Jesus is the only way

March 14, 2010

I was listening to a d.j./minister on the radio while driving to work last week.  He explained that he had been in a shopping check-out line with a man who apparently was not a Christian.  This particular man who was standing in line said that he had a problem with, “Jesus being the only way to heaven.”  The minister explained that this truth was also something that he had struggled with.  Then he proceeded to ask a question to the unbeliever, “Wouldn’t that be cool though?”  The man did not understand what he meant.  He restated, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was more than one way?”  The minister used this extreme example to apparently demonstrate that, “Although at times he struggled with the exclusivity of Christianity, he ultimately believed Jesus when He said, “I am the way the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6).’”

He also proceeded to explain the difference between relativism (what is right for me may not be right for you, i.e., there is no absolute truth etc.) and absolutism (meaning there is absolute truth, right and wrong, etc.).  He continued to explain that relativism ultimately leads to one being able to live however they want and not be accountable to anyone for their lifestyle.  He proceeded to explain all of this to say that he simply “believes Jesus when He says that He is the only way to heaven.”

I want to reiterate that this was a small segment on a radio station and not a program or sermon.   Either way, it fell utterly short of defining exclusivity and why Jesus is the only way to heaven. 

For some reason, it seems that even Christians are intimidated by the world’s response to the exclusivity of Christianity and the claims of Jesus Himself.  The moment we are questioned or dared to answer or respond from an unbeliever or skeptic as to why these things are true, we try to respond with the most politically or “religiously” correct answer so as to not offend the person who is asking.  We back into a corner and sheepishly respond with, “I’m sorry that Christianity is exclusive and that Jesus said that He is the only way to heaven.  But, I believe what He says.”   I am not saying that this was the exact response of this particular radio pastor, but countless number of Christians have this mindset.

The term “exclusive” is defined in our language as, “limiting or limited to possession, control, or use by a single individual or group.”  Typically, those who are skeptics, atheists and unbelievers in general will attack Christianity merely by proclaiming its exclusivity as fallacious in that it does not include other groups of people or religions in the world that may “lead to heaven”.  Despite this irrational premise, they usually continue to say they could never be a part of such an organization or religion as Christianity because of its exclusive nature.

With using very basic apologetics, it doesn’t take anyone that is very smart or even a Christian for that matter (at least in this example) to respond to those who attempt to show that Christianity is false [or demonic, stupid, committing intellectual suicide or whatever] because of its exclusivity.  Rather than being immediately defensive as a Christian because someone is attacking Christianity and the claims of Jesus Christ specifically, we should simply think and respond to the logic of their assertion, opinion or proposition in a biblical manner.  We should not respond with something like, “I am sorry that Christianity is exclusive, but I believe Jesus is the only way,” or “Christianity is not exclusive!  All religions and ideologies are welcome and all religions lead to heaven!”  These responses are of no biblical truth or a little bit of truth that is not very evangelistic or apologetic.  They would not prove to be helpful to anyone attacking this particular aspect of Christianity.  We should probably first acknowledge that Christianity, well, is exclusive. 

Firstly, anything that is labeled with a specific title is exclusive by default.  So, Christianity is exclusive or else it would not be called Christianity.  Perhaps more importantly, it is necessarily exclusive.  So, it is not only exclusive by nature to maintain the specific title and attributes of Christianity, but it is necessarily exclusive for it to be true.  Otherwise, there is no point in defending what the Bible says about specific issues such as death and judgment or the fact that Jesus says He is God [or anything else in the Bible].

            Secondly, to be offended or to call Christianity false because it is exclusive is in itself an exclusive statement!  So logically, it does not make sense to say that something is not true because it is exclusive.  Following the logic, Christianity is necessarily exclusive because it is necessarily true.  Unbelievers, skeptics and atheists are exclusive in saying that Christianity is stupid because it is exclusive.  Everyone who says that Christianity is false and stupid because it is exclusive is part of the exclusive group of others who feel the same.  This is circular reasoning and irrational thinking. 

Therefore, for a professing Christian to have an apologetic attitude and to feel sorry for someone who has a problem with Christian ethics and the exclusivity of Christianity in general is not thinking in a biblical manner or worldview.  At that point, they have adopted and resonated with the mindset of the foolish and futile thinking nature of the unbeliever and the world in general.  It provides more fuel to the fire of the unbeliever while drowning his own worldview simultaneously.  The apostle James describes this professing Christian as double-minded.  “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  For let no that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:2-8).”

Although we will probably respond in a different way such as depth or tone with each person that attacks the exclusivity of Christianity, we should convey the same logic, conviction and truth that the Scriptures provide for such situations.  It is not even necessary to discuss absolutism vs. relativism.  Nor is it necessary to try and prove its exclusivity.  Everyone already knows that Christianity is exclusive.  So is Islam, Mormonism, atheism and the occult in general.  It is clearly not exclusivity that makes something true or false.  There are probably an infinite number of examples of exclusivity.  A banana is not an orange and therefore could never become or maintain the attributes of an orange.  A banana is exclusive from an orange and an orange is exclusive from a grape.  That is a simple but nevertheless true example. 

The radio pastor did proclaim some of the truth and that was, “I do believe Jesus.”  It was too bad that it was only the second half of what he actually stated.  The first half was something to the effect of, “it would be cool if there were more than one way to heaven.”  It completely ruined and detracted from everything he stated after that, which happened to be, “but I believe Jesus.”  I am not saying it is always easy to say all the right things on the spot.  I am however saying that, if you are a Christian, you have the entirety of the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit of truth indwelling you to provide the necessary answers in your defense at any given moment and to anyone.  It does not matter if a four year old or a physics professor at Yale is contesting you. 

The great thing about Christianity and a biblical worldview is that they are necessarily true and infinitely so.  Therefore, it is incredibly easy to defend.  One does not have to take dirt samples from Israel or Jerusalem to try and find the DNA of the Apostle Paul or Jesus himself to prove that Christianity is true; nor, does one need to memorize the entirety of church history or all of the Scriptures to believe that it is true.  All of the blind assertions and presumptions developed by the corrupt and perverted minds of unbelievers to try and prove Christianity wrong are nothing short of stupid and irrational. 

Since Christianity is a perfectly coherent and rational system of thought, we only have and need the perfect revelation of what God Himself has given us infallibly and perfectly through the apostles and prophets in the Scriptures.  So, when someone attacks Christianity in general, they are merely attempting to provide an excuse for their unbelief, shame, lifestyle and sin that is already explained and demonstrated to them in the ScripturesIt is because they already know in their own conscience that these things are true.  “For as many sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the world of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel (Romans 2:12-16).” 

When conversing with an unbeliever, we need not veer from the gospel; for an unbeliever first must be regenerated to see his need for a savior before he sees the importance of the Hebrew language, the Sabbath or “Jesus being the only way to heaven.”  It is when Christians start thinking like an unbeliever that we question ourselves, the perfect sufficiency of the Scriptures and begin to doubt.  That is when we become foolish, double-minded and evil in our thinking as well.  Since believers are only to think on an entirely biblical basis, it should be safe to say that our presuppositions are different than those of unbelievers as well.  E.g., an unbeliever may have a common objection like, “There is too much evil in this world for there to be a good God.  If God is good, then there would be no evil, sickness and death.  Therefore, there is no God.”  Instead of immediately jumping to conclusions that this unregenerate person knows what they are speaking of, ask them to explain themselves.  The above statement is merely a subjective assertion thrown out into thin air.  Some unbelievers may define some terms differently than others.  Therefore, prior to the logical response of the Christian, the unbelieving and rebellious person must answer a series of logical questions based off his own presuppositions.  For example:

What do you mean by “evil”? 

How would you know evil when you see it?

How do you know what a lot of evil is when it manifests itself?

What do you mean by “good”?

How would you know good when you see it?

What do you mean by sickness and death?

What do you mean by God?

What do you mean by a good God?

All of these questions must be answered in a logical and systematic manner by the unbeliever to even require a response from the Christian regarding logic.  It is only when Christians trust in the perfect revelation of the Scriptures that is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction that we are sufficient to answer these questions (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  In other words, since Scripture explains evil, good, sickness, death and God, what does it mean to you?  I know all of these things clearly because God has explained what each of them clearly mean. 

In response to the man who did not want to believe in Christianity because Jesus says that He was the only way to heaven, we can simply take the direction that Paul took.  He continued by defending God’s righteous judgment.  “What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision?  Much in every way!  Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God.  For what if some did not believe?  Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect?  Certainly not!  Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar.  As it is written: ‘That You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You are judged.’  But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say?  Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.)  Certainly not!  For then how will God judge the world?  For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner?  And why not say, ‘Let us do evil that good may come’? — as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say.  Their condemnation is just (Romans 3:1-8).”

The Apostle merely declared, “Let God be true but every man a liar. [v.4]” Biblically and apologetically, there is no need to evaluate any presupposition or premise of any unbeliever that attacks Christianity in a serious manner because of the absurdity and blasphemy presented.  God says that we are all liars and that He is true.  Therefore, if we are liars and God is true (meaning that it is impossible for Him to lie), then we are commanded to believe what He proclaims in His revelation to man in the entirety of the Scriptures and repent from sin so that we may have eternal life.   Paul continues to list the reason/s why men are liars and that God is true in light of the law and the doctrine of sin.  

“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.  Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:19-20).”

Moses already presented the law on Mount Sinai in the old that we may already know this about ourselves.  It was presented specifically to the Israelites that were being delivered out of the land of Egypt that, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”  Also, we shall not covet, have idols, murder, steal, commit adultery or bear false witness among others (Exodus 20:1-17).  Because we sin, we will die (Gen. 3:14, Romans 6:23).  Paul’s reiteration is that we are not only infinite transgressors of the law that are hopeless on our own, but that we are all liars and the Lord on high is infinite in truth and knowledge.  Since we do not practice the truth on our own naturally, i.e., obey God’s commands perfectly, then we will not naturally repeat the truth in words because of sin and rebellion.  We are susceptible to only corruption and perversion of the truth of what God has already stated like the serpent in the Garden regarding obedience and death (Gen. 3:4).  We naturally do not want eternal life with Christ because we think that we do not need Him to live.  If we think that we can live however we please on our own, then we do not desire Christ and are blinded to the absolute necessity of His death and resurrection. 

It is not only necessary that we be brought to life through the Spirit, but that there be a necessary willing and able sacrifice on our behalf.  As sinners sit in utter ruin and despair according to our fallen nature and the law, we haven’t an idea or desire to look into the things of the glory of God or the need of any savior.  That is, until God does the work Himself by breaking His own body and shedding blood for the forgiveness of sins.  He then softens the hardened heart of the sinner and gives him the revelation and knowledge of his condition that leads to eternal death, where the worm never dies and wrath is unceasing.  He does this by bringing him first to spiritual life by the Spirit Himself, which imparts knowledge and revelation of reality of sin, death and the truth of the gospel. Paul completes the testimony to the Romans of how a sinner is justified before an infinitely holy God:  “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.  For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:21-26).” 

Jesus is not the only way to heaven just because He says that He is the way, the truth and the life.  He is the way to heaven because He necessarily decreed and declared that He has preeminence over all things, inherits all things and upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3).  “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.  And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence (Colossians 1:15-8).”


Wait upon the Lord

March 2, 2010

“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” 

Psalm 27:14

            I believe it is a natural temptation for the saints to not wait on God.  The fallen earth is overwhelmed with constant temptation, sin and persecution of any and all sorts for those who belong to Jesus Christ.  If we do not wait, we think that we will miss out on what God has.  If we wait too long, we think that we must have missed something great that God may have had in store for those who love Him. 

            Consider Jesus in the gospels; He not only had to wait thirty years as the God-Man for the fulfillment of His public ministry to speak the most perfect words of wisdom and truth ever spoken and indeed the words of eternal life;  but also foreseeing and knowing the eternal decree of being nailed to the cross and utterly forsaken by His Father.  The agony of the perfect Savior being merely separated from the father is an unutterable thought.  For all He knew prior to this was perfect glorified love and harmony with the Father in all eternity past.   To be the Lord of Lords and have all things subject to his power and might in infinite humility,  He had decreed from eternity past to subject Himself into the hands of sinners at a particular moment in time in our created sinful world.   He who was never bound by time was now bound by time and sinners in His own providence.  Fathom the perfect patience of the sinless Savior who has fulfilled law to the last letter in His own body, yet still bound by time when it was not yet time for Him to become the dreaded curse that would set us free from sin and death (Gal. 3:13, John 7:6).

David had this in mind.  “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?  The LORD is the strength of my life; Of Whom shall I be afraid?  When the wicked came against me To eat up my flesh, My enemies and foes, They stumbled and fell.  Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war may rise against me, In this I will be confident (v.1-3).”  So it was with Christ in His perfect consecration with the Father.  As the enemies pursued and persecuted Him with envy and hatred, He was not thwarted in any minimal sense because of His perfect obedience to the will of God the Father who is sovereign over all things.  He came to die for the sins of the world and thus fulfilled prophecy, obedience and perfect knowledge to execute the glorious task of redemption and providing the new covenant with His own blood. 

            While the saints do not have perfect knowledge, we do have the revelation that God chooses to provide out of mere grace in His infallible Word.  In our case, we have the Scriptures themselves to testify that Jesus Christ took our sin, sickness and death upon Himself as He hung in our place at Calvary.  Because of His sacrifice, the wrath of God was completely satisfied and we now have peace with Him.  While the saints do become weary and distrustful that will God not come through for them because of indwelling sin, we have a tendency to overeagerly desire to know things of current that may or may not come to pass.  We seek to know about tomorrow that still may not come.  It is good and right to seek God’s will in all things.  But it is better that we do not worry about our lives and obey His commands.  It is better that once we are healed, we do not fall back into grievous sin that separates us from this harmony as the man with the infirmity at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:12).   

            While He may not reveal to us today what is to be done tomorrow, if you belong to Jesus Christ, no circumstance, event or catastrophe can ever pluck you from His hands.  Whether you live today or die tomorrow, if you belong to Jesus Christ, it does not change your eternal status with God because He imputes to you His life and righteousness.  Whether we seek His wisdom in some specific matter today or tomorrow, if we belong to Jesus Christ, we must know that He delivers us from our ultimate enemy, which is the second death.    No matter what the will of God is tomorrow, it is His will that we worship Him today and put away sin so that we may live.  He will then, by His gracious holy spirit, reveal specific matters to you tomorrow if it indeed comes.

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit,” whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.  For what is your life?  It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.  Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’  But now you boast in your arrogance.  All such boasting is evil.  Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:13-17).”

            “But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect.  For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.’  That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.  For this is the word of promise: ‘At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.’  And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.’  As it is written, ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.’  What shall we say then?  Is there unrighteousness with God?  Certainly not!  For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.’  So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.”  Romans 9:6-17

            The doctrine of election or predestination is one that is treasured and seen as immeasurably valuable among many [Reformed] evangelical Christians.  It is also one that seems to be repulsed and interpreted as offensive or even seen as detrimental by many professing evangelical Christians.  In our teaching and understanding of this important doctrine, it is essential that we know that it is not a term eventually developed by man over a period of many years or centuries.  Neither was it derived from anything that is outside of the Scriptures.  It is only by the Scriptures that we even know the term “election.”  Therefore, our seeming apologetic attitude and sensitivity to people who are vehemently opposed to this glorious doctrine is not biblically defined or justified and should not be understood and taught as such.  We are commanded to believe in the doctrine of election because God explicitly teaches it.  We are in error if we believe and teach otherwise.  I would like to:

 A.) list several reasons why I believe professing Christians “struggle with” and even vastly misinterpret this doctrine and

B.) provide solutions to these reasons in light of Scripture so that they can be corrected to repent if necessary.

            Prior to deciphering why I believe the doctrine of election in particular is an offense to people and why we in turn, teach it as if it is so, I would first like to define what it is.  Without writing an entire book or quoting entire chapters and books of the Scriptures, I will describe the very simplified version as defined in the doctrines of grace.  It is specifically defined as unconditional election.  Basically, God has predetermined, before the foundation of the world, that he would “elect” a people to himself that will be His own special people as an inheritance.  This particular election is a decree from God’s infinite wisdom from eternity past that is not based on any merit or “foreseen faith” in man.  Nor is it based on “prior knowledge” in God that is ultimately based on man’s decision to inherit eternal life.  Man is described as being adopted into God’s family.  Ephesians 1 states that, “just as he chose us in Him before the foundations of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved (v.4-6).”  

In other words, we are so far off and exceedingly sinful in thought, mind and deed [radically depraved and corrupt] that we depend solely on the righteousness of Christ and grace alone to give us a right standing with God (Romans 4:23-24).   It is not that God just elects or adopts us and we play some small role that contributes to the infinitely and absolutely Sovereign God’s goal in bringing home his people to glory.  It is that He must grant or impute the righteousness of Christ to us or we perish forever.  The greatest amount of righteousness or holiness that we could possibly muster up on our own is as filthy rags in the eyes of an infinitely holy God (Isaiah 64:6).  Therefore, we not only depend on God for eternal life and righteousness, but also for repentance, faith, belief, life, breath and all things. 

On the other hand, since God elects a chosen people to himself, He also has decreed the doctrine of reprobation for those who are ultimately not determined before the foundation of the world to inherit eternal life.  Everyone that was ever born from woman (except for Jesus Christ) was born to either ultimately inherit eternal glory in heaven with Christ or to perish forever in hell.  Both decrees are justified and God is glorified in both as they each reflect and demonstrate God’s eternal attributes.  Consider what Paul states to the Romans,

“You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted his will?’  But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God?  Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’  Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?’  What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles (Romans 9:19-24)?”  Therefore, it is ultimately not man who wills or works but God who wills and works for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).

The following list is reasons why certain evangelicals who “struggle with” the doctrine of election or receive the teaching of it negatively:

1.)  They are not explicitly taught the doctrine of election in their local church

 If a pastor or teacher does not believe this doctrine, he will simply not teach it to the church.  Therefore, the congregation will not be held accountable to the pastor for the application or knowledge of such a doctrine.  Because the Scriptures teach the entire counsel of God, which includes election, it is our responsibility to learn the entire counsel of God and the doctrines that pertain to it.  It is the same when we are teachers of God’s word.  It is our responsibility to specifically teach the entire counsel of God and the doctrines that pertain to it. 

It is no wonder that it is a complete shock to the congregation of these churches when they first hear the terms “election” and “predestination” from the pulpit in light of historical Christianity and correct hermeneutics as if it is some strange thing or not true.  How do you preach at a church for thirty years and never speak of election?  I am not sure, actually.  But, it most certainly is a mixture of neglect and ignorance.

2.)    It is not fair for some to be elected unto eternal life and others left to perish in their sins.

There are those that attest the doctrine of election isn’t fair or does not seem fair.  This is another false assertion developed by sinful men.  It is from a humanist perspective and mindset whose only purpose is to defend the welfare of men, who are exceedingly sinful and does not have in mind the eternal purposes, holiness and glory of God in Christ.  People that proclaim this on the mountaintops do not understand that they are radically depraved and that all men are truly deserving of death and only God’s wrath (Romans 3:10-11).  Why does God choose to save Jacob and not Esau or hate one and not the other?  It was so that the doctrine of election might stand.  It was merely because it was more pleasing in the eyes of God to save and bless Jacob in His covenant than it was for Esau. Therefore, God had determined that Jacob would be righteous and favorable and Esau a wicked and vile creature who would ultimately sell his birthright (Gen. 25:33).

3.)  Every man that is ever born is the “elect” and that is what it is talking about whenever election is mentioned.

This seems to be a popular interpretation among many.  It is not only clearly a false assertion, but it is inherently blasphemy as it detracts from the complete sufficiency of the substitionary death of Jesus Christ and attempts to provide man with another escape route from the wrath of God to still “enter heaven.”  It is an attempt to make the Gospel weak, light-hearted and tears down the wall to invite universalism and all sorts of false doctrine and heresy in the heart and church.  If Jesus Christ died for everyone, then not only does everyone not have assurance of their salvation but indeed no one does.  The primary logical and biblical reason this is true is the fact that we have the doctrine of hell.  If all men were elect, or if Christ died for everyone that was ever born, then no one would ever go to hell.  Jesus states in Matthew, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from  you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell ( Matt. 5:.29-30).  This is a clear implication that there is a literal hell and that people be cast into it.  It is described more in the gospels by Jesus than anywhere else and by anyone else in the Scriptures. 

 4.)    If people are already chosen to either be saved or not before the foundation of the world, then why evangelize?

I bring up the topic of evangelism because there seems to be many people that think the doctrine of election detracts from or substitutes evangelism in some way.  Instead of thoroughly understanding each of these doctrines by viewing them separately as serving two different purposes, they are irrationally glued together and the purposes and understanding of both of them are lost in the midst.  Election and evangelism are two different doctrines.  The doctrine of election serves to explain whether or not we will be saved based on the Sovereign decrees of God and grace before the world began.  It is proven or enacted in this life by God effectually calling an individual at a particular moment by grace and holy spirit to be led to repentance through faith (Eph. 2:8-10).  They are justified, caused to be born-again and are given new life.  They are continually sanctified or made holy on a continual basis by the spirit until they are glorified with Jesus Christ in the last day (1 John 3:2-3). 

The doctrine of evangelism or the “great commission” is the means to how we are saved.  Paul states,

“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach unless they are sent?  As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things (Romans 10:14-15)!’”

Since God is infinitely wise, sovereign and not limited in any way, He can choose to save anyone at any time and in any fashion He chooses.  However, Scripture teaches that He primarily does this by sending forth someone to preach the gospel. The apostle Paul is an example of this.  He was preached to by Jesus himself on the road to Damascus (Acts 9 1-7).  Paul also taught about election to the Romans in chapter nine and followed with the teaching of evangelism or the means to how we are saved in chapter ten.  As these chapters were probably taught in one sitting to the Romans in sermon form, they were enabled to understand the entire counsel and wisdom of God in the purposes of evangelism and election.  Election and evangelism are or can be taught together to project the purpose, focus and emphasis of each to not detract or deemphasize in any way from each other. 

            In conclusion, the doctrine of election is a Christ-exalting, biblical doctrine and not a man-exalting, sensual doctrine.  We are either saved completely by the Sovereign grace of God alone and nothing else or we are either saved by our works.  If we are saved by grace that also depends on man’s decision to embrace the cross of Christ upon his own will and ability, then grace would utterly cease to be grace.  It would be a powerless and utterly worthless word.  We would then have our eternal destiny entirely dependant on our own spiritual faculties.  Man would be left to wander on his own with no life and certainly no ability to give himself life.  He could not repent because does not know how apart from God telling him how.    It is a futile matter to think we can offer such services to God as if they mean anything to Him! 

            The beauty of the doctrine of election is that it powerfully realizes the gospel.  Perhaps when we are first drawn to the cross of Calvary and are revealed our sin nature as in a public matter for all to see, we may have thought it was our doing.  We may have thought we made a decision on our own to be saved and responded with such great faith!  Friends, without God placing His thoughts and words in your heart and mind with His holy spirit, you would be in utter despair and have no inkling or desire of repentance, faith or the glory of Christ.  You would be dead in your sins and an infinite distance from grace and glory.  Apart from Christ alone snatching you from hell, you would run there quickly with no hesitation. 

            The true peril of the state of man is revealed in the utter dependency and desperate need for God Himself to be sacrificed on the rugged tree for us!  It is when we have a convicting grasp of this truth that we know our infinite inability to derive anything so glorious and perfect from our own grave nature, corrupt mind and sin-loving status apart from grace.  The glorious death and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone is the only pictorial for a wrath-deserving sinner to visualize and then realize only an utterance of the power and truth of how he may obtain grace; lest he be blinded to truth and grace at last.  It is not that you first diagnosed your own condition of sin and then provided your own perfect solution.  But, it is the holy spirit of grace alone that commands to you to believe and awakens your soul to life, grace and truth! 

            Thus, the doctrine of election and grace or justification by faith leaves no room for any sinner to boast in his own righteous ability to repent as if there is something good and right that dwells within his soul.  “For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.  But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation (Galatians 6:13-15).”  The sacrifice of the son of God on the cross in humility and humiliation either means everything for the sinner or it means nothing.  We must realize that the atonement not only provides grace and forgiveness, but it is the only thing that enables us to have life itself.  He imputes His infinitely glorious righteousness to us because we have none. 

Jesus Christ, the holy spirit, must breathe his spirit of life upon our hearts to open our eyes and ears to believe the gospel.  If your heart is truly broken over sin and have lost your life for His sake, then you can be assured that you are one of the elect of God; for He has revealed this to you.  You are blessed!  If you are careless in this life over sin or do not fear the Almighty and His righteous judgment, then you are living a perilous life!  Repent and believe the gospel.  The doctrine of election is not an offense; but it has by its very definition, brought man to ashes in his own deeds and exalted Christ above all nations and creation.  It serves to break man of his natural pride and tendency to make himself a god in his own eyes as seen in the Garden of Eden.  The doctrine of election is indeed that beautiful decree in which God has ordained to exalt Himself and to provide mankind the only hope that is even possible.

The Perfect Murder

January 27, 2010

I was recently released by the judge to potentially be a juror in a high-profile murder trial [I presume one of the reasons was because my wife is very pregnant].  The effect of this experience was tremendous on my spirit.  Not only was it very much outside of my normal every day “Christian bubble” routine, but I was surrounded by people that I would never purposefully seek out in a lifetime unless it was directly affiliated with the preaching of the Gospel.  Although it was a very short-lived involuntary experience in which I was not ultimately selected as a juror, it is an experience that I will never forget as long as I live on earth.  I was not only specifically reminded of the utter depravity of man during this time, but of my own fallibility [depravity] as a Christian in my own corruption apart from the Sovereign Grace of God in my life.

            I am sure there are official statistics that would prove the average person has not and probably will not physically take another person’s life, i.e. murder someone.  Although murders take place every day around the world for seemingly various different reasons, they are few and far between when compared to the general population.  Therefore, the general population, as well as the law, evaluates murder as the most heinous crime that one can commit against another human being.  It seems that, no matter how often it happens, murder is always a shock to society and the community whenever it is plastered all over the television screen and newspapers.  It is a headline because it is an unthinkable crime.  Everyone seems to think about it as if it could hopefully be the last murder ever.  Indeed, to commit this crime is punishable by death.  If you have murdered someone or know someone that is very close to you, then you know murder perhaps more closely than you ever wanted to.

            But, the more I looked into the eyes of the alleged murderer while being within feet, the more I understood that he was really no different than I am.  Sure, he may not be as educated.  He also probably spent more time in the streets than I have growing up because I did not grow up in a Christian home either.  I am most positive that he “ran with a different crew” than I did as a child and teen.  His parents, assuming he knew them, probably did not care about his life as much as mine did [although they were not very orthodox].  Looking into someone’s eyes that has physically taken another person’s life is really no different than looking into anyone else’s eyes. 

As a human being, my natural inclination is to think that I could never, under any circumstances, take another person’s life.  I feel like, “nothing is ever that bad.”  I feel like if I physically murdered someone, it would utterly destroy my own life.  And it probably would.  It is such a heinous crime in that I believe it is an impossibility that I could ever do it.  If I hear that someone else murdered someone, I naturally think of how horrible that person is and wonder how they could ever perform such an atrocity.  Then, I think about the fact that I have never murdered anyone and lift myself above that person in reproach of them.  Perhaps if I had murdered someone, I would understand it better and seek justification for it elsewhere. 

However, I cannot evaluate the treatise of the crime of murder according to the U.S. judicial system as originally derived from our Constitution.  It is not because I am not a human and the rights do not pertain to me.  It is not because I do not approve of the Constitution.  It is because I am a sinner that I must evaluate it in light of Scripture.  Sitting in a courtroom and listening to lawyers, prosecutors and the judge himself discussing the issue of a particular murder as if Scripture does not apply caused turmoil in my spirit.  It was an exclamation to me that we live in a fallen world. 

Consider the first murder that took place in the history of mankind.  It was nothing like a CSI episode that we watch on television today.  There was not a plethora of cameras and media surrounding the alleged defendant.  There was not a prosecutor or a lawyer involved.  Although, there was a judge.  It is a story of two brothers, named Cain and Abel.  One was a tiller of the ground and the other was a keeper of sheep.  I suppose that both of them worked very hard throughout each day given them by God.  The issue between the two was that God accepted Abel’s offering but not the offering of Cain (Genesis 4:4-5).  The Scriptures describe Cain as being angry because of this.  “So the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry?’  And why has your countenance fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted?  And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door.  And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it. [v. 6, 7]” The very next verse states that Cain talked with his brother and it came to pass that Cain rose up against his brother and killed him [v.8]. 

Even though this was the first murder that took place in the history of creation, there was certainly no surprise to God that it happened [in His absolute Sovereignty and decree].  Since the murder of Abel was decreed to happen, the purpose of it was not to declare Cain as the most evil person on earth, so far.  Although, he was evil and the murder was declared to be a sinful and evil act.  God did curse Cain from the earth and declared him to be a fugitive and vagabond for the rest of his days [v. 11, 12].  I believe the first murder serves for at least two purposes in which I will elaborate upon for the rest of this exposition.

1.)  It was to publicly demonstrate man’s fallen sin nature and the repercussions of human depravity in being separated from perfect fellowship with God.  “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of the heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5).”  It is to remind us of our fallen condition and our desperate need for grace and a savior.

 2.)  That although murder was clearly not common prior to the first murder happening, the root cause of it was.  The Scriptures did not simply say, “Cain will murder his brother soon because his offerings are not being accepted by God.”  Nor did it say, “Murder will soon be a vengeful act of mankind as demonstrated by Cain on his brother Abel.”  But, God Himself asked Cain, “Why are you angry [v.6]?”  He immediately followed up with, “And why has your countenance fallen [v.6]?”  God defined the terms of Cain’s murder as derived from anger or hatred that was already in his heart and mind.

In evaluating the Scriptures regarding human nature, everything that was in man had instantly changed the moment of the fall.  “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.  She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”  Genesis 3:6 It is eternally imperative that we understand what the fall means for man.  It is not a hopeful condition that was made a little less hopeful by simply eating of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  It was not just that perfect fellowship and communion with our Creator was slightly thwarted by our disobedience.  Most certainly, it is not perfection that was made a little less perfect.  In other words, according to the description of man’s fallen condition in Holy Scripture, we are not basically good with a slightly evil bent.  In fact, after the fall, we are described as completely dead in sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1).  Therefore, we are so thoroughly evil and sin has so penetrated  the core of our souls and conscience, it is indeed impossible for man to do any good at all until God enables him to do so through the new birth and the granting of the Holy Spirit through grace, which gives life (Ephesians 2:5).  We are dead.  To clarify, prior to man’s salvation, he only does pure evil and sins in thought and deed pervasively. 

Pervasive sin is relatively defined as the doctrine of total depravity or radical depravity.   Only those who are born-again by the Grace of God have any conception whatsoever of the evil and indwelling sin that has corrupted the soul of every human being as a result of the fall.  The doctrine of total depravity as defined in the Doctrines of Grace in “Calvinist” or “Reformed” Theology is one that is generally completely embraced or completely rejected by Christians and specifically professing Calvinists.  In fact, many respected preachers and teachers of this doctrine will say that the other four parts of the acronym, “T.U.L.I.P,” otherwise known as the Doctrines of Grace hang on what is believed about total depravity.  It is a doctrine that the world knows nothing of because they do not know the perfect holiness of God.  Neither do they know the utter evil that dwells within them at any given moment.    If man claims to be basically good, then he believes that he has moral power within himself to respond to God. 

Consider the apostle Paul, “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.  For what I am doing, I do not understand.  For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.  If then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.  But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.  For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.  Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.”  (Romans 7:14-20) I merely mention the doctrine of depravity and Romans 7 (among others) to establish a guideline of what is historically reflected in the human flesh since the fall.  Paul speaks of two laws that are warring within his soul.  As one who is a believer in Christ and justified by grace, it is the Holy Spirit that wills him to do good and to obey God’s commands, for they are not burdensome.  The other law that wars within him and all sinners is the doctrine of indwelling sin.  He follows up with, “O wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me form this body of death? [v. 24]” Because of the dichotomy of the two laws, Paul acknowledges both as a perpetual reality within his soul, and that he also is depraved.

In the Old Testament law, anyone who committed any form of murder was put to death: 

“He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.”  Exodus 21:12

“But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor, to kill him by   treachery, you shall take him from My altar, that he may die [v. 14].”

“He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death. [v.16]”

“And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death [v.17]

If a man were to strike another man so that he dies, the law states that that person should also be put to death.  There were no questions asked because that was the law.  No one could rise against the law and attempt to prevail over it or prove innocence.  If you murdered someone, you were put to death.  Since God made the law in His sovereign decree, infinite wisdom and omnipotence, then He is clearly witness to all public acts of sin as well as those that dwell within each of our wicked hearts.  He is, after all, the creator of all things.  Although each man may be out for himself and try to cover his sin any way he can, as David did, God Himself is the one who judges in perfect righteousness and holiness according to the law of our public sin and indwelling sin in the depths of our hearts. 

Although public acts of murder in the OT were immediately judged by putting the transgressor to death, that did not in any way negate from the judgment of indwelling “premeditations” (Exodus 21:14) of anger, envy or hatred (among all other secret acts of sin) after death [Romans 2:16, Hebrews 9:27].  It is clear by these particular judgments that murder is merely the full growth or the “birthing of sin” that James speaks of regarding the indwelling sin of someone being fully led astray and enticed by his own desires (James 1:14-15).  In the case of public murder, it is the full voracity or complete sinful demonstration and enactment of selfish and vengeful hatred.

Lastly, Jesus Christ himself divulges by ascertaining the law and proving with his very words in the flesh that murder [among other sins] begins in the heart.  “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, but whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’  But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.  And whoever says to his brother, ‘Racai!’ shall be in danger of the council.  But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.’”  Matthew 5:21-22 

Jesus did not only claim guilt by one committing the public act of murder.  He already declared that judgment by those who committed such acts in the law of old.  Because of our depravity, the vile nature of a sinner has a complete perversion of what love is.  Due to the effects of sin and the ruling of Satan in the hearts of men apart from grace, hatred dwells within each soul as naturally as each man is born from woman.  Much of the time, we are so consumed with our own self-righteous acts of supposed obedience to the law or Jesus Christ, they we are not even aware of the thoughts and intentions that are already upwelling within our soul to emit to the world at the slightest spark that nears the wick of the dynamite of our indwelling sin.  We haven’t an idea what we could be without the restraining hand or (common) grace of God himself preventing us from causing a public uproar of sin the first moment we are feasibly able to.  Therefore, even John the apostle boldly proclaims regarding the professed love of a believer that, “he who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15).  The extreme example is merely a differential statement between a believer and unbeliever. 

One who has not been rescued by the grace of God and blood of Jesus Christ has no idea of the hatred he is capable of and therefore hates as he pleases, giving birth to culpable murderous thoughts.  However, one who has regenerate knowledge of grace and the glory of Christ is enabled by the Holy Spirit to recognize the eternal deliverance from the complete dominion of indwelling sin and death itself.  Spiritual warfare has raged within in his faculties in the recognition of upwelling wickedness that will always attempt to overthrow the mind, body and soul and pervert the glory of God in the flesh.  Hence, only the believer knows the true heinousness of a fallen and sinful heart apart from grace.  He knows what he was delivered from.  He knows what he is saved unto.  And until he passes from this life to glorification, he knows that he and any given fallen heart is capable of the perfect murder.

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Revival in the land

December 31, 2009

Evangelicalism or historical [classical] Christianity as known in the fifteenth through nineteenth century at least, the term “revival” was not likely understood as much as it was experienced.  With clearly and incredibly gifted preachers, teachers and evangelists such as Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield and Charles Spurgeon [among many at the time], one could not escape the knowledge of the true gospel.   In light of pioneer-like expository preaching and teaching that men exemplified at such a masterful level, it is no surprise that hundreds if not thousands of souls were drawn to the foot of the cross of Christ by merely expositing the Scriptures and directing the teachings of Christ and the inerrant Word to grip the soul of the troubled sinner.  That is you and me.  These days, it seems that it is difficult to define what a revival is. 

One may or may not be surprised that I would continue this excerpt with Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones.  To many, he is simply someone that an evangelical has heard of or respects as a preacher.  To other professing Reformed Christians as of late, it seems that he is virtually unheard of.  Most of these people would say that they know of John Piper, but Martin Lloyd-Jones is a faint memory of a familiar name.  But, to one who is very familiar with the doctrine of the Puritans and Puritan names in general, Dr. Jones is a jewel.  Most notably, he is seemingly the most recent [20th Century] vessel of Jesus Christ in the kindling or “re-kindling” of a revival in the evangelical church.

“There was another debate occurring during that time but it was private and known only within Martyn Lloyd-Jones himself. Martyn and his brothers had all joined their church back in Llangeitho in 1914 at the encouragement of their minister but Martyn was now beginning to take a hard look at the reality of his spiritual condition. He later wrote, “For many years I thought I was a Christian when in fact I was not. It was only later that I came to see that I had never been a Christian and became one. “3 As he struggled with his salvation a grace truth came into focus. Martyn had not really heard sound preaching of the gospel in his early life. As he said, “What I needed was preaching that would convict me of sin and … bring me to repentance and tell me something about regeneration. But I never heard that. The preaching we had was always based on the assumption that we were all Christians …”4 As the young doctor read for himself he slowly but surely saw the logic and the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Like the waves of the incoming tide, the reality of God’s grace swept over Martyn’s heart until trusting Christ was all he could do. As surely as that reality overwhelmed him personally it overwhelmed him professionally. Soon it became apparent that God was calling Martyn Lloyd-Jones to preach and for that the world would never be the same!”

I would like to note Martyn’s quote, “The preaching we had was always based on the assumption that we were all Christians.”  This was stated probably somewhere around 1920 or 1930.  The theological understanding of this fact in his modern day preaching sparked a conviction within his soul.  The preaching he had been sitting under was apparently an inoffensive gospel and clearly liberal.  Because of this conviction instilled by the Holy Spirit and realization of the condition of  the church in general at the time that was subjugated to such liberal theology, he by God’s Grace molded and shaped it by expositing the pure Word that eventually provoked a new revival in England. 

There are many other things that Dr. Martyn-Lloyd Jones has contributed to the church that books have been written about.  The truth is that it is only the efficacy and empowerment of the Holy Spirit alone that enabled Dr. Jones and any other believer to speak or preach the truth of God’s Word.  If theology was liberal then, it is more liberal now.  If the church were in need of a revival then, we are more in need of a revival now.  So, what is the definition of a revival?  I would define it as an urgently desperate effort and realization of one or more pastors or teachers of God’s word to simply restore the “pure Gospel” where it had been lost and perverted into man-pleasing doctrines [as the church has combated since the first century].  It is a particular effort to preach, in utter despair, about the dreadfully lost and radically depraved sinful condition of all man-kind that we are in need of regeneration and to be saved.  I do not believe that specific Scriptures are required for this, but the entirety of the Scriptures or any one Scripture can suffice to be exposited and expounded upon to teach sinners of their lost condition apart from the substitionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross in their stead.  Martyn Lloyd-Jones had an incredible grasp of this truth and consistently and thoroughly presented the radical nature of the true Gospel and what it requires of man.

Since only the Holy Spirit can be given credit to the provocation and initiation of an eternally blessed revival, only a true and humble student of the word of God will be enabled to speak the words that will cause sinners to grip the pews in conviction.  For example, Martyn Lloyd-Jones was known to read the entire bible at least once a year and he would take many months or even years to expound a single chapter of the bible verse by verse in his sermons.  He was a student of the Word.  This means that He was a student of Jesus Christ.  This is what the church is lacking today.  We are no longer interested in church history or how we are able to hold the bibles we have.  We are no longer interested in theology and the deep things of God.  We have indeed developed itchy ears and man-made doctrines as we have all turned aside from the truth and into myths (2 Tim.4:3-4).  This is what already naturally happens in each depraved sinner.  That is why it takes a special work and power of the Holy Spirit to cause a revival to sweep the land, convert souls and make disciples.   

Apart from what we deduce from the Holy Scriptures and interpret using correct hermeneutics in light of sound doctrine empowered by the Holy Spirit, we cannot have a revival.  In other words, a revival cannot and will not happen using a “half- gospel.”  To define half-gospel in my terms, I believe it is just enough gospel truth preached to be calculably inoffensive and to seemingly purposefully “quench the Spirit” in terms of not starting a fire when one needs to be started.  In other words, it allows unconverted sinners to remain comfortable in the pew and indeed active in the church while they have no idea of the fire that awaits them if they should die in their sins.  Martyn Lloyd-Jones always started fires with his charismatic “Holy Spirit fire” doctrine and his understanding of the “baptism of the Holy Spirit.”  He was bold about this doctrine contributing to and in fact being a part of regeneration, the bringing to life of a soul or being born-again.  However, he balanced this doctrine by not exalting the gifts above Christ and His Sovereign distribution of them.

A tongue that is able to speak of the sweet promises of the Savior Himself as well as divulge and despise error and sin where need be is one who may be used in a revival.  One who is an expert on the doctrine of sin may be used in a revival.  One who holds the Scriptures to be the inerrant and infallible Word of God may be used in a revival.  That is, one who is able to grasp and understand the eternal significance of the soul and the practicality of the gospel through grace as the only true source of strength, sanctification, regeneration and overcoming sin and temptation, may be used in a revival.  Lastly, one who acknowledges the reality of Satan, human depravity, spiritual warfare and daily need for repentance through the spirit’s work in communing with God may be used in a revival.

According to Scriptures [Acts 2 in particular], God uses revivals to not only convert souls, but to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  In other words, false converts are weeded out.  In a true revival, a false convert who attends a local congregation will either come to true repentance and will realize that he was never a follower of Christ, or he will leave because of the impact of such truth and the true power of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel.  Peter preaches to the masses, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.’  Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’  Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is to you and your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.’” Acts 2:36-38

Many do not think the same gospel message that saved souls in the apostolic age is applicable today.  Many pastors today would not exclaim the above Scripture with the same urgency that repentance is just as much required today that was then.  Because of our sin and rebellion, we have all equally crucified the Son of God.  Since time does not forgive sin but only the blood of Jesus Christ, the same repentance is required of me that is required of the Philippian jailer.  Just as Paul states regarding the Holy Spirit in the obtainment of spiritual gifts, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit.  There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-6.  So it is the same with the salvation of the soul.  It is the same mediator that passes over sins.  It is the same blood that was shed two-thousand years ago that justifies sinners today.  So on and so forth.

             Preacher, take the word and, as Dr. Martyn-Lloyd Jones did, diagnose the condition within each human soul.  “What purpose then does the law serve?  It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.  Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.” Galatians 3:19-20

Gaze into the congregation with the urgency that Peter had to convert souls.  It is not strictly an evangelistic effort, but an effort to revive the church!  It is to awaken the congregation to righteousness!  May we not be lulled to sleep and deceived by Satan into thinking that minimal effort is enough for the kingdom.  May we use the true power of the Holy Spirit, and let it change our lives to provoke practical communion and worship with Jesus Christ.  May we not denounce the utter importance of theology and what we believe about God, according to the Scriptures.  Yelling from the pulpit is not enough because what is said may not be true, or true enough.  We need men and preachers that do not care that the congregation is offended at gospel truth.  That is the very purpose of preaching the gospel!  Hearts must be broken over sin to be converted.  There is no other way to be saved.  As one who understands that it is far easier to write about the need of a revival than to actually start one, it doesn’t make it any less true to write about the decline of doctrine, theology and serious undermining of the power of the Holy Spirit in contemporary preaching.  It is gospel truth that actually converts souls.  May we raise up another Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  May we long for a revival.  Pray for that.