It would be interesting to tabulate the theological words, portions of Scripture and doctrines that have fallen out of the Christian vocabulary in recent times.
An acceptance of our own personal sinfulness, guilt with regards to our alienation from God and our unworthiness of God’s grace is not seen in believers and regarded as superfluous and unecessary by today’s preaching and teaching.
The modern man stands on his hind legs and expects to deal with God on his own terms, indeed he, in disregard to the teaching of the Bible, sees no barrier or hindrance to prevent his acceptance by his maker and in seeking to dictate terms to the “almighty”.
The modern professor of Christianity tends to take a similar stand when forgetting his original lost estate and inherent sinfulness , ignores the prominent petition of the Lord’s Prayer “Forgive us our trespasses”.
The “putting on “of the Lord Jesus Christ and his righteousness also requires us to “make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”Romans 13:14
It also means to “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.” Romans 6:12
The opinion today is that sin is a problem between God and the individual and the church has no business warning of its dangers and subtle deceptions.
It sees no role for itself in holding forth God’s just demands before a sinful world and a prone to stray and error beset congregation.
How desperately we need to go back to the scripture and hear what it has to say both to fallen man and to believers still in spiritual infancy.
We must pray that God will raise up Christian ministers and leaders who proclaim biblical truth in a biblical way.
Your only Son!
9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”Genesis 22:9-14
Were any of us required to make the same sacrifice as Abraham was called to do we would no doubt throw up our hands and say that God was asking too much.
Abraham’s obedience to God entailed an added dimension in that not only was he called to kill his only son but the fact that this child was the gift of God’s own promise.
As far as we are called to imitate the faith of Abraham in being obedient and willing to return to God what He has given us in the first place ,we should be ready for such calls.
We instead grasp everything God gives us and call it our own when it is in fact under our stewardship and care.
God often tests our love and obedience and calls for our entire commitment of all we have and all we are.
This is inevitably the way of God’s working with His people, He calls for our obedience and sacrifice and imparts abundant blessings not in a quid pro quo manner but rather in a super abundant and gracious bestowal of grace.
In answer to the prosperity gospellors who reduce all God’s blessing to interest on our money invested , God gives out of all proportion to our deeds, giving as he sees fit for our present good and has the true and eternal blessings in store for us in heaven.
God knows infinitely more about giving than we do because He gave His only son as a sacrifice for the atonement and putting away of sin, in this Christ was the willing sacrifice who in turn gave Himself for us.
Dealing with non-believers
Jesus’ dealing with the woman of Samaria gives the ideal pattern for our testimony to un-believers in both preaching and personal witnessing.
Jesus is tactful and yet does not fail to put his finger on her particular sin. He does not shrink from showing her the deficiencies in her religious beliefs. Jesus method of working is faithful yet not condescending. He does not skirt around issues for the sake being “seeker sensitive”.
Yet this sort of approach is avoided today for the sake of being non-confrontational and politically correct.
Today when professing Christian take a stand on morality issues they are sure to be howled down and treated as bigots and not allowed a hearing in public discussions and forums.
In this atmosphere the Church generally and Christians individually are rolling over by avoiding comment on moral issues and avoiding anything that is likely to give anyone offense.
It is not enough to be scriptural in our beliefs we must also be scriptural in our way of working and witness.
The practice of the Jesuits was to keep back and hide a great deal of their dogma and theology from prospective converts so that they would not be scared away or revolted by it. Then after they had joined them they would wean them up to their peculiar doctrines.
True Christianity should not imitate them by dissembling about scriptural doctrines and Bible truth. Truth there is much in the Scriptures that the new believer will find difficult to understand yet to present the gospel as other than it is , is a half truth which is as good as a lie.
As Dr James White says “What you win them with is what you win them to”. If you bring people to Christ with a “doctored” or minimalist gospel you have the risk of people who find that when they actually hear what the Bible says they will feel deceived or they will be far more offended and hostile to the truth than if they were if they were presented the truth in the first place.
The Bible is an open book; it is the basis of all Christian belief and practice and therefore should be received as authoritative by all Christians even if rejected by others.
The proclamation and sharing of Christianity has no doubt declined in this relativistic age and with the result in an emotion preoccupied and anti intellectual perception of Scripture and a body of “believers” ignorant and disregarding great fundamentals of the faith. A sad result of partial proclamation of the gospel.
Distorting God’s Word
While the trend today among certain nominal Christian groups is to “Cherry pick” the Bible and neglect large tracts of it, there are those who have professed a great zeal for the study of the Bible and profess to hold it in great esteem.
Unfortunately even this can be used to lead the unwary astray.
In his book on”cults and isms”, J. Oswald Sanders recount the story of how his grandparents lost the light of their salvation and fell into a legalistic joy-less morass of false doctrine.
They became entangled with a group called the “Christadelphians”. These people appeared to be zealous to the point of fanatical students of the Bible. They sometimes pored over it till the early hours of the morning. Despite this they invariably drew false conclusions, Christ dishonouring doctrines and propagated error to whoever fell under their influence.
Sanders’ grandfather especially lost the joy and the light of salvation although never wholly convinced as to the truth of this cults teaching. His grandmother did come back to the truth of the gospel.
It prompts one to ask how someone with an open Bible before them can get things so wrong and how do you know those who despite seeming students and followers of Christ , they are in fact heretical and false believers.
The Roman Catholic Church has the Bible open before them yet they add to it the Traditions and commandments of the church. These are based on far- fetched interpretations of Scripture which they twist to their own ends, often plainly contradicting the actual teaching of Scripture.
Also it depends on how we approach the study of scripture. To treat it as you would any other book and think that unaided human reason is sufficient for its study very often leads to false and erroneous deductions and teachings.
As I have said elsewhere we can read out of scripture what is not there or read into scripture what we want to be in there.
The safest course in all bible study is to seek the aid of the Holy Spirit and his illumination and approach the word with humility and teachable-ness, remembering always it is the Word of the living God.
How do we know error from truth especially when it is supposedly the product of in depth bible Study?
Any teaching which has low or false views of God must be suspect. If it exalts one of His attributes at the expense of another say his love over his justice and holiness. If any teaching makes God otherwise than He is it should be shunned.
These false gospellers inevitably have a low view of sin and a different way of Salvation, thus belittling the finished work of Christ on the cross.
They very often make some other condition of salvation and add it to or exalt it above the atoning death of Jesus; most likely they make the death of Christ to mean something merely exemplary or accidental.
Despite their professed love of Scripture they in fact refuse to hear what it truly and actually says by glossing in and taking parts of it out of context, thus ignoring the whole teaching of the Bible, the analogy of Scripture and ignore the “whole counsel of God”.
They inevitably attribute to themselves sole possession of the Truth to themselves and consign all other Christian groups and believers to the way to hell.
These are just a few of the marks of the Cults that masquerade under the name Christian but who are in fact in Satan’s thrall.
True Christians may differ but though they may greatly disagree, they hold to the same orthodox doctrines and beliefs. They are united in holding the Name of Jesus and his wondrous sacrifice in worshipful esteem. They love the Bible as the Word of God and heartily seek to what it has to say for itself by the Spirit’s gracious aid.
Most of all they worship the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and in glad obedience give him all the glory for their salvation.