."
(John 17:3)

God revealed His NAME to Moses and that name was directly related to His glory.

"And He (God) said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy." (Exodus 33:19)

His NAME is what reveals how He can be just and justify ungodly sinners.

"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS (JEHOVAH WHO SAVES): for he shall (not might) save his people from their sins."
(Matthew 1:21)

If YOU ARE A SON, then you either are calling on (in true worship) or will yet be brought to call on JESUS as "the Lord your righteousness," the ONLY HOPE OF SALVATION.

If the ‘jesus' you call on only made your salvation possible, you are still in a state of lostness. I pray you have called and are calling on "THE NAME OF THE LORD," worshipping Him in spirit and truth, wholly forgiven and justified by His blood and righteousness alone, Philippians 3:3.

By Richard Warmack

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Caveat Againts Unsound Doctrines

Ask almost any man, "Whether he hopes to be saved eternally?"

He will answer in the affirmative.

But enquire again, "On what foundation he rests his hope?"

Here too many are sadly divided.

The Pelagian hopes to get to heaven by a moral life and a good use of his natural powers.

The Arminian by a jumble of grace and free-will, human works, and the merits of Christ.

The Deist by an interested observance of the social virtues.

Thus merit-mongers, of every denomination, agree in making any thing the basis of their hope, rather than that foundation which God's own hand hath laid in Zion.

But what saith Scripture?

It avers, again and again, that Jesus alone is our hope: to the exclusion of all others, and to the utter annihilation of human deservings.

Beware, therefore, of resting your dependence partly on Christ, and partly on some other basis. As surely as you bottom your reliance partly on the rock, and partly on the sand; so certainly, unless God give you an immediate repentance to your acknowledgment of the truth, will your supposed house of defence fall and bury you in its ruins, no less than if you had raised it on the sand alone.

Christ is the hope of glory.

By Augustus Montague Toplady - Apri1 29, 1770

Friday, October 16, 2009

Vain Glory

"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves."
(Philippians 2:3)

In Philippians 2, Paul addresses his comments directly to the justified, regenerated sinners at Philippi who find consolation and comfort in Christ, and fellowship of the indwelling Spirit (vs. 1) as He points sinners to Christ and His obedience unto death (and that alone) for such assurance (vss. 8-11).

But consider that most who read these verses are among the "many" who remain on the broad road leading to destruction (Matthew 7:13), though they may sincerely presume to have an interest in Christ. These to whom God has not granted the gift of faith and repentance (the fruit and effect of Christ's obedience unto death) may profess and imagine that they have an interest in Christ, yet in imagining that their salvation is conditioned in some way, to some degree upon something done by, in, or through them (the sinner), they unwittingly manifest the height of religious pride and self-righteousness and anything but "lowliness of mind."

As if reading someone else's mail, they may apply this exhortation meant for believers to themselves as they strive to obey God's command to be humble and lowly of mind.

But in clinging to the religion of works (salvation conditioned on the sinner) they demonstrate the reality that they in fact esteem themselves far better than others - for they imagine that some distinction produced by or in them (but not produced by others) makes them accepted and blessed by God.

To remain so deceived is to cling to a false gospel which strikes directly at the glory of God by attempting to rival that which Christ alone accomplished in establishing a perfect righteousness for the elect whose sins He bore. One may strive for humility and lowliness of mind in many areas, but apart from God-given faith and repentance that looks to Christ and His finished work alone for all of salvation, God is not glorified in that sinner's heart.

Rather, when any comfort or assurance is derived from the natural, self-righteous notion that salvation is ultimately conditioned on what I do (my belief, my profession, a righteousness nature put within me, etc.), it is mere presumption and vain glory indeed! "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,..." (Galatians 6:14).

By Randy Wages

Your God - Dead Or Alive?

In Deuteronomy 4:28, God through Moses described the idols Israel would worship once they were scattered among the nations saying, “And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.”

In scripture, God often distinguishes Himself as “the living God” in contrast to such idols constructed in the imagination of our own evil hearts (Jeremiah 18:12; Jeremiah 23:16-17).

When we consider that none knowingly worship a god that they perceived to be false or dead, then we better understand the necessity to heed God’s command for all to repent (Acts 17:30).

For as sinners born in spiritual darkness, we all initially worship an idol of our own imagination, imagining that our god indeed does see, hear, eat, and smell – that He is the one true and living God and not just a mere “likeness.” (Deuteronomy 4:16-18, 23, and 25).

In casting down such imaginations (2 Corinthians 10:5), it is instructive to discern from scripture whether your God truly sees, hears, eats, and smells by considering whether or not what your God sees, hears, eats, and smells is consistent with the revelation of God’s Word.

(1) What does your God see? Did He see of the travail of His soul and find total and complete satisfaction there in His finished work for His seed – for all those given unto Christ by the Father and for whom He lived and died? (Isaiah 53:10-11)

(2) What does your God hear? Does He hear the sinner’s plea for unadulterated mercy (propitiation / favor unmerited by the sinner but by way satisfaction to His holy justice) and that to the exclusion of all else – a plea from one who desires to be found in Christ based solely upon the just satisfaction Christ made at the cross as the elect sinner’s Substitute and accounted to that sinner by God’s free imputation? (Luke 18:9-15)

(3) What does your God eat? Did the God-man fully consume the wrath of God that was poured out on Him at the cross so that all whose sins He bore must be declared righteous in Him? (Hebrews 2:9; Matthew 26:39; Matthew 26:42; Romans 5:9)

(4) What does your God smell? Does your God smell the “…sweetsmelling savour…” of the sacrifice Christ made at the cross that demands life for all those whose sins He bore? (Ephesians 5:2)


Do these passages which distinguish what the true and living God sees, hears, eats, and smells, align with your own persuasion as to how God feely justifies sinners?

Does your God justify sinners based upon the Person and finished work of Christ alone?

If not, then as Paul described the elect at Thessalonica, I pray God will be pleased to grant you faith and repentance so that you too might be identified with all the saints of God who have “…turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;” (1 Thessalonians 1:9).

By Randy Wages

Monday, October 05, 2009

The One And Only Mediator

2 Chronicles 26:16
But when he King Uzziah was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense.

2 Chronicles 26:17
And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men:

2 Chronicles 26:18
And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God.

Under the Old Covenant Law, God gave specific instructions that only the sons of Aaron, as His appointed priests, were to enter into the sanctuary as a mediator for the people to burn incense. As 2 Chronicles 26 continues, we read of the consequence of Uzziah's actions, how God immediately brought leprosy upon the king, resulting in his being outcast as a leper for the remainder of his days. The seriousness of King Uzziah's sinful, prideful action can be found in the fact that the priestly office he dared to fulfill was a foreshadowing of that which only the eternal high priest (the promised Messiah, the God-man) was appointed to fulfill.

Accordingly, anyone who would inject themselves into fulfilling the role that Christ alone was appointed to fulfill, the role that Christ alone was able to fulfill, and that Christ alone did fulfill in His finished work as the "one mediator between God and men" (I Timothy 2:5), is in effect thinking and acting in concert with King Uzziah "when his heart was lifted up to his destruction." As sinners born in darkness, we are unaware of our complicity with Uzziah unless and until God exposes this to us by the light of His Gospel.

Sadly, many persist in imagining that the pivotal issue in their salvation hinges upon that which they do so as to appropriate God's blessing, not solely upon the work of Christ, the one and only Mediator.

Even many who profess to be of the Christian faith make no pretense in boldly asserting that Christ's work of mediation (which would more accurately be depicted as a mere attempt at mediation) is ultimately ineffective for most for whom He lived and died.

In fact, it is only deemed to be effective for those who rise to the occasion and do something to appropriate that blessing unto themselves (whether it be by the exercise of their faith or something else done by or through them). And in so thinking, men and women manifest King Uzziah's same sinful pride as they presume that the essential work whereby they are reconciled unto God is accomplished by their act of faith, a work performed outside that of God's appointed eternal priest and mediator.

Only the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ as the one mediator appointed by God could and did do the priestly work of mediation, the work of reconciling lost sinners unto a holy God by offering up the sacrifice of His own humanity in satisfaction to God's law and justice. That is the incense which is a sweet (satisfying) fragrance in the nostrils of God (Ephesians 5:1).

By Randy Wages