Saturday, January 31, 2009


Jeremiah 13:23; John 8:25; 10:27; Romans 6:17-18

Ours is a day of religious confusion and deception, with much distortion of the biblical gospel. Someone recently asked me a prophecy question that revealed a total lack of understanding about the subject on their part (but this person had been listening to a prominent television preacher who is awfully confused himself). Then also a fellow-worker asked me about our church's doctrines, and when I gave a brief answer, he looked at me in great bewilderment, exclaiming, "What!"

Few study the Bible for themselves, thus few possess objective discernment. One main area of religious confusion is the person of Christ Himself, just as the Jews asked Him, "Who are you?" (John 8:25). Then we have this awful unbelief on the part of many about Christ's holy teachings. So, while some deny Christ was really God, others say He truly was, but reject His pointed teachings about obedience and discipleship. In other words, some gladly "accept" the message of forgiving grace (with the promise of heaven to them for "their" faith), but refuse absolute obedience to Christ as Lord in daily life. What we are confronted with here in modern evangelism is either a "half-Christ," or the "whole Christ." And we must ask (as Philip once did), "Do you understand what you are reading?" (Acts 8:30). Please consider now the following.

A missionary once told the story of how he went to Africa to preach the gospel and win souls. But when he got there he was astonished to find out that nobody "wanted to go to heaven" with him! The problem seemed to be that no one cared enough about Christ and heaven to be interested. Isn't this the sad truth about man's depravity? Though it may be popular to do so, preachers have no business asking people, "Don't you want to go to heaven when you die"? No apostle ever preached this -- not one -- never! Yet we think people want to go to heaven with us, but as the missionary learned, they are too much in love with their sins and this world to be interested in heaven. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?" (Jeremiah 13:23). No, and neither can sinners "will" to do something contrary to their Adamic natures. They have no desire to go to heaven, so this proves their natural depravity. Most souls "won" with this "gospel" are converts to religious humanism.

Those who do "accept Christ" for His forgiveness (with heaven too) usually do so with no intention whatever of "obeying" Him. Challenge them about "obedience," and their cry usually is, "It does not matter how you live; we are saved by grace." "Nobody is sinless, so nobody is perfect." "That's legalism." But let's ask another question: Can a person be truly regenerate who has "accepted" Christ's forgiveness, but has "rejected" His teachings, His counsel, His wisdom, and His Lordship? If you say, "Yes," you fly right in the face of such plain Scriptures as John 10:27, Romans 6:17-18, and Hebrews 5:9, which teach the necessity of obedience. And though you would be wrong, you would indeed be popular with our modern religious humanists.

But let us remember that there are two great enemies of the biblical gospel, just as there are ditches on both sides of a highway. These two enemies (or ditches) are "legalism" and "antinomianism." One is just as deadly as the other. We are eaten up with both in the modern church. The question that remains is, "Which ditch are we in?" Are we advocates of a "half-Christ" or a "whole Christ?" Or, by the blessed Holy Spirit's power and leading, are we actually in the road itself? This is happily called in Scripture, "The Highway of Holiness" (Isaiah 35:8). May God's infinite grace find us "walking" this road.

"Wherever sin is truly repented of, and Christ is truly trusted, and holiness is truly followed, there is a work which shall never be overthrown." J. C. Ryle

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