Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Lord Our Righteousness, Part 2

The Lord Our Righteousness

II. How the Lord is to be man's righteousness, comes next to be considered.

And that is, in one word, by Imputation. For it pleased God, after he had made all things by the word of his power, to create man after his own image. And so infinite was the condescension of the high and lofty One, who inhabiteth eternity, that, although he might have insisted on the everlasting obedience of him and his posterity; yet he was pleased to oblige himself, by a covenant or agreement made with his own creatures, upon condition of an unsinning obedience, to give them immortality and eternal life. For when it is said, “The day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die;” we may fairly infer, so long as he continued obedient, and did not eat thereof, he should surely live. The 3rd of Genesis gives us a full, but mournful account, how our first parents broke this covenant, and thereby stood in need of a better righteousness than their own, in order to procure their future acceptance with God. For what must they do? They were as much under a covenant of works as ever. And though, after their disobedience, they were without strength; yet they were obliged not only to do, but continue to do all things, and that too in the most perfect manner, which the Lord had required of them: and not only so, but to make satisfaction to God's infinitely offended justice, for the breach they had already been guilty of. Here then opens the amazing scene of Divine Philanthropy; I mean, God's love to man. For behold, what man could not do, Jesus Christ, the son of his Father's love, undertakes to do for him. And that God might be just in justifying the ungodly, though “he was in the form of God, and therefore thought it no robbery to be equal with God; yet he took upon him the form of a servant,” even human nature. In that nature he obeyed, and thereby fulfilled the whole moral law in our stead; and also died a painful death upon the cross, and thereby became a curse for, or instead of, those whom the Father had given to him. As God, he satisfied, at the same time that he obeyed and suffered as man; and, being God and man in one person, he wrought out a full, perfect, and sufficient righteousness for all to whom it was to be imputed.

Here then we see the meaning of the word righteousness. It implies the active as well as passive obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ. We generally, when talking of the merits of Christ, only mention the latter, — his death; whereas, the former, — his life and active obedience, is equally necessary. Christ is not such a Savior as becomes us, unless we join both together. Christ not only died, but lived, not only suffered, but obeyed for, or instead of, poor sinners. And both these jointly make up that complete righteousness, which is to be imputed to us, as the disobedience of our first parents was made ours by imputation. In this sense, and no other, are we to understand that parallel which the apostle Paul draws, in the 5th of the Romans, between the first and second Adam. This is what he elsewhere terms, “our being made the righteousness of God in him.” This is the sense wherein the Prophet would have us to understand the words of the text; therefore, Jer. 33:16, “She (i.e. the church itself) shall be called, (having this righteousness imputed to her) The Lord our righteousness.” A passage, I think, worthy of the profoundest meditation of all the sons and daughters of Abraham.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Lord Our Righteousness, Part 1

The next several post are a sermon by George Whitefield on Jeremiah 23:6. They too, like the previous message by William Romaine, address the issue of the imputation of Christ's righteousness.

The Lord Our Righteousness

Jeremiah 23:6 — “The Lord our Righteousness.”

Whoever is acquainted with the nature of mankind in general, or the propensity of his own heart in particular, must acknowledge, that self- righteousness is the last idol that is rooted out of the heart: being once born under a covenant of works, it is natural for us all to have recourse to a covenant of works, for our everlasting salvation. And we have contracted such devilish pride, by our fall from God, that we would, if not wholly, yet in part at least, glory in being the cause of our own salvation. We cry out against popery, and that very justly; but we are all Papists, at least, I am sure, we are all Arminians by nature; and therefore no wonder so many natural men embrace that scheme. It is true, we disclaim the doctrine of merit, are ashamed directly to say we deserve any good at the hands of God; therefore, as the Apostle excellently well observes, “we go about,” we fetch a circuit, “to establish a righteousness of our own, and,” like the Pharisees of old, “will not wholly submit to that righteousness which is of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

This is the sorest, though, alas! the most common evil that was ever yet seen under the sun. An evil, that in any age, especially in these dregs of time wherein we live, cannot sufficiently be inveighed against. For as it is with the people, so it is with the priests; and it is to be feared, even in those places, where once the truth as it is in Jesus was eminently preached, many ministers are so sadly degenerated from their pious ancestors, that the doctrines of grace, especially the personal, All-Sufficient Righteousness of Jesus, is but too seldom, too slightly mentioned. Hence the love of many waxeth cold; and I have often thought, was it possible, that this single consideration would be sufficient to raise our venerable forefathers again from their graves; who would thunder in their ears their fatal error.

The righteousness of Jesus Christ is one of those great mysteries, which the angels desire to look into, and seems to be one of the first lessons that God taught men after the fall. For, what were the coats that God made to put on our first parents, but types of the application of the merits of righteousness of Jesus Christ to believers hearts? We are told, that those coats were made of skins of beasts; and, as beasts were not then food for men, we may fairly infer, that those beasts were slain in sacrifice, in commemoration of the great sacrifice, Jesus Christ, thereafter to be offered. And the skins of the beasts thus slain, being put on Adam and Eve, they were hereby taught how their nakedness was to be covered with the righteousness of the Lamb of God.

This is it which is meant, when we are told, “Abraham believed on the Lord, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” In short, this is it of which both the law and the prophets have spoken, especially Jeremiah in the words of the text, “The Lord our righteousness.”
I propose, through divine grace,

I. To consider who we are to understand by the word Lord.

II. How the Lord is man's righteousness.

III. I will consider some of the chief objections that are generally urged against this doctrine.

IV. I shall show some very ill consequences that flow naturally from denying this doctrine.

V. Shall conclude with an exhortation to all to come to Christ by faith, that they may be enabled to say with the prophet in the text, “The Lord our righteousness.”

I. I am to consider who we are to understand by the word Lord. The Lord our righteousness.

If any Arians of Socinians are drawn by curiosity to hear what the babbler has to say, let them be ashamed of denying the divinity of that Lord, who has bought poor sinners with his precious blood. For the person mentioned in the text, under the character of the Lord, is Jesus Christ. Ver. 5, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous branch, a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days (ver. 6) Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our righteousness.” By the righteous branch, all agree, that we are to understand Jesus Christ. He it is that is called the Lord in our text. If so, if there were no other text in the Bible to prove the divinity of Christ, this is sufficient: for if the word Lord may properly belong to Jesus Christ, he must be God. And, as you have it in the margin of your Bibles, the word Lord is in the original Jehovah, which is the essential title of God himself. Come then, ye Arians, kiss the son of God, bow down before him, and honor him, even as ye honor the Father. Learn of the angels, those morning-stars, and worship him as truly God: for otherwise you are as much idolaters, as those that worship the Virgin Mary. And as for you Socinians, who say Christ was a mere man, and yet profess that he was your Savior, according to your own principles you are accursed: for, if Christ be a mere man, then he is only an arm of flesh: and it is written, “Cursed is he that trusteth on an arm of flesh.” But I would hope, there are no such monsters here; at least, that, after these considerations, they would be ashamed of broaching such monstrous absurdities any more. For it is plain, that, by the word Lord, we are to understand the Lord Jesus Christ, who here takes to himself the title Jehovah, and therefore must be very God of very God; or, as the Apostle devoutly expresses it, “God blessed for evermore.”

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Missionary "Tongues" Story

Ever since I was a child, I have often encountered a particular story. It is something of an urban legend in certain church circles.

It goes like this: There was a missionary who met up with a person, usually a tribeman of some sort in a remote jungle area, with whom he wished to share the Gospel. Unfortunately, though, they could not understand each other's languages. Somehow the missionary felt compelled to open his mouth and just speak. To his surprise, he found himself speaking the other person's language fluently, though not aware of what he was saying. The tribesman was miraculously converted.

I have heard a dozen or more incarnations of this story, but those are the central story factors that are always present. As I said earlier, in some church circles, especially Pentecostal ones, this is something of an urban legend. It is always recounted third or fourth hand. I have never spoken with someone who actually claims to have personally had this experience.

The unspoken assumption, and often very clearly spoken assumption, of this story is that egghead cessationists are wrong and the supernatural sign gift of tongues still functions in the church today. Usually, this idea is further 'established' by claiming that while much of the tongues speaking that goes on in many Pentecostal churches is fraudulent, this kind must be real because it occurs in situations that seem to replicate the condition of the 1st Century Church.

This is a problematic assumption. I am not satisfied that this situation replicates the situation of the Apostolic age. I don't think it even comes within a hundred miles of the situation that existed on the Day of Pentecost.

1. On Pentecost, there was, as yet, no New Testament.
2. Tongues did not miraculously preach the Gospel to people in need of an interpreter.
3. The 3,000 converts were converted by Peter's plain preaching of the Gospel in Aramaic, a language they all understood anyway. Peter did not preach in tongues. The witnesses, though fluent in other languages, were all Jews who understood Peter's Aramaic sermon. The elect were converted, the non-elect mocked them, in direct fulfillment of Isaiah 28:11-12.
4. Pentecost was the event wherein the New Testament Church emerged from the cocoon of the Old Testament Church. This can never be repeated.
5. Virtually the entire visible church was present - something that has not been repeated since.
6. Tongues, on the Day of Pentecost, was not a conversation between a believer and an unbeliever. It was not an evangelism tool.

In short, Tongues was not a solution of how to preach to someone whose language Peter and the Apostles did not speak. It was not a miracle to overcome the absence of an interpreter. Every one present was Jewish; they all spoke Aramaic. Peter preached to them immediately after the tongues event occurred. He did not preach in tongues; he preached in Aramaic. Furthermore when one compares 1 Corinthians 14:21-22 with Isaiah 28:11,12 one sees that the occurrence of tongues on Pentecost was a sign of God's judgment upon unbelieving Israel. This was proven on Pentecost. The elect repented upon hearing Peter's sermon. The rest, judged as unbelievers, simply mocked the Apostles.

When people interpret "sign to the unbeliever" to mean that it is something that convinces an otherwise skeptical person, they flatly misunderstand the text. The idea of a sign in Scripture is always a judgment. Besides that, God never performs miracles like as if they were tricks to convince doubters. This turns the power of the Holy Spirit to a parlor trick.

A further problem arises when we wonder about the validity of the experience itself. Assume for the sake of argument that the story is actually true. One thing is immediately clear, whatever else may be said about the situation, it is certainly unusual, and therefore not to be appealed to as the norm. Secondly, this is not how tongues functioned on Pentecost. So, even assuming the story to be true, this is still not an example of tongues in the Biblical sense. Furthermore, what do we do with experiences that seem to point to the opposite assumption? Both positions cannot be equally true.

Anyone with even slightly Reformed leanings will agree that Scripture is the rule of doctrine and practice and that experience never trumps Scripture. I am reminded of Anthony Flew. He was the foremost scholarly atheist of the past generation. Late in life, however, he recanted his atheism due to something like a near-death experience. He did not convert to Christianity, mind you. If anything, he became a deist. And when he died, he was as hardened to the Gospel of Christ as he ever was during his staunchly atheistic days. If experience determines what one believes, then we must accept the validity of Mormonism based on their "burning in the bosom." We must also accept the trance-like experiences of Hindus. Furthermore, we cannot reject the experiences of millions of Charismatics, many of whom are Papists, Unitarians, modalists and Pelagians.

Rejection of the Continuist position has always been a part of the Reformed theological tradition. When Calvin and others wrote against it, they did not have an axe to grind with Benny Hinn or some other screwball Charismatic. Their opponent was Popery. The idea that the supernatural sign gifts were to remain in active function throughout the church for all time is a distinctly papist idea. Rejection of this is one of the tenets for which our Protestant forefathers were called "Protestants." They affirmed the sufficiency of Scripture and therefore rejected the notion that Scripture needed to be supplemented by weekly messages in tongues or visions and prophecies by the mystics. If the canon is closed, these sign gifts are either superfluous to Scriptural revelation or additions to it. You can't have your cake and eat it too. If a message in tongues is revelatory, then it is anathema for adding to Scripture. If it is merely confirmational, then it is not needed. Scripture tells us all we need to know. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks a sign.

One last loose end needs to be tied up and that is this: Assuming again that the story is true, and the tongues speaking is neither revelatory nor confirmational, but simply proclamation of the Gospel, why is this needed in the first place? Why should we assume that God, in order to have the Gospel preached to one of His elect, would send a missionary that is not linguistically competent, or that He wouldn't send a fellow native? This is what makes me most skeptical of the story. It presupposes that God is forced to use a missionary that hasn't done his language preparation. It presupposes that God's timing in saving His elect is rushed. He can't wait until the missionary learns the language, or He can't send someone to preach who already speaks the language. 

Besides, the whole story comes off very contrived. It reminds me of the Sadducee story of the woman married to seven men. Its whole existence seems contrived simply to disprove the Reformed Cessationist position. Again, assuming for the sake of argument, that the story is true and God did actually give someone for a brief moment the supernatural ability to converse with someone in a language they did not know, this still would not be the tongues of the Day of Pentecost. It may be a wonderful providential blessing to a lost soul, but it wouldn't be the tongues of the Day of Pentecost.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Jesus Did Not Die In Vain!

Since Arminians reject the doctrine of Limited Atonement, or Particular Redemption, or whatever else it's been labeled, they are forced into claiming that Christ's death for many souls is and will eternally be in vain.

I have heard this spoken, bluntly, from the pulpit, especially during the notorious atlar calls. "Jesus loves you. God gave His Son for you. The ball's in your court now. What are you going to do? Don't let His great love for you be in vain... ad nauseum."

After reading 1 Corinthians 12:1-3, that sounds suspiciously like, "Jesus is accursed." The law specifically claims that a man hung on a tree was accursed. Christ died, not for His own sins, but to redeem His people, from their sins and to avert the wrath of God that was their just reward for their vile and horrid rebellion against God. Jesus, Scripture tells us, died to "save His people from their sins." Nowhere in Scripture do we get even the remotest idea that Christ's death can be in vain or wasted effort in regard to anyone. He died for His sheep and His sheep alone. Jesus did not die for the goats.

Saying that Jesus' death could be in vain or that His sacrifice can be wasted is tantamount to saying, "Jesus is accursed." Pelagianism is truly from the bowels of hell.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Regeneration Precedes Faith

And you did he make alive, when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins, Eph 2:1 (ASV)

"We close with Christ by faith, but that faith being a vital act, presupposes a principle of life communicated to us by the Spirit; therefore it is said, John xi.26, 'Whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die:' " - John Flavel

Flavel's comment points out an amazing truth: If one believes in Christ it is because he lives in Him first. Life must be granted by God prior to our act of faith. Live and believe is the order.

It is important to see that the quickening of an unregenerate person is completely a sovereign act of God with no human participation. Indeed there are five good reasons why this is so.

1. He that actively concurs to his own regeneration makes himself to differ. Scripture rejects this: For who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? but if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it? 1 Cor 4:7 (ASV) 

2. Scripture ascribes to unregenerate nature both impotency and enmity with respect to grace, therefore it cannot of itself actively concur to the production of it. In John 15:5, Jesus says, "Without Me you can do NOTHING." As if this weren't enough, Matthew 12:34, denies even the power to speak a good word. Then 2 Corinthians 3:5, denies the power even to think good thoughts. If this is all that were said in Scripture, it would be more than sufficient. But in addition to this inability, Scripture also ascribes to unregenerate nature enmity against God: "the mind of the flesh is enmity against God." Romans 8:7 (ASV); "And you, being in time past alienated and enemies in your mind in your evil works" Col 1:21 (ASV)

3. That which is of natural production is subject to natural dissolution. but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life. John 4:14 (ASV) "Having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which liveth and abideth." 1 Peter 1:23 (ASV) 

4. If our new birth be a resurrection and a new creation then we cannot actively contribute to its production. No baby ever born has decided when. Indeed, no baby has ever decided that it would be conceived. Corpses do not respond to pleas to "raise their hands." Regeneration is a new birth; it is a resurrection; it is a new creation.  cf. Eph 4:24; 5:14, 2 Cor. 10:4

5. If unregenerate nature could produce, or actively concur to the production of spiritual life, then the most refined, cultured, and educated people would be the first to be regenerated, and the most vile and perverse sinners would be the last, or more likely, would never be regenerated. This is patently false. Scripture tells us of Rahab, Mary Magdalen, Levi, Zacchaeus, and Paul - all notorious sinners being saved. Yet the rich young ruler went away without grace.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Imputed Righteousness Defended (Part 3)

The Doctrine of Imputed Righteousness Defended
by William Romaine

Surely shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness. (Isaiah 45:24)
He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

If these arguments be well considered, they will, I hope, establish the doctrine of the text; for they clearly prove, that God hath appointed the Lord Jesus Christ to be the only righteousness of his people. He was made sin for them, their sins being laid upon him, as the sins of the children of Israel were laid upon the scapegoat. And he was made of God unto them righteousness, and their righteousness is in him, not an inherent but an imputed righteousness, and received by faith, which submits to be justified by the righteousness of another, and rests with full trust and confidence upon it. This is the fundamental doctrine of Christianity, and the direct contrary is the fundamental doctrine of popery.

At the reformation the Lord raised up faithful witnesses to bear their testimony against that reigning heresy of the papists, which places merit in man’s works; yea, such merit as to justify a sinner before God; yea, still greater merit, for they maintain, that a man can do more than the moral law requires, and can perform works of supererogation, the merit of which may be imputed to another person, and yet, at the same time, they deny the imputation of Christ’s merits. The first reformers preached boldly against those blasphemies, and that blessed servant of God, Luther, was bold indeed. He knew well the dangerous tendency of the doctrine of merit, and therefore he principally wrote and preached against it, and God gave him great success. A sinner made righteous by the righteousness of Christ, is, as he used to say, the doctrine upon which a church stands or falls. Upon it our church was established, and has long stood; but do we stand upon it now? Are we all champions for the protestant doctrine, or are we in general departed from it? Alas! our enemies can tell, with triumph they tell of the increase of the popish interest among us. And why does it increase? Whence is it that they make so many converts? Is it not because our people are not well established in this protestant doctrine? If it was taught and preached more, our churches would not be so empty as they are, nor the mass houses so full. Many of our people know not what it is to be a protestant, and therefore they become an easy prey to the papists, who are so busy and successful in making converts, that they pretend they have on one Lord’s day more communicants at the mass house in Lincoln’s-inn-fields, than we have on the same day at all the churches in London. I fear this may be true; but is it not greatly alarming, and ought it not to stir up the protestant clergy, to try to put a stop to the spreading of popery? But how can they do this more effectually, than by laying the axe to the root, and striking at the doctrine of merit, which is the fundamental error of the papists? Overthrow this, and popery cannot stand. A man cannot be a papist, who believes that his justifying righteousness is in Christ, and whoever does not believe this is not a protestant. May the Lord raise us up faithful and able men, (for we greatly want them,) to defend his righteousness against them who have established a meritorious righteousness of their own, and will not submit to the righteousness of God.

But, besides the papists, we have other enemies to the doctrine in the text. The careless sinner treats it with great contempt; for he does not see its value, nor his own want of it, and therefore he lives easy and secure in the practice of sin. The scripture has revealed the wrath of heaven against all his unrighteousness, but he does not regard the revelation. The law brings him in guilty and condemns him but he gives himself no concern about the threatenings of the law. The gospel offers him mercy, and its ministers entreat him to accept of it, but he stops his ears. Neither the grace of the gospel, nor the terrors of the law, can prevail upon him. Although he has no righteousness of any kind, yet the lives as if he was in no danger. Oh deluded man: if thou didst but know thy state, thou wouldst cry earnestly to the Redeemer, and seek to be accepted in his righteousness. May he take pity upon thee, and send his good spirit to convince thee of sin, and to convince thee of righteousness.

The formalist is another enemy to the doctrine in the text. He will not receive justification by imputed righteousness, but will have his own righteousness seated on the throne along with Christ. He falls into this great mistake from his ignorance of the perfect nature of God’s law, which has made no provision for any failing, but for the very first passes sentence, “Cursed is every one who continueth not in ALL things,” &c., and since all have failed, consequently all are under the curse, and can never be justified by that law which has condemned them. And his mistake arises also from his ignorance of the gospel. He takes the gospel to be a proposal of terms and conditions, mitigating the rigour of the law, and so he makes Christ only a milder law-giver than Moses, requiring not perfect but sincere obedience of his creatures. Whereas Christ came to redeem us from the curse of the law, by obeying its precepts, and by suffering its penalties, and our righteousness comes to us from him as the fulfiller of the law, and is received by faith, without any of our works or deservings.

If any of you, my brethren, have fallen into this mistake, weigh and consider attentively what has been before said upon the moral law, and upon the law of faith, and if you are not convinced, can you ask God to direct you in the right way? If you can, he has promised to give you wisdom; he will teach you the true doctrine, and will enable you to submit to the righteousness of God. But if you are convinced, are you waiting for the precious gift of faith, or have you received it? If you are waiting for it, remember whose gift it is. The Holy Spirit alone can work faith in your heart. It requires his power, even that almighty power, which raised up Jesus from the dead. The Scriptures ascribes to him the office of convincing sinners of Christ’s righteousness, and of giving them faith to rest upon it for their justification. Look up to him for this blessing. Wait in his appointed ways, hoping for it. And when the Spirit shall be poured upon you from on high, then you will be justified by faith in Christ’s righteousness, and the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness, and assurance for ever.

Happy are you, my Christian brethren, who have received the righteousness of faith, and knowing whom you have believed. Since Christ’s righteousness is yours, bring forth its proper fruits, and shew publicly, that there is an inseparable connexion between justifying faith and sanctifying grace. By justifying faith the believer is united to Christ, and receives life from him, as a graft does from the stock upon which it grows. By virtue of this union, Christ liveth in the believer, and enables him to put forth the proper acts of spiritual life, as the stock upon which the graft grows supplies it with sap and juices to put forth leaves, and blossom, and fruit. This is the certain effect of the abiding of a branch in the vine; it will bring forth fruit; and if any one fancy himself to be a believer, and neither brings forth nor is seeking to bring forth any fruit, he only deceives himself, and the truth is not in him: for whosoever has Christ for a Savior, will have the Holy Spirit for a sanctifier, and will bring forth fruit to the Glory of God.

See then, my Christian brethren, that ye value and prize this righteousness, and give it its proper honour, both with your hearts and lives. While you are bringing forth its peaceable fruits, you will continually find the comforts of it. This righteousness is one of the pieces of Christian armour. It is called a breast-plate: because it is the proper armour for the vital parts. Your life is always safe while you have your breast-plate on; you need not fear the terror by night, nor the arrow that flieth by day. Let thousands fall, you are safe. You are defended from outward attacks: for although many be the afflictions of the righteous, yet the Lord delivereth him out of them all; and you are kept in inward peace: for the work of righteousness is peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever. In time of sickness this righteousness will be a perpetual cordial. It will not suffer the heart to sink, although the body grows weak and faint; for this breast-plate is not only proof against the pains of sickness, but also against the weapons of death. “Righteousness delivereth from death;” Prov. 11:4; not by keeping the justified person from dying, but by keeping him from the fear of the first, and from the power of the second death. The righteous man, armed with this invulnerable breastplate, can challenge all his enemies. Who shall separate me from the love of Christ? shall tribulation or distress, or persecution or death? Nay, clothed in the robe of Christ’s righteousness, I shall not be afraid to go through the valley and shadow of death, nor yet to stand at the awful bar of God’s infinite justice. Why should he fear to stand there to be tried? For who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God himself that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again for their justification, and in his righteousness they shall stand holy and unblameable and unreprovable before the judgment-seat of God.

Since these are some of the benefits of having on the breastplate of righteousness, let us, my Christian brethren, keep it always in use. Since we are fighting under the Captain of our salvation, let us be ever armed with his righteousness; and may we all wear it upon our breasts, that neither guilt within, nor troubles without, may ever separate us from the love of Christ Jesus our Lord; but may we, in life and death, find the blessedness of this armour, by its protecting us from the threatenings of the broken law, and from the vengeance of almighty justice; and may we in time and in eternity live to his glory, who humbled himself to be made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Grant this, holy Father, for the sake of they dear Son, Jesus Christ: to whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit, three persons in one Jehovah, be honour and glory, and blessing and praise, for ever and ever. Amen.

William Romaine was an English Evangelical divine who was born at Hartlepool, England on September 25, 1714. He was educated at Hart Hall and Christ Church, Oxford, receiving his B.A. in 1734 and M.A. in 1737. He was ordained a deacon in 1736, a priest in 1738; and was curate for many years at Baustead, Surrey and Horton, Middlesex. Drawn into the Evangelical revival, he first adhered to John Wesley, but in 1755 passed to the side of George Whitefield and remained the ablest exponent among the Evangelicals of the highest Calvinistic doctrine.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Imputed Righteousness Defended (Part 2)

The Doctrine of Imputed Righteousness Defended
by William Romaine

Surely shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness. (Isaiah 45:24)
He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Although Christ knew no sin, yet he was made sin. How could that be? How could he be made sin, who knew no sin? He was made sin, not practically, but by imputation. He had no sin inherently in him, but had sin imputed to him, when the Lord laid upon him the iniquities of us all. In his own person there was no inherent spot or stain of sin, or any such thing. He could not touch the pollution of sin, nor could he practically know its filthy, defiling nature. He was not a drunkard, a whoremonger, a thief, or whatever you call a sinner as such. He neither was a sinner practically, nor had he ever the least inclination to be so; because his will was always in perfect harmony with the will of God. From whence it appears that Christ was not made a polluted sinner, nor yet a guilty sinner as to the merit and desert of sin. In this respect he was not capable of being made sin. he did not, as to himself, deserve the punishment of sin, for which he suffered. Punishment is due to transgressors, but Christ had not transgressed. Even when he suffered, according to St. Peter, he was just, and righteous in himself; 1 Pet. 3:18, “Christ also hath once suffered for sin, the just for the unjust.” He was perfectly just, and therefore capable of undertaking to suffer for the unjust, that as no suffering was due to him, the merit of what he suffered might be imputed unto them. And so it was. He freely entered into an obligation to stand in the place of the unjust, and to undergo the punishment due to them, and this with his own consent the Lord laid upon him, and in this sense he was made sin for us. He was made sin in the same way that we are made righteous. Now the righteousness by which we are justified is not inherent in ourselves, but it is in Christ, and is made ours through God’s imputing it to us. In like manner our sins were not inherent in Christ, but imputed to him and laid upon him. He was willing to become our surety, and to answer for our sins and to have them imputed to him, so as to be obliged to bear the punishment of them, even the wrath and curse, which, if he had not endured them, would have sunk everyone of us into the pit of hell. But Christ his own self bare them in his own body upon the tree. As the surety of all that shall believe in him he undertook to answer all the demands which law and justice had upon them. And he was willing to have all their sins imputed to him, and placed to his account, that he might satisfy for them. Accordingly we read that he was once offered to bear the sins of many, and that by his own blood he obtained eternal redemption for them. When their iniquities were laid upon him, although he knew no sin, yet he knew what it was to suffer for sin. He died the death and endured the pains, which were in nature and proportion due to them for their sins, and for the full satisfaction of law and justice.

In this sense Christ was made sin; but what would this avail, if he was a mere man? He might be made sin, and might suffer, but not for us. The apostle says, in my text, he was made sin for us. What was effectual to us, must be more than human, and could be nothing short of divine. Christ’s undertakings were too great to be performed by any person less than the most high God. And accordingly the scripture teaches us, that Christ was Jehovah, the true self-existent God, a co-equal and co-eternal person with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and in his person God and man were united in one Christ. By this personal union, what the manhood did and suffered partook of the infinite merit of the Godhead. The manhood of Christ had no sin in it, and therefore what it suffered for the sin imputed to it, was infinitely meritorious, because he who suffered was God as well as man. This most wonderful method of bringing many sons unto glory, was contrived by the ever blessed Trinity, and settled by the covenant of grace. God the Son was pleased to become their surety, and to stand up in their nature to act and to suffer for them. And what he undertook he could not fail of accomplishing; for all things are alike possible to his almighty power. When he acted for his people, he was God as well as man, his obedience was therefore divine and infinite, and by the merits of it shall many be made righteous. When he suffered for his people, his sufferings were of such infinite merit and efficacy that by his stripes they are healed and freed from suffering. He took their griefs and carried their sorrows, that they might never fell them. When he died, and paid the debt to justice, which they ought to have paid, he soon brought them a discharge: for although he was buried and descended into hell, yet on the third day he rose again from the dead, and thereby demonstrated, that all the ends were answered, for which he was made sin for them.

Here, my Christian brethren, let us stop and adore the free love and rich mercy of our Divine Redeemer. He, the most high God, blessed for ever, condescended to be made man for us, and for our salvation. O wonderful condescension! that there should be any mercy for such enemies and rebels as we have been, and how did he magnify his compassion, that when he might in justice have destroyed us, yet he humbled himself and stooped down to save us! But how great was his humiliation in vouchsafing to take on him the form of a servant, and to live in poverty and contempt. Considering who it was that became a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, we see the greatest wonder of all, the depth of his humiliation. He that was the lowest upon earth, was the highest in heaven. He came down to be made sin for us, to have our sins imputed to him, and to answer for them to law and justice. Accordingly they were laid upon him, and he bare them in his own body on the cross, and thereby saved us from our sins. Blessed, for ever blessed be the name of our dear Redeemer. Glory, and honour, and thanks never-ceasing be to him, who took all our suffering upon himself, because he could bear that which we could not, and because he could satisfy for that in a short time, which we could not in eternity, and who, having thus delivered us from sin and suffering, has righteousness to impute unto us, in which we may stand blameless at the bar of justice. Oh let us praise him with our lips and lives, who was made sin for us, that he might be made righteousness to us, which is the third point I was to consider.

He was a spotless lamb, and therefore capable of being made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Righteousness is a perfect conformity to the law and will of God, and without this no man shall see the Lord: “For the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God,” 1 Cor. 6:9, and we are all unrighteous, because we have all sinned and robbed God of his glory. The question then is, In what way or by what means can we attain righteousness? Can we attain it by the works of the law? No, it is impossible; because, if it was attainable by our own works, then we should be inherently righteous, and should have such a righteousness as the law demands; but the law demands perfect unsinning obedience, which we have not paid it. And upon our failing to pay it, the law pronounces us guilty, passes sentence, and leaves us, as to anything we can do, for ever under the curse, it being the irreversible decree of the almighty Law-giver, that since all flesh has sinned and broken the law, therefore by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

But if sinners cannot be justified by any inherent righteousness, what righteousness have they to plead at the bar of justice? They have a righteousness absolutely perfect and complete, called in scripture the righteousness of God, because the Lord our righteousness contrived and wrought it out. He came into the world, and took flesh in order to fulfill all righteousness. By his obedience and suffering he satisfied all the demands of law and justice, and paid that immense debt which none of us could pay, and hereby he was made of God unto us righteousness: God the Father constituted and ordained him to be the perfect righteousness of believers. In him is their righteousness, “Their righteousness is of me, said the Lord.” (Isaiah 54:17) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

If you ask how the righteousness of another can be made yours? it must be in the same way that Christ was made sin. He had no sin of his own, and yet he was made sin by imputation; and believers have no righteousness of their own, and yet are made righteous by imputation. Christ had no inherent sin of his own, nor have they any inherent righteousness; but he was made sin by having their sins imputed to him, and they are made righteous by having his righteousness imputed to them. The manner of God’s proceeding is the same in both cases. When the Psalmist says, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity,” how is this to be understood? Has he no iniquity in him? Yes, he has original and inherent sin, and if he says he has no sin, he deceives himself; but he is a blessed man, because the Lord does not impute sin to him, nor charge him with it. So when David describeth the blessedness of the man to whom God imputeth righteousness, has the man this righteousness in himself, and is he inherently righteous? No, but by an act of grace God accounts him righteous, and imputes righteousness unto him, and therefore he is blessed. And thus God imputes righteousness to them who believe, not for a righteousness which is in them, but for a righteousness which he imputes to them. As their iniquities were laid upon Christ, and satisfaction for them required of him as debt is of the bondsman, although he had none of the money, so is the righteousness of Christ laid upon them. In like manner, as their sins were made his, so is his righteousness made theirs. He is sin for them, not inherently, but by imputation; and they righteousness through him, not inherently, but by imputation.

This is the righteousness in which alone a sinner can stand acquitted at God’s bar? There he must make mention of this righteousness, even of this only: for none but this can answer the demands of the law, and expiate the curse of it, and this righteousness can be made his by no other way than by God’s imputing it to him; which, as it is the great truth held forth in my text, I will endeavour more fully to explain and defend by the following reasons:

And first, the ceremonial law taught this doctrine very clearly. Whenever a person had sinned, he was to bring his sacrifice to the priest, and to lay his hands upon its head, confessing his sins over it, and then the guilt was transferred to the sacrifice, and its blood was shed instead of his. This is mentioned several times in Leviticus 4. And of the scapegoat we read, Lev. 16:21, “Aaron, shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat.” All the sins of the children of Israel were passed over to the goat, but were they put into the goat, or were they inherent in him? No, this is too absurd to be supposed, but they were put upon the goat. And this was a very expressive image of our sins being laid upon Christ; for all the sacrifices represented him. As the scapegoat had imputed to him all the people’s iniquities, so had Christ all his people’s iniquities imputed to him; and as the goat did bear upon him all their iniquities, so Christ did bear all their sins in his own body upon the tree. What was prefigured by the type, was fulfilled by the reality, when Christ suffered once for sin, the just for the unjust: for then he was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Our righteousness is in him; this is a —

Second argument; That righteousness which is our justification before God is IN Christ. Believers have it not in themselves. They have not an inherent righteousness wrought out and attained by their own works, but their justifying righteousness was wrought out by another, and it is in him. How then can it be made theirs in any other way than by imputation? Must it not be transferred to them in the same way that their sins were transferred to him? And how were they transferred to him? They were imputed, not inherent; they were laid upon him, not into him. So his righteousness is in him, as their sins were in them, and it is imputed, not inherent; it is not put into them, but upon them. Their righteousness is in him, and he is the Lord their righteousness, and consequently that righteousness for which they are justified, cannot be in them; but it is made theirs when God imputes it to them, and they by faith receive it. The manner of receiving it, which is by faith, is the —

Third argument I shall bring in support of the apostle’s doctrine. Faith is the only instrument which God is pleased to use in applying Christ’s righteousness. The apostle calls it the righteousness of faith, because faith alone is employed in the application of this righteousness. It is never called the righteousness of any other grace, but of faith. We never read of the righteousness of humility, meekness, or charity; these are of great price in the sight of God, but they have no office in justifying a sinner. This belongs solely to faith: for to him that worketh not, but believeth, is righteousness imputed. It is not by working, but by believing, that sinners are justified. When they are convinced of sin, find no righteousness in themselves, hear the dreadful sentence of the law against the unrighteous, and feel in their guilty consciences some of the miseries which they deserve, then they are stirred up to seek for a righteousness in which they may stand acquitted before the judgment-seat of God. The scripture offers to them such a righteousness in Christ, and then God enables them to rest and to rely upon it for their justification, they then by faith have peace with God through Jesus Christ their Lord. Thus the convinced sinner is forced to seek a righteousness out of himself, and to rely upon the righteousness of another, and how can this be made or accounted his in any other way, than by imputation? how can he be made righteous in Christ, but by having Christ’s righteousness imputed to him?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Imputed Righteousness Defended (Part 1)

The Doctrine of Imputed Righteousness Defended
by William Romaine

Surely shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness. (Isaiah 45:24)
He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

IT is the great and merciful design of the gospel to acquaint a sinner, who is guilty and condemned by the holy law of God, how he may be pardoned and justified. Every one of us is a sinner: for all have sinned, and therefore all of us stand in need of pardon, and ought to receive it with thankful hearts as soon as the gospel offers it to us. But the greatest part of mankind are not sensible of their guilt, nor apprehensive of their danger. Sin has nothing in it terrible to them. They love it, dream of happiness in the enjoyment of it, and while this delusion continues, they see not their want of, and therefore have no desire for, the gospel salvation. But when one of these persons awakes and opens his eyes, he is then terrified at the sight of his present state. Sin appears to him in a new light: he finds it to be exceeding sinful, and the wrath of God revealed from heaven against it to be beyond measure dreadful. His guilty conscience alarms him with an awful sense of his danger, and makes him feel some of the punishment due to sin, and then he cannot be easy, until he know that his sins may be pardoned, and he cannot be happy, until he has some evidence of their being pardoned. Now Christianity is the only religion, which can give such a person relief: because it alone teaches him by what means he may be pardoned and justified, and have peace with God. He may be pardoned freely through the grace of God, and justified through the righteousness of Jesus Christ, whom God the Father hath made sin for us, although he knew no sin in himself, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him; and being thus justified by faith in him, we might have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Although this doctrine be clearly taught throughout the scriptures, yet there are at present two sorts of men who are great enemies to it, and who strive to keep convinced sinners from the comfort of it; I mean the papists, who go about to establish their own righteousness, and the Pharisees among us, who will not submit to the righteousness of God. The notion of the papists concerning merit is the foundation of all their errors. They teach, that Christ merited the grace for them, which is in them, and then this grace in them merits their justification, and for this inherent grace God doth justify them. And thus they make a Saviour of inherent grace, and put it in the place of Christ, and give his glory to their own works. But if inherent grace be our righteousness before God, then how does God justify the ungodly, who have no grace, or how can he justify a man for those graces which are imperfect, and which want the benefit of Christ’s atonement? Absurd as this opinion of theirs is, yet they must defend it. Their cause rests upon it: for if you take away their doctrine of merit, down falls the whole superstructure of their superstition, all their indulgences, pardons, pilgrimages, masses, fasts, penances, and the mighty Babel of man’s inventions. When this doctrine was grown to a monstrous height, it pleased God to raise up Luther and the rest of the reformers to preach against it. Their principal aim and design was to overthrow the merit of works, and to establish justification by faith only, and they succeeded. Several nations were converted from the errors of popery, and among the rest the inhabitants of this island. Our forefathers threw off the Romish yoke, and received the pure doctrines of the gospel, which amidst our several changes and revolutions of government have been happily preserved, until there has been of late years a manifest departure from them. Great multitudes of Protestants are going fast back again to Popery, and seemingly without knowing it; for it is a received opinion in England, as much as in France, that man’s works are effectual and meritorious towards his justification before God. This is the fundamental heresy of the papists, and how many nominal Protestants have fallen into it, our enemies can tell. They see, with pleasure, that there is very little appearance of religion left among us, and that some of our most decent professors are become papists in that leading principle, which separates the popish from the protestant communion.

Things being in this unpromising state, the friends of the Reformation should bestir themselves. They should try to point out the old land marks. This is more especially incumbent upon the clergy. It is high time for them to hold forth to their people the fundamental doctrines of the established church, and to warn them against the errors of popery and pharisaism. With this view, I have chosen the words now read for your present meditation; and may the Lord give his blessing to what shall be spoken upon them. Oh that he may accompany with the effectual working of his power what shall be said,

First, Concerning Christ’s unspotted innocence. He knew no sin. Yet,

Secondly, God made him to be sin for us; and

Thirdly, For this reason, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

And first, our Lord’s fitness to be made sin for us, is here set forth by his knowing no sin. He knew it not in the scripture sense of the word. He had no practical knowledge of sin, either in thought, word, or deed. Speculatively he knew it well, but that could not defile him; for it was the sin of others which he knew, and hated, and came to put away by the sacrifice of himself. Christ was perfectly acquainted with the holy, just, and good law of God; he saw clearly into the purity and spirituality of it, which could not suffer the least offence, being as holy, just, and good as God himself is, and being the copy of his most perfect mind and will. In this view our Lord beheld the odious nature of sin, and the exceeding sinfulness of it. He knew the hatred which the all-pure God had to it, the punishment it deserved, and the everlasting fire which it had kindled in the nethermost hell. No one ever understood these things so clearly as Christ did. He saw the destructive effects of sin, what disorder it had brought into the world, and to what temporal and eternal evils it had subject the bodies and the souls of men. He knew also that there was no help upon earth, and that no creature in heaven of the highest order of angels could deliver any one sinner from his distress, and much less a multitude; therefore his eye pitied us, and his compassion was moved at the sight of our lost and helpless state. Behold what manner of love he hath bestowed upon such sinners as you and me; a love which led him to do greater wonders to save, than he had before done to create us: for he, the most high God, blessed for ever, humbled himself to be made man. He, whom angels and archangels had been worshipping from the moment of their creation, took upon him the form of a servant, and came to save his people from their sins. Adore, my brethren, and praise this infinite condescension of the incarnate God: for it was for you who believe it by true faith, and for your salvation, that the Word was made flesh. He was equal to this great work, because he was perfect God and perfect man in one Christ, and as such he was absolutely free from sin, “he knew no sin,” he knew it not in practice. No sin, no inclination, no motion, or rising of sin, ever entered into his heart, and therefore he was pure from the least spot or stain of pollution.

The scripture is very plain upon this point. Christ was known in the times of the Old Testament by the titles of the Holy Name, the Holy One, the Holy One of Israel, and the prophet Isaiah speaks of the Lord the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One; and when the fulness of time was come, that this Holy One should be made flesh, he was conceived and born without the least taint of corruption, conceived of the Holy Spirit, and born of a pure virgin. Yea, the angel Gabriel pronounced him to be holy before his birth, in the message to the virgin, Luke 1:35. “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.” He was born holy, and such was the life of the holy child Jesus, as his birth had been. We may see clearly how pure he came into the world, from the purity with which he lived in it. How different was his life from ours; he knew no sin in thought, word, or deed. The prophet says, “He had a clean heart,” all his thoughts were clean; “He had pure hands,” all his actions were pure; “and he had a mouth without guile,” no idle, false, or sinful word ever passed through his lips. He was altogether holy, harmless, and undefiled, and separate from sinners. In the law of the Lord was his study and his delight. He came to glorify it, and by keeping it in its spiritual nature, and in its full extent, with every faculty of soul and body, and at all times he made it honourable. He paid it that obedience which it demanded, and continued in all things that were written in the book of the law to do them. Thus in him was no sin, sin being the transgression of the law. And accordingly we find him challenging his bitterest enemies upon this point. “Which of you,” says he, (John 8:45,) “convinceth me of sin?” Nay, he went further, and defied Satan himself, as well as the Jews, “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me,” no sin of mine own to lay to my charge.

From these passages it plainly appears, that Christ knew no sin. He was a pure and spotless lamb, holy and without blemish; and it was necessary he should be so: because, if he ever had any sin of his own he could not have obeyed and suffered for the sins of others. The infinite purity of God’s law can pass by no sin. Upon the least transgression, if it be but a thought or motion in the heart, the law passes sentence and condemns, “Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them:” and if you continue not to do them, justice calls aloud for the inflicting of the threatened curse, and waits to see it fully executed; therefore unless Christ had continued to do all things which are written in the book of the law, he could not have obeyed and suffered for the sins of others; because he would then have suffered for his own, which must not be imagined. It would be blasphemy to suppose any such thing. When the last scene of his sufferings began, he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, a lamb without blemish and without spot, such as the ceremonial law required. You know, my brethren, that no creature could be offered in sacrifice to the Lord, if it had the least blemish or deformity. By this type was prefigured the perfect sinless purity, which was to be in the great sacrifice for sin. He was to be a lamb without blemish, without the least spot or stain of sin, either in his nature or in his life, and such an one was the lamb of God. The apostle says expressly, 1 Pet. 2:22, “He did NO sin;” and St. John, 1 Eph. 3:5, speaks to believers, “Ye know, that he was manifested to take away our sins, and in him is no sin:” this was a known and established truth, that in Christ there was NO sin. If judgment was laid to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, there would be found in him a perfect conformity to the law. And this his active obedience was necessary to prepare him for his passive, that having obeyed the law actively he might suffer passively whatever was due to our disobedience. And that righteousness, by which we are accounted righteous before God, is the effect of his being obedient unto death, of his obedience to the perceptive part of the law, which was his fulfilling the righteousness of the law, and of his obedience to the vindictive part of the law, which was his bearing the cures of it. His active obedience was absolutely perfect. He knew NO sin, and therefore was every way fit and qualified to suffer for sin, “to be made sin for us,” as the apostle expresses it in my text, which words I am in the second place to consider.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Are You Ready For Some Revelation? (Part 4)

Having dealt with Benny Hinn’s ridiculous hermeneutics and his refusal to submit his teaching to the Analogy of Faith, I wish to now show an example or more of his absolute ignorance of church history as it relates to doctrine. Specifically, I want to show how Hinn and heretics like him frequently appeal to authors with whom they have nothing in common, as a way of lending an air of respectability to their teaching. This ploy only works with people who are equally ignorant of Church History.

I remember reading a ministry handbook by a Pentecostal who claimed that Augustine and Calvin spoke in tongues! The average person sitting in his audience or reading his book is likely to be completely unaware that a statement such as that is a lie – a bold-faced lie.

So here’s what Hinn says, “Now the Lord said to Nicodemus, ‘As Moses lifted up the serpent, so shall the Son of Man be lifted up.’ You know, that verse…years ago used to bother me… I thought, ‘Why the Lord comparing Himself to a snake?’ Well – I – someone put in my hand a book by Martin Luther, the great reformer. And I’m riding on a bus…reading this book called Justification by Faith by Martin Luther. … In this book he says, ‘There is a verse in the Bible that used to bother me.’ I was so amazed, I spoke out and said, ‘You too?’ [At which point the audience erupts in laughter.] God used this book to give me an incredible truth. Martin Luther says in his book, he says, ‘The Holy Spirit showed me what Jesus meant in this….”

I won’t finish the quote, since it is long and the remainder of it doesn’t matter to demonstrate what we need to see. Suffice it to say (A) Luther never wrote a book called Justification by Faith. (B) Luther never taught the spiritual death of Jesus. (C) Luther never claimed direct revelation from the Holy Spirit for any of his teachings. Luther vilified the Pope for making such claims!

Luther’s words are exactly the opposite, actually. He writes, “He is not a serpent; He is the lamb of God… Christ is not a serpent, a vile worm, a dragon or a demoniac as His slanderers claim. …Let them perish!” Luther’s Works 22:341-344

Now what are we to think of a man who cites authors who would curse him to his face under the pretext of doctrinal agreement?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Are You Ready For Some Revelation? (Part3)

In our first two posts, we looked at the Gnostic behavior of Benny Hinn with regard to interpreting Scripture and his appeal to direct divine revelation as the source of his teachings. Finally, we will look at his appeal to Novelty.

(3) Hinn’s hermeneutics are driven by an obsession with Novelty.

In one lecture, Hinn has God teaching Adam the Prosperity “Gospel” at the beginning of creation. Hinn declares, “Because the Bible declares, ‘In that garden was gold, the most precious gold found on the planet.’… Do you think God put it there just to tell Adam, ‘Here it is, just look at it and enjoy it?’ No, no, no. God put it there to let him know that He’s the God of abundance. Our God is not a poor God. He’s the God of abundance, saints.” (TBN’s Praise-a-thon April 1994)

Surely this interpretation is unique to Hinn.

Actually, nearly everything Hinn teaches is novel in this sense. While the spiritual death of Jesus is merely retreaded E.W. Kenyon heresy, much of Hinn’s teaching is unique to himself. Surely this is cause for alarm.

When one looks back over the centuries and finds no one who has held your views, this is noteworthy. No reputable Christian theologian ever taught that Adam could fly. I can’t imagine how brutally Hinn would have been castigated by Basil and the two Gregories for his tri-trinity of nine Persons in the Trinity! Athanasius would surely inveigh against him for his corrupt and degenerate views on the nature of Christ.

The Reformers always strove to show that their doctrine was consonant with the Church’s best teaching. They knew that innovation was another word for heresy. “Ours is the ancient tradition,” they said. “The innovations were introduced in the Middle Ages!” They issued anthologies of the Fathers to show the Fathers had taught what they were teaching.

Benny Hinn, on the other hand, boasts of innovation and novelty. “Well, let me tell ya – we’re not here to tell ya things you’ve heard for the last fifty years.” Again he says, “Please, please, please don’t think OCC is here to repeat something you’ve heard for the last fifty years…if we quit giving you new revelations we’re dead.”

Innovation is another word for heresy. The canon of Scripture is closed. Benny Hinn talks out of both sides of his mouth when he professes belief in the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture and then proceeds to brush Scripture under the carpet in favor of some “new revelation.” That is was in layman’s terms is called a lie. And we who the father of lies is!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Are You Ready For Some Revelation? (Part 2)

In the previous post, we examined Benny Hinn’s claim to some sort of Gnostic secret insider knowledge. He seems to assume that because he has lived in Israel, this somehow makes him, by osmosis, an expert on the biblical world. He boldly asserts familiarity with Hebrew. And flat-out claims knowledge that is beyond the grasp of Westerners.

The second trait of Hinn’s convoluted hermeneutics is his constant appeal to direct revelation from God, or a Divine origin for his teachings. We will now examine this.

(2) Divine origins of his teachings.

Commenting on the story of the blind man in John 9, Hinn claims that Jesus created new eyes for this man. “Where did he get such a farfetched idea?” you ask. “And the Holy Spirit gave me a marvelous answer.”

Trying to narrow down to few the claims of divine inspiration Hinn had made over the course of his career is impossible. This man has received more direct revelations from God than you can shake a stick at. “The Lord spoke so clearly to me… here’s what God said.” “And God really gave me a revelation that night.”

Hinn has taught the abominable word-faith message, the heretical spiritual death of Jesus message, the blasphemous 9-person tri-trinity and a host of other hell-spawned doctrines. He could perhaps be forgiven if he had simply taught these things as a result of ignorance and bad mentors within the Charismatic community. But, evil as that is, this is simply not the case with Hinn. He has appealed over and over to direct revelation from God. Revelations from God are the supposed source of his heretical and blasphemous teachings. So it is not enough to say, “I’m sorry.” Hinn cannot plead ignorance or lack of formal education, immaturity or bad ministerial training. He taught heresy all the while claiming that these doctrines were directly revealed to him by God. We don’t stone false prophets nowadays, but their sin is no less serious.

As a result of Hinn’s divine inspiration, he has taught that women originally gave birth out of their sides, that Adam could fly and breathe under water, that Adam was capable of interplanetary travel, that God has a physical body, and that the communion elements at the Lord’s Table actually turn into the true flesh and blood of Jesus.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Are You Ready For Some Revelation? (Part 1)

The way a person handles the Scriptures tells us a lot about their view and opinion of the Bible, himself, and his audience. Case in point: Benny Hinn and his bizarre hermeneutics.

Usually, the authority of the interpreter of Scripture is established by his training, his ecclesiastical investiture and proven accuracy over time. In other words, he’s gone to seminary, been ordained, and his track record has been accurate. Benny Hinn possesses none of these, so he relies on other things, namely (1) Insider’s knowledge, (2) Divine origins of his teachings, and (3) Novelty.

We will look at each.

(1). Insider’s knowledge. This is what has historically been called Gnosticism. It is the claim to some secret knowledge that only the initiated are attune to. In many of his writings, Hinn has stratified Christians into four levels, the fourth being those, who like him, have the “anointing.” Worse than that though, he appeals to his Middle Eastern heritage as if it somehow, by osmosis, gave him inside knowledge of the biblical world that is unavailable to us poor Westerners.

Here are his own words referring to Malachi 3:10: “Listen! Every time you give, God promises revival. ‘Windows of heaven’ deal with revival. And believe me when I tell you, I am an Israelite, from Israel, and I can read this thing in Hebrew and tell ya. And I know the culture and the tradition and the mentality… He says, ‘And ye shall be a delightsome land.’ And the word ‘delightsome,’ I looked it up – remember I am from that part of the world. The word ‘delightsome’ means in Hebrew ‘highly desired.’ 1990 Praise-a-thon.

So much could be said in response to this short excerpt, but notice these few things: First, he is NOT an Israelite. Hinn is an Arab. That has been firmly established by dozens of investigations into his past. He is not Jewish. Secondly, if he knows Hebrew so well, why does he have to, as he says, “look it up?” Thirdly, there is no Scriptural evidence that the word ‘windows’ always means ‘revival.’ Usually it means the same thing we mean when we say ‘window.’

In his sermon, “Who is this Jesus,” from March of 1994, he again asserts, “I am an Israelite. I know something that most Westerners don’t know.”

Here is where the accusation of Gnosticism I made earlier rears its ugly head. Since when is knowledge of Scripture dependant on where one was born? Never mind the fact that Hinn is a liar. He isn’t an Israelite. Besides, the Jews of Jesus’ day were both Israelites and true Jews. They spoke, read and understood the Hebrew Scriptures. Yet when the Messiah their Scriptures had foretold came, they failed to recognize Him.

Without fail, whenever Hinn appeals to his imaginary Jewish roots, his interpretation of the passage is always out in left field. His insider’s knowledge never leads him to a correct exegesis of the passage he boasts of understanding.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Less Accurate Prophecy?

Here is a sample of God’s test for prophets. A true prophet is always 100% accurate. There is no hint of growth in the prophetic gift, no hint of development of skill. Simply 100% accuracy or death.

But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. Deut. 18:20-22 (KJV)

I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. Jer. 23:21-22 (KJV)

Here, on the other hand, is a sample of the evasions used by today’s false prophets.

“The prophet who misses it occasionally in his prophecies may be ignorant, immature, or presumptuous, or he may be ministering with too much zeal and too little wisdom and anointing. But this does not prove him a false prophet. It is certainly possible for a true prophet to be inaccurate.” Bill Hamon, Prophets and Personal Prophecy.

“Bob [Jones] was told that the general level of prophetic revelation in the church was about 65% accurate at this time. Some are only about 10% accurate, a very few of the most mature prophets are approaching 85% to 95% accuracy. Prophecy is increasing in purity, but there is still a long way to go for those who walk in this ministry. This is actually grace for the church now, because 100% accuracy in this ministry would bring a level of accountability to the church which she is too immature to bear at this time. It would result in too many Annaniases and Sapphiras.” Rick Joyner, Morningstar Prophetic Newsletter, Vol. 3, No.2, Page 2

Friday, September 10, 2010

Children of The Covenant

When we plead God's covenant with Abraham (Genesis 17) as the Scriptural foundation for baptizing the infants of belivers under the Gospel, we proceed upon these four principles. No credobaptist has ever mounted a case against these four points. .

  1. God's covenant with Abraham is the same in substance as the covenant we are under as believers (Luke 1:54-74; Matthew 21:41,43; Romans 11:16,17; Galatians 3:8, 14, 16; Ephesians 2:13; Hebrews 6:13-18).

  2. In Abraham's covenant, infant were included with their parents and received the sign and seal of the covenant (Genesis 17:9).

  3. The promises to Abraham and his seed descends  in substance to believers and their seed (Acts 2:38,39). The covenant sign has been changed in the New Testament to baptism (Colossians 2:11,12).

  4. None of the promises and privileges granted to Abraham and his seed were ever repealed or revoked (Acts 2:38,39). 
The only way to evade the force of this argument is to deny that God's covenant with Abraham was a covenant of grace. Few theologians have ever tried this because it involves so many contradictions to reason and Scripture. Others fall back on the tired old "believe and be baptized" cop-out, wherein they insist that this is the order of events that must occur. One must believe first, then be baptized. The same could be said, however of Abraham - "believe and be circumcised," which indeed is what happened (Romans 4:9-12). This did not, however, keep him from applying the sign to his children, and indeed, this was actually commanded by God

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Highway to Hegel

Hegelianism is the philosophy of relativism. It asserts that all judgments of the mind are made relative to the person making the judgment. The outworking of this system is the gross indifference to traditional morality that pervades much of our world.

As such, pragmatism becomes the order of the day. Face it, if nothing is intrinsically right or wrong, but this assessment is purely my subjective valuation, then whatever gets me the desired results is the way to go. Nothing embodies this more that modern evangelism. And the culprit responsible for this irresponsible and unscriptural results-orientated approach to evangelism is none other than the poster-boy of revivalism, Charles G. Finney.

Finney’s numerical success was his vindication. In his Memoirs he confronts his critics thus, "Show me the fruits of your ministry and if they so far exceed mine as to give me evidence that you have found a more excellent way, I will adopt your views.” Countless heretics have resorted to this hogwash of an answer ever since. People who have no business being in Christian ministry justify their unorthodox practices by comparing their so-called “track record” to that of their critics. He with the highest score wins. Finney’s invincible answer to his objectors was: My results justify my methods. In other words: the ends justify the means.

Later generations of evangelists fell victim to this fallacious reasoning that “success” is the barometer of God's blessing. Billy Sunday, though ostensibly a Calvinist, stated, "Theory has got to go into the scrap heap when it comes to experience." This is unmitigated mysticism. Since when is Christian doctrine merely theory? So the doctrines of grace could be ignored by the evangelist. And if they could be ignored, why not rejected? Future generations of evangelists have chosen this path. D.L. Moody resorted to this same false reasoning when he said, "It makes no difference how you get a man to God, provided you get him there."

The million dollar question though is this: Do we get anyone to God? And secondly, does anyone come to Christ when His gospel is not preached? The answer to both questions is a resounding “NO!”

Yet this hasn’t stopped hundreds of preachers from trying anyway. Billy Graham, on more than one occasion invited people to the front to accept Christ as Savior even though, because of unforeseen circumstances, he was unable to preach. He simply said, in effect, “I can’t preach tonight, but if you’d like to accept Jesus as your Savior, come on down to the front and pray.”

Believe me, in my years of ministry I have seen far worse. I heard a preacher (and I use that term liberally in this guy’s case) ask for a show of hands of those who wished to go to Hell. All those who did not raise their hands, and there were none, he insisted come to the front to pray and accept Christ. The fact that this was merely an appeal to the basest self-interest of sinful man didn’t stand in the preacher’s way. He was going to fill his quota.

Nowhere in Scripture do we find an altar call. Nowhere do we find the Apostles inviting people to accept Jesus as their Savior by repeating some stock prayer. Yet this fact has not stopped thousands of preachers from doing it anyway. Nowhere are we commanded to do these things. There is neither a direct command/example, nor a way to deduce it as a principle taught in Scripture.

What is this but Hegelian relativism? Millions of people then have been introduced into Christianity with the notion that what Scripture actually says is probably not realistic in this day and age, and is certainly not practical (just ask Robert “Crystal Cathedral” Schuller).

The ridiculous antics of the “church growth” movement and the drivel of the “purpose-driven” lot are all the fallout of this mentality. It doesn’t matter how we get people to God (be it through raffles, mimes and clowns or Jonas Brothers concerts) as long as we can produce numbers. Who is some farm-town pastor with 25 members to complain about Rick Warren, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen or Bill Hybels? Their success speaks for itself. Or does it?

Visitor Counter

Flag Counter