Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Evangelism

The Awakened State of Sinners

John Wesley called the awakened state of man as “the almost Christian.”  Wesley believed that most people in the church were that way, they were aware of their sins but they had not truly become children of God.  They were servants of Christ but not sons.  All sons are servants but not all servants are sons.

Wesley believed that Romans 7 described the awakened state.  While nearly all Calvinists that I know of teach that Romans 7 is the normal state for Christians and Martin Luther taught that a Christian is both a sinner and a saint at the same time, Wesley taught (along with Arminius I might add) that Romans 7 describes people who are not saved.  This is what Wesley deemed the awakened state, where a person is aware of their sins and aware that they are not pleasing to God so they seek to please God by their works or by their flesh.  This cannot merit salvation (Romans 4:5).  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:7-8).

Sadly many in the modern church are in that state as well.  Many of the seeker sensitive churches preach an easy gospel that is without conviction, without true repentance, without a true knowledge of God’s holiness and our sinfulness before God.  They preach a message of “come to Christ” but they fail to convict sinners of their sins.  They ignore the Bible’s call to repentance (Mark 1:15-16).  They fail to preach repentance for the forgiveness of their sins (Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19).  They seek to lead people to Christ using the goodness of God but fail to preach His just wrath nor His forbearance and patience with sinners (Romans 2:4).  Just this week I listened to two local seeker churches “sermons” and both were focused on the flesh rather than God, on what the sinner can get from God rather than repentance from their sins, and they both gave “altar calls” where the sinners just said a prayer and were said to be saved by grace.  Both failed to preach the gospel where sinners see their sins and repent of their sins against God.  Both failed to present Christ as the propitiation for our sins (John 1:29).  Both preached a message of “Christ wants to fill the void in your life.”  That is not the gospel.  That is what many people are hearing week after week in many churches.

The Arminian should preach the law of God to produce the awakened state.  Of course, the Spirit of God is the one who produces mighty conviction of sin (John 16:8-11).  The almost Christian will see their sins and their need for Christ but they don’t know how to respond to the call of God to salvation.  People believe (because of their sinfulness) that they must do something to earn salvation.  This is human thought through and through.  World religions attest to this fact.  Religious people are consistently trying to earn God’s favor, His forgiveness, or His salvation.  They think that they will be saved if their good works out number their bad works.  Others believe that their actions (sacrifices, prayers, etc.) will bring salvation.

The truth is that only Jesus Christ can save us from the wrath of God (1 Thessalonians 1:10).  Isaiah the prophet saw the work of Christ in Isaiah 53:4-6:

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

The Lord Jesus is the hope for our salvation.  Jesus is the hope for the awakened sinner who sees his sins but doesn’t know how to flee from them.   The hope for the sinner is not rehabilitation or reform.  The hope for the sinner is to be born from above (John 3:3-7).  The hope is for the Spirit of God to regenerate the sinner to bring about new life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Titus 3:5-7) and this only comes through faith.

Romans 3:21-26 is full of the richness of God’s mercy and grace given freely to the sinner in Christ Jesus our Lord:

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

The sinner is justified before God only grace through faith in Christ alone (Romans 5:1).  The sinner is not justified before God by a combination of human works and God’s grace (as many cults teach).  We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.  Why is this?  Because the sinner cannot merit God’s salvation.  Consider good works for a moment.  How many good works must we do to earn God’s forgiveness?  What works qualify as “good” works?  How do we know that our wicked hearts will not produce pride in our “good” works?  How will we know if God approves of our “good” works?  Are there any “good” works which we consider good but God considers as bad?  How can we know?

The awakened sinner, writes Wesley, fears God but does not love Him.  The Christian loves God and fears Him (Romans 11:20-22; 1 John 4:18).  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7) and the Christian has a healthy fear of God (Hebrews 10:31).  Too many do not fear God but sadly few actually love Him either.  The awakened sinner fears God and knows that the judgment of God is just in punishment of their sins but they do not love God.  They seek to win God’s approval by reforms, by vows, by religion.  They find Romans 7 to be true, that they are too sinful to do any “good” works.  Their flesh simply will never please God.  They find in their awakened state that they are fully aware that they are sinners but have no peace with God.

The gospel is the solution.  The gospel brings peace.  Jesus is the prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6).  Jesus came to bring peace (Ephesians 2:14).  Jesus came to bring us not just peace in the storms of life (as many seekers preach) but He came to bring us peace with God whom we have greatly offended by our wicked sins.  The holy God of the universe is the one that we have violated.  He is the offended one.  When we talk about salvation we are saying that we are being saved from something and that something is the wrath of God that we justly deserve for breaking His laws and shaking our fists at Him.

The awakened sinner is not saved.  The duty of the evangelist is to preach Christ to the awakened sinner and call the sinner to faith and repentance through Christ.  The blessed Holy Spirit aids us in this preaching.  The Spirit works on the sinner’s heart to free the will to believe freely the gospel of God’s grace and mercy.  May we preach Christ and Him crucified for our sins.

Don’t Use Evil To Destroy Another

I was sad this week to read after the Paris attacks from Muslim terrorists that a brother went on Twitter to attack Calvinists over their view of divine determinism.  While  I agree that divine determinism is not biblical, I don’t believe we should use evil to try to attack Calvinists.  People lost their lives in France and we should mourn that.  Now is not the time to use the wicked acts of these Muslims to attack our brethren.

Both Arminians and Calvinists mourn over the loss of lives.  We both agree that the only hope for Muslims, for the people of France, and the world is the precious truth of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the answer to the problem of evil.  We both preach that Jesus saves sinners (Luke 19:10) and we both agree that none are saved apart from Christ Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5-6).  We agree that the preaching of the gospel is necessary to bring people to salvation (Romans 10:14-17).  Let us focus on this, on getting the gospel to the lost souls in France and throughout the world (Matthew 28:19-20).  This is the heart of God, for the lost to come to faith in His Son (John 3:16).

Let us pray for the world to hear the gospel and be saved (Matthew 9:38; Romans 10:1).  Let us pray that people in France will heed the gospel and repent (Luke 13:1-5) as well as the Muslims.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

11/18/2015 at 2:15 PM

Under the Wrath of God

The Scriptures teach that God is impartial in His judgments (Exodus 32:33; Deuteronomy 10:17; Romans 2:9; 2 Corinthians 10:6; Colossians 3:25; 2 Peter 1:17; 1 John 3:15; Revelation 21:8; 22:15).  God is opposed to the wicked (Isaiah 52:15; Hosea 13:2; 2 Peter 2:14).  God is just in His punishment of sin.  The person sins because they use their free will to rebel against God and against His will so that the sinner is convicted by God’s law of their sins (Romans 7:7).  The law of God shows them they are sinners and have rejected the law of God by living in rebellious sin.  Thus God does not make people sin but rather He allows people to choose to sin by misusing their wills against God and His law.

The act of the cross is an act of mercy where God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  A true loving relationship exists where the disciple of Jesus humbles himself and repents of his sins and turns to Christ alone for forgiveness and reconciliation to God.  This is not a force relationship but one in which God, who first loved us despite our sinning (1 John 4:10), and we in turn freely love Him (Ephesians 1:13).  The beauty of salvation is that God has provided atonement for those who repent of their sins (1 John 2:1-2).  God truly wants to have a relationship with sinful humans (Romans 3:23-24; 1 Timothy 2:3-4).

The Calvinist understanding of the atonement is that the wrath of God is satisfied by the cross.  I would agree.  But Calvinists teach that the atonement was meant to save only the elect.  They believe this brings true glory to the work of Christ.  After all, they reason, the Arminian understanding of the atonement saves no one but only makes men savable.  In Calvinism, they assert, the atonement is not a failure but actually saves when Christ died to save the elect of God on the cross.

Of course, Calvinist evangelists often preach the atonement much as an Arminian would.  How often have I heard Calvinist preachers calling for sinners to repent, to embrace the Lord Jesus, to turn from their sins, to place their faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ.  I have no problem with this whatsoever.  I preach the same thing.  Some Calvinists will even plea with sinners saying that Christ died for them or that God loves them and has shown His love though the cross.  They will preach that men are under the just wrath of God for their sins.  They will preach that all sinners are in danger of the eternal judgment of God.  I agree with this all!

Yet I ask this question: when are the elect under the wrath of God?  If Christ truly died for the elect then the wrath of God cannot be against the elect since the elect were justified when Christ died on the cross.  Some hyper-Calvinists teach this.  They teach the doctrine of eternal justification.  They are consistent in their view though I completely disagree.  Their logic is that since God knew the elect before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), in the eternal decree of God, the elect were already justified in Christ who is the lamb slain from the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20).  This view holds that God chose the elect and then He ordained the fall.

The logic of eternal justification makes sense if you hold to the divine determinism of Calvinism.

Let us go back to the issue of God’s wrath.  Are the elect ever under the wrath of God?  Most Calvinists that I know would argue that the sinners they are preaching to and pleading with to come to Christ are indeed under the wrath of God.  Yet if election is true, the Calvinist is preaching the judgement of God to those who are not under His wrath.  After all, the atonement did not fail right?  The atonement accomplished redemption for the elect.  Jesus laid down His life for His sheep (John 10:14).  The Calvinist then pleading with sinners to repent as the means to salvation is wrong.  The sinner is not under the wrath of God.  The sinner is already part of the elect even before time (or at least when Christ died to save the elect) in the mind of God and so the Lord was not angry with the wicked since they are part of His elect that He saved in His Son.  This is logical.  This is not biblical.

The Bible teaches that sin brings the wrath of God.  Again, the Lord is not partial in His judgments.  The soul that sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:4).  All who sin are under the wrath of God because of His absolute holiness and righteousness.  Scripture is clear that anyone who sins, rebels, or fails to live up to God’s perfect standard is under His condemnation (John 3:19; Romans 1:18; 2:6-11; Hebrews 10:26-31; 1 John 3:8, 15, 20; 2 John 1:9).  God is opposed to the wicked (Psalm 5:5; 7:11).

One need only consider the preaching of the gospel in the book of Acts to see whether the Apostles preached whether people were under the wrath of God.  In each sermon the Apostles preached against the sin of the people.  For example, Acts 3.  Here Peter the Apostle preaches that the Jews killed the holy and righteous one (Acts 3:14) and he called their acts “wickedness” (Acts 3:26).  He called them all to repent (Acts 3:19) and said that all who refuse to listen to the prophet will be destroyed (Acts 3:23) who is Jesus (Hebrews 3:1).  Notice that he was not partial in his judgment of the people.  They had all sinned (Romans 3:23) and all were under the wrath of God.  All needed salvation.  The call was for all to repent.

Again, I ask, if the Calvinist view of the atonement were true, the elect would not be under God’s wrath nor would they be guilty of wickedness since the sins of the elect are placed on Christ.

The answer, of course, is that Calvinism teaches that the atonement is only effectual for the elect and thus while the elect are wicked sinners before Christ saves them, the atonement is only applied to the elect when the elect believe the gospel.  This is based on logic and not Scripture.

Scripture is clear when the atonement is applied to the wicked sinner and that is when the believer repents and believes the gospel.  Before this, the sinner is under the wrath of God but after the sinner repents, the wrath of God is turned aside through the propitiation of Christ.  The atonement is available for all but only affective for those who repent and place their faith in the work of Christ.  The cross saves no one apart from faith (Romans 3:22-27).  Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).  Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is what saves us (Romans 5:1).  Notice in Romans 5:1 that we are not justified unto faith (as in Calvinism) but through faith.  Plus our faith is in Jesus and not a theological construct about Jesus.  We are not saved by faith in faith or by faith in the faith but faith in Jesus (Acts 4:12).  So many think that their system saves when no system saves.  Faith in Jesus and His saving work is what saves us (1 Timothy 1:15).

The Calvinist evangelist is correct to call sinners to repent and turn from their sins.  He is correct to preach that Jesus will save all who come to God through Him.  He is correct to preach that the blood of Jesus will wash away all our sins (Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:14).  The Arminian would do the same.  The key difference lies in our theology.  The Arminian is preaching out of their theology while the Calvinist is preaching counter to their theology.

Arminius on the Pope and the Roman Catholic Religion

Arminius shared in the Reformers views regarding the Papacy.  His words are strong toward the Pope and he holds nothing back.  In our time, it is now common to offer grace toward Roman Catholics but we must remember that during the time of Arminius, the Catholics were persecuting all Protestants.  The debate with the divines at Geneva would be set aside when it came to battling the Catholics as Arminius would gladly join hands with the Calvinists to debate the Catholics and defend biblical Christianity.

This should be a call to us today as well.  We are not Catholics.  I stand with my Calvinist brethren in defense of the Reformation, in a call to forsake Rome, and I defy the Pope.  I stand with Arminius and denounce the Roman Catholic Church, I denounce the Roman Papacy, I denounce the Popish mass, I denounce the Popish rituals and traditions.  I denounce the Roman Catholic idolatry and their beatification of the saints.  I denounce their view of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Arminius stated about the Pope:

He is the Adulterer of the church, both by the public and mutual profession of each other; because he calls the [Roman Catholic] church his and she neither disowns the arrogance of this title nor is afraid of the odium [attached to such assumption,] and he is the adulterer in reality. For he practices spiritual adultery with the church, and she in return with him. He commands the apocryphal writings to be accounted divine and canonical; the ancient Latin version of the Scriptures, [commonly called] the Vulgate, to be everywhere received as the true original, and under no pretense whatever to be rejected; his own interpretations of the Scriptures to be embraced with the most undoubting faith; and unwritten traditions to be honoured with an affection and reverence equal to that evinced for the written word of God. He enacts and rescinds laws that pertain to faith and morals, and binds them as fetters on consciences. He promises and offers plenary indulgences, and the remission of all sins, through the plenitude of his power. “He exalteth himself above all that is worshipped,” and offers himself as some god to be adored with religious worship. In all these acts the church, deceived by his artifices, complies with his wishes. He is, therefore, the Adulterer of the church.

But he is also the Pimp or Pander of the church, because he acts towards her as the author, persuader, impelling exciter and procurer of various spiritual adulteries committed, or to be hereafter committed, with different husbands, with angels, Mary and other deceased saints, with images of God, of Christ, of the Holy Ghost, of the cross, of angels, of Mary, and of saints; with the bread in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper; and with other inanimate objects.

Arminius wrote about the true foundation of the Church of God:

The Foundation of the church universal is only one, because there is but one house of God and Christ. Its properties are these: It stands by its own power, and does not rest on any extrinsic foundation. (1 Tim. iii, 15.) The whole house, consisting of two people, the Jews and the Gentiles, is built upon this foundation, as upon a chief corner-stone, and is sustained, by the power implanted in it, against all things which can assail it from without, whether from above or from below, on its sides, on the right hand and on the left; it continues immovable, does not totter, is not sunk or overwhelmed, and does not fall. (Heb. iii, 6; Ephes. ii, 20-22; Matt. xvi, 18.) This foundation is the immediate fulcrum or prop and firm support to all the lively stones that are built upon it; “they who believe on Him shall not be ashamed;” but it is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to those who do not believe and are disobedient; it dashes them in pieces, and they perish. (Isa. xxviii, 16; 1 Pet. ii, 4-6.) All these properties, both generally and severally, belong to Christ alone. But the Roman Pontiff is not Christ. Therefore, neither is he the foundation of the church. But the metonymy, by which the Prophets and Apostles are called “the foundations of the church,” (Rev. xxi, 14,) and by which the saints are said to be “built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets,” (Ephes. ii, 20,) attributes nothing more to them, than their being “labourers together with God” in laying down Christ as this foundation, and in building up the whole house on Him. (1 Cor. iii, 5- 12.) But St. Peter was also among these; yet he excelled none of the other Apostles in any prerogative, but was inferior to St. Paul, not indeed in power, but in “the more abundant labour” of the latter in building up the church. (1 Cor. xv, 10.)

Arminius viewed the Roman church as apostate as he writes:

By the term, “the Church of Rome,” we understand, not that congregation of men, who, confined within the walls of the city of Rome, profess the Christian faith, (although this is the only proper interpretation of that term;) not the court of Rome, which consists of the pope and of the cardinals united with him — not the representative church, assembled together in council, and having the Roman pontiff as president, nor the pope of Rome himself, who, under the cover of that title, extols and makes merchandise of his power. But by “the church of Rome” we understand a congregation of Christian, which was formerly dispersed through nearly the whole of Europe, but which is now become more contracted, and in which the Roman pontiff sits, either as the head of the church under Christ, but placed above a general council, or as the principal bishop inferior to a general council, the inspector and guardian of the whole church. This congregation professes, according to the canons contained in the council of Trent, that it believes in God and Christ, and performs acts of worship to them; and it approves of those canons, either because they were composed by the council of Trent, which could not err — or because it thinks that they are agreeable to the holy Scriptures and to the doctrine of the ancient fathers, without any regard to that council.

I find it hard to imagine then that Arminians today would associate with Rome.  We are not “separate” brethren from the Roman church.  Arminius viewed the Roman church as apostate and in need of the gospel.  The Reformed churches that Arminius spoke of were not separated from the Roman church but he understood them to be the church and Rome to be apostate and a false church.

Let us pray for the Roman Catholics to hear the gospel and repent.  I have personally seen the damage the Roman church has done in most parts of the third world.  Their idolatry and wickedness surround you in many Latin American nations.  The Catholics are not to be joined with.  They are to be preached to and evangelized.  Let us stand with Arminius and preach the gospel to the lost souls in the Roman Catholic religion (Matthew 28:19-20).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/28/2015 at 1:30 PM

The Free Offer of the Gospel With Provision

I was blessed to read a local Free Presbyterian Church site that wrote of the free offer of the gospel.  The site maintained that it is the duty of the Church to preach the gospel and that they were fervent in their evangelism because of the call of God to take the gospel to all.  I was encouraged by this.  They are absolutely correct in avoiding the hyper-Calvinism tendency to avoid preaching the gospel to all because the hyper believes that the gospel is only for the elect and the elect will be saved by the sovereignty of God no matter what and all this protects the glory of God and His grace.

Charles Spurgeon battled this in his day.  Many Calvinists accused Mr. Spurgeon of being an Arminian because of his constant call for all to come and be saved yet Spurgeon maintained his belief in unconditional election.  Spurgeon believed that both were truths in Scripture: that God calls all sinners to repentance but the elect alone will come and be saved.  John 6:37 was Spurgeon’s favorite passage.

My issue as an Arminian with all this is not the call to salvation.  I agree that God calls all to salvation.  John 3:16 is clear that God loves the world and desires the world to be saved.  1 Timothy 2:4 says that God desires all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.  Ezekiel 18:32 says that God does not delight in the death of the wicked.  Acts 2:38-39 says that the promise of salvation is for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.  This call, as the Free Presbyterian site agrees, is to all.  Revelation 22:17 says that all may come and drink of this water of life.  Matthew 22:9 says that we can invite all to the wedding feast.  Because of the nature of Jesus’ authority (Matthew 28:18) we can go into all nations and make disciples (Matthew 28:19).

In my estimation, the nature of the call goes hand-in-hand with the provision that God has made for our sins.  The Calvinist replies while the call goes out to all, only the elect respond and repent and God has only provided for the elect’s sins.  The rest of humanity is passed over and reprobated to hell by their own sins (though their nature has been predestined by God as well as their sins but the mystery is how God can hold sinners punishable for their sins that they committed by His sovereign will).  The Arminian viewpoint is that both are true: the universal call and the provision therein for the atonement.  I see both as true.

The atonement only makes provision for the one who repents (Romans 3:23-25).  The elect are those who repent.  When a sinner repents, they become part of the elect of God (1 Timothy 4:10).  The elect are those who are in Christ Jesus (“His elect”).  Jesus shed His blood for His sheep (John 10:11), for His Church (Acts 20:28), for our sins (Galatians 1:4), for Paul the Apostle (Galatians 2:20).  Yet He also shed His blood for the world (John 3:16; 1 John 4:14).  Through the blood of Jesus, sinners can come before God and be saved (Hebrews 9:14).  This salvation has come for all people (Titus 2:11) but only those who repent and believe the gospel are saved (2 Thessalonians 2:12).

A key verse here is 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 which I think holds all these truths together.  The verse reads:

13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.

Three truths are presented here.  First, the sovereignty of God is seen in verse 13 with “God chose you.”  God chooses us in Christ Jesus who is the provision for our sins (John 3:14-15).  Jesus is the suffering servant of Isaiah 53.  He is the one who bore our sins before a holy God (Romans 5:8-9).  This is by the sovereign will of God (Acts 2:23).  The Father sent the Son to die for the sins of the world that whosoever may come and be saved.

Secondly, the provision must come by the proclamation of the gospel as we see in verse 14.  Even my Calvinist brethren agree with me here.  The elect are saved by hearing the gospel and repenting of their sins.  This is the truth of Romans 10:14-17.  The command of Jesus is to go and preach the gospel to all (Matthew 28:19; Luke 24:47-49).  The Lord has given us the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this truth (Acts 1:8).  As we preach the gospel, the Lord is faithful to save those who believe (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).  As we preach the gospel, the gospel opens the sinners hearts to the truth of salvation in the Lord Jesus.  The Spirit of God works through the gospel to draw sinners to salvation (John 6:44; 16:8-11).  The conviction of the Spirit prepares the sinner for the gospel and for true repentance.

Lastly, not only do we see provision and proclamation but we see perseverance in verse 15.  After we are saved by the sovereign hand of God working through the gospel, we must stand firm in the gospel.  This is a biblical truth found through the Bible.  God’s warnings to the Israelites was to remain faithful, stand firm in true worship, teach the children the truth of God, don’t abandon Yahweh for false gods, etc.  This is equally true for the New Testament disciple.  Jesus said that if we keep His word (present active sense), we will never see death (John 8:51).  Paul beat himself to make sure he was a slave of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).  Paul also warned the Corinthians to remain in the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).  Paul also warned the disciples in Colossae to remain steadfast (Colossians 1:21-23).  If Israel could be cut off, so can we (Romans 11:20-22).

All these truths: provision, proclamation, and perseverance are the keys of salvation in the Arminian understanding.  The focus is always on Jesus and what He has done for us.  We preach Him (2 Corinthians 4:5).  We call all to repent and believe the gospel.  We preach that Jesus demonstrated His love for lost sinners by dying for them on the cross.  We proclaim this truth to lost sinners.  We preach that God does love sinners because He has demonstrated His love on the cross through His Son.  We don’t mind preaching this truth to sinners and to saints.

Why the Secular World Has No Answer For ISIS

I recently watched a video on the Islamic State or better known as ISIS.  The video was not produced by Christians so the video simply wanted to tell the story of ISIS and why they do what they do and what is their goal.  The reality was that ISIS members were not murderers bent on simply killing infidels in the name of Islam but they are simple, normal Muslims who truly love Islam and are seeking to follow the ways of their Prophet.  These Muslims fill their day with learning from the Quran, with prayer, and with seeking to imitate the life of Mohammad in every way possible including jihad.  Their passion is simple: they want to do the will of their god as it gave it to their prophet.

The secular world simply cannot fathom this devotion.  They look at ISIS and see a people who must be mad at the West for something.  Perhaps its our morals (and that is part of it) or our freedom (they see it as bondage because the will of their god is not being followed).  The secular world thinks it’s about land or oil or money or even sex.  The reality is that the members of ISIS and especially the leadership are well-educated Muslims who are bent on being true to the Quran and to their prophet.  This is not about a fight for land.  This is not a fight over the US involvement with Iraq or Afghanistan per se (though ISIS hates the Americans for being in Muslim lands).  This is not about Jews or Christians (though they despise them both for their “false worship”).  This is about their god.  And the secular world has no answer.

The reason is simple why the secular worldview has no answer: they have no god.  The “god” of the secular is themselves (Romans 1:22-23).  The false god of Islam is not much different other than that the Muslim believes in a god outside of themselves.  Their god is still a false god.  Either way, the secularist has no answer for Islam.

The Christian reply is that the Muslims are worshiping a false god.  A comparison of the God of the Bible with the god of the Quran shows a god who is much different in Islam.  Even a comparison of the life and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ with Mohammad shows worlds difference between the two.  The Lord Jesus was perfect, sinless and He never struck down those who attacked Him (1 Peter 2:21-24).  Jesus even prayed for those who were killing Him (Luke 23:34).  The Bible even says that we are to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48) and Paul the Apostle advocated the same (Romans 12:12-21).  Jesus did teach His disciples to advance His kingdom (Acts 1:8) because of His authority (Matthew 28:18-20) but this advancement is not with weapons of warfare (2 Corinthians 10:3-4) but with the gospel.  The gospel will conquer the nations (Psalm 110:1; Daniel 7:13-14; 1 Corinthians 15:24-26) and the Lord will redeem sinners from every nation (Revelation 5:9-10).  Yet Jesus, unlike Mohammad, never called His followers to advance His kingdom by force or power.  The gospel alone can transform a person and this comes from above (John 3:3; cf. Luke 17:20-21).

ISIS is not following Jesus.  In fact, ISIS hates Jesus and the true and living God of the Bible as all sinners do (Romans 1:18-19).  ISIS, like other forms of Islam, cannot convert one person because they have no gospel, no power.  Islam offers no forgiveness of sins because they reject sin.  Islam offers no assurance of salvation but to martyrs.  Islam offers no hope that their god loves them but only that it is merciful.  Islam has no concept of individual salvation but with only submission to their god.  The very name “Muslim” means “one who submits.”  Yet ISIS views all forms of Islam false who also do not follow sharia law (or the laws put forth by various Muslim clerics about how to follow the Quran and the life of Mohammad).  If a nation or person does not follow sharia law as set forth by ISIS, they are deemed infidels and must repent and come back to the true religion.  This is not a religion of peace but one of submission.

ISIS’s goal is clear: to raise the black flag of ISIS over every nation.  In the video I watched, ISIS promised to raise the flag over Turkey (if they did not open a dam to allow water into Syria) and over all the Middle East (including Iran and Israel whom they both hate).  ISIS even promised to raise the flag of Islam over the White House in the United States.  This is not a religion of peace but as the name states – of submission.  Sharia law is to be the law of the land wherever ISIS comes.

What can the secularist say to this?  They have no solution.  No answers.  The President of the United States will not even see that they are true Muslims but he views them as false Muslims.  Any simple reading of the Quran and the Hadith would show otherwise.  Some secular religious scholar is giving the President of the United States bad advice.  I agree that warfare is not the total answer.  ISIS wants war.  ISIS would love to face the United States to the battlefield (though they would probably lose in my estimation).  ISIS believes that their holy war is from their god.  The US military would just view it as another war with terrorists.  While the US could defeat ISIS in battles, the hearts for the people living in Muslim lands must be won with the gospel.  And the US (and other nations) would not get that part.  Until they do, they would have to continue to fight Islamic fighters for years to come.

The answer for combatting ISIS is this: send missionaries.  You could (and I think should) fight ISIS on the battlefield for they continue to kill people who are simply in their way.  ISIS must be stopped and stopped by a strong military force (just as the European nations sent the Crusaders in the middle ages not to take over the Middle East but to combat the spread of Islam into European nations).  After stopping ISIS on the battlefield, we must turn the work over to the gospel.  Muslims need to freely hear the gospel.  One ISIS soldier even said that he hated seeing the Americans in Iraq because they would build Christian churches.  This is what we must do.  We must send forth the gospel.

The gospel can transform the Middle East.  It did in the first 600 years after the resurrection of Christ until the false prophet Mohammad sought to build a cult off the teachings of Judaism and Christianity.  Since then, the gospel has struggled against the false teachings of Islam.  Islam is not merely another religion from Christianity but it is the antithesis of Christianity.  Islam doesn’t merely teach against Jesus but another Jesus altogether to pervert the true Jesus of the Bible.

Thank God for the reports of Muslims hearing the gospel through the Internet and through radio.  ISIS will kill whoever converts to Christianity and ISIS will kill whoever is found with a Bible or listening to Christian programs.  This is not about peace but submission.  Yahweh is sending forth His truth against the false teachings of Islam.  Yahweh will be glorified through His Son in all nations and the promise is that all nations will bow to His dominion (Psalm 72:8-9).

I pray that ISIS will repent.  God saved a Jew bent on killing disciples of Christ in Acts 9 and He can do the same with members of ISIS.  I pray that nations will see the threat of ISIS and see that the answer is not found in secularism.  It is not found in money or sex.  The answer for ISIS is the gospel of the Jesus Christ.  I pray that members of ISIS will turn from their sins and the Spirit of God would bring deep conviction upon them (John 16:8-11).  Jesus is able to save even the worse of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).  May we intercede for this (1 Timothy 2:1-7).

In All Thy Doing, Give Them the Gospel

Handing out water bottles.  Painting an older woman’s house for her.  Cleaning the side of the roads.  Giving food and provisions to the poor. Helping the sick.  Taking care of poor people’s children so they can have a date night.  Washing cars for free.  Changing the oil of single woman’s cars (and not to meet them).  Buying groceries for a neighborhood and leaving them on their door steps with nothing asked in return.  Giving the guy at the corner of the intersection some money (he is holding a sign for it anyway).

All these are good works that people often do.  I could write more.  I even give out of my weekly pay to a charity (yes I am good).  Churches have long been the place for good works.  Most of the hospitals were started by Christians.  I was born in Baptist Hospital (Columbia, SC).  Many of the homeless shelters are run by Christians.  Many soup kitchens are maintained by Christians.  Many outreaches to run aways, to prostitutes, to homosexuals are run by Christians.  Clinics for drug addicts (such as Teen Challenge) are run by Christians.  Clinics for people with sexual addictions are run by Christians.

The fact is that the Spirit of God leads us to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).  None would deny that good works flow from our salvation (James 2:14-26).  Good works do not save us (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5) but they show our love for God.  Good works flow from a heart that has been washed by the precious blood of Jesus.  Even Paul the Apostle was clear that he cared for the poor (Galatians 2:10).

My fear in all this is that in all our doing, we miss the one thing that is vastly important above all others and that is the gospel.  Good works should never replace the gospel.  In fact, the gospel should be our first work.  The sinner must hear the gospel (Romans 10:14-17).  The sinner doesn’t first need our testimony or our good works.  They first need the gospel.  While we should help people (Galatians 6:10), we should never replace that with the gospel or for the gospel.

I know of some who claim to be sharing the gospel with the lost but they are only doing good works.  They are not preaching Christ to the lost.  They are not pointing sinners to the Savior.  They would say they are by their light (Matthew 5:13-16) but they are not verbally preaching the gospel to the lost.  This is where they fail.

Still others say that the we must “earn” the right to share the gospel with the lost.  The old quote is, “They don’t know how much you love till you show them how much you care.”  We are told that we must first do good works for people to earn their trust and respect.  Without this, the gospel comes across as meaningless (or so we are told).

Yet we don’t get angry with doctors who are forthright.  We don’t question doctors who appear as unfriendly or unkind.  We don’t question doctors who warn us of our lifestyles without first giving us a meal or building us a house.  We just listen to them and doctors leave it to us to follow their advice.

The Bible is clear that we must preach the gospel to the lost.  We must not hold back.  Isaiah 58:1 reads, “Cry loudly, do not hold back; Raise your voice like a trumpet, and declare to My people their transgression and to the house of Jacob their sins” (NASB).  Jesus said that He had come to bring good news (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18) and we are to be His witnesses in this world (John 20:21).  The Spirit of God empowers us to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8).  We witness by declaring His gospel to the lost.  Good works help us but they are not the gospel in of themselves.

When we read the book of Acts we find the disciples preaching the gospel.  The Lord sent them to preach the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20). The gospel is a verbal message of redemption (1 Corinthians 15:1-3).  The gospel focuses entirely on the Lord Jesus and His work in saving us (Romans 4:6).  Our gospel must be the verbal truth of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So here is my point.  Good works are good.  Good works flow from a truly redeemed life (Ephesians 2:10; James 2:14-26).  Good works do not save us (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).  Good works can never earn God’s perfect righteousness (Isaiah 64:6) and even if we did good works all our lives and never sinned again, we have sinned enough to receive His wrath upon us (James 2:10).  This is not a case of our good works out doing our bad works.  Our sinfulness is not just in our works but in us (Romans 3:10-18, 23).  WE are sinful at heart and not merely in our actions (Genesis 6:5; Ephesians 2:1-3).  No good works can ever atone for our sins.  We have simply sinned too much and are sinful at heart.  This is why we look to Christ alone to save us.  Jesus was perfect and He never sinned (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22).  Jesus bore our sins on the cross (Galatians 1:4) and His blood alone cleanses us from all sin (Ephesians 1:7).  The blood of Jesus alone is able to wash us from dead works (Hebrews 9:14) that we might serve the living God.  We must be born again (John 3:5; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:3).  This happens by the grace of God alone.  We cannot earn salvation.  We cannot add to the work of Christ for saving us.  We must look by faith to Him alone to save us (John 6:29).

God saves us by His grace.  We the Lord saves us from sin, He transforms us completely (2 Corinthians 5:17).  This is why Jesus described this as the new birth.  We are born from above.  The Spirit of God comes into us and He makes us alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5).  The Lord washes away our sins and forgives us completely (Hebrews 8:12).  The Holy Spirit now empowers toward holiness.  We are holy in Christ but are also being made holy by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-17; Hebrews 10:10, 14).  We are complete in Christ (Colossians 3:1-4).  But this doesn’t mean that we are not being sanctified.  We are.  The Holy Spirit is helping us to be more like Christ.  He is taking us from being sinful enemies of God to being children of the King.  Good works flow from this relationship with Christ.  In Colossians, for example, Paul the Apostle lays our how Christ transform us.  He shows how we flee from sinning and toward godliness and holiness in all that we do (Colossians 3:5-17).  Paul shows us that our relationships are transformed because of the gospel (Colossians 3:18-4:1).  The gospel makes me new in Christ and I am able to obey the Lord because of the gospel.  The gospel is my motivation for good works.

This should flow forth in my evangelism as well.  The gospel is my foundation and authority.  I preach the gospel because of the Word of God and its truth.  I can proclaim that Jesus will save sinners because His Word clearly says that He will (Romans 10:13).  I can proclaim repentance because the Bible calls people to repentance (Acts 17:30-31; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10).  I can proclaim the wrath of God against sin because the Bible clearly teaches His wrath against sin (Romans 1:18-32).  I can preach against lawlessness because the Bible calls sin lawlessness (1 John 3:4).  I can call sinners to repent of their sins because they have sinned against the law of God (Romans 3:19-20; 1 Timothy 1:8-11).

Now good works toward sinners flows from the gospel.  The gospel is the first good work they need to hear and see.  I come to the lost sinner with love for them and compassion on them because the Bible calls me to do this (Titus 3:1-7).  Sinners are bound in their sins because they are blinded by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).  Sinners must hear the gospel and the Spirit of God must open their hearts to the gospel (Acts 16:14-15).  I can build them a house.  I can buy them groceries.  I can give them a book full of testimonies from other disciples.  But ultimately, I have failed that sinner if I don’t preach the gospel to them.  How can I say I love God yet ignore my fellow human being created in God’s image and deny them the gospel (1 John 3:16-18)? The gospel saves and I must preach to the lost the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:16).

The bottom line is this: good works flow from salvation.  Good works cannot earn salvation nor secure our salvation.  Jesus died to save us from our sins which brings on us God’s just wrath but the Son of God bore our sins on the cross and we are saved from the wrath of God in Him (1 Thessalonians 1:10).  Good works then flow from our salvation (Ephesians 2:10; James 2:14-26).  Part of good works is the preaching of the gospel and this is the greatest way we can love sinners and that is to preach to them.  Sinners are going to hell without Christ and we must preach the gospel to warn them of the wrath to come.  We must preach the truth that Christ came to save sinners (Luke 19:10) and He will save sinners by His grace (John 6:37).  The Holy Spirit will empower us to preach the gospel (Acts 1:8) and He will help us to reach the lost.  The Holy Spirit opens sinners hearts for the gospel (John 6:44: 16:8-11).  I pray that I would be found faithful in preaching the gospel to sinners of whom I am chief (1 Timothy 1:15).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/26/2015 at 1:26 PM

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