This is definitely a rant blog. So, be warned.
I think America has largely forgotten that a soul cannot be saved by the will of man, either the person "choosing Christ" or the person presenting the gospel to the unbeliever. This, of course, goes back to a theological issue, and shows the vast expanse between American Christianity and the true gospel. Calvinism still affirms the sovereignty of God, Calvinism still affirms that a sinner is dead in trespasses and sins, unable and unwilling to repent and believe the gospel. These doctrines have long been jettisoned by most who claim to be Christians, including many seminaries and pastors. In fact, the real issue is that at the top, at the seminaries, these doctrines have been lost. If we are to see the true gospel, and true, biblical evangelism, return to the States, it will start in the seminaries. It will start with pastors being entrenched in biblical theology, having the importance of the gospel and getting it rightly stressed, and the Holy Spirit moving in men to proclaim the gospel with boldness.
We have a long way to go. But we can all contribute to the change, to the much needed modern day reformation. All Christians, and I mean all, are called to proclaim the gospel to the lost, and to live in light of the gospel. Meaning our words, as well as our actions, should exemplify Jesus Christ, what He has done, and how He lived. Of course, to actually know how we are to live, and who Christ was, and what He has done, requires rigorous study of Scripture.
But rigorous study of Scripture seems to be one of the biggest planks missing in conservative American Christianity today. Most seem to say that God would not make the gospel complicated, that it would be simple, and that much study of the Bible is not needed to proclaim the gospel faithfully. That is poor reasoning. Just look at the book of Romans, or really the whole New Testament. Much of it is laying out the details of the gospel, doctrines such as justification, propitiation, regeneration, saved by grace through faith alone, etc. All of these words are biblical words, describing our salvation. These are not words theologians have made up. Yet how many Christians could actually give you the definitions for these words? You may say they know the meaning of these words, just not by the big words themselves, but that too is not true. I have discovered that many Christians do not even realize that we are enslaved to sin before we are saved. This of course is because a gospel of free will power is what is preached today, a false gospel that is damning this nation faster than any Joel Osteen or Benny Hinn sermon.
The inevitable result of free will theology, a shallow understanding of the gospel, results in an evangelism that, in practice, denies the supernatural nature of salvation. We have forgotten that God brings a person to faith, God makes man willing to believe the gospel, and it is God who breaks our slavery to sin and empowers us to live for Him. In essence, we have replaced the Holy Spirit, or at the very least downgraded Him to an ineffectual, resistible force that merely tries to swoon, rather than a sovereign power that irresistibly changes the will and gives new spiritual life to the sinner. This works out like this- today evangelism resembles trying to pitch, trying to sell, salvation, whatever the cost, rather than proclaiming that salvation is of the Lord, that it is God who must change the sinner, not the sinner changing himself. This mean that anything goes. Want to play on emotions to get a "decision" for Christ? That's all good, whatever it takes to get the sinner to change his or her will by their own power. Want to scare someone into the kingdom of heaven? No problem. And why not just directly appeal to the will, calling sinners to "make Jesus proud" by choosing to live for Him? All these are ways in which Americans evangelize today, and these unbiblical tactics present a false gospel. These are the reasons I hate American evangelism.
We need to stop manipulating, playing on emotions, scaring into the kingdom, and calling for decisions. The truth is, the Bible says that no amount of manipulation, no amount of emotionalism, no amount of scare tactics, and no amount of calling sinners to choose Christ over sin, will bring a sinner back from the dead into new spiritual life. A dead man can't be coerced into anything. A dead man can't do anything. It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh profits nothing. Those who are in the flesh, cannot please God. We should be preaching the need to be born again, not the need to give up sins by our own willpower. Until the sinner understands that there is nothing he or she can do to save themselves, there is no way the sinner will trust in something besides themselves to be saved. The law of God is supposed to bring us to the end of our ropes, to show us that there is nothing we can do for salvation. Then the gospel is supposed to show us that everything that we could not do to save ourselves, Christ has done to save us. The gospel is the good news that salvation has been accomplished for all the elect, and that this salvation is applied to sinners by faith, through the regenerating work of the Spirit. Until we preach this truth, which is the true gospel, we will continue to lead sinners to look inward to themselves, and their own willpower, for salvation.
Friday, July 15, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
I have decided to print this list out and keep it in my wallet. The Bible seems to speak of carrying the truth of His word with us. I think that whenever I am tempted to sin sexually, pulling out this list will remind me of whose that I am, that I do not own myself, and that my body is for the Lord, and for my wife alone. Not another woman, and not myself. It is the truth of God's Word, right theology, connected to the gospel, empowered by the Holy Spirit working through the regenerate heart, that enables us to overcome worldly lusts and live for the glory of God.
10 Biblical Guidelines For Overcoming Sexual Lust and Temptation
1.) Seeking righteousness satisfies and fills us, not sexual sin. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Mat. 5:6)
· 2.) Adultery of the heart is lusting after a woman. We kill this sin by starving, destroying, the members that cause us to sin. Our eyes cause the lust, our hand carries out the sinful deed. Don’t look upon women that will stir up lust. When you do, resist acting upon that sin with your hand. The alternative is being thrown into hell, and it is better for a few members to go unsatisfied and suffer from unfulfilled sinful longings, than for the whole body to suffer the torments of hell. (Mat. 5:27-30)
· 3.) Sexual sin is a unique sin, it is the sin against your own body. The body is the Lord’s, it was not made, and is not meant, for sexual immorality. Though the body craves sexual sin, the Lord will raise it up by His power and one day free us from those lusts. Even now, though, the body is a member of Christ, and should not be used for sexual immorality (1 Cor. 6:13-17).
4 · 4.) Resisting sinful impulses of the flesh is one way in which we bring God glory. For our body is the Lord’s, both because He made us, and He redeemed and purchased us with the blood of His own Son. The Holy Spirit dwells within me, and my body is the temple of God. Sexual immorality defiles the temple. (1 Cor. 6:18-20)
· 5.) Sexual temptations should be fled, not fought. The war is won by starving the enemy, the flesh, not by expecting the flesh to give up the fight and be persuaded that chastity and purity is superior and better. Only God can make that change, and that will not happen until this physical body perishes and is made anew. (1 Cor. 6:13-20, 15:35-54)
· 6.) I do not have authority over my own body. However, my wife does. Likewise, the wife does not have authority over her body, but the husband does. The giving of the body is representative of the giving of Christ’s body for the elect, and through faith and regeneration the elect become the body of Christ. The purpose of marriage is to reflect the love Christ had for His people, and the love Christ’s people have for Christ. It is an exclusive love. So how can I lust sexually and gratify the deeds of the flesh, when my body is not my own, but Christ’s first, and then my wife’s? (1 Cor. 7:4, Eph. 5:22-33).
· 7.) Sexual sin cheapens us, defiles us, defiles God, and defiles our spouse. It is a sin against our own bodies, our God, and our spouse. Christ’s body was given to us pure and holy, undefiled. It had to be, else it could not save us. If I am to represent Christ in marriage, every time I sin sexually I misrepresent Christ, for I am giving myself, my body, to another, who is not my own. Christ was pure before He died for us. Therefore, I should keep myself pure sexually for my wife before I am married to her as well, not just once I am married. (Eph. 5:22-33).
· 8.) Conversely, remaining sexually pure, with our bodies and in our hearts and minds, is rightly imitating Christ, and is an expression of His love for us. How pleased was God when Christ gave Himself for His bride, and His bride alone? Very pleased indeed. How pleased will God be when we imitate Christ by showing love and passion only for our bride, and no one else? Very pleased indeed. (Eph. 5:1-3).
· 9.) I can resist the impulses of the flesh. But not by my own power, but rather through the power of God, the Holy Spirit. We are sanctified by the Truth, and the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Truth. Killing sexual sin is done by living and walking in the Spirit. The Spirit and the flesh war against one another. The mind and the flesh war against one another. The Spirit, however, renews the mind and convicts us to resist temptation and live for the superior worth and goodness and glory of the Truth. Therefore, understanding why sexual sin is so sinful, and why sex within marriage is so good and glorious, is the ultimate key to defeating the sinful deeds of the flesh. (Gal. 4:16-18,24-25, Rom. 7:14-8:39, Eph. 4:17-24, Colossians 3:1-17).
· 10.) Ultimately, it is Christ Himself who has freed us from slavery to sexual sin, by dying for our sins. This grace itself teaches us that we are to deny lusts of all stripes and live for Him. For He died to purify us from sins and make us zealous for Him and for good works that glorify Him. Sexual purity glorifies Him. (Titus 2:11-15)