Month: April 2006 Page 1 of 2
This is a statement written by four solid Gospel-believing preachers that desire a recovery of the Gospel within our churches. Many modern evangelical churches have turned aside to messages that are 1) not based on Scripture but rather based on cultural influences, 2) utilizing marketing principles and worldly techniques to deliver that message, and 3) purely moralistic and thus no gospel at all. check it out …
The Together for the Gospel Statement
Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, C.J. Mahaney, Albert Mohler
We are brothers in Christ united in one great cause – to stand together for the Gospel. We are convinced that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been misrepresented, misunderstood, and marginalized in many churches and among many who claim the name of Christ. Compromise of the Gospel has led to the preaching of false gospels, the seduction of many minds and movements, and the weakening of the church’s Gospel witness.
As in previous moments of theological and spiritual crisis in the church, we believe that the answer to this confusion and compromise lies in a comprehensive recovery and reaffirmation of the Gospel – and in Christians banding together in Gospel churches that display God’s glory in this fallen world.
We are also brothers united in deep concern for the church and the Gospel. This concern is specifically addressed to certain trends within the church today. We are concerned about the tendency of so many churches to substitute technique for truth, therapy for theology, and management for ministry.
We are also concerned that God’s glorious purpose for Christ’s church is often eclipsed in concern by so many other issues, programs, technologies, and priorities. Furthermore, confusion over crucial questions concerning the authority of the Bible, the meaning of the Gospel, and the nature of truth itself have gravely weakened the church in terms of its witness, its work, and its identity.
We stand together for the Gospel – and for a full and gladdening recovery of the Gospel in the church. We are convinced that such a recovery will be evident in the form of faithful Gospel churches, each bearing faithful witness to the glory of God and the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We affirm that the sole authority for the Church is the Bible, verbally inspired, inerrant, infallible, and totally sufficient and trustworthy.
We deny that the Bible is a mere witness to the divine revelation, or that any portion of Scripture is marked by error, incompleteness, or the effects of human sinfulness.
We affirm that the authority and sufficiency of Scripture extends to the entire Bible, and therefore that the Bible is our final authority for all doctrine and practice.
We deny that any portion of the Bible is to be used in an effort to deny the truthfulness or trustworthiness of any other portion. We further deny any effort to identify a canon within the canon or, for example, to set the words of Jesus against the writings of Paul.
We affirm that the truth ever remains a central issue for the Church, and that the church must resist the allure of pragmatism and postmodern conceptions of truth as substitutes for obedience to the comprehensive truth claims of Scripture.
We deny that truth is merely a product of social construction or that the truth of the Gospel can be expressed or grounded in anything less than total confidence in the veracity of the Bible, the historicity of biblical events, and the ability of language to convey understandable truth in sentence form. We further deny that the church can establish in its ministry on a foundation of pragmatism, current marketing techniques, or contemporary cultural fashions.
We affirm the centrality of expository preaching in the church and the urgent need for a recovery of biblical exposition and the public reading of Scripture in worship.
We deny that God-honoring worship can marginalize or neglect the ministry of the Word as manifested through the exposition and public reading. We further deny that a church devoid of true biblical preaching can survive as a Gospel church.
We affirm that the Bible reveals God to be infinite in all his perfections, and thus truly omniscient, omnipotent, timeless, and self-existent. We further affirm that God possesses perfect knowledge of all things, past, present, and future, including human thoughts, acts, and decisions.
We deny that the God of the Bible is in any way limited in terms of knowledge or power or any other perfection or attribute, or that God has in any way limited his own perfections.
We affirm that the doctrine of the Trinity is a Christian essential, bearing witness to the ontological reality of the one true God in three divine persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each of the same substance and perfections.
We deny the claim that the Trinity is not an essential doctrine, or that the Trinity can be understood in merely economic or functional categories.
We affirm that Jesus Christ is true God and true man, in perfect, undiluted, and unconfused union throughout his incarnation and now eternally. We also affirm that Christ died on the cross as a substitute for sinners, as a sacrifice for sin, and as a propitiation of the wrath of God toward sin. We affirm the death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Christ as essential to the Gospel. We further affirm that Jesus Christ is Lord over His church, and that Christ will reign over the entire cosmos in fulfillment of the Father’s gracious purpose.
We deny that the substitutionary character of Christ’s atonement for sin can be compromised or denied without serious injury, or even repudiation, of the Gospel. We further deny that Jesus Christ is visible only in weakness, rather than in power, Lordship, or royal reign, or, conversely, that Christ is visible only in power, and never in weakness.
We affirm that salvation is all of grace, and that the Gospel is revealed to us in doctrines that most faithfully exalt God’s sovereign purpose to save sinners and in His determination to save his redeemed people by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to His glory alone.
We deny any teaching, theological system, or means of presenting the Gospel that denies the centrality of God’s grace as His gift of unmerited favor to sinners in Christ can be considered true doctrine.
We affirm that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is God’s means of bringing salvation to His people, that sinners are commanded to believe the Gospel, and that the church is commissioned to preach and teach the Gospel to all nations.
We deny that evangelism can be reduced to any program, technique, or marketing approach. We further deny that salvation can be separated from repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
We affirm that salvation comes to those who truly believe and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
We deny that there is salvation in any other name, or that saving faith can take any form other than conscious belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving acts.
We affirm the continuity of God’s saving purpose and the Christological unity of the covenants. we further affirm a basic distinction between law and grace, and that the true Gospel exalts Christ’s atoning work as the consummate and perfect fulfillment of the law.
We deny that the Bible presents any other means of salvation than God’s gracious acceptance of sinners in Christ.
We affirm that sinners are justified only through faith in Christ, and that justification by faith alone is essential and central to the Gospel.
We deny that any teaching that minimizes, denies, or confuses justification by faith alone can be considered true to the Gospel. We further deny that any teaching that separates regeneration and faith is a true rendering of the Gospel.
We affirm that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to believers by God’s decree alone, and that this righteousness, imputed to the believer through faith alone, is the only righteousness that saves.
We deny that such righteousness is earned or deserved in any manner, is infused within the believer to any degree, or is realized in the believer through anything other than faith alone.
We affirm that the shape of Christian discipleship is congregational, and that God’s purpose is evident in faithful Gospel congregations, each displaying God’s glory in the marks of authentic ecclesiology
We deny that any Christian can truly be a faithful disciple apart from the teaching, discipline, fellowship, and accountability of a congregation of fellow disciples, organized as a Gospel church. We further deny that the Lord’s Supper can faithfully be administered apart from the right practice of church discipline.
We affirm that evangelical congregations are to work together in humble and voluntary cooperation and that the spiritual fellowship of Gospel congregations bears witness to the unity of the Church and the glory of God.
We deny that loyalty to any denomination or fellowship of churches can take precedence over the claims of truth and faithfulness to the Gospel.
We affirm that the Scripture reveals a pattern of complementary order between men and women, and that this order is itself a testimony to the Gospel, even as it is the gift of our Creator and Redeemer. We also affirm that all Christians are called to service within the body of Christ, and that God has given to both men and women important and strategic roles within the home, the church, and the society. We further affirm that the teaching office of the church is assigned only to those men who are called of God in fulfillment of the biblical teachings and that men are to lead in their homes as husbands and fathers who fear and love God.
We deny that the distinction of roles between men and women revealed in the Bible is evidence of mere cultural conditioning or a manifestation of male oppression or prejudice against women. We also deny that this biblical distinction of roles excludes women from meaningful ministry in Christ’s kingdom. We further deny that any church can confuse these issues without damaging its witness to the Gospel.
We affirm that God calls his people to display his glory in the reconciliation of the nations within the Church, and that God’s pleasure in this reconciliation is evident in the gathering of believers from every tongue and tribe and people and nation. We acknowledge that the staggering magnitude of injustice against African-Americans in the name of the Gospel presents a special opportunity for displaying the repentance, forgiveness, and restoration promised in the Gospel. We further affirm that evangelical Christianity in America bears a unique responsibility to demonstrate this reconciliation with our African-American brothers and sisters.
We deny that any church can accept racial prejudice, discrimination, or division without betraying the Gospel.
We affirm that our only sure and confident hope is in the sure and certain promises of God. Thus, our hope is an eschatological hope, grounded in our confidence that God will bring all things to consummation in a manner that will bring greatest glory to his own name, greatest preeminence to his Son, and greatest joy for his redeemed people.
We deny that we are to find ultimate fulfillment or happiness in this world, or that God’s ultimate purpose is for us to find merely a more meaningful and fulfilling life in this fallen world. We further deny that any teaching that offers health and wealth as God’s assured promises in this life can be considered a true gospel.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…. – I Corinthians 15:1-4
Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” – Revelation 14:6-7
Signed: J. Ligon Duncan III, Mark E. Dever, C.J. Mahaney, R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
The Canons of the Council of Orange – 529 AD – A MUST READ.
The Council of Orange played a very prominent role in the defining of doctrine and theology within the church to defend against heresy. But what was the heresy they condemned? Pelagianism. But how is this relevant at all today? Because elements of this heresy are holding us, the church, captive in our thinking. But how? As R.C. Sproul says in his article entitled Augustine and Pelagius,
“Humanism, in all its subtle forms, recapitulates the unvarnished Pelagianism against which Augustine struggled. Though Pelagius was condemned as a heretic by Rome, and its modified form, Semi-Pelagianism was likewise condemned by the Council of Orange in 529, the basic assumptions of this view persisted throughout church history to reappear in Medieval Catholicism, Renaissance Humanism, Socinianism, Arminianism, and modern Liberalism.”
Both the Council of Orange and the Roman Catholic Church condemned pure Pelagianism as heresy, but the Council of Orange went a step further (rightfully so) and condemned semi-pelagianism as heresy as well. Full blown Pelagianism, as described by Adolph Harnack, is this:
“Nature, free-will, virtue and law, these strictly defined and made independent of the notion of God – were the catch-words of Pelagianism: self-acquired virtue is the supreme good which is followed by reward. Religion and morality lie in the sphere of the free spirit; they are at any moment by man’s own effort.”
Pelagianism essentially denies original sin (that man has inherited sin from Adam), and states that man is born in a true natural state of innocence (i.e. without a sin nature at all), and that he can be good enough to attain perfection of his own works and deeds. This essentially is a revisiting of the same error man is naturally inclined to follow: moralism, that man can attain to perfection independent of a work of God in the life of the individual, based upon his own works. The notion that man is saved by grace at all infuriated Pelagius. The theological ramifications of this heretical error are alive and well today in the church; and even if the church as a whole doesn’t buy into full blown pelagianism (which many liberal churches are already embracing in their theology), the church is definitely biting on the bait of semi-pelagianism.
What’s the difference between Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, Arminianism, and Calvinism? Pelagianism states man can attain perfection on his own without God at all; Semi-Pelagianism states man takes the first steps toward God for salvation (that faith is produced by the unregenerate human nature – JWH); Arminianism states that God takes the first steps in salvation and that man then adds a response of faith (that faith is produced by an “island of righteousness” within the unregenerate man – JWH); and Calvinism states that it is every man’s duty to believe in Christ, but man is dead in sin, unwilling and unable (because of sin) to turn to God for salvation, his entire being is bound in the chains of sin (including his will), that God must first come and undo the chains of sin on every facet of his existence on His own time, and then effectually regenerate the unregenerate man in order that his spiritual eyes are opened, his ears unclogged, and he then, of his own will, is able and willing to believe in Christ.
I ask you to look at the cross of Christ, see our Savior hanging on the tree for sinners, and tell me which is more Biblical. I’m not asking you to exalt a system of theology above the Scriptures. But I am asking you to look at these options, look at the cross of Christ, see what the cross says about man’s nature, that man would nail God to a cross, what it says about God’s freedom and sovereignty in the midst of the cross, as well as His love, and tell me which is more accurate to the words of Scripture.
Pelagianism is an error that desperately needs to be readdressed within the church because there is a greater and greater resurgence of this error that is flattening the pure message of the Gospel, that God sovereignly saves sinners by grace alone through faith alone in Christ’s blood. The Council of Orange in 529 AD condemned Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism as heresy and we as a church would do well to recondemn it.
Scriptures Pertaining to This, The Infallibly Authoritative Word of God:
“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” [Man will not and cannot submit to God apart from the work of the Holy Spirit alone to change his disposition and ability] – Romans 8:7
“And you [believing Ephesians] were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience– among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved.” – Ephesians 2:1-5
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” [Faith is clearly shown here to be the grace and gift of God] – Ephesians 2:8
“And I am sure of this, that he [God] who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6 [Notice who Paul references as beginning his salvation. Take note of Paul’s conversion experience in Acts as well; he was on his way to Damascus with letters to throw believer’s in prison when God stunned him with his glory. How much clearer can that be?]
Summing up man in his natural state: “As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’ ‘Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.’ ‘The venom of asps is under their lips.’ ‘Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.’ ‘Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.’ ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.'” – Romans 3:10-18
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born [a prerequisite to believing], not of blood [bloodlines don’t determine salvation] nor of the will of the flesh [man cannot morally work hard enough to born again] nor of the will of man [this couldn’t be clearer! man cannot force his will contrary to its natural state in sin], but of God.” [God alone effects regeneration in an unregenerate people He’s chosen for Himself in order that they cannot help but believe, being stunned by the glory and beauty of God.] – John 1:12-13
Quoting Jesus: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” – John 6:44
“We love him, because he first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19 [Notice that God loving us is the very reason we love Him, i.e. He initiates the love at the cross which changes us and gives us a new nature that wills to love Him.]
“Whoever believes in him [Jesus] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out [or wrought] in God.” [In other words, the fact that anyone believes proves God already worked in their hearts to draw them to Himself, that it’s a work of God alone.] – John 3:18-21
“So then it [meaning the granting of God’s mercy] depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” – Romans 9:16 [We must understand here that contextually, Paul is explaining why not all of Israel is saved and is cut off from Christ, but that rather only a remnant is saved. Why else would Paul be willing to cut Himself off from Christ for the sake of His kinsmen unless he was referring to their betrayal of the Messiah at the official level of Israel, that as a whole Israel is eternally lost? And if Israel as a whole is lost, what are we as Gentiles to make of the promises iterated in chapter 8? Will God’s word fail us? But Paul, in Romans 9:7 – 11:36, substantiates his argument in verse 6 that the word of God indeed does not fail, mainly because God never promised He would save every single Israelite, but His mercy towards individual people depends solely on His will and timing, not in any way on man’s willing or running. This could not be clearer in verse 16.]
David attests: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” – Psalm 51:5
Isaiah states: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” – Isaiah 64:6
(Insertions and emphases mine)
Other articles and resources pertaining to this:
Even though I intellectually assent to the doctrine of Grace Alone, that the Holy Spirit alone is what effects change within the believer, many times in my day to day routine, I forget about it and other times I just simply don’t believe it in my heart. Recently, the Lord has opened my mind to consider more the work of the Holy Spirit in everything I do. When praying, witnessing, working, hanging out with Courtney, hanging out with high school students at CCBC, worshipping, in everything, the Holy Spirit alone effects change both in me and others. And so when I pray for unbelieving friends of mine to be saved, I must pray that the Holy Spirit would work in the midst of witnessing in power to open their minds, ears, eyes, and hearts to the Gospel of Christ. When spending time in personal communion (fellowship) with Christ, I need to pray that the Holy Spirit would come and change me from within by His mighty hand and conform me to His will (not vice versa, i.e. conforming Himself to me). When teaching students, I need to pray the Holy Spirit would effect change within their hearts. And the list goes on … Truly believing that it is by the power of God alone appropriated by the Holy Spirit, that work itself made possible by Christ’s death and resurrection, we can then see that in everything we do, we (and other people we minister to or fellowship with) are not changed and conformed to Christ-likeness by personal moral performance, but by the power of God alone working in and through what we do and say.
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end. And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets. And I believe one holy *catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
*The word “catholic” refers not to the Roman Catholic Church, but to the universal church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This blog entry was written by Al Mohler almost three years ago now when the Da Vinci Code first came out, and still amply applies to the current fuss with the movie about to be released. Al Mohler does a good, concise job of laying out the main arguments proposed by Dan Brown within the book (whether Dan actually believes them or not, I don’t know), and then asks the question, “Is this conspiracy even feasible?” I think one of the big problems with this book is that Dan Brown takes some historic truth and then mingles it with pure non-truth to make it appear plausible to the average reader. And being that the average reader generally doesn’t know the actual history of Christianity to begin with, someone seemingly speaking in an authoritative manner can spout out correct names and dates but have all of the other information dead wrong about those people and events, and the reader buys it hook, line, and sinker. All in all, this, amongst other things, such as the Gospel of Judas, are nothing new under the sun: it is called Gnosticism. This is purely on attack on Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The same types of general arguments against Christianity have been brought up in the past and refuted over and over again by Christian scholars and historians, but the world will always reject the factual evidence because the world hates Christ. Those who continue in their obstinance will not understand the things of God unless the Holy Spirit gives them eyes to see and ears to hear the call of God unto salvation, to see and know in their hearts that these things are indeed true. And it’s funny how those arguments against Christianity rise and fall over and over again, but the truth of the Gospel continues without moving to this very day … hmmm, maybe that’s because what it says is the truth? Just consider …
Articles and Resources Pertaining to this Subject:
The obvious answer to this is, yes, we glorify God for all of our salvation. It’s a rhetorical question. But if that’s true, and we boast in nothing of ourselves but only in the cross of Christ, what does that look like theologically? This answers that very question. Excellent …
Do We Glorify God for Part or All of Salvation? – John Hendryx
In reading through the book of Acts, it’s so awesome to see that when Paul spoke to Jews or Gentiles, he spoke in the Holy Spirit with power. What is this power? What does it mean? Where does it come from? Who initiates it? With much of modern day Christianity submerged in a secularized culture like ours, it seems much of modern evangelicalism (whatever that means anymore in our contemporary context) we have lost what it means it speak in the power of the Holy Spirit. This has to do with the intellectual infiltration of godless, secular thinking into the minds of believers within the American church. Our minds have been enslaved to the culture. And so when we as a church witness to unbelievers, many tend to preach as if people are saved by what they say, by their own strength, that somehow others are saved by their forceful, convincing arguments, without any reference to the working power of the Holy Spirit within the unbeliever. Preaching the Gospel then becomes a burden for us that we cannot bear instead of a delight, because in this line of thinking unbelievers will only be saved if we as believers work hard enough to get them saved. This is just another law though! These believers will indeed preach the true Gospel, and God saves people anyway despite the believing sinner He chooses to use, but they seem to not understand or believe that the Holy Spirit alone effects change within unbelievers, this blessing itself purchased by Christ on the cross. We should indeed speak in a clear manner so people understand what we say, but it seems many forget the underlying principle at work that when we preach the Gospel, the Holy Spirit alone effectually regenerates unbelievers (or chooses not to) as He wills so that they are (or aren’t) freed from their bondage in sin to believe in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit alone creates that which was not there: a desire for Jesus Christ. Just as God spoke creation into existence from nothing, so also the Holy Spirit creates in wicked sinners that which was not in existence: a desire and love for the things of God, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Paul clearly understood that this was the case when he went before the Ephesians, the Corinthians, the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, the Jews, and so many others, that he himself did nothing to effect change. Yes, he did indeed exercise his will to get up and speak. But he was simply a conduit, a vessel of God to deliver the message of the Gospel, an instrument in the hands of the great Redeemer. But only the Holy Spirit could (and can) actually change an unbelievers sinful disposition, disarming them, removing their hostility toward Himself, in order that they see and perceive the divine truths within Scripture, salvation through Jesus Christ and Him crucified for sinners, risen from the dead.
For Paul himself said in 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5, “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” Paul knew the Christians in Thessalonica were chosen by God to inherit salvation because the message of the Gospel came not just by the words of his mouth (i.e. that’s not what actually effected their change), but it came in 1) power, 2) in the Holy Spirit, and 3) as a result, with full conviction. He knew they were chosen because the Holy Spirit alone came in power and changed them, and their change was made apparent through their belief in Christ as Savior and Lord. Grace alone is what brought repentance, and is what gave rise to the Thessalonian Christian’s faith in Christ, in order that they were then saved. Paul in no way relied upon his own eloquence for people to be saved (though it is still important to communicate the Gospel clearly), but He relied on the Holy Spirit alone, because that’s where true change comes from, and he knew that.
Paul also reiterated this point to the Corinthian Christians in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, [in order] that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (Emphasis mine) Paul wanted to make sure they knew the roots of their election, salvation, faith, sanctification, justification, their everything lied not in the power of man in any respect (especially not their own power), but in the power of Christ, effected by the Holy Spirit alone. And this blessing of grace bestowed on sinners by God through the Holy Spirit, was purchased by Christ through the shedding of His blood for His bride, the church. And this atonement blessing is applied by the Holy Spirit alone to those people the LORD God has chosen from eternity past to inherit salvation through the indiscriminate preaching of His people (i.e. preaching to all people everywhere). Paul states in Romans 10:14-15, “But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'” And so we are to go out and preach to all people everywhere the forgiveness of sins and redemption through faith in Christ’s blood.
We must preach the Gospel knowing there is great and awesome power from the Holy Spirit in what we say, and God does as He wills among those He chooses to work in through our words. And so this alleviates us of feeling like we have to work harder to convince people (when they continue in their unbelief) when really all we need to do is clearly preach the Gospel to people, concisely articulate all of the aspects of man, God, His attributes, sin, wrath, judgment, the cross, Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension, and His final return, and the Holy Spirit alone changes people through that message. If someone remains obstinate and refuses to heed your words, that’s not a failure on your part in witnessing (unless, that is, you are not preaching the true Gospel). They simply won’t believe until (if) the Holy Spirt chooses to effectually save them. By believing in grace alone, we see that we are freed from the burden of “getting people saved of our own doing and working” because only the Holy Spirit works in and through our preaching as He wills. I would like to add too though that if someone does reject what you say but will continue to listen to you and work with you, give it your best shot to reason through the Scriptures with them, being patient, merciful and loving, just as Christ was infinitely patient, merciful and loving toward you.
So if you preach the Gospel clearly and know in your heart you preached it accurately from His word (i.e. using Scripture as your only infallible authority) and preached it as clearly as you possibly could, then if someone doesn’t believe, it’s because they are still in bondage to their sin and are unable to see the things you speak of. If we forsake belief in grace alone in the preaching of the Gospel, we’ve lost the very thing, the very power that will bring any change at all. I do believe unbelievers will still be saved regardless of whether or not a believer accepts this doctrine (mainly because of grace alone working despite the believers’ theological convictions). But if we fail to recognize and believe that the Holy Spirit alone changes people in our Gospel preaching, what power are we relying on in our preaching? Ours? I have no strength apart from Christ. Man forget that. Praise God He saves sinners despite the vessels He uses! Talk about about drawing a straight line with a crooked stick …
So basically, in our witnessing, the two principles here are:
1) God is sovereign, saves who He chooses, and it’s only by grace alone that men are regenerated from their deadness in sin and then able to believe in Jesus Christ. Basically, God must first come and unlock the chains of sin binding up our hearts and free us in order that we may freely choose Him. “We love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19),” not the other way around.
2) Being that God is sovereign in the salvation of sinners and saves who He chooses, we are not apathetic toward His sovereign rule so that we think people are saved by His sheer decree without the preaching of the Gospel. Anyone who is saved is always saved in relation to Jesus Christ. Also, no one is saved apart from the preaching of the Gospel. But instead, because God is sovereign, and has sovereignly chosen the preaching of His word by His people as the means by which people are saved, we are now empowered and emboldened to go and preach the Gospel fearlessly and freely (without burden), precisely because we believe the Holy Spirit alone is the only power and agent who effects change within unbelievers and that we do nothing but open our mouths. Because of God’s sovereignty are we now truly free to preach the Gospel knowing that God can and does save sinners in His great, infinite love and mercy!
Well, finally, I have some news that makes me proud of the authorities in this country. Apparently the Department of Homeland Seurity will start cracking down on the employers who hire illegal immigrants. These illegal practices (both the employers and the employees practices) are bad for the econonomy, 1) because the employers pay the illegals below the minimum wage level, which then in turn 2) doesn’t give the employees a decent amount of money to put back into the economy, and 3) the employers get out of paying taxes like everyone else, plus 4) it’s just simply illegal, and illegal practices are always bad for the economy in the long-run. I believe this is the best route to go for taking care of this illegal immigration problem. We don’t need to round people up and deport them, we don’t need to give citizenship to people just because they are here, we just need to cut off their source of pay: the employers who hire them. I think this will also send a very clear message to businesses within our society that this is serious business and it’s wrong. The employers are doing the illegals a disservice as well by encouraging them to live as outcasts of society. So this whole crackdown, if it pans out, will be the best solution to take care of the problem.
What is wrong with these people? Have they themselves learned nothing from history? Have they lost their minds? Let’s think back to WWII … Did the Russians not fight in that war? Do they not see the fascist parallel between Iran and Nazi Germany? Nazi Germany had an ideology that all those who were non-Arians should be eliminated. Iran has the ideology that all infidels (i.e. non-Muslims) should be wiped off the face of the earth, especially Israel (there have been statements to that effect by Ahmadinejad). And isn’t it ironic that Iran hates the Jews just as much as Nazi Germany … Good grief … what complete morons, there’s no other word for it. Think back in history to the possibility of Nazi Germany gaining nuclear weapons. What would things be like now? And Iran is our modern day fascist regime who it seems are working on nuclear weapons, spewing out rhetoric similar to that of the Nazi’s. And the Russians, a people who fought against the Nazi’s themselves, are enabling them to defend themselves from the likes of the West. They will now be able to possibly prevent future attacks on their nuclear facilities, places where they may be starting mass industrial production of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium! I’m just confused by the Russian leaders absolute lack of vision.