True Value – Some Thoughts

It is quite grievous to me when some well-meaning person tries to propogate the myth of my intrinsic value before God.

I do not trust the soul which so unduly esteems any man, including myself. For that soul cannot be rightly esteeming Christ, in whom are hidden and revealed the unsearcheable riches of the glory of God. They know not what holy rage and jealousy they provoke in the One by Whom all things consist.

I have no intrinsic value, only Christ does; and that is why I cling to Him, and to no other. But when I did not cling to Him, how devoid was my soul of His eternal joy; and how sumptuously did the fool’s gold glimmer in the false light! Then He Himself lit my darkness when I had not asked, and the gold was all revealed to be dross, and my own life was revealed to be the death of me.

All that I possess of any value to Him is actually His, it never was mine. The only honor I can give to Him is the honor which He has graciously bestowed upon me; and this I shall do, also by His grace. For of myself, I am altogether worthless; and He alone is worthy of my utmost devotion – even were I yet a son of hell.

If we truly value Christ, we cannot but speak of Him if we are to speak of true value. If a thing is not in Him, it is fuel for the fire. Those who have His joy within them know this truth vividly. They find the present world to be a weary abode, a miserable labrynth of fickle trivialities; and they find themselves to be as strangers in it. For the same Priceless Treasure which bought them, although they were worthless, has Himself become their true abode.

The Confession of Holy Men

The confession of holy men is this:

By the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
1 Corinthians 15:10

The grace of God is always without measure upon His own so that they might labour abundantly in that which pleases the Lord. There is no man truly knowing the grace of God who will not labour to some degree; and when he has laboured, he will ascribe the good only to the glory of the grace of his Maker. And the greater he labours by faith in what is hoped for, the more grace yet unseen he discovers; according to which grace he may continue proving by obedience what is the will of God, his sanctification.

Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
Psalm 29:1-2

Thought & Scripture – God’s Sovereignty

I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity. I am the Lord, who does all these things.
Isaiah 45:7 (ESV)

It is easy for us to say that God is sovereign over all things; but it is another matter entirely for us to say that He is also sovereign in all things. Few are they that love God for the latter, for He leaves them nothing to boast in, not even their own will.

…for it is God who is working in you both to will and to work for the sake of His good pleasure.
Philippians 2:13

The one saying, “I have known Him,” and not keeping His commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that one. But whoever keeps His word, truly in this one the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him.
1 John 2:4-5

Soli Deo Gloria

In Defence of a Brother

A false witness will perish, but the word of a man who hears will endure.
Proverbs 21:28

I am compelled to break momentarilly from my usual format (and even tone) due to a particular greivance which is needlessly ongoing. It is not a matter to which I actually have much to ad, and I would not typically consider speaking of a thing which has nothing to do with me. But I am compelled to speak nonetheless, if perhaps only to show my small audience how perfectly illustrative this matter is of a severe plague among those who name the Name of Christ in our day. The malady of which I speak is the bearing of false witness.

The particular case which I am about to explain in adressing this issue has been a public one for some time, and the accused has reponded publicly to the extent that he needs to: which is not much, considering the glaring lack of integrity and maturity on the part of his accusers.

Any suggestion made that I should not comment on this matter is therefore pointless. It is an already public fiasco to which I seek to add no more fury, but only cool water (for the handful who read this). In fact, by virtue of naive people still wanting to dig up old news like this and call it new, you might consider the present article just another signpost reading: “Been there, done that. Now let us grow up, shall we?”

I believe (or at least hope) that we can learn from matters like this, not to be so foolish.

THE MATTER:

This has been brought to my attention more than once, always by those who learn little except through the teachings of many unstable “christian” internet ministry gurus.

The matter calls into question the integrity of one John MacArthur.

He has more than once been accused of saying that a person can take the mark of the beast and still be saved: and this is almost invariably couched as though he said it in such a way that he treated our salvation flipantly, or that God’s holiness was being trifled with.

THE CASE OF THE ACCUSED:

MacArthur was answering the question of whether an unbeliever could take the mark of the beast and be subsequently be saved afterwards.

His answer was based upon his own eschatological view that the church will be raptured before the mark of the beast is administered; and all those who take this view of end-times must in fact say “yes” to this question if they are going to be biblically consistent, since the scriptures indicate that there are people out of the great tribulation who will be saved.

Additionally, he defends his position with Matthew 12:31: “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”

Based on MacArthur’s eschatological position, this would only make sense. And this also brings in some irony, since most of the people accusing him hold to the same view of the end-times: that a rapture of the church occurs before that mark comes.

I do not necessarily agree with this eschatological view personally, but that is not the issue at hand. The issue here is that a man of great integrity is being called into question based upon a stance taken on an eschatological issue. And clearly, for most North American christians,eschatology is very fuzzy due to the mammon-worship and politicizations of their many corrupt instructors over the last century. The man cannot be entirely blamed for his view here.

And if you have actually heard the gospel he preaches, it is the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is neither an antinomian, nor a preacher of works unto salvation. (He is however accused of being both, which is to be expected.)

Now, because I do not hold to MacArthur’s eschatology, I would not answer the same question he was asked even with a qualified “yes” as he did (and I would say that I am being far more consistent with the biblical text therefore); but he clearly did not in the least intend to downplay its seriousness in either case, and he is far from actually preaching a different gospel. Perhaps I should not expect that to be known by those who are quick to accuse him in this matter, since evidently few of them have actually heard much (if any) of the man’s teaching…

THE CASE (& STATE) OF THE ACCUSERS:

MacArthur’s remarks on this matter are constantly being made referrence to in this matter without the consideration of any of this context. He is rarely being actually quoted, and then I have found only in broken fragments.

Among the most popular and highly recommended responses you will find to this matter include that of one Jacob Prasch, a man who so despises almost any notion of God’s sovereignty in salvation, that those who hold to the clear teachings of Romans 9 he calls “satanic” in his frequent, sad, small-screen rants. His countenance in every video I have seen is that of a raving madman with a mere vendetta, not even a raving madman who has encountered God’s mercy and actually has something to say. All of his messages are fraught with bitterness and accusation regarding things which he clearly does not care to know the true substance of, lest it fail to feed his undying rage. This is the depth of character we are dealing with – and he is the most credible accuser according to most.

Prasch does almost convey one fair point through his yelling and seething: a point about how Dr. MacArthur’s cessationism is frequently overbearing and unecessarily divisive; but here Prasch falls into hypocrisy by his own overbearing and unnecessary divisiveness over reformed theology. He is evidently a man obsessed not with the word of God, but rather with his own emotional opinion of others.

This apparent teacher of God’s people also continuez ranting on to display a vulgar twisting of history by accusing John Calvin of ruling Geneva in an “Islamic Jihadi fashion,” charging him directly with the execution of Servetus; whom Calvin actually warned against coming to Geneva because the authorities were already looking for him. Calvin was not yet even a citizen of Geneva at the time; and once the authorities had captured Servetus, he requested that at least they treat him more humanely than to burn him – this was not granted. Such were regretfully the times.

A CALL TO INTEGRITY

It is utterly shameful for those who have a public platform, who should know better than to simply run with a word-of-mouth story without having vetted actual sources, let alone using wisdom and clear thinking once having done so, to run with the rumour anyhow.

Integrity is not optional; but required.
Unstable men despise integrity. They tear it down in others because they themselves have little or none. Do not be seated at their table.

I felt compelled to mount this defense of a man who I am certain would himself rebuke me for my view of the nature of the church, and would be troubled by my continuationism regarding the Spirit’s gifts; but just because someone whom I have no reason to believe is not a brother would ignorantly do these things, does not warrant that I should therefore tolerate his being witnessed against falsely. Let us ensure that we are walking in our own integrity before engaging in the spread of what may turn out to be unsubstantiated or overexaggerated claims regarding another.

John MacArthur will leave an undeniable legacy which has already been a blessing to countless many. The man evidences great integrity. There is arguably incompleteness in his revelation (he would agree, just not regarding what those things are); but we do not help ourselves grow into greater completeness by despising what is good and finding satisfaction in slander and reactionism. This should go without saying.

But sadly the words of our Lord ring all too true, “The sons of this age are more prudent than the sons of light themselves are in their generation.” (Lk 16:9)

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
PSALM 1

Quote – Charles H. Spurgeon

“And then He turned my heart, and made me love Him.”
– Charles H. Spurgeon

The Command Which Tries The Hearts

Truly then, God overlooking the times of ignorance, now strictly commands all men everywhere to repent, because He set a day in which He is going to judge the habitable world in righteousness, by a Man whom He appointed; having given proof to all by raising Him from the dead.
Acts 17:30-31

The gospel is proclaimed as much for judgement as it is for salvation. It is the seed of the Sower which reveals the existing nature of the ground upon which it falls. We have not paid careful attention to what Jesus said immediately after explaining the parable of the sower…

But no one lighting a lamp covers it with a vessel, or puts it underneath a couch, but sets it on a lampstand, that those coming in may see the light. For nothing is hidden which will not be revealed, nor secret which will not be known and come to be revealed. Then observe how you hear; for whoever has, it will be given to him; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.
Luke 8:16-18

The same Word of God which He first described as a seed, He now describes as a light that reveals the true substance of whatever it touches. Those “coming in” to the kingdom see the light of this gospel, and they come in because they are drawn of the Father (Jn 6:44). But the rest do not see its true light, even though it shines upon them, and even though some of them might walk amidst the children of light. Likewise, the seed of the Sower commands all; but not all have ears to hear, for to them it has not been given, and these (being many) are judged according to it.

And he said to him, “If they will not hear Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if one from the dead should rise.”
Luke 16:31

We like to suppose that the ground can be changed by the seed, if only the ground does the right thing with the seed. But in truth, the ground will be judged according to what the seed does with the ground, and it does not abide bad ground. “For nothing is hidden which will not be revealed.” We also miss the purpose of the warnings given to every ear, such as, “be careful how you hear,” or the reason for exhortations to seek God with all of the heart. For the warnings against falling away and the exhortations to seek the Lord are all serving to suggest that hard ground can deceive itself into thinking that it is good soil. For “whoever does not have, even what he SEEMS to have will be taken from him.” Time will tell the truth of mens’ hearts, and the Day will bring all to light.

Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith, prove yourselves. Or do you not yourselves perceive that Jesus Christ is in you, unless you are reprobates? And I hope you will know that we are not reprobates.
2 Corinthians 13:5-6

For who determines the nature of the soils? If it were up to the choice of man, then no soil would ever become good. For in Adam, “there is not one doing good, there is not one seeking after God.” But it takes a hearing ear to seek after God; and it is His alone to give to whomever He wills.

Therefore,

Everyone believing (Grk: present & ongoing faith: used consistently by John to describe authentic fruitful faith, not a whimsical belief, nor even potential faith) that Jesus is the Christ, HAS been generated from God…
1 John 5:1

Faith that endures to the end is the result of true regeneration, not the other way around.

So then, to whom He desires, He shows mercy. And to whom He desires, He hardens. You will then say to me, “Why does He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will?”
Bu rather, O man, who are you answering against God? Shall the thing formed say to the One forming it, “Why did You make me like this?” Or does not the potter have authority over the clay, out of the one lump to make one vessel to honor, and one to dishonor? What if God, desiring to show forth wrath, and to make His power known, endured in much long-suffering vessels of wrath having been fitted out for destruction, s that He make known the riches of His glory on vessels of mercy which He before pepared for glory?
Romans 9:18-23

God deals justly with all, and to some of them He gives mercy by dealing justly with their sin in the death of Christ. For this very reason we proclaim with great confidence the command of the Gospel: because He has a particular people whom He is calling each by name; and His command will bring them in, while at the same time it will judge the ones who do not obey, as is their nature.

For He came to gather the lost sheep of His own house; but unto the rest He says, “You will not believe, because you are not of my sheep.” His sheep hear His voice, He knows them, and they follow Him; but to the self-deceivers He says again, “I never knew you.” They are judged righteously according to the willful rebellion of their hearts; because self-will is the only will of those not generated from God, and they love their own will.

Where the will of men is given the throne by its being pleaded with rather than its being commanded, the gospel being preached is no longer the power of God – not that there is another gospel.

There is a great hatred in the body of Christ today for this truth of God’s sovereignty, just as it has always been drifted away from shortly after its light was revived. I have at times been guilty of questioning it myself, but have very recently been graciously dragged back to it by the Lord. He made this matter clear at first, and I reseisted it for a time; but now the clarity of His Word regarding these things is stunning, and I can take no credit for it. Truly His gospel is the command which tries the hearts! If I ever had anything to do with God’s mercy being bestowed upon me, then He is no God.

“The gospel is a command, not a suggestion.”
– James R. White

Christ the Power & Wisdom of God

“…there is not one that seeks after God.”

“Seek, and you shall find…”

Men do not find God because they do not seek for Him. For if they truly sought, they would find. A seeking of power or of wisdom as distinct from the seeking of God Himself is idolatry; and it is the fool who supposes that God will suffer His might or counsel to be either mingled with or weighed by that of men. Woe to them that go on tickling their own ears, who repent not of their own devices and conceptions when the Lord makes Himself known; for in due time He grants them strong delusion! Woe to them that become proud of seeking the satisfaction of their own minds as an end in itself, as though having no higher authority were the truest of wisdom; for in vain they seek out an excuse not to find the immovable reality of He who is Lord of all, and their reward is the void which they have so esteemed. To deify the mind of man is to blaspheme the mind of God. “Proffessing to be wise, they became foolish…”

All things (under the sun – natural light) are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
Ecclesiastes 1:8

The ears of men are ever itching to hear a new thing; but let a matter be spoken of God, and it cannot be tolerated. They cannot bear to hear of their true predicament, because it breaks the noise of their elaborate distraction: the machinery of artificial crisis, the religion of passing the blame. The monument to destruction is ever so carefully built up, the meaninfulness of vanity is ever so highly venerated to draw the heart unto anything but the subtance and reality of God Himself. The emptiness of man’s soul is ever feeding upon the devices of its own self, never to satiate its hunger. The more of its own debt that it thinks to pay, the more that it finds to be owing. Well does the symbology of the enemy mockingly betray a truth: that the serpent remains ever consuming its own tail, for it cannot fulfill itself. Such madness is the prospect confronting those who reach the end of all earthly learning and wisdom in a world which lies under the power of that wicked one.

But the spiritual are free of this vanity, for through the operation of the Spirit of Truth within them “by the faith OF the Son of God,” they overcome Devil’s persuasion to share in his fate. These recognize through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit that all deception begins in the heart of a man, including their own; and must be overcome by the Truth of God dwelling in the innermost parts. By Him they are made free of their rebellious state, which disposes the heart to so readily to be flattered by the crafty peddler of the tree of knowledge. For the fruit of the tree of Life can only be planted and nurtured by that one Spirit of God Himself – which feat no mere man can accomplish, “because the mind of the flesh is enmity towards God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither CAN it be.” With those after the flesh, the Sovereign Lord is righteous to find fault, and against such He is also righteous to execute judgement; “for the saving grace of God has appeared to all men,” and “men loved the darkness instead of the light, for their deeds were evil,” so that men are without excuse.

The demonstration of man’s depraved heart without God’s Life reveals His longsuffering and patience; and the impossibily of men to choose freedom from themselves reveals how much that grace truly is grace. For among whom none was righteous and not one merrited favour, He raises up from among the incapable dead a people for His own possession, which by Him are also made into His likeness; as the likeness of God was otherwise inseperably lost, and no man but those being conformed to the likeness of the One Son of Man can claim truly to bear the image of God – though even many christians are ignorant to this fact. It is not in the least unfair that the many are allowed into destruction: truly it is of His mercies that not all men are utterly consumed. Indeed it is a wonder that He has so decreed and laboured to save even some, working unto the good of those who love Him, who do so because they are “THE called according to His purpose.” And being that such is the gift of God, there are none of them which can boast! For not by prudence in observing signs of power have the zealots been delivered, any more than that by knowledge in plausible arguments have the wise been truly enlightened; but salvation is revealed “to those who are called, of both Jews and Greeks: Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

For the power is He who died now reigning over death; and the wisdom is He who was raised now living in those who by His operation have died.

For except the Lord has implanted the working of His faith within a soul, it proudly lives unto itself and remains dead to God, existing under that great darkness concerning which the apostle rightly spoke, “There is NOT ONE that seeks after God.” Now it is tempting for the carnal mind to minimize or try to deny so comprehensive and infinitely deep a chasm; but enduring faith rests upon power unseen of the eyes, and it reckons by wisdom unknown of the mind, having first accepted this horrible truth. And since the will of sinful man is utterly free of God, praise be unto God that His will is utterly free of sinful man, so that He may bridge the chasm without the loss of any to whom His mighty arm is revealed!

For the freedom of the human will is only ever unto the bondage of the tyranny of self; and the breaking of this evil will by God is required to bring about the true freedom of serving His good, pleasing, and perfect will. The creature indeed has capacity for much; but no son of Adam has any capacity for spiritual goodness without first the extension of uncommon grace which gives power to become a child of God. Seeking with the whole heart after the One who exposes the thoughts and intentions of the heart is a characteristic of those being made alive in Christ Jesus: it is the province of those that are being drawn of the Father; for only by His Spirit are uncovered the wonders of His great Mystery. And those who have found the mystery (which is the glory of God hidden in Christ, and living in them), if these shall continue to overcome the snare of mere human ingenuity, let the prayer of their regenerated hearts ever remain, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law.”

For if we are saved not of ourselves, but by the gift of God, how much more then should we also dispose the continuation of our growth in Him unto that same power and wisdom of Christ; for now within us He strives to will and to do according to His good pleasure. For that power and wisdom of Christ, which before we lacked and has now been endowed – shall we not with fear and trembling now submit to its working, a choice which before we could not have made? For it is not unto the heathen, but unto the children, that God says, “Choose you this day whom you will serve,” and, “receive not the grace of God in vain.” The Law of the Spirit of Life is come!

“…faith arises from disposition of soul, but dialectic from the skill of its inventors. Wherefore to those who have the inworking through faith, demonstrative argument is needless, or even superfluous. For what we know through faith you attempt to prove through words, and often you are not even able to express what we understand. So the inworking through faith is better and stronger than your professional arguments. We Christians therefore hold the mystery not in the wisdom of Greek arguments, but in the power of faith richly supplied to us by God through Jesus Christ.”
– Antony of Egypt, to the Greeks who came to visit him. (Taken from the account of his life written by Athanatius of Alexandria)