Thursday, June 28, 2012

On Christian Love, A Sermon by Hugh Latimer, Part 2

St. Paul has an expression in the 13th chapter of the first of the Corinthians, which, according to the outward letter, seems much to the dispraise of this faith, and to the praise of love; these are his words, "Now abideth faith, hope and love, even these three; but the chiefest of these is love." There are some learned men who expound the greatness of which St. Paul speaketh here as if meant for eternity. For when we come to God, then we believe no more, but rather see with our eyes face to face how He is; yet for all that love remains still; so that love may be called the chiefest, because she endureth forever. And though she is the chiefest, yet we must not attribute unto her the office which pertains unto faith only. Like as I cannot say, the Mayor of Stamford must make me a pair of shoes because he is a greater man than the shoemaker is; for the mayor, though he is a greater man, yet it is not his office to make shoes; so though love be greater, yet it is not her office to save. Thus much I thought good to say against those who fight against the truth.
Now, when we would know who are in Christ's livery or not, we must learn it of St. Paul, who most evidently described charity, which is the only livery, saying, "Love is patient, she suffereth long." Now whosoever fumeth and is angry, he is out of this livery: therefore let us remember that we do not cast away the livery of Christ our Master. When we are in sickness, or any manner of adversities, our duty is to be patient, to suffer willingly, and to call upon Him for aid, help and comfort; for without Him we are not able to abide any tribulation. Therefore we must call upon God, He has promised to help: therefore let me not think Him to be false or untrue to His promises, for we cannot dishonor God more than by not believing or trusting in Him. Therefore let us beware above all things of dishonoring God; and so we must be patient, trusting and most certainly believing that He will deliver us when it seems good to Him, who knows the time better than we ourselves.
"Charity is gentle, friendly, and loving; she envieth not." They that envy their neighbor's profit when it goes well with him, such fellows are out of their liveries, and so out of the service of God; for to be envious is to be the servant of the devil.
"Love doth not frowardly, she is not a provoker"; as there are some men who will provoke their neighbor so far that it is very hard for them to be in charity with them; but we must wrestle with our affections; we must strive and see that we keep this livery of Christ our master; for "the devil goeth about as a roaring lion seeking to take us at a vantage," to bring us out of our liveries, and to take from us the knot of love and charity.
"Love swelleth not, is not puffed up"; but there are many swellers nowadays, they are so high, so lofty, insomuch that they despise and contemn all others; all such persons are under the governance of the devil. God rules not them with His good spirit; the evil spirit has occupied their hearts and possest them.
"She doth not dishonestly; she seeketh not her own; she doth all things to the commodity of her neighbors." A charitable man will not promote himself with the damage of his neighbor. They that seek only their own advantage, forgetting their neighbors, they are not of God, they have not His livery. Further, "Charity is not provoked to anger; she thinketh not evil." We ought not to think evil of our neighbor, as long as we see not open wickedness; for it is written, "You shall not judge"; we should not take upon us to condemn our neighbor. And surely the condemners of other men's works are not in the livery of Christ. Christ hateth them.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On Christian Love, A Sermon by Hugh Latimer, Part 1

This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. John 15:12

Seeing the time is so far spent, we will take no more in hand at this time than this one sentence; for it will be enough for us to consider this well, and to bear it away with us. "This I command unto you, that ye love one another." Our Savior himself spake these words at His last supper: it was the last sermon that He made unto His disciples before His departure; it is a very long sermon. For our Savior, like as one that knows he shall die shortly, is desirous to spend that little time that He has with His friends, in exhorting and instructing them how they should lead their lives. Now among other things that He commanded this was one: "This I command unto you, that ye love one another." The English expresses as though it were but one, "This is my commandment." I examined the Greek, where it is in the plural number, and very well; for there are many things that pertain to a Christian man, and yet all those things are contained in this one thing, that is, love. He lappeth up all things in love.

Our whole duty is contained in these words, "Love together." Therefore St. Paul saith, "He that loveth another fulfilleth the whole law"; so it appeareth that all things are contained in this word love. This love is a precious thing; our Savior saith, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye shall love one another."

So Christ makes love His cognizance, His badge, His livery. Like as every lord commonly gives a certain livery to his servants, whereby they may be known that they pertain unto him; and so we say, yonder is this lord's servants, because they wear his livery: so our Savior, who is the Lord above all lords, would have His servants known by their liveries and badge, which badge is love alone. Whosoever now is endued with love and charity is His servant; him we may call Christ's servant; for love is the token whereby you may know that such a servant pertaineth to Christ; so that charity may be called the very livery of Christ. He that hath charity is Christ's servant; he that hath not charity is the servant of the devil. For as Christ's livery is love and charity, so the devil's livery is hatred, malice and discord.

But I think the devil has a great many more servants than Christ has; for there are a great many more in his livery than in Christ's livery; there are but very few who are endued with Christ's livery; with love and charity, gentleness and meekness of spirit; but there are a great number that bear hatred and malice in their hearts, that are proud, stout, and lofty; therefore the number of the devil's servants is greater than the number of Christ's servants.

Now St. Paul shows how needful this love is. I speak not of carnal love, which is only animal affection; but of this charitable love, which is so necessary that when a man hath it, without all other things it will suffice him. Again, if a man have all other things and lacketh that love it will not help him, it is all vain and lost. St. Paul used it so: "Though I speak with tongues of men and angels, and yet had no love, I were even as sounding brass, or as a tinkling cymbal. And though I could prophesy and understand all secrets and all knowledge; yet if I had faith, so that I could move mountains out of their places, and yet had no love, I were nothing. And though I bestowed all my goods to feed the poor, and though I gave my body even that I were burned, and yet had no love, it profiteth me nothing" (I Cor. xiii). These are godly gifts, yet St. Paul calls them nothing when a man hath them without charity; which is a great commendation, and shows the great need of love, insomuch that all other virtues are in vain when this love is absent. And there have been some who taught that St. Paul spake against the dignity of faith; but you must understand that St. Paul speaks here not of the justifying faith, wherewith we receive everlasting life, but he understands by this word faith the gift to do miracles, to remove hills; of such a faith he speaks. This I say to confirm this proposition. Faith only justifieth; this proposition is most true and certain. And St. Paul speaks not here of this lively justifying faith; for this right faith is not without love, for love cometh and floweth out of faith; love is a child of faith; for no man can love except he believe, so that they have two several offices, they themselves being inseparable.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Selection Implies Rejection

Again, we will take up the ever popular doctrine of reprobation. One of the more common ways of delineating the doctrine is to affirm something like this: Predestination of the elect is an intentional choice of God; whereas reprobation is merely a permissive choice, leaving them to their own devices with no active participation on the part of God in the preterition of the reprobate. In simpler terms, it is asserted that God actively chooses the elect for salvation, but the reprobate He merely passes over. I have long struggled to see the logic in such a suggestion. Some 1800 years ago, Tertullian wrote what seems to me to be the logical downfall of such an assertion. He says “for selection implies rejection.”

What could be clearer? If you are offered the chicken or the fish, and you choose the fish, you have ipso facto, rejected the chicken. What difference is there between rejecting it and passing it over? You have not chosen it. That is what rejection means: not choosing something. Again Tertullian says, “A preference for the one is not possible without slighting the other, and no choice can be made without a rejection. He who selects some one out of many, has already slighted the other which he does not select.”

So it seems rather impossible, in my estimation, flawed though it may be, to assert that God merely passes over the reprobate. The Bible unapologetically declares that God’s whole purpose for raising up Pharaoh was to condemn him as a demonstration of God's justice. Paul writes, “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.’ So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, ‘Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?’ But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory” (Romans 9:17-23 ESV) The weight of Paul’s polemic is aimed at the natural assumption of fallen humanity that this is inherently unfair somehow.

But Scripture goes even further. We are told that God also hardens the reprobate and sends a spirit of delusion to them: “Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thess. 2:11-12 ESV)

And then going one step further, the Bible declares that God has predestined that they would stumble: “And ‘A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.’ They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.” (1 Peter 2:8 ESV)

Consonant with this are the two related statements of Jude: (a) “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, to those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:1 ESV) (b) “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:4 ESV) Jude puts the choice of the elect and the choice of the reprobate in the exact same relationship: God’s sovereign choice.

Lest we fall into the Arminian error that puts the cart before the horse by claiming that God foreknows what man will do, and then tailors His reactions to this, God informs us that He hated Esau before he was born and before he did good or evil: “though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—she was told, ‘The older will serve the younger.’ As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’” (Romans 9:11-13 ESV)

At bottom, it would appear to be a question of God’s sovereign control over all things. What advantage do we gain by saying that God is active in the choosing of the elect, but passive in the damnation of the reprobate? The very term reprobate implies their being the passive recipients of some judgment. Why isn’t it more consistent to say that if the elect are predestined to salvation that logically the opposite is also true?

Commenting on Proverbs 16:4, Matthew Henry writes: “Note, 1. That God is the first cause. He is the former of all things and all persons, the fountain of being; he gave every creature the being it has and appointed it its place. Even the wicked are his creatures, though they are rebels; he gave them those powers with which they fight against him, which aggravates their wickedness, that they will not let him that made them rule them, and therefore, though he made them, he will not save them. 2. That God is the last end. All is of him and from him, and therefore all is to him and for him. He made all according to his will and for his praise; he designed to serve his own purposes by all his creatures, and he will not fail of his designs; all are his servants. The wicked he is not glorified by, but he will be glorified upon.”

On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached, “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” (Acts 2:23 ESV)

For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ (Acts 2:27-28 ESV)

If ever there was a reprobate, surely this was Judas Iscariot. In reference to him, we are told: Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him. (John 6:70-71 ESV)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hooked on a Feeling

I have recently encountered, again, a strange infatuation among Reformed folk for the strange goings-on in Pentecostal circles. I could say a lot about this, but I will limit my remarks to a few salient points.

First of all, some exegetical remarks are not out of line. It is as clear as day that whenever the Spirit of God did anything out of the ordinary in Scripture, the result was doctrine, content. Peter stands up on the day of Pentecost and preaches theology. No one on Pentecost raved about how wonderful they felt! There is nary a mention in Scripture to feeling in conjunction with any revelatory activity by the Holy Spirit. Period!

Fast forward to the present, and all you find when the Spirit supposed moves (whatever that un-defined term is supposed to mean), is nothing but fluff and goose bumps. People go on and on about how wonderful and sublime they felt, but not a word is mentioned about content. And that right there is enough to prove false all the professed manifestations of the Spirit among Pentecostals.

Secondly, there is simply no way to get around the issue of the sufficiency of Scripture. Either God has revealed all He intends to reveal to us in the Bible or not. There is no third choice. Admit even the slightest sliver of a possibility for any kind of revelation however inane, and you have in practice, if not on paper, jettisoned Scripture as any kind of authority at all. It is all or nothing.

In his book The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, written in 1882, George Smeaton nails it perfectly when he writes:

“These extraordinary gifts of the Spirit were no long needed when the canon of Scripture was closed. Up to that pint they were an absolute necessity. They are now no longer so. Nor is the Church warranted to expect their restoration, or to desire prophetic visions, immediate revelations, or miraculous gifts, either in public or in private, beyond or besides, the all-perfect canon of Scripture. The Church of Rome, which still claims these extraordinary gifts, is to that extent injurious to the Spirit as the author of Scripture. And enthusiastic sects that cherish the belief of their restoration, or an expectation to that effect, have not learned or duly pondered how great a work of the Spirit has been completed and provided for the Church of all times in the gift of the Holy Scriptures.”

Sometimes people grow accustomed to things and forget the reasons why they do them. Reformed folk need to be reminded of why we have always held to the cessation of revelatory sign gifts. Warfield wrote that this was one of the protests of the Reformation that earned us the name “Protestant.”

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Is The Word "Sin" That Hard To Say?

Everywhere you turn these days, you are bombarded with articles, incidents, books, movies, etc., regarding homosexuality. Scan through any dozen news articles and there will always be three or four that mention it. It is my considered opinion that the pro-homosexual movement, from here on referred as the pro-Sodom agenda, is using exposure as a desensitizing influence on society. Keep something in front of the masses regularly enough and for long enough and they’ll start to see at as normal. Once the majority of people view something as relatively normal, all vestiges of the past will have been swept away.

This was brought home to me with peculiar impact by a documentary I saw a few days ago. The program was about the strange cosmetic surgeries some people want, and actually have done. I will not go into all the details of the show, but one example was a Russian woman who was having a procedure done in which her legs were broken, then her calves were stretched out millimeters at a time over a long period of time, thus making the new bones longer during the healing process. All of this agony was so that this woman could gain an inch or two in height.

Another woman had had a nose job, and several other procedures done to her face. She had ribs removed in order to get a small waistline. After nineteen breast related surgeries, she set her sights on an augmentation so outrageous that the unscrupulous American cosmetic surgeons, who had already bilked her on 19 other breast surgeries, laughed her out of their office. Not to be deterred, she went overseas and had the procedure done anyway. She contracted a horrific infection there which nearly took her life.

Through these, and the other portions of the program, the producers had a team of various experts, psychiatrists and psychologists commenting on these people’s strange behavior. The gist of all of the collective insight was simple: “These people have severe psychological problems. They have very big problems internally and they are trying to mask, evade or compensate for these by changing themselves externally. They should instead address their inner issues and change there rather than changing themselves on the outside.” Fair enough.

But then, lo and behold, there was a man who was having the first of several scheduled surgeries to change himself in a “woman.” So, of course he went to Thailand, were such profligate behavior is encouraged, and had the first surgery to feminize his face.

Based on all the comments by the panel of psychiatrists and psychologists, you could almost anticipate what they were going to say: “This man has a huge internal problem which he should change. Instead of ignoring it and forcing his external image to fit to his internal erroneous concept of reality.” But no dice. These same experts who decried cosmetic procedures which betrayed the subjects’ refusal to face reality by tampering with their bodies, then turned around and applauded this Sodomite for having to the courage to change his body, in the face of societal disapproval, because it is important to give yourself what you want to be happy. If this isn’t the acme of professional and ethical hypocrisy, nothing is!

As a Christian, you might expect a more consistent stance by our clergy. Yet again, no dice. Time after time, prominent ministers are queried (interesting word choice) regarding their position on homosexuality and one finds nearly as much waffling and hypocritical double standards. If one didn’t know better, one might think that the Bible has nothing to say about the matter. Yet time and again, pastors, with wide audiences and influence, mince words and obfuscate in a manner more becoming of ambulance chasers than ministers of the Gospel. It is really a very simple yes or no question: “Is homosexuality a sin?”  Plain answer: “Yes.” Now how hard is that? 

One is reminded of the highly satirical lyrics of the song by Steve Taylor, “What Ever Happened To Sin?” He writes:
“I heard the Reverend say,
‘Gay is probably normal in the Good Lord's sight.
What's to be debated?
Jesus never stated what's right’
I'm no theology nut,
But The Reverend may be a little confused.
For if the Lord don't care
And he chooses to ignore-ah
Tell it to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah”

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Another One Crosses The Tiber

There is hardly a more clearly stated and argued belief among all the Reformers than that the Pope is antichrist. Even the most cursory glance at the writings of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Knox, (the list could go on for pages) and one will see repeated and sustained references to this belief. They all held it unwaveringly and taught it unequivocally that the Pope of Rome is in very fact Antichrist.

This is the view which obtained in all the churches of the Reformation. However this view has fallen on hard times. There are a number of reasons why this has happened, but none of them have anything to do with the facts. It is very hip in Reformed circles to speak of the need for constant theological reassessment of our positions and not relying on the Reformers as if everything they wrote was infallible. This ostensible attempt at humility, while appearing to run counter to the Romish doctrine of papal infallibility, actual produces quite Romish results.

For starters, this Reformed distinctive (that the Pope is the antichrist), falling on hard times as it has, creates a very lenient view of error in the circles of its adherents. Affirm that the Reformers were wrong, or at least unfairly biased on this count, and you have undermined much of the Reformation itself. The whole purpose in founding Reformed congregations was because Rome is a false church: an Anti-church, if you will. It is led by a man who claims to be God’s stand-in here on earth vested with all the authority of the Almighty. The title he goes by, vicar of Christ, actually means “one who is in Christ’s place.” The Greek prefix anti does not mean “against” as it does in English; it means “in the place of.” Hence the Pope’s very title means antichrist. You would have thought that someone would have suggested something a little less obvious.

As for the religion itself, it really is antichristian in the truest sense of the word. John says that a defining trait of antichrist is the denial that Christ has come in the flesh. Of course, very few (except, of course, the Jesus Seminar) are so bold as to deny the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth. But denying that he came in the flesh does not necessarily mean denying that Jesus was a historical figure, nor does it have to be a retreat into Docetism. Popery denies Christ came in the flesh in a much more concrete, yet subtle way. What does that mean? Surely I can’t mean that they deny the Incarnation? No, not on paper they don’t. But in actions, they do. The entirety of their religion is a reversion to pre-Incarnation ritual and ceremony, which is in practice a denial and rejection of all that Christ accomplished. Their trademark mass is, as the Heidelberg Catechism puts it, “nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice and sufferings of Jesus Christ, and an accursed idolatry.” (Q80) Denying the sacrifice and sufferings of Christ is tantamount to denying that He came in the flesh, for these were the reasons why he came in the flesh!

No less authority than the Apostle John, (inspired by God, thus no less authority than God Himself) asserts plainly and unequivocally that to deny Christ came in the flesh is the hallmark of Antichrist.

I went into that rather verbose digression to explain why Evangelicals, like Jason Stellman are perverting to Rome. Rome denies outright the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura. We all know that. This is, in fact, one of the reasons why the Reformers held that the Pope is the Antichrist! He sits as God over the Church when he denies that the Scripture is not sufficient for doctrine and practice and then affirms on top of this that he alone is the channel through which God interacts with the Church. This is the very essence of the spirit of antichrist. Stellman’s own words betray his Romish views: "I have begun to doubt whether the Bible alone can be said to be our only infallible authority for faith and practice…”

It is quite vogue among Reformed people to deny that the pope is the antichrist. It will be affirmed, of course, that Roman Catholicism is a false religion, but let’s not lose our heads. Whatever the other contributing factors may be to this latest defection from the truth, this weakened position regarding Rome is no doubt a significant contributor.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Peter Calls Jesus Yahweh!

Anyone familiar with the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint (aka, the LXX), knows that the translators chose the Greek word κύριος (Lord) for the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, יהוה (YHWH). I give this short piece of background information simply to set up a very interesting observation about the New Testament use of the Old Testament.

It is frequently alleged by Watchtower Society members, as well as all other modern deniers of Christ’s deity that the New Testament makes no overt claims that Jesus is, in fact, God. It is further asserted, that when the New Testament calls Jesus “Lord,” it is not referring to deity but to His exalted position of authority. 

Here is where my point in mentioning how the LXX renders YHWH is comes into play in refuting this idiocy. And to drive home my meaning, I present this passage as Exhibit A. The Apostle Peter writes, “But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:14-15 ESV) 

In this passage, there is an Old Testament quotation. Peter is citing (and ALL scholars are agreed on this) Isaiah 8:12, 13, which reads: “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” (Isaiah 8:12-13 ESV) 

The quote of Isaiah runs from 1 Peter 3:14b-15a and cites Isaiah 8:12b-13a. But notice of whom Peter understands the words “LORD of hosts.” Again, Peter is citing the LXX rendering of this passage, which renders (YHWH) LORD as κύριος. 

Who does Peter say this κύριος (aka YHWH, the LORD of hosts) is? “Christ the Lord.” That’s right, Arius, Peter calls Jesus YHWH. You heard me right, Charles T. Russell, Peter explicitly calls Jesus God.

Since the Jews of the 1st century were familiar with the LXX’s rendering of κύριος for YHWH, I think we can safely assume, that all the New Testament references to Christ as “Lord” are overt statements of Christ’s Godhead. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

This is Biblical?

A few days ago, I overheard a most interesting and troubling conversation. Two ladies were discussing some preacher. At first I had no idea who they meant. The descriptions were glowing. I remember one lady remarking that the man’s sermons were just so chock-full of Scripture and biblical insight. Of course, at this point my curiosity was piqued. The lady went on to relate how she records all his messages and listens to them repeatedly because there is just so much biblical truth in the sermons, which, she added always seemed to speak directly to her current situation. To this the other woman replied, “That’s the way God works. His Word is powerful.”

So imagine my surprise, when I realized that this incessantly Scripture-quoting powerhouse of an exegete to whom they were referring was none other than Joel “Smiles-like-Martin-Short” Osteen!

I must confess, I haven’t listened to very much of his preaching (a rather grandiose term for what he does). But I have heard enough of it to form an adequate idea of the sort of nonsense he hawks from his podium week after week. Nearly everything he says falls into one of these categories: (1). Always smile and be positive because your positivity can make good things happen to you. (2). Never refer to anyone’s behavior, no matter how egregiously corrupt and/or immoral, as “wrong,” because you can’t see that person’s heart. (3). God wants to make your dreams come true, no matter how narcissistic or hedonistic they must seem to the Church Triumphant, not to mention the rest of the world. (4). It is never God’s will for anything unpleasant to happen to you.

Now, granted Joel and I may be reading from different versions of the Bible, but I have yet to encounter a single shred of Scripture that says anything remotely akin to any of that drivel!

Many people, especially his devoted fans, see nothing wrong about his message of “positive thinking.” And indeed, Osteen does exude a certain smiley positivity that seems unfair to critique. But in actuality, his is the deepest, darkest, most despairing and hopelessly negative message imaginable. This is the message of law without grace. It says in essence, “If you want anything good to happen to you, you have to make your own way in the world. You have to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. If you’re not happy with your live, make the omnipotent decision to be happy. You are the master of your own destiny.” There is not a more negative message conceivable! A message like this throws its hearers back onto themselves and their own pitiful efforts at appeasing the fertility god. It is a legalism that leaves you with no grace and merely your own efforts to do the impossible. It is Canaanite religion. By all your own effort at smiling, non-judgmental, undeterred positivity you must make the prosperity gods happy so that they will smile on you in the form of a new car and the best parking space to boot. This is the proverbial 'used car salesman' on HGH: selling you unadulterated rubbish as if it were the crown jewels.

For your perusal, below are several verbatim quotes from the great exegete himself for which I defy anyone, to show me where in the Bible these things are taught.

Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you're going to live your life.”

Do all you can to make your dreams come true.”

Faith activates God - Fear activates the Enemy.”

God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us.”

I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven. I don't know.”

If Jesus were here today, he wouldn't be riding around on a donkey. He'd be taking a plane; he'd be using the media.”

If we say it long enough eventually we're going to reap a harvest. We're going to get exactly what we're saying.”

If you want to rear financial blessings, you have to sow financially.”

It's God's will for you to live in prosperity instead of poverty.”

Most people already know what they're doing wrong. When I get them to church I want to tell them that you can change.”

To me, we're marketing hope.”

“We were old sinners - but when we came to Christ we are not sinners anymore.”

You can change your world by changing your words.”

You may make some mistakes-but that doesn't make you a sinner. You've got the very nature of God on the inside of you.”

I whittled this exhibit down from nearly four pages! Most of what he says, as another blogger humorously pointed out, sounds curiously like something you'd expect to find in a fortune cookie. But, that aside, can you imagine what kind of mind reads the Bible with any sort of regularity and imagines that this is the doctrine of Scripture? And how ignorant must people be of the actual contents of the Bible to hear this sort of tripe and think that Scripture countenances it! 

In truth the prophet proclaimed the judgment of God when he said: 

          “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD,
                   “when I will send a famine on the land—
          not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
                   but of hearing the words of the LORD.
          They shall wander from sea to sea,
                   and from north to east;
          they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD,
                   but they shall not find it.

(Amos 8:11-12 ESV)


Monday, June 4, 2012

The Method and Fruits of Justification, A Sermon By Martin Luther, Part 7

Christians may perceive by this whether they have in themselves the Holy Ghost, to wit, the Spirit of sons; whether they hear His voice in their hearts: for Paul saith, He crieth in the hearts which He possesseth, Abba, Father; he saith also, "We have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father." Thou hearest this voice when thou findest so much faith in thyself that thou dost assuredly, without doubting, presume that not only thy sins are forgiven thee, but also that thou art the beloved Son of God, who, being certain of eternal salvation, durst both call Him Father, and be delighted in Him with a joyful and confident heart. To doubt these things brings a reproach upon the death of Christ, as tho He had not obtained all things for us.

It may be that thou shalt be so tempted as to fear and doubt, and think plainly that God is not a favorable Father, but a wrathful revenger of sins, as it happened with Job, and many other saints: but in such a conflict this trust and confidence that thou art a son ought to prevail and overcome. It is said "The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; and that He beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God." How can it therefore be that our hearts should not hear this cry and testimony of the Spirit? But if thou dost not feel this cry, take heed that thou be not slothful and secure; pray constantly, for thou art in an evil state.

Cain saith, "My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, Thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth, and from Thy face shall I be hid; and it shall come to pass that every one that findeth me shall slay me." This is a dreadful and terrible cry, which is heard from all Cain's progeny, all such as trust to themselves and their own works, who put not their trust in the Son of God, neither consider that He was sent from the Father, made of a woman under the law, much less that all these things were done for their salvation. And while their ungodliness is not herewith content, they begin to persecute even the sons of God, and grow so cruel that, after the example of their father Cain, they cannot rest until they slay their righteous brother Abel, wherefore the blood of Christ continually cries out against them nothing but punishment and vengeance; but for the heirs of salvation it cries by the Spirit of Christ for nothing but grace and reconciliation.

The apostle here uses a Syrian and Greek word, saying, Abba, Pater. This word Abba, in the Syrian tongue, signifies a father, by which name the heads of monasteries are still called; and by the same name, hermits in times past, being holy men, called their presidents: at last, by use, it was also made a Latin word. Therefore that which Paul saith is as much as Father, Father; or if thou hadst rather, "my Father."

Verse 7. "Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." He saith, that after the coming of the Spirit, after the knowledge of Christ, "thou art not a servant." A son is free and willing, a servant is compelled and unwilling; a son liveth and resteth in faith, a servant in works. Therefore it appears that we cannot obtain salvation of God by works, but before thou workest that which is acceptable to Him, it is necessary that thou receive salvation; then good works will freely flow, to the honor of thy heavenly Father, and to the profit of thy neighbors; without any fear of punishment, or looking for reward.

If this inheritance of the Father be thine by faith, surely thou art rich in all things, before thou hast wrought anything. It is said "Your salvation is prepared and reserved in heaven, to be showed in the last time," wherefore the works of a Christian ought to have no regard to merit, which is the manner of servants, but only for the use and benefit of our neighbors, whereby we may truly live to the glory of God. Lest that any think that so great an inheritance cometh to us without cost (although it be given to us without our cost or merit), yet it cost Christ a dear price, who, that He might purchase it for us, was made under the law, and satisfied it for us, both by life and also by death.

Those benefits which from love we bestow upon our neighbor, come to him freely, without any charges or labor of his, notwithstanding they cost us something, even as Christ hath bestowed those things which are His upon us. Thus hath Paul called back the Galatians from the teachers of works, which preached nothing but the law, perverting the Gospel of Christ. Which things are very necessary to be marked of us also: for the Pope, with his prelates and monks hath for a long time intruded, urging his laws, which are foolish and pernicious, disagreeing in every respect with the Word of God, seducing almost the whole world from the gospel of Christ, and plainly extinguishing the faith of sons, as the Scripture hath in diverse places manifestly prophesied of His kingdom. Wherefore let everyone that desires salvation, diligently take heed of him and his followers, no otherwise than Satan himself.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Method and Fruits of Justification, A Sermon By Martin Luther, Part 6

None of these by themselves either help or hinder godliness or salvation. With those of Cain's progeny, faith neither agrees in name or anything else; one of them eats flesh, another abstains from it; one wears black apparel, another white; one keeps this day holy, and another that; everyone has his rudiments, under which he is in bondage: all of them are addicted to the things of the world, which are frail and perishable. Against these Paul speaks, "Wherefore, if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as tho living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances: touch not, taste not, handle not, which all are to perish with the using, after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh."
By this and other places above mentioned, it is evident that monasteries and colleges, whereby we measure the state of spiritual men as we call them, plainly disagree with the Gospel and Christian liberty: and therefore it is much more dangerous to live in this kind of life than among the most profane men. All their works are nothing but rudiments and ordinances of the world; neither are they Christians but in name, wherefore all their life and holiness are sinful and most detestable hypocrisy. The fair show of feigned holiness which is in those ordinances does, in a marvelous and secret manner, withdraw from faith more than those manifest and gross sins of which open sinners are guilty. Now this false and servile opinion faith alone takes away, and teaches us to trust in, and rest upon, the grace of God, whereby is given freely that which is needful to work all things.
Verse 4. "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." After Paul had taught us that righteousness and faith cannot  come to us by the law, neither can we deserve it by nature, he shows us by whom we obtain it; and who is the author of our justification. The apostle saith, "When the fulness of the time was come"; here Paul speaks of the time which was appointed by the Father to the Son, wherein He should live under tutors, etc. This time being come to the Jews, and ended, Christ came in the flesh; so it is daily fulfilled to others, when they come to the knowledge of Christ, and change the servitude of the law for the faith of sons. Christ for this cause came unto us, that believing in Him we may be restored to true liberty; by which faith they of ancient times also obtained the liberty of the Spirit.
As soon as thou believest in Christ, He comes to thee, a deliverer and Savior; and now the time of bondage is ended; as the apostle saith, the fulness thereof is come.
Verse 6. "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." Here we see plainly that the Holy Ghost cometh to the saints, not by works, but by faith alone. Sons believe, while servants only work; sons are free from the law, servants are held under the law, as appears by those things that have been before spoken. But how comes it to pass that he saith "because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit," etc., seeing it is before said that by the coming of the Spirit we are changed from servants to sons: but here, as tho we could be sons before the coming of the Spirit, he saith "because ye are sons," etc. To this question we must answer, that Paul speaks here in the same manner that he did before, that is, before the fulness of the time came, we were in bondage under the rudiments of the world: all that shall become sons are counted in the place of sons with God: therefore he saith rightly, "because ye are sons," that is, because the state of sons is appointed to you from everlasting, "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son," to wit, that He might finish it in you, and make you such as He hath long since of His goodness determined that He would make you.
Now if the Father give unto us His Spirit, He will make us His true sons and heirs, that we may with confidence cry with Christ, Abba, Father; being His brethren and fellow heirs. The apostle has well set forth the goodness of God which makes us partakers with Christ, and causes us to have all things common with Him, so that we live and are led by the same Spirit. These words of the apostle show that the Holy Ghost proceeds from Christ, as he calls Him his Spirit. So God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son, that is, of Christ, for He is the Spirit of God, and comes from God to us, and not ours, unless one will say after this manner, "my Holy Spirit," as we say, "my God," "my Lord," etc. As He is said to be the Holy Spirit of Christ, it proves Him to be God of whom that Spirit is sent, therefore it is counted His Spirit.

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