The Preaching of the CROSS
"...the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness;"
I Corinthians 1:18
he Self-Righteous Mindis not a truly curious or inquisitive mind. People who possess a spirit of self-righteousness are not interested in self-examination or self-evaluation. To overcome this self-righteous mind, ABSOLUTELY requires HONESTY. How can one examine himself without being HONEST with himself? Self-Righteous people do not willingly venture into an examination that shows their true character.
People who seek to know what is in their own hearts, and what it is that motivates their actions, are more curious, and so not easily satisfied with a pat answer or an official decree. This writing is expected to challenge what you think, and how you feel, about your own commitment to God's holy truth. I encourage you to approach it with curiosity and honesty about your own true self.
We declare to you that the souls of unregenerate, unconverted, UNSAVED sinners are what is at stake − and our own souls as well. God calls, and we ignore Him. God Stops Us, and we are shocked. God awakens us, and we begin to FEAR. God teaches us, and we begin to wonder about how we missed all the truth of God for our whole lives. Our hearts break as we are made aware of His longsuffering and His tender care for us.Jeremiah 17
It is high time we take stock of our own hearts, and look deep. Take heed to where and how you go. Examine the thoughts and intents of your heart. We may need to discuss many sound doctrines here, as I need to show what is missing, and there is more than just one thing that is missing. I shall, however, concentrate primarily on "the Preaching of the Cross."
These things have been largely hidden for over one hundred years, and we must necessarily lay the ground work for presenting them. Be patient with my methods here, as they are used for a specific purpose.
"That Seems Strange!"
What I tell you here may seem strange, as if it were some new idea or new revelation. IT IS NOT. I have included references from scripture, and from many good Sermons and Books from 50 to 350 years ago that prove these age-old truths, and show that they had been preached for centuries. (...one is 345 years old, and another is 355 years old.)
The religious world has abandoned the truth that was taught for centuries (some places worse than others,) in favor their own doctrine, their own standards, and even their own criteria for determining who is a Christian, and who is in favor with God. We should look to God for His approval of our lives, not to man.Proverbs 22
What we usually hear preached in churches these days is either not all of what we need, or it is none of what should be preached. There are important scriptural doctrines that were hardly taught years ago, and are even harder to find these days. These sound doctrines have replacements that are relatively new. Since this is all most people who go to Church have ever heard, they are considered to be truth. This is in spite of their dubious origin, and lack of support from scripture. Verses taken out of their proper context are used to support what we hear, and sound doctrine is rejected.
This doctrine of "the Cross" may be more obscure to the regular churchgoer than any of what we might ever preach. The man who preaches this will find he must ALWAYS be teaching and preaching the doctrine, because we need it in every lesson we learn from God. How shall we find a remedy? It is doubtful there is any remedy, seeing the false doctrine is considered to be Gospel Truth, and the sound doctrines of the ages are set aside.
"You're crazy, you know?!"
I know this sounds CRAZY if you never heard it before. However, as God begins opening the eyes of the blind, this truth, that is clearly stated in scripture, is not quite as crazy as it once seemed, but there is yet much ground to cover.
You might say, "If God does not show me, I am NOT convinced that you are right about this," but GOD IS SHOWING YOU. If you pay attention here, you'll see that He has been showing us for CENTURIES. The scriptures show us these things, but we have not been properly taught. We have had the benefit of great men of God to write books and preach sermons, but the impact has somehow left us. Let us FEAR to go one more step the wrong way.
Where will we go to hear a SPIRITUAL message from a God-Called preacher? This must necessarily be something FROM GOD, something prepared in the heart of the preacher by God's Holy Spirit, and MUST be of a spiritual nature, having sufficient and proper SPIRITUAL content. This must properly direct people to the truth of the scriptures as they relate to the condition of their soul, and God's requirements. If there is not enough, or if there is not the correct instruction, there will not be a proper calling to sinners to do what is RIGHT.
The sinner may hear something he should do, and maybe, some things that would be NICE if he would do, but is there a true calling to him to turn from sin, and repent toward the LORD? The sinner feels he is going to be alright just like he is, because there has not been a heart-searching and a heart-stirring REQUIREMENT that he move in God's direction. The sinner feels that repentance is optional, and that a holy life is something for the minister and his family.Proverbs 8
"What does it mean to be "SPIRITUAL?"
There are very specific, and there are very general, uses of the word SPIRITUAL. There are many spirits in the world, and significant number are wicked spirits of devils and demons. MAN has his own spirit, though it is not the best example of what our use here is. We are discussing things of God's Holy Spirit that are intended to teach, guide, comfort and enable man in the duty and service of our LORD. This requires understanding and adherence in things of the LORD, and those are given to us by God Himself.
Are you confused as to whether God is behind certain "Christian" movements or doctrines? God has been good to teach us, but the Devil has been committed to turning as many as possible away from the right ways of God. We must have God's Holy Spirit guiding us to even know what is right to study, and which preachers and teachers we could trust to lead us.
Have you been ignoring the solid preaching that has been widely available for the last 200, 300 or 400 years? The confusion comes from Satan's efforts to keep the truth from people who would come to Christ. We have much cause for concern about ourselves and others who NEED to know the truth of God.
End your confusion by seeking the truth from God and His holy word. Seek understanding by His Holy Spirit guiding and teaching you. Identify the sources of confusion, and avoid them. Be sober and VIGILANT. (I Peter 5:8)Proverbs 2
Sorry to have to say, but the GREAT LIE has been repeated millions of times, and continues to be taught as if it were the truth. We are not likely to change the world by resisting the lie, but we can refuse to be changed by the world, and go on blindly repeating the lie.If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.
A Warning about Sovereignty and Severity
People are told in Church to ACCEPT Jesus as their personal Savior. Jesus Christ is LORD of all regardless of whether or not He is accepted by sinful man. It is not acceptance He seeks, but worship and obedience. It seems completely lost on many preachers and teachers that submission to Jesus as LORD is a requirement. Without recognition of Jesus Christ as LORD, as Creator and as Judge of the whole world, there is no submission to Him, and there is no salvation for the soul. How will Jesus convert the rebellious sinner? He will cause him to be submitted to Him as his LORD. Then the sinner is open to God's grace, which includes grace to receive CONVICTION and REPENTANCE which promote a contrite spirit in the sinner.
Many people make a profession of "Christianity" without ever submitting their souls and minds to the Holy God, and His Son, Jesus Christ. There has not been a work of His grace in their hearts. Puritan writers of old refer to these people as "Christian Professors," or a "Fruitless Professor." ("...Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: CUT IT DOWN; why cumbereth it the ground?" Luke 13:7)
I'll ask you, "What is FRUIT that God's finds acceptable?" Do we even have an idea? Is it that we knock on doors, and invite people to Church? Is it that we give a tithe? Is it that we sing or teach in Church? Is it that we talk people into making a profession?! It may be NONE of these things. It may be things we don't even count as "IMPORTANT" or even as "GOOD." The warning has gone out, but, generally, it has not been heeded. God expects fruit, and will come seeking fruit from us. We need to be ready with something that pleases Him.Matthew 3 (also, Luke 3:9)
Seek ye FIRST the Kingdom of God...
The CALL has gone out. God said He calls many, but for most, it seems not to be effectual. The main reason is because they are not interested in seeking the opposite of what they have always desired. They are seeking things they might enjoy in this life, and The CALL is to seek things that are invisible to them. Unless and until God works mightily in them, there will not be anything different.
A significant part of coming to Christ for salvation is turning from the world (especially the religious world,) and turning to the straight and simple truth in the scriptures. God's Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to teach us of God the Father, of His Son − Jesus Christ, and of His precious truth that we need. Many seek this, but few people ever find the Strait Gate and the Narrow Way that leads to life. Most will never enter at the Door of the sheepfold. (John 10:1−14)Hebrews 4
Coming to Christ for salvation requires that we come to the right person in the right way. With all the difficulty that has been laid in the way, combined with the trouble we give our own selves, it is a wonder and a miracle of God that ANYONE ever gets to the Strait Gate, much less is made one with Christ in the salvation of his soul.Matthew 11
"Sure... I believe that!"
The Natural Man, The Unconverted Man, has built-in defenses designed to keep others out (a valuable protection,) but that keeps God and His truth out as well. A main difficulty in seeking the truth is breaking through those defenses − one's heart will deceive his own self. (Jeremiah 17:9)
These people want you to think they have received something from God, when they do not know ANYTHING about the matter. They do not know the scriptures, and think that salvation is just turning over a new leaf. They think that if they say a few special words, everything is taken care of, and God is now satisfied. Others are convinced that God has as high an opinion of them as they do themselves. Those who are particularly ignorant think that the conviction they feel for the guilt of sin is the actual conversion they heard about. It is the only spiritual sense they have ever had, and they think that it is salvation. These people shrugged off the conviction, it has now passed, and they are convinced that means that God is not angry with them any longer.
A visiting preacher told us that the LORD said to build our house upon a rock. (Matthew 7:24-27) He said he agreed, but he would just trust God to care for his family in their mobile home, and, if things got bad enough, they would simply LEAVE. If things are that bad, your family is not safe in a car either. One Deacon said that, in a particular scripture passage, cannibalism was equivalent to the wisdom of Solomon! (II Kings 6:24-30) He said, "...the king should have eaten the baby!" (I Kings 3:16-27) Oh! What IGNORANCE of God's truth is spoken and preached under the authority of the Church!
Some think the clichè statements published by Benjamin Franklin over 200 years ago in "Poor Richard's Almanac" are actually Bible scripture. They sound good, and there is even some truth to many of them. However, there are false ideas in some as well. "God helps those who help themselves" is one I have had quoted to me as scripture. "Cleanliness is next to Godliness" is one you may have had quoted to you by someone who thought it was scripture. How about this one? "God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform!"
Who is to blame for this "Famine of the Hearing of the Words of the LORD?" (Amos 8:11) God's word must be FIRST spoken, and it must then be perceived and HEARD. Who should we expect to change? (I Peter 4:17) Who has the responsibility for the moral decline of the Church and Society in general?
If Pastors, Teachers and Deacons "drop the ball" (so to speak,) who will pick it up? Who do we truly think is going to change the direction of this perverse religious system? If there is any hope for us, somehow someone, somewhere, must CEASE to pervert the right ways of God!Ezekiel 22
"What makes you think you're so smart?"
When you tell someone the truth, and they try to put you off by comparing their intelligence to yours, they are just defending their EGO. They could defend their opinion by showing evidence that supports their viewpoint, but they choose not to. You see, they have a lot at stake. They stand or fall on how they look to people around them. They cannot be taught because there is no place in their heart for what you have to teach them from God.
The world is full of people who say one thing and do another. For some, it is a pastime, but others make an occupation of deceiving people in this manner. I know of a particular Church that went from a large congregation to having only a very small core of faithful members because of someone like this. A fellow used their trust in him as a member there to cheat the people, and caused a scandal there. Another case I am aware of, involved the pastor taking-off with money, and the wife of a member in this manner. The Church was devastated. Many were discouraged from seeking the LORD.
People wish to KNOW things, and, more importantly, they wish to be the first to tell others some new thing. (Acts 17:21) As long as this prevails in the heart, there is yet much to overcome. Let each of us be about seeking freedom from the fleshly influences of the fallen nature of man. If it controls us, we need God to work in us, and get the victory over it. Without victory over these things, we are making no progress in things of the LORD. We will find that God expects us to make progress, and gain understanding, or we will have to repeat the lesson. Each time this happens, the lesson becomes more difficult to endure.Psalm 50
"Who do you think you are?"
When people like this are in Church, they will spout off answers in a Bible Study Class, or put themselves in a place to tell others all the news. They may attend regularly, and may be in all the classes for study and discussion they can find. These people have a compulsion that makes them seek to learn how to be religious, and make others think the best of them, while their own sin burden grows heavier every day.
In Romans 2, the Apostle Paul is speaking to RELIGIOUS people. These are the ones who KNOW better. When people like this call themselves "Christians," they bring a Reproach upon the name of Christ. These are Religious Hypocrites, and they seek to mingle with people who are submitted unto our LORD, so an appearance of being righteous could be applied to them because of their association with God's People. They appear as if they were one of the Godly people, but their life and speech denies the power thereof. What Power? Power over self and sin, and the power to live right before the LORD.II Timothy 3
Where is the HUMILITY?
Notice how, even in Church, no one seems to value HUMILITY? How is it people come before the God of the whole universe, who spoke it into existence, and who will judge the world in righteousness, but do it with a high look and a proud heart? How is this acceptable IN CHURCH, of all places?
We could guess that these people never had any light from God upon the true condition of their heart. We could confidently say that such people had not even a glimpse of who they truly are, nor have they searched the depths of their own heart in an honest evaluation of what are their true motives! Without such an understanding, and the HUMILITY that such a thing will bring to one's heart, this is no Christian, and maybe not even someone who is awakened to where they stand with God.Psalm 101
Let us be clear that NO ONE is getting close to God with a high opinion of himself. There is an easy way to bring a sure rejection of our plea for help from God. That is by being proud, and by having an inordinately high opinion of our own self worth. God knows exactly how much you and I are worth! Don't play the fool, or accept the person of the self-important who flaunt themselves in the company of those who seek help from God to be rid of self and sin.Proverbs 1
Don't take the words of sinners who are trying to avoid the judgment of God, by hiding their true condition, as the whole truth. Don't shrug off the discrepancy between God's word, and these people's conduct as insignificant. Do you realize that Church leaders who do that may bring destruction and judgment upon their Church? Jesus warned that their "Candlestick" may be removed out of his place if a Church did not repent, and turn from the error that had led them away from God.Galatians 6
If you have a Church, and if God actually considers that body of people to be a Church of His Son, Jesus Christ, there is much at stake when we decide how to handle the business and reputation of that assembly. If we care no more about it than to allow these people to profane it by their haughty presence, we are in jeopardy of losing that status in God's sight. If the "Candlestick" is removed, there is nothing left, but a club, or worldly organization of likeminded people.Revelation 2
"Why be so precise?"
It seems necessary, with the deplorable grasp most people have of the English language, to explain that STRAIGHT means, "continuing in a line or path that does not deviate in any direction" ("...go straight home," ...in a straight line...) and STRAIT means, "NARROW." (Strait of Gibraltar, the Bearing Strait, the Florida Straits...) You may also find it helpful to note that the word WICKET refers to a narrow place. This type of language is not used so much these days, and it becomes more difficult to convey God's truth when people do not have a good grasp of their own language.
Other words that have lost their true meaning these days include HOPE, BELIEVE and FAITH. What comes to mind is not likely how the words are used in scripture. HOPE is to trust, expect, or believe in a promised outcome. BELIEVE means to be convinced of the truth of a statement or promise to the point of committing oneself totally. One cannot say they believe something when they would not risk anything for it.Proverbs 4
Believing requires FAITH. Faith is SUBSTANTIAL. It has substance that endures trials and attacks. It clings to the Belief and Hope of what is promised. Its value is based in the ability of the one who promises to deliver on the promise, NOT solely in the ability of the Believer to maintain or endure in himself.Proverbs 3
Faith, Hope and Belief, that have the ability to commend us to the Grace of God, DO NOT originate with us, but come directly to us from God. They are His gifts and the reason we are able to exercise any of them at all. It is all of Grace that we have the ability to be anything other than wicked and loathsome creatures in God's sight.Habakkuk 2
You can see from what the Apostle Paul said about a situation that was more than he could take, that it was GRACE from our LORD that made it possible for him endure it. When man is strong, and does not seek help from God, he lacks the power to endure without falling. By this, he has shunned the help that only comes from God by GRACE. When man knows how weak he is, and how much he NEEDS something from God, he is at a place where he might cry unto the LORD for help.II Corinthians 12
It bears mentioning that PERSEVERANCE is a persistent and steadfast continuance of pursuit in attempt to secure an aim, purpose or goal. This does not mean that there is nothing that slows or that interferes with it, but that there is nothing that causes one to abandon the aim, purpose or goal as an object of desire and pursuit. If we are empowered by God to seek His righteousness, and the salvation He offers, we are not going to just give up, and quit. PERSEVERANCE is going to cause us to be relentless.I Corinthians 15
Oh! What great comfort and encouragement we receive from knowing that God, Himself, is handling the preservation of our whole being. When we commit ourselves to Him, and He takes it upon Himself to save us, then He, by His grace, handles the needs and protection of the object His love. As a child is NOT EXPECTED to grasp his father's hand with sufficient strength, God is not depending solely upon our ability or strength for the enduring preservation or perseverance of our body, soul and spirit. We must endure, but without God's grace, these things are impossible.Psalm 37
Words are important.
God has assigned a significance to His word, so that He magnifies it above His own name. It is of great importance to God, but too many times, it is not so important to people in Church. There is a need to convey God's word and make it understandable, NOT to bring it down in value until man finds it acceptable. Men of God have fought against civil and religious powers throughout history to preserve the truth for us.
In the 1490's, Thomas Linacre was an Oxford professor when he learned Greek. After reading the Gospels in Greek, he compared what he read to the Latin Vulgate. This caused him to write that, "Either this is not the Gospel, or we are not Christians." This Latin text was so corrupt that it did not accurately portray the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Then, in 1516, Erasmus published a Greek-Latin Parallel New Testament. Think about how important it was to have the original Greek and Hebrew, and to translate them faithfully into the language of common people, whether that be English, German or any other.Psalm 138
Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German from the 1516 Greek-Latin New Testament of Erasmus, and published it in 1522. (Matthew-Revelation) Then, Luther published a German Pentateuch in 1523. (Genesis-Deuteronomy) William Tyndale's first translation of the New Testament appeared in England in 1526, and in 1531, his first English translation of the Pentateuch. The King James Version is substantially unchanged from Tyndale's first English version. However, once English authorities discovered that an English Bible was circulating, they tried to stop it by confiscating copies and arresting distributors.II Peter 1
Since the late 1400's, men have sought to understand God's true meaning by these good sources that had recently become available to them, and that were compiled into what is called the "Textus Receptus." The first Webster's Dictionary was compiled for the purpose of preserving the English of the Bible. We have had many great men of God over those FIVE centuries who worked, suffered and died that we not be in the Dark Ages forever! Women, too, have stood on the firm foundation of God's holy truth while the wicked world tortured and killed them for their faith and life dedicated to our LORD. Others before and since were martyred or otherwise persecuted for saying what you read about in this writing.
Preachers, Teachers and Deacons are charged BY GOD, and not just by me, to honor His word, and to deliver the message as He would. If we are to be a messenger of the LORD, we need to handle the word with respect, care and reverence. To take lightly the task of delivering God's word to needy people is to take lightly the sacrifice and grace of our LORD.
"Does this really have to be so hard?"
All my life, and likely yours, we have been told that things that come to us too easily are not worth much. If we have to work for it, we appreciate it all the more. I have witnessed people who actually had a disdain for things they were given, as opposed to things that they got through work and difficulty.
I would NOT tell you that you must WORK to EARN your salvation, but, if you do not really want to be freed from SIN, do not wish to live a holy life, and do not really believe God would send you to a Devils' Hell, you are not likely to put any effort into seeking the Strait Gate or the Door of the sheepfold. Jesus Christ, who is the one who told us of this salvation, and who actually made the way for us to be reconciled with God, is the one who said that we should Seek and STRIVE to enter in at the Strait Gate. (Matthew 7:13-14, Luke 13:24)
When we REALLY want something, when NOTHING else will suffice, and ONLY this will satisfy, we are not likely to give up just because our pursuit is unpopular with those around us. We would not be put-off because of difficulty, and the harder it is to understand, the more we would be determined to grasp the VITAL understanding we seek. People who do not feel that way about salvation will not put forth effort to overcome the difficulties that Satan places in their path.
So much for there being nothing we can do or should do! Though this does not earn our salvation, it does show to God that we really want it. Saying a few words in a scripted prayer is NOT what the scriptures say God seeks from us. Do you shun the contrition of heart, and brokenness of spirit that God says are ACCEPTABLE?Revelation 2
"...but I go to Church!"
It is hard to find a good Church to attend. If we have an idea of what should be preached from the pulpit, we are not satisfied with a counterfeit. Mostly, all we can find is a "Mutual Admiration Society." This is otherwise known as a Club. That is just a group of people who think alike, and they like each other. They come together, encourage one another, and say a few things they all like... then everyone goes home pacified.
Almost 75 years ago, Arthur W. Pink made this statement about the preaching of sound doctrine in the pulpit. Don't be fooled by the world, and think that there is no big deal in "getting saved" or in "making a decision for Christ." This is part of a LIE that says you just agree that Jesus paid it all, and you are saved. However, someone who actually receives the promise of the Gospel − the Salvation of their Soul − will be earnestly and relentlessly seeking the LORD with their whole heart.During the last two or three generations the pulpit has given less and less prominence to doctrinal preaching, until today − with very rare exceptions − it has no place at all.
This is truly amazing, that essentially all of those who profess to preach and teach the truth of God have found a comfortable spot off to the side, and have allowed the Devil (Satan) and his minions unopposed success in diminishing the Gospel. This is an apostate generation, and it may meet with the Judgment of God very soon.Jeremiah 29
Who do you know that will stop at nothing to seek and find the truth of the scriptures? They press through any difficulty, and search for the answers to these questions, not daunted by resistance they meet. I do not know many that this describes. Let us NOT be satisfied with a halfway sincere Church. Let us be careful NOT to be mere professors of Christianity. In this, we begin to take responsibility before God for the condition of our souls. Let me show you what I mean...Time runs; and will you be slothful? Much of your lives are past; and will you be slothful? Your souls are worth a thousand worlds; and will you be slothful? The day of death and judgment is at the door; and will you be slothful?
"We can't have any of that..."
Oh, Yes! I actually heard an officer of a Baptist Church say this about a preacher who held to the "King James Version" of the Bible. They sought a minister for their Church, and had a committee for choosing someone. They ended up with a man who cared not for souls, but cared for his benefits and pay.
A certain clear doctrine of the Word of God is SELDOM preached, because people say it is FOOLISHNESS. They are looking for "Fire Insurance," and that should come at a nominal price that is acceptable. No one wishes to hear about the difficulty of coming to Christ for salvation. It is not preached much, and I am not sure where you could go to find anyone interested in tackling so much as one sermon "Preaching the Cross."
The ones who count themselves to have arrived and to have obtained, DON'T NEED IT, and thus, it is foolishness to them. Those who are just dabbling in things of God, AREN'T PROFITED, and thus, it is foolishness to them. Those who are observing from the outside to see if there is anything to this "religion of Jesus Christ," AREN'T COMING NEAR anything like that, and thus, it is foolishness to them.I Corinthians 1
Oh, what misery awaits those who take so lightly whether their souls truly be saved or lost! How fearful it is to go through this life and not have a sense that God is angry with the wicked every day? There is no Fear of God before their eyes, and no bands in their death (Romans 3:18, Psalm 73:4) because God is not working in their heart to save them! You can easily see that there is ENMITY between the natural man and the Holy God. (Romans 8:7) Except we follow God's prescription, we are doomed for eternity.Men dead in profession are too deeply steeped in selfrighteousness to bestow an anxious thought on a matter to them apparently of such little significance, as whether their souls be saved or lost.
Richard Baxter used a term that approximates our use of this term, "Easy-Believism." The term is LIBERTINISM. People who love to have their pleasures are NOT seeking the strictness of the scriptures. A holy life does not seem to appeal to these people. I have discussed the matter with people who will label this kind of preaching as "LEGALISM." It is as if I am adding things that Jesus and the Apostles did not require for salvation. Salvation, and the penalty of sin, are described in the scriptures. Also, the preaching of the LORD and His Apostles are the source of what is expounded in this writing.
Here are included many scripture passages and quotes from godly preachers that show what I mean. The very people who think THEY can DECIDE to ACCEPT Jesus as their Savior, think it is LEGALISM to hold to the scriptures on the subject of this writing. By their very words they have shown themselves to be LEGALISTS or those who merit salvation by something they can do or have done.One of the signs of a flesh-pleaser or sensualist is when he will believe or like no doctrine but libertinism, and hateth mortification as too strict preciseness.
Baxter knew that there were people who sought to be rid of the burden of their sins, but were not willing to follow Jesus as He had called them to do. He understood that there is a desire in man to have an easy transition from living for himself to having a home in Heaven. People who recognize that the scriptures declare that God makes those who come to Christ PERFECT, and they consider it IMPOSSIBLE in this life, are convinced it is a mystical thing that takes place after we are DEAD! This is NOT scriptural. Baxter knew they seek to avoid the difficult and the painful aspects of coming to Christ.Libertinism
"...but this should be EASY, RIGHT?" Who said it would be easy? Someone said, "...since the free gift of God is SIMPLE, then it goes to show that it is, also, EASY." (II Corinthians 11:3) There is simplicity in Christ, but this is NOT what everyone thinks it means. 'Simple to comprehend' is not the same as 'EASY TO DO.' Our LORD said that we should STRIVE to enter in at the STRAIT GATE, for many will SEEK to, but not be able. What do we think it means to STRIVE?All your powers and faculties are so corrupt in your natural state that, except you be purged from dead works, you cannot serve the living God.
A statement may be simple enough to perceive, but the task may not be AT ALL EASY! The two are NOT equivalent. Simple, though it is, to say, "Bore out the Cylinders of this Engine Block to these Specifications... " be assured, there is NOTHING EASY about doing it at all. Without the training, aptitude and proper equipment, it is not likely you would accomplish the task. This takes years of learning, and the equipment is EXPENSIVE.Strive
One might just say, "Make this Hex-Head Bolt with ¼"-20 threads, 1½" Long!" Most people have no clue how complicated and difficult it is to make something as simple as a Steel Bolt. It requires expensive and exacting equipment, but without the proper knowledge of specifications and the methods used to meet those specifications, there is no reason to think we'd get close. There are a dozen steps to do in order to meet that SIMPLE request.
The Commander may simply say to his troops, "Hold this position at all costs..." and we know that the costs may include the loss of our own lives, or that of fellow soldiers. Who thinks that is EASY? Who thinks it is easy to simply hold your ground in the face of overwhelming opposition? This could be said about this very subject, and how nobody really wishes to be confronted in the manner here presented!
Was easy-believism enough to save Simon the Sorcerer from sin? (Acts 8:13) "...then Simon himself believed also..." The answer to this question is "NO, Simon was not saved by only believing, as the world counts BELIEVING." We know this to be a fact from the rebuke by the Apostle Peter. (Acts 8:20-21) "...but Peter said unto him, thy money perish with thee, because thou has thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou has neither part nor lot in this matter, for thy heart is not right in the sight of God." Simon the Sorcerer believed, but was not saved from Hell. There is more to believing than what we are told by the religious world today.
"What must I do to be saved?"
Since before Christ's sacrifice on the cross, or Pentecost, people have cried for God's instruction on "WHAT MUST I DO?" These days, they are told things that are EASY, and things that are SMOOTH. The churches that are on TV with thousands in attendance and millions watching, are not likely to destroy that popularity with things considered DIFFICULT! One young fellow asked our LORD the question, and truly asked it from the viewpoint of his own situation. It was NOT the general question, "What is required of people who would meet your standards?" This was a genuinely personal query. (Mark 10:17-23) The LORD's answer was based in the title of this writing: "the Preaching of the Cross."
There are things we CAN do, and there are things we MUST do. None of these secures our souls, but without doing anything we will have NOTHING from God. We are NOT guaranteed an easy time seeking and serving the LORD. Jesus said, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me... for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30) Is THIS what people promoting "Easy-Believism" say is the reason for their thoughts? It goes without saying that our burden of sin is HEAVY. It will surely sink us to the lowest HELL.
Jesus' yoke is easy, and His burden is LIGHT. We may only need to be persecuted, tortured and killed for His name's sake, but that is finished in a little while. HELL is NEVER FINISHED, and the burden is IMPOSSIBLE to bear. I remember reading of martyrs and persecuted servants of the LORD, and realizing how foreign that was to what I heard in Church. I had been lied to by people in Church, and MY OWN SOUL was at stake.
"Easy-Believism" was promoted during the 20th Century to the exclusion of sound doctrine. Men of God preached against this wrong-headed doctrine 100 years ago and even SINCE. "The Preaching of the Cross" slaps down this widely held false belief that is so pervasive now, and that holds a prominent place in Church teaching and preaching. It has been elevated to being THE GOSPEL, and embodies the opinion that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross is all we need to know or believe... but "the Preaching of the Cross" is hard to find. I have had churchgoing people get angry, and argue against the suggestion that "easy-believism" is a false doctrine. I declare unto you that this may be to the level of "easy-believism" being "Another Gospel."What mattereth it what a man gets, if by the getting thereof he loseth himself? Suppose a man goeth to the Indies for gold, and he loadeth his ship therewith; but at his return, that sea that carried him thither swallows him up − now, what has he got?
Notice that the Apostle Paul said this was ANOTHER, which is NOT ANOTHER. This is the same thing, only PERVERTED. We are dealing with a Gospel that SOUNDS LIKE what the Bible says, but IS NOT what the Bible says. This has been a concern for decades to sincere and dedicated people who understand, and know that, what we usually hear these days, is a perversion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.Galatians 1
"The same thing, only different?"
This could be something we are not immediately discussing, but this is clearly something that SOUNDS like, but IS NOT, the true Gospel. We should consider how WIDELY a certain thing is promoted, and how much it is entrenched as the WHOLE truth, while lacking something VITAL. In the doctrine of Easy-Believism, there are all those elements. There are, also, numerous ways the doctrine of works for salvation is put out there as the Gospel. Mostly, it is wrapped up in philosophy and false religion. That way, it is hidden as the main element, while the conclusion is the same.
There is, sometimes, an emphasis on outward signs of religious evidence, and we should be very careful not to falsely accuse someone of doing things wrong, when they might be of God. It is better to leave some people to a potentially erroneous exercise than to attribute the work of God to the flesh or to a devil. Let us pray about that, and be very cautious.
If preachers truly sought the will of the LORD in this, they should have the truth, and could preach it. I would say the best way is to earnestly seek God to show us. Our responsibility is based in delivering the right message from God, and leaving the result in His hands. If we endeavor to show sinners how to seek God, we must do it the right way.John 16
"Why is this not taught?"
The Seminary does not instruct their students in "the Preaching of the Cross." Fifty years ago, a young couple was attempting to get a Christian education at a very conservative Christian college. They were so astounded at what they heard, that they decided to protest with the Administration that the whole truth was not being taught there. They had decided to leave that college, and not pursue their education there. It was an eye-opener for them.
The popularly available sermon outlines would not include "the Preaching of the Cross." You would not talk of these things unless you wish to drive people away from your Church. It is considered controversial. What pastor or teacher could answer deep spiritual questions they would get if they dare to expound upon these passages?Just look at us. Everything is backwards; everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the major media destroy information, and religions destroy spirituality.
Okay! Maybe I am telling you about OTHER doctrines of the Gospel that we do not hear preached. The doctrines of SOVEREIGNTY, ELECTION, CONVICTION, REPENTANCE and HUMILITY are not covered these days, but they are intertwined (interwoven or, even, KNOTTED-UP together,) and must be covered to prepare the way for the rest of the Gospel. These do not seem to make sense to most people, because most preaching leaves things out. They DO NOT make much sense the way they are preach most of the time!
"Not many People in your Church, though!"
That is right. Just a little of the truth will send them away − sometimes for good! People of the world might to go to Church when it does not interfere with their activities. Also, they may go to Church if they hear some nice sermon that makes them feel good.
A useful tool in Public Speaking suggests you should open with a joke. This is usually out of place when sinners need their heart pricked by the truth, but now, we are just entertaining them. If you do as well as the TV preachers, you may make more money. However, if you intend to see hearts made right before the LORD, you should see what will get them to take the message seriously, and have deep contrition of heart before the Almighty God who will Judge them and their works.
There is a repelling power of the Gospel as well as a drawing power. After God killed two people in Church, for lying to His Holy Spirit, there was a definite group of people who were drawn to the truly righteous working of God, but the rest DID NOT DARE join with the Church. Who would want to be the next one to die in Church because of their hypocrisy?Acts 5
"Where you going with this?"
"Men of the Cloth − the Ordained − the Reverend − are not promoting this doctrine, and it is THEY who show us what is right. If THEY think it is foolish, we don't need to seek it out. THEY are wise, and we are not, so just drop it," Is this RIGHT?
"What is required by God if not simply to repeat the 'Sinner's Prayer?' What should we seek if not simply that the 'Church' approve our course? What should we strive to attain if not the standards of this religious system?" What saith the scriptures?I Corinthians 1
Can you see the difference between the hypocrite and the brokenhearted sinner who is humble before the LORD? This is hardly mentioned − it is NOT required, nor even expected in the "modern Church" or religious system of today. Why is the truth of the scriptures relegated to a "back seat" in favor of "another gospel?"Matthew 22
"I find that Offensive!"
TRULY? I trust you know where this puts you! To be Offended at the true Gospel, and that which is Foolishness to those who perish, puts us in opposition with LORD Himself. It's the religious world that HATED and was OFFENDED at the words and instruction of the LORD. He showed us how to be FREE from the law, and they were offended.
An Optometrist took offense with me once when I pointed out what a REAL DOCTOR does (the Ophthalmologist.) The Optometrist had found the ONE THING that made him the most money, and DID ONLY THAT. It is the long-standing practice where the doctor sits you in front of a machine that has dozens of ways to change the lenses, and they find which prescription for lenses they should SELL TO YOU (all the while, you're paying him to do that, too.)
Priests, Pastors and Deacons have their Letters, their Papers, their Sheepskin, but what do they do with the truth of God? Why do they get insulted and haughty when someone suggests that there is something they do not understand, or they misunderstand? Could this just be the EGO taking care of "Number One?" I do not reference silly ideas, but the sound doctrines of the ages that seem to be roundly rejected by just about everyone in "Church" these days.
Get this clearly in your mind: The truth offends people. They have reasons, and those reasons make sense to them. The truth does NOT. The Jews were Offended about the LAW, and particularly, Circumcision, being assaulted by the words and doctrines of the Apostle Paul. Today, preachers are Offended that (among other doctrines) "the Preaching of the Cross" will assail their version of the Gospel.
The religious world of our time is not much different in essence from the religious world of Paul's time. The worldly religious system has their establishments and their officers. A few of the names match that older version of a system, but the whole thing works much the same: just call anyone who challenges the "NORM" a damnable heretic, unsubmitted rebel or outright liar, rather than deal with the clear scriptures about the Cross.Galatians 5
The Classic Cop-Out
There are many ways to cop-out on what God requires of us, but there are some CLASSIC ways people do this. Some are so effective that they are regularly included in sermons and "testimonies." I mean that some people, trying to give a testimony of what God has done for them, Cop-Out on the real significance of the salvation of God by saying things that impress those who are not spiritual. The carnal soul is with you 100% when you say, "I am not as good as I should be, but, thank God, I am not as bad as I used to be!"
What a slap in the face of the LORD Jesus Christ who came to save sinners! The "Carnal Christian" has "...TURNED OVER A NEW LEAF," so to speak. He is doing better because he has had some type of conviction upon his heart that he was really doing wrong before God, and that God really was looking for fruit from his life. This person has not submitted to the righteousness of God that is in Jesus Christ. He has gone about establishing his own righteousness, and feels there has been progress that is satisfactory for the moment. God is not satisfied, placated or appeased, but this sinner's conscience has been.
It is amazing how crafty people are who wish to be seen as righteous, but cannot compare their "righteousness" to that of our LORD Jesus Christ. Confront them with this stark truth, and you will be treated with, "So, do you think YOU are without sin? Is that what you are trying to say?" They love to quote from the First Epistle of John the Apostle, but they DO NOT accept ALL of what he says there. Sermons and Testimonies tout how anyone who says they have not sinned is a liar. John was comparing those people who come to God for forgiveness of sin, and freedom from their sin, with those who say there is nothing they ever did that requires them to seek God's forgiveness.
The Apostle John was not saying that people who God has saved from sin must always acknowledge that they participate in, and are in servitude to, a life of sin. He addressed the attitude of people that refuse to acknowledge their past, and refuse to turn from it. This assault upon the truth of God actually tries to state that God and Christ are not capable of saving them from sin, as claimed in scripture. These people like the sound of these scriptures, but, to them, they seem not to be true. They do not know of anyone that have these principles accomplished in them according to the scriptures. Jesus Christ was manifested to take away our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.I John 1
The sad reality is that there are fewer people who enter in at the Strait Gate than these preachers, teachers and "Christian professors" can possibly imagine. Between their ignorance of what sin really is, and a serious deficiency of actual adherents to God's word, they are convinced there are no examples of this in the world. Furthermore, the "Carnal Christian" proponents have convinced them wrongly that men of God in the Bible were sinful, even after God worked in them by His grace. They do not understand the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament as relating to what God has done in the hearts of people. They do not see the effect that God's grace has upon the hearts of sinners either.
"What is the Gospel?"
Many churchgoing people have an answer to this question that only includes ONE VERSE OF SCRIPTURE. Most churchgoers are only concerned with John 3:16 as being the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Some have a short list of scriptures that they think convey the Gospel, but is that all we need to include?
About 50 years ago, Rolfe Barnard said that only one sixth of the Gospel had been preached in churches for the previous 60 years (that means all of the 20th Century from his perspective.) What sports fan would be satisfied with watching only the first 10 minutes of the second half of a football game? What Epicurean would be satisfied with only the salad portion of his gourmet meal? What farmer would be satisfied with you plowing only 3 or 4 of the 20 acres you agreed to plow for him? Why, then, are churchgoers satisfied to have only one sixth of the Gospel preached to them when they go to Church?
YES, we are talking about the cross of Christ, but we still hear that Jesus Christ died on the cross to save sinners from Hell. We get many sermons preached to us from the pulpit on that subject, especially around Easter, but that is not all we need to hear. THAT IS the one sixth of the Gospel we have heard for the last hundred years. Don't take that as personal opinion. A.W. Pink, Rolfe Barnard and others have made the same observation, but the Devil is successful in blinding most churchgoers to the simple facts.A sinner needs more than to hear the Gospel. A sinner needs to know more than a little truth. A sinner needs to be operated on, and overcome so that his will is energized and his disposition is changed in order that he can do what God requires of him. If it were true that just hearing the Gospel will get you saved, then everybody in this country would have been saved.
Many years ago, I visited a Church, and it was apparent that the preacher ONLY preached from the Old Testament. After hearing him preach a few messages, it seemed clear that he was ignorant of New Testament truth. How is the whole truth going to be preached by someone who does not understand the role of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Just mentioning His holy name and referencing His sacrifice are not always enough.
I am sure there are those who will point to things in the Bible that show it was enough to simply mention the sacrifice of our LORD and His name, and people were saved − even whole households! We hear that, but are not aware what was said for the HOURS of preaching and teaching that went before. Cornelius the Centurion was of a sincere heart and helped the Jews. He had a basic understanding of their customs and laws. This came to him over months or years. It is not just the few words we have recorded in the Acts of the Apostles that taught him of God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son.
Going to Hell from the Church Pew
Who is worse than someone that hears the general call of the LORD, has a knowledge of His right ways, understands that God prophesied many times about how and what He would do in bringing us a MESSIAH, but only seeks the Flesh, the EGO and the comfort of Morality and Civility? Who can appeal to this corrupt mind that now professes himself to be a Christian? Who can awaken the one that is twice dead? (Jude 1:12) There are few sinners worse by comparison. Drunkards, whoremongers and criminals have found a place of repentance, but how shall the person who rejects the mercy of our Savior find a remedy for his predicament?
Could it be that the preacher who leads the person here described into a false security is worse than the poor deluded souls he deceives? One preacher said, many years ago, that there was no worse MURDER than the man who would give someone confidence that they were saved, when God had not given that to them. He, also, said that there is no worse GANGSTER than a man who would do this. These are "wells without water" as labeled by the Apostle Peter. (II Peter 2:17)
In this time, when preachers are not so much "God Called" as they are "Momma Called," or "Church Called," we need to consider the real reason the Gospel is not preached in its entirety. It very well may be because that, out of the thousands in the ministry, there may not be many that God put there. The preachers who God did NOT put there will say what is expedient, and "the Preaching of the Cross" is not going to get them what they want. What shall people do who come to Church to hear what God has burdened the preacher to preach? They must wonder, "Where's the real meat of the message?"
In all my years of going to Church, EVERY place I went to more than just a one time, and most of those as well, mentioned that they preach certain truth, and other Churches do not. This includes the Roman Catholic Institution. Even there, where the truth was hidden from the people by LAW, they assert that, unlike other churches, they are open and truthful.Jeremiah 23
One fellow moved 1,200 miles to come here to preach, because our area did not have any churches that preached all the truth. Having visited there, I saw that he did not believe or preach as much of the Gospel as we hear regularly in our Church. They ALL think they know what is right, and NONE of them have it all. Some are introspective, and God may teach them in time, but FROM WHOM are they going to learn what NO ONE is preaching?
Let's start being serious about the truth of the scriptures, and STOP worrying whether everyone is SMILING, or not! I would so much rather see people come to Church with a seriousness and gravity about them, seeking to hear the truth from the preacher! There are souls hanging in the balance, and we should tell them what God has prescribed as the way to find everlasting life. IF we preach an inadequate message, or "another gospel," we may be guilty of their blood!II Corinthians 4
Do not be guilty of the blood of poor lost sinners, when God has given us the duty of conveying to them "The True Gospel." How shall they hear, and learn, and TURN from SIN if they do not hear the whole truth in Church? Who will tell them if the truth is not preached? Do you see how the Devil has won a battle here?Ezekiel 33
Let me tell you of times I know God had burdened the preacher about me. Let me tell you what another fellow told me of seeing the same when the preacher was burdened about him. The BURDEN that God puts on a preacher, when souls are in the balance, causes him great consternation till the burden is delivered, and then he seriously watches for a result. They may begin turning to God, or they may never return. It is in God's hands at that point.
The Preaching of the Cross
How might I do this, and spare your feelings? How can you be told this VITAL info, and I not risk angering you to the point that you shut me off and shut me out? I am convinced that it would be virtually impossible. In fact, I expect you to be angry, and bothered, even insulted that someone like me should say these things to someone like you. "...but Preachers need to say what would get them ordained, get them a Pastor's position in a Church, or that will insure that they do not lose their position as Pastor or Deacon."
People are very sensitive to their EGO being bruised. Also, no one understands DEEP spiritual truth who does not first understand the basic truth of the scriptures. These are reasons for the truth being suppressed over the last hundred years. This is why almost no one living has heard even one message of "the Preaching of the Cross." If anyone dare suggest that something is missing, the replies and the looks are of that of total confusion and disbelief.John 16
We are preaching about Preaching here, so it should be said that we could preach a whole sermon or even a series of sermons using EACH of the scripture passages referenced here. There are lists of sins and offenses that, when expounded, could produce a full-length topical sermon on each of those words. There is no lack of material − just a lack of desire and intent to preach the whole truth of the Gospel.
No one shall escape being judged for their sins. If we submit to being judged of God in this life, we will face our judgment here, and not have to face Jesus as He sits on the Great White Throne. (Rev. 20:11-15) We would acknowledge the truth about us, and cease to be rebels against God. When we come clean with God, we can then plead for His mercy and grace. The unrighteous world seeks to hide from judgment, but their judgment will surely come at the end of time.John 21
There is something important to mention about this. Crucifixion upon a cross is the cruelest, most torturous death devised by man. It had been around for a long time, and was commonly used by Rome for execution. God had prescribed a bloody death for His Son in order to pay for our sins, and that was done.Romans 14
What, then, is missing from the Gospel of Jesus Christ here described as "The Preaching of the Cross?" I recognize that there are many of these passages referenced in sermons, but what we do not hear expounded is:
CRUCIFIXION OF THE FLESH
The scriptures tell us that we must crucify the FLESH with the AFFECTIONS and LUSTS, and that we must, by the Spirit, mortify the deeds of the body. That means we are not right with God unless and until this is done. The works of the flesh must cease, or we remain in our sins. It is by death of SELF and the FLESH that allows us to enter into His rest. (Hebrews 4:10) Only as we are submitted to God in this specific thing can our lives please the LORD.
Objection: "It sounds like we cannot be pleasing to God as long as there is life and breath in us. Does it mean we need to be in the grave for us to please God?"Romans 8
Answer: Perish that thought, because, if it were like that, ALL THE DEAD would be pleasing to God, and none of the living would be pleasing to Him. It must mean something other than that... There are two specific things referenced as FLESH in scripture. We are told of things pertaining to physical bodies of people and animals that have muscles and organs, and that are nourished by the blood. There is another use of that word, however, that is clearly different.
There is a CARNAL MIND (the spirit we are born with.) This refers to the fallen nature of man (the EGO.) It is our FALLEN NATURE we inherited from "Adam the First" that must be crucified according to the scriptures. Until the flesh is crucified, we are CARNAL and FLESHLY.Romans 8
AGAIN, this seems strange to someone who has not heard this preached at any time. Once we find someone we think we can trust, we tend to take what they preach, and call it "the Gospel Truth." If we are missing something of this significance, we likely will never accept it as truth because it was not delivered by the same trusted minister. We have heard the same one sixth of the Gospel for all our lives, and, "that is quite enough, thank you!"Romans 8
Receiving the Gift of Eternal Life
Concerning opportunities from God to receive the gift of eternal life, we have been told IN CHURCH that, as long as there is life and breath in us, we can "ACCEPT Christ" (a term not found in scripture.) That is not necessarily true according to the scriptures. As has been preached for centuries, these opportunities may have passed... long before our life on Earth has passed. We are not guaranteed the opportunity to "ACCEPT Christ" just because we are still alive here. If we are pursuing our own desires and lusts, we are not even seeking God at all. Unless God stops us, and turns us, and awakens us, and draws us to Jesus Christ, we are not even looking His direction.
Take heed that you do not reject the truth of the scriptures while you think you are defending it. We are responsible for our own error, even if the ones who taught us are, also, responsible."Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Now unless he be born of God, he cannot see it. Suppose the kingdom of God be what it will, he cannot see it before he be begotten of God; suppose it be the Gospel, he cannot see it before he be brought into a state of regeneration; believing is the consequence of the new birth...
Listen to what Thomas Boston has said: if you do not let go of the world while in this life, you will let go as you leave this life, and there is nothing good waiting for the sinner then. We are told in scripture that Jesus was raised from the dead for the purpose of showing us that we will not be safe from judgment just because we are lying dead in the grave.Romans 11
Just as we must crucify the flesh upon the cross, the branch must be cut out of the wild olive tree. It is, then, grafted into a good olive tree. This process may not be a momentary event, but may take some time as the person in whom God has begun to work allows himself to be severed from his old self, and made into a new creation. I am not saying the "Christian" cannot be done with this quickly, but that people who are half-hearted, and do not close with Christ, are not true Christians. Man does not easily let go of the things he loved in this world. It is a deep surgery for God to remove from us the things that take us to Hell.Acts 17
God will continue to work in us IF EVER He did begin, thus, the motions of God's Spirit upon us, to convict us and to draw us, give the sincere person an urgency to make progress in his pursuit of the prize. There is so much that needs to be done in order for us to bring forth good fruit to the LORD. The work of God in the life of this person is performed by the Holy Spirit of God. He gives HIS grace, that this person may do as he is required and commanded by God. God's Grace, then, is the ability given to man to perform what God has required. No one can do that without help from God. It is impossible without His grace.Unless the Spirit of God be in you, it will leave you on this side the gates of heaven.
If you were to ask around to find out about this, you would likely be told that CRUCIFIXION of the FLESH is something that comes with SPIRITUAL GROWTH. How much GROWTH must a Christian have to know not to pursue SIN? When is it reasonable to expect this in "Christian" growth? How long do you need to be a "Christian" before you turn away from SIN, and begin a holy life.
Repentance from dead works should come rather quickly after we are awakened to our sinful condition. One who has been warned to Flee from the Wrath to Come, (Matthew 3:7, Luke 3:7) should not remain in damning sin for long. He knows he must face Christ as his Judge, and then Eternal Punishment.
One fellow, professing himself to be a Christian, told me of his pregnant wife who had previously been married. According to Galatians 5:19, Adultery is a work of the flesh. He responded to a sermon we had both just heard, and told me that Romans 7 says the Christian does not practice sin, as opposed to what was said in that sermon, that the Christian does not commit sin. He said this to point out he didn't believe that the Christian was expected to be SINLESS. I asked him simply, "How many times does someone have to do the same sin in order to be practicing SIN?" This truly made him angry, because, as it seemed, he was trying to justify his own behavior, but had no answer for that.Romans 13
There is a woman, named Christina, who said she was a Christian. However, she thought to mix and combine her religion with spiritualism. She was a witch, a medium and even got into ghost hunting. According to Galatians 5:20, Witchcraft is a work of the flesh. Is there any wonder that she and her husband, Tom, had marital troubles? Is there any wonder that she was truly frightened when she had a documented encounter with one of the spirits she was trying to expel from a certain place? She cast out a devil in the name of Jesus Christ (Matt. 7:22) and might say that is why Jesus should accept her. If there is no true repentance from what she, herself, had described about her past, she would be rejected when it matters the most.Galatians 5
Where is any sensible logic in the idea someone could claim to be a Christian while practicing witchcraft or adultery? It does not line up in any reasonable way with a Christian life to try to include these works of the flesh. We may see a severe judgment from God upon us as a nation and a culture because we have entertained such wickedness and moral decline while claiming to be "Christian."Titus 1
"So, what is different?"
It is the crucifixion of the flesh that changes a person from someone who is alive for the purposes of this world into someone who is DEAD to self and sin. Crucifixion of the flesh makes it possible for God to work in us by His grace, and make us alive for His purposes. I am (the EGO, Carnality, the FLESH, SELF is) crucified to the world, and have no interest in participating with what the world pursues. The world, also, is crucified to me in the process. That means they are no more interested in including me than I am in being included in their plans.
Romans, Chapters 6, 7 & 8 explain that God hates the fallen nature of Man, and that this must die for the man to be useful to God. Until that happens, the man is an enemy of God. In I John, Chapter 2, we are shown that we are not to love the things of the world, which include the lusts of the flesh. In Ephesians, Chapter 2, we are warned about "the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind;" In Galatians, Chapter 6, we are exhorted not to sow to the flesh or we will reap corruption. In Colossians, Chapter 3, Christian believers are referenced as having put off the old man with his deeds. In Romans, Chapter 13, we are told not to make provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.Galatians 2
There is a cross for each of us to bear. I do not wish to suffer the crucifixion that YOU have coming, because of YOUR wicked past. YOU certainly do not wish to suffer for the wickedness of MY past. We must do this for our own selves to be reconciled to God, and severed from our own wicked works. We, ourselves, must be cut off from the OLD olive tree (which is wild by nature,) and we must OURSELVES be grafted into the GOOD olive tree.Mark 10
"What do you mean by True Repentance?" There is a false repentance that is very common, and there is a true repentance that is seldom seen. Who still thinks he can trick God by only pretending to be sorry for being a wicked sinner? Who really thinks God does not know every heart, and every thought and motive of the heart? Who really believes God will not find us, and drag us before Jesus to be judged in that last day? Without True Repentance in our heart, we are only tricking ourselves, and some of the people around us.
Let us come clean, and begin to do things that show God and people around us that we Truly Repent for the harm we did by our sinful lives. Recognize in your heart that you would consider it a terrible crime for someone to do to you what you have done to others AND TO THE LORD. Once you say from the heart that you agree that a person SHOULD do as God has commanded, but that you have not, you have taken a big step in the right direction.Acts 26
Awake thou that sleepest,
Acknowledging that God is right, we must necessarily conclude that we are WRONG, because He has said that. The next big step is realizing that this requires heart-wrenching self-examination, and, if we begin in earnest, God may reward that step with the grace to continue, and to understand, if only a little.
This step is called "being awakened," by some people, and by others, it is called "being enlightened." Either term works very well for the purpose of saying there is much we do not know, and everything is different after we see the truth as God would have us to see it.No wonder you are concerned; the wonder is, that you were not concerned about this matter before, that you are not more deeply solicitous now, and that all who possess the word of God do not sympathize with you in this concern. Everything justifies solicitude, and condemns indifference as to this matter.
Most people have a wrong reaction to the first workings of God in their heart to AWAKEN them to His truth. They will immediately respond to the FEAR they experience with, "The Devil is REALLY working on me." God is longsuffering with the ignorance of men, allows this for a time, and does not consider such a thing to be blasphemy. He knows that this is a reaction to something the person has not previously experienced, and that confusion reigns in the soul. This should not last long, though, and the person should settle down quickly with the right instruction and encouragement from the Pastor and the Church.
Thomas Boston wrote an excellent book about the true nature of man, and shows to us the scriptural view of "Human Nature in its Fourfold State." In it, he says some of what I am trying to convey to you, but says it so much better than ever I could:Would the devil, when he is about to establish men in sin, take such a course, in the first place, to enlighten and awaken the conscience to see the dreadfulness of sin, and make them exceedingly afraid of it, and sensible of their misery by reason of their past sins, and their great need of deliverance from their guilt? Would he make them more careful, inquisitive, and watchful to discern what is sinful; and to avoid future sins ?
Why try to make others think we are following God, but shun sound doctrine religiously? When we see what God, in His great mercy, would show us of our sin, we should no longer hold such a wicked opinion. The person who has thus had his eyes open by God, will not take lightly such a matter, and be indifferent to the motions of the Holy Spirit upon his heart. He will, instead, seek council from those who he thinks had that experience themselves, or that have knowledge of scripture. They may not have cared before, because the person was rash or coarse in their opinion, but NOW, their eyes have new light shining in them!He is enlightened in the knowledge of SIN. He has different thoughts of it than he used to have. Formerly his sight could not pierce through the cover Satan laid over it: but now the Spirit of God removes it, wipes off the paint and varnish: and so he sees it in its natural colors, as the worst of evils, exceedingly sinful, (Romans 7:13.) O, what deformed monsters − do formerly beloved lusts appear !
"...Now, I am listening!"
Good − you're awake. Let's move on, and see that this is a different life, not a momentary adjustment to placate an angry God. We are not doing this as a symbolic gesture to get God off our back. We now know that we really must be a different person.
Who can return to the wickedness of their past when they have such a glimpse of themselves as they truly are? Who really loves the very thing that brought them into such condemnation? Only the most reprobate and ungodly sinner, though it seems, there are many who would.
Just acknowledging that we are not what we should be, or that we do not ALWAYS do what we should do, is sufficient to show God and everyone around us that this OLD MAN, THE FLESH, is a problem that cries for a solution. God requires a solution, and will have it, one way or another.
God will fix this. There will be a reconciliation or a death sentence. We can try to hide from this, and imagine that God cannot find us, or we can deal with God on HIS terms while here in this life. When we see the Wrath of God that would rain down upon us, we should be broken and REPENTANT. Penitence has its proper place, but REPENTANCE is what God seeks, and requires of the rebel.Romans 7
When we are given true repentance and a godly sorrow for our sins by the Holy Spirit of God, we have a true conviction of our sins in our hearts. That "Holy Spirit Conviction of Sin" is not mentioned much these days, either, and it leads to what I am discussing with you.
Godly sorrow is distinguished from the sorrow of the world. People of the world are made sorrowful, and seek to be rid of the sorrow, not the guilt. They seek DEATH, and not forgiveness. They find HELL, and not peace with God.Never rest in convictions till they end in conversion. This is that wherein most men miscarry; they rest in their convictions, and take them for conversion, as if sin seen were therefore forgiven, as if a sight of the want of grace were the truth of the work of grace.
YES, the cross of Christ procured the WAY for man to be reconciled with God. YES, Jesus Christ paid for the sin of all who are saved by God through faith in His shed blood, but that is not the part that is omitted from sermons. What we do NOT hear is that the one who comes to Christ must endure the crucifixion of their wicked nature in order to enter into God's rest, and that the world will think it foolish for you to say much about it. There is a cross for us to bear.II Corinthians 7
If you stop doing works motivated by SELF and your FALLEN NATURE, and begin doing as God leads you, you have embarked upon a journey with God. This should be characterized by you seeking God's approval and leading for your every action. Nail the works of the flesh to the cross of Christ. Crucify the FLESH with the AFFECTIONS and LUSTS that had always motivated you before.Romans 7
Fleshly and Carnal vs. Spiritual and Godly
Our MOTIVES and our AFFECTIONS are not SPIRITUAL, and our activities and efforts are not for the glory of God simply because we say they are. These are made right by God, and His grace through our faith and obedience in Jesus Christ our LORD. If Jesus Christ is not FIRST our LORD, then He is not our Saviour. If this be our case, we remain in bondage to sin and the flesh, and to the Law of Moses! In this, we are still alive to ourselves, and to the flesh.
I heard a man, ministering to the parents of Teens, that asked to know what was their child's favorite song. NOT the song they SAY is their favorite, but the one they listen to on their "headphones" or "ear buds" − the one MOST ACCESSED on their "Play List" − THAT is their favorite. We are not wise if we take every word of the unregenerate to be the actual thought and intent of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)Romans 7
We are commanded of God through the Apostles to crucify, mortify and put-off the deeds of that fallen nature we inherited from our fathers. We are seeking God's way, or we are seeking our own way. We cannot serve two masters. We cannot serve God and the mammon of this world. (Matt. 6:24, Luke 16:13) We cannot have all the motives of "Adam the First," and the motives of Jesus Christ (the last Adam.) We are an enemy of God if we seek to fulfill the lusts and desires of the fallen nature of man. This is, also, referenced as being CARNAL. We are Spiritual or we are Carnal according to the Apostle Paul.
If we use our own thinking to pursue our own way and act upon our own motives, regardless of how proper it may seem, we are not pursuing God's right way, and that is Jesus Christ. Without the crucifixion of the flesh, all is merely the effort of the flesh, and God hates it. If we seek to be seen as "right" through our own morality, we are not pursuing God's righteousness that is in Jesus Christ. You see, morality is not righteousness. Morality is merely refraining from committing crimes. Civility is merely getting along with society, and not causing trouble.Romans 8
"That's enough already!"
If ever you or another person takes seriously what I am telling you, and through the Holy Spirit of God does mortify the deeds of the flesh, and does crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts, the world (especially the religious world) will tell them it is not necessary to be so serious, it is embarrassing for them and everyone around them, and that they should come down from the cross.
If we are so foolish as to ignore the scriptures, and live after the motives, affections and lusts of the fallen nature that we received from our earthly birth, WE SHALL DIE. These few verses specifically are not preached. This is the preaching of the cross that seems so foolish to those who perish. It is that... WE, ourselves, must undergo the crucifixion of the flesh, and that WE, ourselves, must mortify the deeds of the flesh through God's Holy Spirit working in us. It is that WE, ourselves, should do this daily, and daily seek to be led of God's Holy Spirit in all we do.Matthew 27
What do you really like?
Ask the people who go to your Church, or others who claim to be Christians. Do they like Football, Baseball, Fishing, Golf, etc., and not spending their leisure hours reading books by Jonathan Edwards or John Bunyan? Is it Fashion, Hair Style, Shoes, Figurines for their shelf, etc., and not searching for the truth that has been hidden by the efforts of the Devil?
Do you, instead, like for people to think you are holy and righteous? Do you seek for people to think of you as always doing right, and having the favor of God? Except we are BORN AGAIN, through a NEW BIRTH, and have become a NEW CREATION, and have a NEW NATURE, having crucified the old nature, and mortified the deeds of our own nature, we are not capable of truly loving God. WHY? It is because we remain in a state where we love ourselves supremely. ("You gotta look out for Number One, that is what I always say !")
I have seen a number of people who are acceptable singers and musicians that would not make it in the worldly music industry, but they have a home singing in Church or religious gatherings. Some are even preachers, but their true motive is easily seen when they refuse the truth of God, and cling to the lies of the Devil.All my prayer, praise, and preaching, apart from the hidden movements of God's blessed Spirit in my heart, are but the exhibition of spiritual death, hated and abhorred by Him and by every poor sinner whom He brings into the searching light of his sacred and solemn presence.
There is a real difference
The world sees hardly any difference between the ungodly and a "Christian," because so many have named the name of Christ, and not departed from iniquity. Someone who truly seeks God must Come to Jesus Christ, but there are few that would do that. They do not know how, because they have not been drawn to Him by God's Holy Spirit. They have not been convicted of their sinful condition by the Holy Spirit, and thus, have no abiding interest in finding Christ, or His right paths.
It is not for God's glory to always do what you have decided will show everyone you are righteous. Many seek their own glory, but are not seeking it in the worldly places − they seek their own glory in Church. There is info about some (many) Christian singing groups that have the same lifestyle as the worldly groups. This has been made known by people who were convicted of the sin they participated in. These people in "Christian" music groups report that there is drinking, drugs and sex IN THE BUS, IN THE CHURCH PARKING LOT, while they are there, supposedly, to sing for God's glory.
Others, as an old preacher told me, are "Proud of their Humility." They have a system or a routine for showing others how humble they are. They have found out that they cannot get away with showing off, so they pretend to be REAL CHRISTIANS by acting humble. There are times that we should show humility before the world, and there are times for holy boldness. If this is not of God, as led by His Holy Spirit, it is the work of the flesh, and God hates that as much as any other form of fleshly show.
There are other ways we see people who claim to be Christians bringing reproach upon the name of Jesus Christ. The world has ways of trying to bring the Holy God down to man's level. They do it in the way that seems harmless if you don't think about it, but to hear people who claim to be Christians speak this way is distressing. The world likes to call God, "the man upstairs," "the big guy," "a higher power," and other similar things. A true Christian would not have such little regard for the Creator of the universe, and the Savior of his soul, as to say such things. Talking like this shows a total lack of understanding and reverence for God.Custom of sinning takes away the sense of it; the course of the world takes away the shame of it.
Be Pure as He is Pure
Man has opinions about what is perfect, and what is right, and MOST OF THE TIME, these are not correct. If man has the opinion that ANYTHING that ANYONE has a problem with, or an issue with, is WRONG or FLAWED, it is only an opinion, and has no real bearing on what is true. God and His word are the only true standard in such matters.
John Bunyan was considered a criminal by the civil authorities. He spent 12 years in jail for a "crime" that carried a 3 month sentence. That CRIME was "Preaching without a License." We are more free today because of what he suffered and endured. He obviously did a marvellous thing, and stood firm on God's principles when the world's system stood against him.
What is it you call SIN anyway? Is it what God calls sin, or just something you don't like? Come clean about it! If, in opposition to our personal opinions, GOD has said something is RIGHT, is PURE, is PERFECT or is BLAMELESS, we all should take heed, and believe Him. We have God's word that has much to say about the subject.
The worldly bunch will call things SIN that God does not call sin. Also, they will accuse God's righteous servants of SIN, when God was the one who led them all the way. If God has justified His servant, who is it that will bring an accusation of SIN against him? Will the worldly not be opposing God Himself in doing so?Proverbs 30
The Apostle John said (I John 3) that everyone that has the Hope of Christ in him, purifies himself as Jesus Christ is pure. This is the polar opposite of what MOST people who claim Christianity say. In that same letter, John tells us that those who abide in Christ do not sin. He says those who are born of God do not sin and they cannot sin. This is, also, told to us by the Apostle Peter: "for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;" (I Peter 4:1)
Please realize that, although we may THINK a certain verse of scripture means something in particular, we should understand that our ideas may not stand when other scripture plainly refutes our impressions. Beware of trying to make scripture prove your ideas when it is clear that other passages say the opposite. Context is important, and we need to consider our own lack of understanding and knowledge as well.I John 3
"I just CAN'T STOP!"
What?! You cannot stop sinning? You cannot stand on the scriptures, and say that something is wrong because neither you, nor anyone you know, has victory over SIN? What a deplorable situation, that we must make God a LIAR, rather than admit we are wrong and soon to be condemned of God Almighty.
What SIN is it that you just CANNOT stop doing? What is the sin that you keep doing because Jesus Christ has not the POWER to make you free from it? Do you see what is being said when we claim that we cannot live above sin? We are putting it upon God as being incapable of doing the very thing He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to Earth to accomplish! That is what we are saying when we ask God to forgive us for "...all our sins of omission and commission." That is what we say when we admit that we "...sin every day in thought, word and deed." That is what we are saying when we claim that "...no one is PERFECT, except Jesus Christ, so what if I DO sin?!"Romans 3
Is this really only because we still love sin, and that we do not wish to remove very far from it? Is this because we are attached or addicted to certain vile elements of the world, or do we just need to be POPULAR with people around us? Do we so refuse to LEAVE our worldly companions that we are willing to risk suffering Severe Judgment, Eternal Death and Hell to retain them?
Is all this REALLY true? Have we no victory over sin in our lives? Do we see the reproach we bring upon the name of the LORD because of our wickedness while claiming to be one of His? Do we NOT see the Justice of God and His Wrath, ready to be revealed, and ready to devour us?
"Preach something SMOOTH to us!"
I remember hearing someone say he did not wish to hear another "Comfort ye; Comfort ye my people..." sermon. He bemoaned that all we ever hear is, "...what loving gestures, God has made toward mankind! " The problem is that these are for God's elect, and the unregenerate sinners are just rebels! They must "turn" to find that COMFORT!
What is it preachers do to avoid bothering sinners too much? How do they placate the wicked? What are the true motives of the one who is afraid to preach the truth, in fear of offending people who might become Church members, or the Church members who it might cause to LEAVE the Church?
Let us not bring judgment from God upon ourselves for making the wicked think they are alright, while making those who hold to the truth seem to be in error! If we have been made right and Justified in the sight of God, it is by the work of Jesus Christ our LORD, and not by the effort of the flesh.Isaiah 30
Unregenerate man says this is IMPOSSIBLE, when God says it is POSSIBLE. Together with the other error we hear promoted every day, we need to sort through it all, and see what God's word says. I trust that the LORD has begun to show you that it is right to believe His word, and to turn from the error that is commonly taught in Churches these days.II Corinthians 7
If we start out in things of the LORD, and turn back to seek the world and the flesh, there is a stern warning that should not be ignored. I have heard it preached (even recently,) that, "you cannot sin away your salvation." By the world's standards, this idea assumes that, "You said 'the sinner's prayer,' and you joined the Church. You are a Christian, and that is enough to keep you through this life, regardless... "
A friend recently told me that he heard a preacher state that, "No matter how much you sin, you cannot lose your salvation." The friend told the preacher that he did not wish to hear anything more he had to say! This false idea, that "you cannot sin away your salvation," assumes that you actually had salvation. Was the flesh crucified with the affections and lusts? Was the branch completely severed from the old olive tree that is wild by nature? Did you actually put off the old man with his deeds? Anyone seeking a good Church should just RUN AWAY from whoever would say such a thing from the pulpit. Do not allow your soul to be stolen by these "wells without water." (II Peter 2:17)I Timothy 4
Are you certain that you cannot sin away your salvation? Are you counting on the world's definition of salvation to say you have it, and this unscriptural idea that you cannot do anything that would cause God to blot out your name from the Lamb's Book of Life? (Revelation 3:5)
If we presume upon the goodness of God to NOT execute the judgment He has said He will do, and we are so brazen as to SIN WILLFULLY, we are acting and sinning presumptuously. We have, by that, done what we know is wrong, as we know there is a law against our deeds. If you despise the Spirit of Grace, you are in a place of being the worst of sinners. The UNSAVED will necessarily face the Living God as He sits in Final Judgment.Numbers 15
Do not use this error to attempt to crucify Christ afresh, and put Him to an open shame, simply because you do not wish to cease from sin. Crucify the flesh, and do not seek to continuously crucify Christ (as do the Roman Catholics,) walking Him under foot, putting Him to an open shame, and despising the Spirit of grace. Crucify the flesh, and do not seek to reconcile the Christian faith with your ungodly lifestyle. Crucify the flesh, and do not seek to make provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof. Crucify the flesh, if you ever expect to get anything of the grace of God.Luke 9
"Can the Christian Fall Away?"
The Apostle may have not been talking about true Christians in the following passages, but merely people who are dabbling in things of the LORD. If ever a person gets to a certain point, having started in earnest, and made a specified amount of progress in these things, God will not consider him as simply ignorant or innocent. For this person, turning again to the world is a motion that has everlasting consequences. This is not a recoverable situation.
If We Sin Willfully, once we know the truth, once we have tasted of God's mercy and grace, and experienced His Holy Spirit working, we have done presumptuously what we knew was wrong. Do you really think this sinner never gave God a thought, or had remained a rebel all his life? NO! This is the CHURCHGOER; the one who PAYS ATTENTION in Church. He STUDIES THE BIBLE and has seen the saints' PRAYERS ANSWERED.Hebrews 10
In seeking the LORD, this sinner has a sense of the powers of the world to come. He knows Heaven is beautiful, and that Hell is horrible. He has seen that the word of God is good, and that it is true. He has made a comparison with the weak and beggarly elements of the world, and seen that they provide NO SATISFACTION, as does a Holy Life. This person is not an ignorant, blind person, who is stumbling about, in search of peace with the Angry, Holy, Living God.
How could someone preach that it is POSSIBLE to be renewed to salvation once it has been sinned away in this manner? How can we find any hope for the presumptuous sinner, when God's holy word states that it is IMPOSSIBLE to renew them again unto repentance? If a Christian can lose his salvation, these passages say he cannot regain it. To preach that a Christian can lose salvation, and regain it later, truly is a worldly, fleshly, CARNAL idea.Hebrews 6
But wait... Let us be careful in evaluating the pertinence of this passage! Who is it talking about? What was done that God says is "to Fall Away?" How would that person come to a point of desiring to have the repentance that God says he will never again have? We must not make wrong assumptions about God's word, nor should we make wrong assumptions about how people stand before God. Are they "SAVED?" How could we know?
If there is a person seeking God (but not with an honest heart,) or there is a person who the "Church" deems as having been saved, these people are warned not to sin away God's grace. To sin away this grace indicates they had something of God's grace initially. If you, or some other person, has gone thus far in things of the LORD, as described in Hebrews Chapters 6 & 10, they do not have the latitude to fall away, and then expect God to renew them again unto repentance! What are these things that show we have come too far in things of God, and what does it mean exactly to "Fall Away?" We should know, or certainly be about the task of finding out!
Why are preachers so intent on telling sinners they are alright, when God's word says they are not? Let me explain: some preachers say a person who satisfied requirements and expectations of the "Church," GOT SAVED, but there seems not to be much consideration of what are GOD's Requirements! Sometimes (too many times,) these preachers tell sinners they are alright as the Holy Spirit of the Living God is showing them their lost condition. In this, the preachers choose the Devil's side of the equation, and are actually trying to prevent the sinner from being reconciled with God. Oh, what terrible judgment is likely to fall upon the preachers, teachers and deacons who would tell poor, lost sinners they are eternally safe before an angry God!
Whosoever blatantly defies the truth of God's word in this manner is not sent by God, and should not be preaching to sinners who need a Savior, not a buddy. What a brazen lack of humility, to say the opposite of what God says, while professing to preach the truth! (Mark 13:13; I Corinthians 15:1-2; Colossians 1:21-23; II Timothy 2:11-12; Revelation 2:7,10-11,17,25-26; Revelation 3:5,11-12,21)
It's time to get serious!
This is so solemn a business, that God has made a swift judgment upon some who deceive souls like this. How sore a punishment do you think one deserves who would preach such lies to someone like Jonathan Edwards or John Bunyan when they were young? What type of crime is it to have the potential of turning such a spiritual giant away from the pure gospel? I actually heard someone preach lies about the Second Chapter of Peter's Second letter. If he had just read two more verses, his whole subject would have been turned around, but he preached the "Everyone sins, so don't worry about it..." doctrine, and was killed in a car crash only a couple of weeks thence. Those who understood God's truth were aghast at what he had the nerve to say in Church, and how he perverted the truth. At the time, this was an amazing warning to me of how we must be serious about God's truth.
Here is a shortcut to HELL. When we hear these "wells without water" luring us by their promises, we are in a predicament like the first woman was, when Satan used a serpent to do this same thing. They try to say, "You will not surely die..." They try to make you feel good about enjoying sin for a season, while pretending to be a "Christian" all along.
Do the MATH... That is More than EIGHT TIMES WORSE (maybe 800 times worse?) than before the person sought help from God. If you are not even willing to deny your lusts, do not start seeking or following the right way. Do NOT try to clean up your life if you do not intend to suffer ALL and forsake ALL for His glory. It would be worse for you than if you just remained in your sinful state, and never attempted to rise above the mundane things of this world.Ezekiel 23