“The call to Christ is never to simply begin trusting Christ for your salvation. You have to also stop trusting other things for your salvation. “Repent” and “believe” go together not as two completely different things, but as two sides of the same coin.” – Timothy J. Keller
God of Heaven
God of Heaven, God of all the earth and sky.
Great Creator, Master of all nature.
Who gives birth to snow from heaven,
Holds the waves at ocean’s edge,
Gives the orders to the morning,
Shows each dawn its place to shine?
God of Heaven, God of all the earth and sky.
God of Ages, God who wrote the Book of Time.
Sovereign Ruler, Alpha and Omega.
Saints before, He’s guided safely.
History’s pages signed by Him.
Author of our days and hours;
Things to come are held secure.
God of Ages, Alpha and Omega.
God of Power! God who breaks the darkness.
Righteous Warrior, Champion of His children,
Goes before us into battle;
Good and evil bow to Him,
Those in bondage freed forever,
Victories won at His command!
God who heals us, God who gives us peace and hope.
God who listens, Carries all our fragile
Dreams and heartaches, wins and failures;
Binds the broken; hides the weak.
New beginnings freely offered;
Who can make us whole again?
God who heals us, God of Power,
God of Ages, God of Heaven,
God of all the earth and sky.
Words and Music by Heather Sorenson
Sung By The Steve Pettit Evangelistic Team- from album Come Boldly.
Easy Believism, Evangelism, faithful, Gospel, Gospel of Jesus Christ, James Alexander Stewart, Jesus Christ, King of kings, Kingdom of God, Lord of lords, Lordship, repentance, salvation, sinner, sins
The Lordship of Christ: Shifting the Emphasis
by Stewart, James Alexander
“During the past thirty years we have noticed a gradual, subtle shift in the emphasis of the ‘Gospel of the glory of Christ,’ which amounts to a complete perversion of the blessed evangel. The emphasis in our modern day evangelism has shifted from that of the lordship of Christ to an easy ‘believism.’ This shifting of the emphasis has led to an adulterated Gospel and changed the message and the ministry of the Church.
Both movements and men have so often given the impression that the acceptance of the lordship of Christ is a second experience of grace, or a sort of optional addendum to the Christian life. Peter declared in his apostolic message, ‘Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.’ (Acts 5 : 31). Christian workers today have reversed this Scriptural order and set forth Christ as Saviour first before His office as Prince. This teaching is nothing less than a complete sell-out to the world, Modernism and Satan. So great has been the perversion that many congregations are astounded when they hear the true Gospel of the lordship of Christ. They believe that we are preaching a new gospel. We know of a certain faithful evangelist who is preaching the same old Gospel which was taught him in his denominational seminary twenty-five years ago. Today that same evangelist, with his message, is rejected by the evangelical churches of that denomination. And for what reason? They accuse him of preaching a new gospel which is but the old Gospel of the lordship of Christ.
Satan has employed every seductive and deceptive force at his command to cause God’s messengers to bypass, or omit altogether, the lordship of the Redeemer. The reasons for this change of emphasis are not difficult to understand. May we mention some:
First, they want to preach a popular gospel of easy ‘believism’ in order to attract the world to God’s message. They set forth the joy of belonging to Christ, while deliberately omitting the dark background of man’s total depravity. The inference is thus: ‘That which our fathers taught is old-fashioned. They had a narrow view of the Gospel. It isn’t necessary to give up the pleasures of the world and sin. Just believe and be saved.’
Second, many honest and sincere Christian workers are so anxious to rescue lost men and women from eternal damnation that they seek to meet the sinner half way. ‘Yes, it is true,’ they say, ‘that Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords, but don’t let that upset you. You need not receive Christ as Lord now; just receive Him as Saviour and all will be well.’ How many times have we been severely pained when some eager evangelist or personal worker has cried out, ‘Do you believe that? Then you are saved!’ Such a parody of truth must not go unchallenged. A sinner can ‘believe that’ and go to hell. A sinner can believe John 3:16 and other Gospel passages and still go to hell.
Third, in our feverish haste to multiply results by mass production, we lower the standard of the Gospel proclamation. This is a great day of religious machinery, and the machinery must show huge, immediate results for its propaganda and organization. As never before the Christian press is panting after sensational news of great results from our evangelistic endeavors. Unlike our Master many workers fail to warn their audiences to count the cost. (Luke 14 : 25-33). A preacher’s success is judged today mainly by the size of the crowds he draws. In John, chapter six, the Saviour preached His crowd away! ‘Many therefore . . .when they had heard. . . said, This is an hard saying who can hear it ? From that time many . . . went back, and walked no more with him.’ (John 6:60-66).”
Stewart, James Alexander (13 Feb. 1910-11 July 1975), missionary, evangelist, and author, was born in Glasgow, Scotland.
atonement, cross, Evangelism, Forgiveness, God, Gospel of Jesus Christ, grace, Holiness, Justification, Lamb of God, mercy, Muslim, preaching, repentance, salvation, sinner, sins, sovereignty, Thabiti Anyabwile
Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile, in a Muslim-Christian Dialogue held in Dubai, answering the question : How can we find forgiveness from a Holy God ?
The atonement work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross as the perfect Lamb of God provides the means of propitiation and satisfaction to a Holy God. (Rom 3:25, Heb 2:17, 1Jn 2:2, 1 Jn 4:10) It is the only way that a Holy God can remain as just and also the justifier of the ungodly sinners. (Rom 3:26) This is the “scandal of grace”. Forgiveness of ungodly sinners brought about by God demonstrating amazing grace in imputing the sinners’ sins upon His only Son Jesus Christ (Rom 5:8) and then pouring out His righteous wrath in executing penal judgment on His Son and thereby crushing Him on the cross (Rom 5:9). That was what the Old Testament sacrificial system of bloody animal sacrifices has always meant to point to. (Heb 9: 11-15) God will provide a sacrifice, a perfect Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world.
In a post titled A Bloody Religion – Pure Church, Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile wrote that Christians must remember and be constantly reminded by their pastors that their forgiveness and acceptance by a Holy God is on solely on the basis of the Lord Jesus Christ’s bloody, perfect, penal and sacrificial atonement on the cross. Jesus Christ is that perfect sinless Lamb which was slaughtered by God. Jesus Christ shed His blood to bring about the remission of sins. A Holy God already judged and duly canceled the past and future sins of the ungodly sinners elected by His sovereign grace. That is how ungodly sinners can find forgiveness from a Holy God.
“That’s the Old Testament sacrificial system. It’s bloody.
But do we imagine Christianity to be an less bloody? Do we imagine the fulfillment of those patterns and prophesies to bring a more sanitary, sterile, cleaner religion? If we do, we’ve lost sight of significant realities.
Is not our salvation purchased with blood? The blood of the Son of God still flows. It flows to the chief of sinners. It still washes and cleanses. It doesn’t drain into a basin, but reaches the nations. And without the shedding of His blood, there is no remission of sins. ….
What about you, pastor? Does not our continuing ministry require blood? Do your daily ministrations involve less blood than the blood Old Testament priests once put their hands in? If so, you’re doing it wrong. Are our people any less broken by sin? Do they need repentance less? Can they leave off confession and forget to seek a good conscience? Certainly not. But how will they be comforted? How will they be assured of their forgiveness? What will they do with their guilt? Do we not return them to that precious fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins? Do we not stand awash in blood and with our hands of counsel rub blood–not on an altar–but on our people? And are they not cleansed of all unrighteousness when they’re taught to confess, repent, and return to a faithful and just God who is pleased at the sight of His Son’s blood? We remind them that atonement has been made, which is to remind them of blood–Jesus’ blood.
Ours is a bloody religion.“
Past related posts on Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile‘s participation in previous Muslim-Christian Dialogue also held in Dubai.
“There are only three kinds of Christians when it comes to world missions: zealous goers, zealous senders, and disobedient. May God deliver us from disobedience!”
“Go therefore into all the world and make disciples.” This is the version of the Great Commission that many of us memorized. However, it leaves out a great deal. To begin with, it leaves out the whole rationale for the commission in the first place. Although it sounds a little corny, a good rule of thumb in reading the Scriptures is that whenever you find a “therefore” you need to stop and ask “what it’s there for.”
When we see an imperative such as “Go therefore,” we need to go back and look at what has already been said leading up to it. There is no reason for us to go into all the world as Christ’s ambassadors apart from the work that he has already accomplished.
The Great Commission actually begins with the declaration, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28:18). This is the rationale for everything the church is called to do and to be. The church’s commission is indeed directed by a purpose (“making disciples of all nations”), but it is driven by a promise ……………….
The church’s mission is grounded in God’s mission, which he fulfilled objectively in his Son and whose subjective effects he is bringing about in the world through his Spirit. Because the Father sent the Son and then the Spirit, we are sent into all the world with his gospel…..
And God is the original missionary. He was a missionary in creation: speaking the world into being by his Word, in the power of his Spirit. Adam was commissioned to bring the whole earth under submission to God’s righteous rule, but he forfeited this calling. Israel too was called out by God as “a light to the Gentiles.” Yet, “like Adam, Israel transgressed the covenant” (Hos. 6:7). In the fullness of time, however, the Father sent the Son into the world to save sinners. In his post-resurrection appearances to the disciples, Jesus not only preached himself as the center of Scripture (Luke 24:27, 44), he made their proclamation of him part of that mission as well: “‘This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem’” (vv. 45-47). And after his ascension, the Son together with the Father sent the Spirit at Pentecost. God’s mission, of course, is qualitatively distinct from ours. The triune God is the Redeemer; we are the redeemed. But the redeemed are given the privilege of participating in God’s mission to the world by proclaiming the gospel, administering the sacraments, and caring for the expanding flock of Christ.
“In preaching, not only is the minister giving us doctrinal and moral instruction (though that is involved), but God is actually killing us and making us alive, writing us out of the “in Adam” story and into his new script of the new creation.
Throughout the Scriptures, God’s Word through the lips of sinful ambassadors is spoken of as “the power of God for salvation” (Rom 1:16,cf. Mark 8:38. 1 Cor 1:18, 24; 2:9) and effective in every mission for which it is sent (Isa 55:10-11). The Word of God is inherently “living and active” (Heb 4:12), judging and justifying (vv.13-14). Peter tells us that we have been “born again …..through the living and abiding word of God……..And this word is the good news that was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:23,25). The gospel does not merely tell us how to “get saved”, as though it were an instruction manual (another command); it is the means through which God actually saves sinners.”
p 169 “The Gospel Commission: Recovering God’s Strategy for Making Disciples” By Michael Horton
“This is not an invitation to moral apathy but to godly sanity. The bad news is far worse than occasionally failing to live up to my potential. The smallest sin in my eyes–not only what my hands have done, but what I’ve conceived in my heart–is sufficient to banish me from God’s holy and joyful presence forever. But the good news is far greater than the bad news is bad. The good news is far greater than “just try harder next time.” In fact, that is not good news at all because I know that God does not grade on a curve and he has not asked me to try harder. He demands perfect righteousness, not good intentions. The harder I try to cover up my nakedness in God’s presence, the more I hate God, fleeing in self-deceit from his terrifying presence. Left to myself, I will always accuse God and excuse myself–even using religion to hide my ineradicable guilt. The good news is that Christ’s righteousness is greater than my sin. Fully absolved in Christ, I am free to confess my sins, receive the assurance of pardon, and go on in my imperfect yet Spirit-led obedience.”
- Michael S. Horton, Christless Christianity, 121.
atonement, cross, Evangelism, Forgiveness, God, Gospel, Gospel of Jesus Christ, grace, Hymns & Songs, Jesus Christ, Justification, Lamb of God, Ransom, Redeemer, Redemption, salvation, sinner, sins, Steve Pettit Evangelistic Ministries, Stuart Townend, Worship
How Deep The Father’s Love For Us
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory
Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
How Deep The Fathers Love For Us -lyrics by Stuart Townend
Singing: Steve Pettit Evangelistic Ministries
Another similar posting on this hymn:
In a 2010 article from WSJ (see below), the writer who was an observer at Edinburgh 2010 World Missionary Conference opined the “dramatic change” and “paradigm shift” in the focus of world mission today, away from original focus of the commission that Jesus has commanded to one which is merely a vacation style outreach “to battle the ills of poverty and to stretch their own spirituality.”. This is the sad state of mission boards and its supporting churches which have lost its understanding of the Gospel and that they exist to spread the good news of the Gospel and to make disciples of all nations for the glory of God.
It appears that 21st century mission boards and missionaries have lost sight of purpose and intent of the Great Commission that the Lord Jesus Christ has commanded all Christians and for which He has promised His power to enable them to do so faithfully: “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matt 28:18-20.
How Missionaries Lost Their Chariots of Fire
by Mr. Greenberg-the creator of TheGodBlog.org.
The 1910 World Missionary Conference was a watershed moment for Protestantism. Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, the assembled 1,200 Protestants believed that Christianity was on the cusp of spreading to every corner of the world, and that Christ would come again once every ear had heard the good news of salvation. Their master plan for missions would hasten his return.
But Edinburgh 2010, the centenary conference that concluded last month, drew only about a quarter of the crowd and received attention only from a few Christian publications. The modern master plan was less ambitious as well: a call to global missions and “to witness and evangelism in such a way that we are a living demonstration of the love, righteousness and justice that God intends for the whole world.”
This dramatic change was summed up at a small gathering of academics and missions professionals at Fuller Theological Seminary in late May. “At (1910) Edinburgh, people thought they were going to take over the world,” said C. Douglas McConnell, dean of Fuller’s School of Intercultural Studies in his opening remarks. “And now many of our students wonder if they should even try.”
Indeed, colonialism is dead (thankfully). But the term “missions” itself now carries with it a negative connotation, even in politically and theologically conservative circles. Christians today typically travel abroad to serve others, but not necessarily to spread the gospel.
While meaning well and certainly doing good, this form of outreach has allowed the pendulum to swing too far from 1910. Today, Christian missionaries need to balance both actions and words. The overwhelming majority of American missionaries today are “vacationaries.” Joining mission trips of two weeks or less, they serve in locales where Christianity already predominates.
The purpose, then, of their visit is to battle the ills of poverty and to stretch their own spirituality. According to studies by Robert J. Priest, a missiologist and director of the doctoral program in intercultural studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 82% of short-term missions today go to countries in the most-Christian third of the world. Only 2% land in the Middle East.
The work these missionaries do reflects a paradigm shift—from spreading Christianity, to living it, …………………….missions experts note rising interest in strictly social justice and humanitarian work, even on short-term visits.
…..Unless foreigners explain that they are motivated to help by their religious beliefs, locals may be grateful for the new home but they should not be expected to connect dots that they may not even know exist.
The reality is the Church should be doing both: serving the needy and spreading the gospel. This is what makes the humanitarian work of Christians different than that of the American Red Cross. Both are motivated by the desire to help others, but Christians are spurred by that Jesus thing…………..
by Mr. Greenberg-the creator of TheGodBlog.org.
Read the full article at @ How Missionaries Lost Their Chariots of Fire
Creation, Creator, Evangelism, faith, Faithfulness, Gospel, Gospel of Jesus Christ, Great Comission, Heaven, Holy Spirit, Hymns & Songs, Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, Messiah, Missions, Omnipotence, Power, Resurrection, Victory
By faith we see the hand of God
In the light of creation’s grand design
In the lives of those who prove His faithfulness
Who walk by faith and not by sight
By faith our fathers roamed the earth
With the power of His promise in their hearts
Of a holy city built by God’s own hand
A place where peace and justice reign
We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul’s reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight
By faith the prophets saw a day
When the longed-for Messiah would appear
With the power to break the chains of sin and death
And rise triumphant from the grave
By faith the church was called to go
In the power of the Spirit to the lost
To deliver captives and to preach good news
In every corner of the earth
We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul’s reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight
By faith this mountain shall be moved
And the power of the gospel shall prevail
For we know in Christ all things are possible
For all who call upon His name
We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul’s reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight
by Keith and Kristyn Getty | from the album Awaken the Dawn
A W Tozer, Discipleship, Evangelism, faithful, Gospel, Gospel of Jesus Christ, grace, Holiness, Holy Spirit, Justification, Mega Church, Obedience, preaching, Prosperity Gospel, repentance, salvation, seeker friendly, Seeker Sensitive, sinner, sins, Truth
” Neo-Christianity, which seems for the time to be the most popular(and is certainly the most aggressive), is very careful not to oppose sin. It wins its crowds by amusing them and its converts by hiding from them the full implications of the Christian message. It carries on it projects after the ballyhoo methods of American business.” – A.W. Tozer from “The Next Chapter after the Last, p. 18.
” The feeling that we got to make converts at any cost has greatly wounded the Church of Christ. We must present the truth as we are told to present it and let the Holy Ghost(Spirit) work and the individual man decide whether he will accept it or not. This soft, pussy idea that in order to keep people coming and giving and filling the seats we don’t dare in any wise offend them, and we’ve got to make everything smooth and soft, is not New Testament.” -A.W. Tozer from sermon, “This I Believe,” 1969.
“The temptation to modify the teaching of Christ with the hope that larger numbers may ‘accept’ Him is cruelly strong in this day of speed, size, noise, and crowds. But if we know what is good for us, we’ll resist it with every power at our command. To yield can only result in a weak and ineffective Christianity in this generation, and death and desolation in the next.”- A.W. Tozer from the “The Size of the Soul”, p. 119.
“The crowds-at-any-price mania has taken a firm grip on American Christianity and is the motivating power back of shockingly high percentage of all religious activity. Men and churches compete for the attention of the paying multitudes who are brought in by means of any currently popular gadget or gimmick ostensibly to have their souls saved, but , if the truth were told, often for reasons not so praiseworthy as this.” A. W. Tozer from “The Size of the Soul”, p. 117.
Galatians 1:6-12 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.“
“In my mind, the most significant problem facing evangelicalism today is that evangelicals are assuming the Gospel—and, because of this, I fear we are a generation away from discarding it altogether. The reasons for this are many: the legacy of the seeker-sensitive movement with its emphasis on pragmatism, the rise of postmodernism, theological preaching that lacks the evangelical priority, et al.
How should we respond to this? Christocentric preaching and teaching! Christocentric ministries! Christocentric ministries! We need to pray for a generation of pastors who will be: 1) courageous enough to disregard popular ministry methodologies that undermine the Gospel; and, 2) consumed enough with God’s glory to cease measuring success by the numerical size of a congregation.” Pastor Art Azurdia
For Posts Related to Pastor Art Azurdia:
cross, Evangelicalism Divided, Evangelism, Evangelist, faith, Gospel, Gospel of Jesus Christ, Heaven, Hell, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, John Macarthur, mercy, Missions, repentance, salvation, sinner, sins, Truth
“It would seem that everybody in evangelical Christianity, everybody who is truly a Christian, would understand that the gospel is the heart of Christianity, that the gospel is found only in the Scripture. And that the gospel must be preached to the ends of the earth. ……. The heart of the Christian faith is the gospel. The gospel is found in the New Testament. The foundations of the gospel are found in the Old Testament. And the gospel must be preached to the ends of the earth if people are to be saved. That’s essentially the Christian mission.
“That’s what the church has believed. That has compelled its life. That has been its mandate. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in My name and teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” He said it another way. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”……..That has been the church’s mandate. True Christians have always believed that. The true church has always taught that. We have believed and been compelled by the fact that if people don’t hear the gospel, they can’t be saved. And if they aren’t saved, then they’ll spend eternity in hell under the judgment of God. So it is absolutely critical that the world hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. That they not only hear it but that they understand it accurately. That they believe it. That they embrace it for themselves because it is the only saving truth.”
“Compelled by this clear biblical mandate, Christians through the centuries have taken the saving message to the ends of the earth. Generation after generation they have been engaged in doing this. Preaching the gospel to every person on earth has been the goal of the church. I have told you many times that that’s the only reason we’re still here. We’re already saved and sealed for eternity. There’s no reason to leave us here except for this responsibility of evangelism.”
“Now we believe that the Bible is very clear that salvation comes through believing in Christ. Believing in Christ comes from hearing and understanding the gospel. Being able to hear and understand the gospel can only occur if somebody takes the message. And somebody can only take the message if they’re sent with it. And that’s what Romans 10 says, “You’re saved by believing in Christ but you can’t believe in Christ unless you hear about Christ. You can’t hear about Christ unless somebody preaches. And somebody is not going to preach unless they’re sent. And that is our mandate and that has been the mission of the church since the church was born on Pentecost and Jesus said, “You’ll receive the Holy Spirit and you’ll be witnesses unto Me in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost part of the earth.” Since the church was launched till today, uncounted millions of dollars in every currency on the map of the world and millions of hours of effort and work and millions of Christian people through the centuries have been spent and sacrificed to take the only message of salvation to the edges of the earth. Translation work, rigorous, difficult, challenging work of taking a language that isn’t even written and developing an alphabet and developing a way to write that language and then teaching the people to read their own language when they’ve never even seen it. And then giving them the scriptures and the gospel, leading them to Christ, rigorous work that takes decades and then printing materials in every language, preaching, teaching, evangelizing…that’s what the church has been engaged in since its calling, since the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. An unrelenting effort to use every means available to reach people with the only message that can save them from eternal judgment and that’s the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.“
“Now all of that is bad enough and we’ve tried to address that. But there’s a new wave in the evangelical world that is at least as frightening, if not more frightening. And the new wave in the evangelical world is this, there are some people who are telling us it isn’t necessary to even take the gospel to the ends of the earth. It’s not necessary. People are being saved without it…without it.”
“Well what does the Bible have to say about this? Do we have a biblical case for the…for the exclusivism? Do we have a case for the fact that if you don’t know the gospel and if you don’t believe in Jesus Christ, you aren’t going to heaven?…….The answer to that is yes.“
selected quotes from The Exclusiveness of the Gospel, Part 1 -December 31, 2000 by John Macarthur.
Holy God in love became
Perfect man to bear my blame
On the cross he took my sin
By his death I live again.
Read here for a blog entry on “The Gospel Song – An Animation” by Bob Kauflin.
Separating from Unbelievers, Part 2
2 Corinthians 6:14-16
by John MacArthur
(below is an extract from the sermon)
“Do not be bound together with unbelievers for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, just as God said, `I will dwell in them and walk among them and I will be their God and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord, `and do not touch what is unclean and I will welcome you and I will be a Father to you and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ says the Lord Almighty. Therefore having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
Now as I pointed out last time, this passage identifies two opposing worlds. The terminology is clear. One of those worlds is marked by righteousness, light, Christ, believers, and the presence of God. The other is marked by lawlessness, darkness, Satan, unbelievers, and the presence of false gods. And these two worlds are utterly different and distinct, so much so that they are mutually exclusive. They cannot work together in common partnership, they cannot fellowship together, they are not in harmony with one another. One is old, the other is new. One is earthly, the other is heavenly. One is deadly, the other is life giving. One is wicked, the other holy. One is built on lies, the other is all truth. One perishes and the other lives eternally.
Paul then is making it clear that believers can’t live in both worlds. Certainly John said this in his first epistle, 1 John, when he clearly identified this disparity between the two worlds with these familiar words, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Mutually exclusive worlds. You can’t be in both at the same time.
Then in James we read in chapter 4 and verse 4, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God. Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” And later in verse 8 he says, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded.” People trying to live in two different worlds.
In Romans chapter 12, of course that very, very familiar passage that begins the exhortation part of Romans, “I urge you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship, and do not be conformed to this world.” Make a clean break.
When a person becomes a believer they are transported out of one world into another. And shuttling back and forth is absolutely unacceptable. And that is precisely what the Corinthians were trying to do. Having named the name of Christ, identified with Him, come into the church, they were still hanging on to their own idolatry, their old pagan ways. They had come to Christ out of idolatry, as it says in 1 Thessalonians, they had come to serve the living and the true God from idols. But they didn’t make a clean break. They had been wooed back into the old idolatry, back into the old pagan culture because it was so pervasive, and so dominant and it was so on display and so woven into the fabric of their life, family life, social life, community life. Corinth was dominated above the city by an acropolis, a high mountain on top of which was the temple to the false deities which engaged itself in pagan ritual and worship and priest…priestess prostitution. This temple not only was the center of that religion, but from it disseminated its religious viewpoints and ideologies through the entire culture of Corinth. It was a part of everything in life…holidays, festivals, celebrations and so forth. And it was a constant pull to the Corinthians to fall back into those old patterns. And they did.
Additionally, the false teachers had come in and they had brought a quasi Christian syncretism and eclectic religion which took Christianity, a little bit of Jewish legalism, and some pagan religion and melted it all together and offered it as the truth. And that compromise had found its way into the Corinthian church and found an audience and some of them were listening and believing and accepting it.
You see, the false teachers wanted to make Christianity more popular, less demanding, less distinct, less narrow, less offensive, less different, less exclusive so they’d get more people in on it, so they could get more money, which is always what false teachers want. And so here is the Corinthian church new and fresh and being assaulted by pagan religion around it. You couldn’t separate the social life from the religion, you couldn’t separate the historical life of that village in terms of its patterns from the religion. That village that became a city bore all of the signs of the religion that moved in its growth. It was a full-blown pagan system down to the very core. And it was hard to sort it out. To be involved at all in the life of the culture was to be involved in the paganism, unless you made a very clean break. The Corinthians didn’t do it. And as I said, then add to that the confusion of the false teachers and you can understand why Paul says to them, “Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers.”
It’s very much like modern Christianity today, by the way, that seeks to blend Christianity with popular culture, wants to make Christianity more popular, less different, more palatable, less offensive, less narrow, less exclusive. And the result of it is that true Christianity in the purity of God’s Word gets corrupted by compromise and the church can become useless and shameful and blasphemous in mocking the truth. For believers there can be no compromise. We cannot engage ourselves with unbelievers in any spiritual enterprise. That’s the issue. “Do not be bound together with unbelievers,” that is he command that sets this text in motion. And it is an unmistakable call to believers to separate from unbelievers. No one could miss that that’s what it’s saying. The question is, what does it mean?
And as I said last time, it is essential to understand what it means but first of all what it does not mean. Paul is not saying, cut off all contact with non-Christians. He’s not saying that because we have to reach them with the gospel. That is not the issue. He’s not saying don’t evangelize the unconverted, don’t confront people in false religions. He’s not saying that. We must do that.
Secondly, he is not calling for complete isolation on the part of the church. We are not to become isolationists. We are not to be monastics. We are not to go hide somewhere and pull apart from the world. Quite the contrary. We are to find unbelievers and love them and be their friend and set a model of spiritual example for them.
Furthermore, he is not saying you are to divorce your unsaved partner, or to sever all unsaved contacts…all contacts, I should say, with unsaved people in your family. He is also not saying that you can’t work or play or do business or be engaged in common earthly enterprise with unbelievers. He’s not saying that, of course you can. What he is saying is you cannot link up with unbelievers in religious causes…or religious enterprises. You cannot go to their worship and become a part of it, you can’t make them a part of the Kingdom of God. You can’t engage them in anything that involves ministry, teaching, or worship. Where there is ministry, teaching and worship there has to be absolute separation.
So he’s referring in actuality to harnessing up believers and unbelievers in any common religious, spiritual enterprise. The two cannot be yoked together anymore than an ox and an ass can pull a straight furrow when under the same yoke, as Deuteronomy 22:10 forbids. But that is precisely what the Corinthians were doing. They were going to the feasts that were involved with the idols and they were trying to still befriend the people in the world and in their families and in their society by attending and being involved in idol festivals and such compromise is intolerable.
At the same time they had invited into the church forms of pagan religion and that was equally intolerable. There can be no harmony, no fellowship, no partnership, no participation between believers and unbelievers in any religious enterprise. That is the issue. Pagan religion, false teaching ruins those who listen to it. It leads to ungodliness. It spreads like gangrene and it upsets the faith of people. Paul directed all of that to Timothy and warned him to warn the church.
The issue then is religious cooperation, religious compromise with false teachers and with heresy and error. We can have nothing to do with the people involved in that when they are so involved. And we can allow them to have nothing to do with enterprises that involve the advancement of the Kingdom of God. And yet through the years the church has continued to do this. Sometimes it’s called cooperative evangelism where an evangelist will come into a city and bring together Christians and non-Christians, those who believe the Word of God and those liberals who would openly deny the Word of God in a common evangelistic enterprise. That is in direct violation of what this text is teaching.
It happens all the time in common efforts at evangelism. It happens in educational institutions where those institutions that would claim to be Christians would have on their faculty those who believe the Word of God, those who were born again, and those who are not. And they are illegitimate linked together in a common spiritual enterprise to the detriment of the church, to the debilitation of the believers and the false assurance of the unbelievers. True Christians have to separate from unbelievers in matters related to ministry, teaching and worship. And when I say teaching I’m talking about teaching that relates to God and His truth.
So Paul fixes that principle. And that, by the way, was a brief review of the first message. But in response to that initial principle he gives us five reasons, or five motives for following this mandate. And I want to approach those motives from a negative perspective…if I might. To be bound together with unbelievers in any spiritual effort is…number one…irrational, irrational. The point that Paul is making here is one of congruity. It is one of simple reason. And to make this point of the irrationality of such a common enterprise, he asks for rhetorical questions, each of which demands a negative answer.
Here they come, verse 14, “For what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or Satan? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?” And the answer to those is negative. Righteousness and lawlessness have no partnership. Light and darkness have no fellowship. Christ and Satan have no harmony. And a believer and an unbeliever have nothing in the spiritual realm in common. That is axiomatic. An axiom is a self-evident truth that doesn’t need proof. And that is obvious. It is obvious that you can’t make opposites the same. And those are all opposites.
Copyright 2007, Grace to You.
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Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote:
The essence of evangelism is not merely to talk about the cross but to proclaim the true doctrine of the cross. There are people who talk about it, but they do so in a purely sentimental manner. They are like the daughters of Jerusalem, whom the Lord Himself rebuked, weeping as they thought of what they called the tragedy of the cross. That is not the right way to view it. There are those who regard the cross as something which exercises a kind of moral influence upon us. they say that its whole purpose is to break down our hard hearts. But that is not the biblical teaching as to its meaning. The purpose of the cross is not to arouse pity in us, neither is it merely some general display of the love of God. Not at all! It is finally understood only in terms of the law. What was happening upon the cross was that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was enduring in His own holy body the penalty prescribed by the holy law of God for the sin of man. The law condemns sin, and the condemnation that it pronounces is death. “The wages of sin is death.” The law pronounces that death must pass upon all who have sinned against God and broken His holy law. Christ says, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” One of the ways in which the law has to be fulfilled is that its punishment of sin must be carried out. This punishment is death, and that was why He died. The law must be fulfilled. God cannot put it to one side in any respect, and the punishment cannot be put on one side. God in forgiving us — let us say so clearly — does not do so by deciding not to exact the punishment that He has decreed. That would imply a contradiction of His holy nature. Whatever God says must be brought to pass. He does not go back upon Himself and upon what He says. He has said that sin has to be punished by death, and you and I can be forgiven only because the punishment has been thus exacted. In respect to its punishment of sin God’s law has been fulfilled absolutely, because He has punished sin in the holy, spotless, blameless body of His own Son there upon the cross on Calvary’s hill. Christ is fulfilling the law on the cross, and unless you interpret the cross, and Christ’s death upon it, in strict terms of the fulfilling of the law you have not the scriptural view of the death upon the cross.
From: Martyn Lloyd-Jones -“The Sermon on the Mount” (Eerdmans, second edition in one volume, 1971, 1976), 167-168.
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In these video clips from the Muslim – Christian dialogue held in Dubai 2009, Thabiti Anyabwile explained the Gospel of Jesus Christ and specifically “Who is God and how are we saved?”. This is third dialogue/debate in a series organised by the Muslim Student Association and Christian Fellowship Club from the University of Wollongong in Dubai.
Thabiti Anyabwile, currently senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman, has a remarkable testimony of being converted to Islam while being a nominal Christian, and then God called him to a true saving faith in Jesus Christ. Being a former Muslim and is now a Christian pastor, Thabiti Anyabwile has a unique perspective of explaining to Muslims the Gospel of Jesus Christ and specifically “Who is God and how are we saved?” with some very useful insights.
Thabiti Anyabwile, currently senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman, is a native of Lexington, North Carolina. Thabiti Anyabwile has a remarkable testimony of being converted to Islam while being a nominal Christian, and then God called him to a true saving faith in Jesus Christ. Being a former Muslim and is now a Christian pastor, Thabiti Anyabwile has a unique perspective of explaining to Muslims the Gospel and specifically “Who is Jesus Christ ?” with some very useful insights from Islam which he once held to.
Thabiti Anyabwile began serving as elder/senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman since August 2006. He served previously as an elder/assistant pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, and as an elder at Church on the Rock in Raleigh, NC. Thabiti Anyabwile has a strong professional and academic background in community psychology, with special interest in the history and development of the African American church. Thabiti holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in psychology from North Carolina State University.
In these video clips, Thabiti Anyabwile explained “Who is Jesus Christ” at a dialogue/debate was organised by the Muslim Student Association and Christian Fellowship Club from the University of Wollongong in Dubai.