Bulletin Edition April 2018

‘Holier than thou’ or ‘Chief of sinners’?

The Lord judges the self-righteousness in Is. 65 for believing themselves to be “Holier than thou”. In contrast, the Apostle Paul confesses himself to be the “chief of sinners”. The truth is that all men believe themselves to be one or the other. Which one we believe ourselves to be… depends on the standard by which we judge.

Those who compare themselves to other men can always find someone they are ‘holier’ than. Those, who by God’s grace have seen Christ, are brought to cry, “woe is me”. The Pharisee in Luke 18 was proud of how he measured up to ‘other men’. The Publican could only cry, ‘be merciful to me the sinner’! The Lord was very clear on which one went down to his house justified.

Now, here is the hope of this truth. How God sees men is just the opposite of how they see themselves. God says to the ‘holier than thou’ group: ‘you are a smoke in my nose’. And to sinners He says: “whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” I Jn. 3:9 All the righteous believe themselves to be unrighteous, and all the unrighteous believe themselves to be righteous. -Greg Elmquist.

Where do I stand?
Charles Pennington
I believe and preach, on the authority of the Word of God, that the new birth is a divine work according to the will and purpose of the Father, through the merit of the Son, performed by the Holy Spirit through the means of the preaching of the gospel. The character of the new birth is a creation work of God whereby; spiritual life is given to dead sinners, a new man is created in righteousness and true holiness, Christ is formed in that person and that person in Christ, and that person is made a partaker of the divine nature. We often refer to this as “Imparted Righteousness”. All who preach this are accused of preaching false doctrine. (Strange that those who make the accusation once preached the same thing! — Who hath bewitched you?)

They say, “the term is not in Scripture”. True. But then neither is “substitution” or “sovereign grace”! Will they deny these truths also. They present their case as if imparted righteousness somehow makes void the imputation of righteousness. Not so! (That is their own postulation.) The one is the result of the other. Where the one is, the other inevitably follows. When Adam sinned he died spiritually, and his sin was imputed to all who were in him. He then begat children in his own image. His sin was imputed to them, then in natural generation a sin nature was imparted to them. Even so our Lord. His righteousness is imputed to all who were in Him. Thus He begets children in His image, spiritual children who have a righteous and holy nature. His righteousness is imputed to them in justification and imparted to them in regeneration (the new birth).

Concerning this issue some are indifferent, some are troubled, and the faith (professed) of some has been overthrown. Do not be deceived. This is that point of the gospel which is at present undergoing the most fierce attack. Consider that if the new birth is not the creation of a new man, then it must be a reformation of the old man; if it is not the creation of a spiritual man, then man is not spiritually dead; if it is not righteousness imparted (even though imputed) then man is able to produce his own righteousness and sanctification. You must then conclude that man by nature is not dead in trespasses and sins. If that be so, God’s unconditional election unto salvation is a myth, the obedience and death of Christ is a help at best, the work of the Holy Spirit is unnecessary, and the perseverance and preservation of the saints a fairy tale. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

Religious But Lost
Hebrews 6:4-6
Men and women often feel, experience, and do much in religion who never experience God’s saving grace. Neither emotional experience, nor orthodoxy of creed, nor reformation of life is necessarily a token of grace. Hebrews 6:4-6 speaks of such people. Look at what these people have experienced.

They were once enlightened to an understanding of Gospel truth. These were heretics. These are not Arminians, free-willers, papists, or Hindus. These people know the truth, at least mentally. They intellectually perceive and submit to the doctrinal truths of the gospel. To them, the doctrines of the gospel are logical and reasonable. They accept them as facts plainly revealed in the Word of God.

The fact is – The natural man can see and understand any doctrine taught in Holy Scripture. He cannot see the glory of God in the face of Christ; but he can see and glory in doctrine. He cannot love Christ; but he can love doctrine. The unsaved man may be a better theologian than the believer. But the poor, uneducated believer knows and loves what the unregenerate man never can. The believer knows, loves, trusts, and rejoices in Christ.

Tasted Heavenly Gifts
Multitudes have tasted the heavenly gifts who have never tasted the Gift of heaven. During the Apostolic age, miraculous gifts were given to men. Some could heal diseases, speak in tongues, and prophesy. But miraculous gifts, which appear to be gifts of the Spirit, are by no means an evidence of grace, salvation, and eternal life. Gifts of the Spirit can be, and often are, counterfeited by Satan (2 Thess. 2:7-10).

Tasting the heavenly gifts and powers of the world to come is not salvation. Salvation is eating the Bread of Life. Salvation is not in miraculous gifts, but in immutable grace. Salvation is not in feelings, emotions, and experiences, no matter how great and life changing they may be. Salvation is in Christ! A man can preach with power and eloquence, and yet not know Christ. – Judas did. A man can perform miracles, and not know God. – Pharaoh’s magicians did. A man can cast out demons, and yet be the messenger of Satan (Matt. 7:21-23). A person can speak in tongues, and yet speak by the power of the devil. A man can preach, promote, and defend righteousness, and yet speak by him who transforms his ministers into angels of light and preachers of righteousness. Spiritual gifts and usefulness must not be looked upon as evidences of grace and salvation.

Partakers of the Holy Ghost
This passage even speaks of lost men and women who have been made partakers of the Holy Ghost. Many people look at that and say, “Without question, these were once saved people.” But that is not the case at all. We read of wicked King Saul that, “The Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied,” but the Spirit of God was not in him. Balaam spoke by the Spirit and prophesied of Christ’s coming, but never knew the Christ of whom he spoke. In fact, Balaam’s ass even spoke a word from God by the power of his Spirit; but neither Balaam, nor his ass, were born of God. Caiaphas, the high priest, spoke by the Spirit of God, declaring the gospel as plainly as any man ever did. Yet, he was a lost man.

It is possible for men to say and do things which, considered by themselves, make it appear that they are partakers of the Holy Spirit, though they are not born of the Spirit. There were many in our Lord’s day, as there are today, who believed; but the Master did not commit himself to them, because he knew what was in them (John 2:23-24).

Tasted the Word of God
We are told in verse 5 that these people have even tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the world to come. They love good preaching, and are moved by it. You find them at every Bible conference. Their emotions are stirred by the preaching of the Word; but it never reaches their hearts.

This is what the Holy Spirit teaches us in this passage: — It is quite possible for men and women to enjoy rare, unusual gifts and experiences, without experiencing God’s saving grace in Christ. Outward gifts and heartfelt emotions impress and deceive. We must have something more. We must have Christ (1 Cor. 13:1-3).
Don Fortner.

Why regeneration is called a new creation?
“Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.”
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
1. The old creation and the new creature have the same Author. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Paul said in Ephesians 2:10, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.”
2. The first thing in the new creation as well as the old is light! “And God said, Let there be light, and there was light.” 2 Corinthians 4:6, “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give us the knowledge of the glory of God in Christ.”
3. The first creation is out of nothing; so is the new creation! 1 Peter 2:10, “In time past you were not a people, but are now the people of God.” Ephesians 2:1, “And you hath He quickened, who were dead.”
4. The Spirit of God and the Word of God gave the world its being even as we were born again by the Spirit and the Word. Moses wrote, “The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters and God said, Let there be light; and there was light .”
5. The same word and power which created the world now sustains and supports it! 2 Peter 3:7, “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store.” Even so, “we are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.”
6. When the Lord God finished the first creation, He surveyed it with satisfaction. Genesis 1:31, “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” Even so, “We are made the very righteousness of God in Christ.”
Philip Doddridge wrote in 1755:

“That spotless robe, which He hath wrought,
Shall cleanse and cover all around;
And by the Holy eye of God
Not one blemish shall be found.”

Henry Mahan

Tom Harding

One preacher of the past has rightly said, “Every sermon should contain the three R’s, ruin by sin in Adam, redemption by the blood atonement of Christ and regeneration by the quickening power of the Holy Spirit.
We rejoice in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (Phi. 3:3). It is indeed the message of God to guilty sinners how God can justly save His people from their sins through Christ’s redeeming blood to His own glory ( Rom. 3:24-26; Rev. 1:5-6). The gospel of Christ Jesus declares that He came to save sinners (Matt. 9:10-13). If all men are not guilty and can work up or work out their own righteousness and salvation, there is no need for Christ to come in the flesh (John 1:14) and to establish a righteousness and die for sinners. (Gal. 2:21). All men are totally depraved, guilty before God and unable to perform any righteous action or notion (Isa. 64:6; Rom. 3:9-12). To preach a gospel that denies total ruin is to deny the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ altogether (1John 1:7-9).
The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ declares that the Lord was absolutely successful in His priestly work (John 17:4-5). Christ died, not to make salvation a possibility for all sinners (Gal. 1:3-6), but rather to make complete atonement for the sins of His covenant people (Heb. 2:17; 9:12). Those for whom He died shall be saved in Christ (John 6:37; Eph.2: 4-10). To preach a gospel that denies the effectual and particular redeeming work of Jesus Christ is to deny the gospel of Christ altogether (Gal. 1:6-10).
The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ also declares that those for whom He died to justify (Rom. 5:6-9), shall be in due time irresistibly called with the preaching of the gospel (Rom. 10:11-17; 2Cor. 4:5-6; 1Thes. 1:4-7). This is not reformation and education of the old sin nature, but rather the revelation and exaltation of the glory of the person and work of Christ within us (John 16:9-15; Gal. 1:15-16; Phil. 1:6). This is the regenerating work of God the Holy Spirit making sinners new creatures in Christ, implanting within them a new sinless nature after the image of God (2Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:24; Titus 3:5; 1Peter 1:23, 3:4; 2Peter 1:4; 1John 5:1). To preach a gospel that denies the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit is also denial of the gospel of Christ altogether (2Cor. 11:3, 13-15).
To deny any part of total ruin by the fall in Adam (Rom. 5:12) and complete redemption by the blood of Christ (1Peter 1:18-20) and powerful regeneration by the Holy Spirit (Eph.2:1), is a denial of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ altogether. “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 10:33).

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