Henry Mahan

“What kind of church is this?” During a recent Bible conference this 
question was asked by a visitor who had dropped in for the service. I 
had just finished preaching a message on the subject “In Search of 
Truth” and the visitor turned to one of the members and asked, “What 
kind of church is this?”

How refreshing! In this day (when practically every form of religion is 
so pigeon holed and typed that it appeals to some segment of our natural 
society) to preach the gospel of the mystery of Christ in such Bible 
terms that a natural man is shut up to divine revelation and is unable 
to identify us with some particular brand of religion! It was said of 
Spurgeon that no organization could really brand him and say he belongs 
to us! The hypercalvinists called him an arminian, the arminians called 
him a hypercalvinist, the legalists called him an antinomian, and the 
antinomians called him a legalist. The established churches hated him 
and the Baptists finally disowned him, but true believers of every 
persuasion loved him and understood his message.

The natural man understands logical Calvinism. He can easily identify 
with the cooperative redemption presented in arminianism. He has no 
difficulty with modern fundamentalism! But the free gospel of the grace 
of God through the merits and death of the Lord Jesus Christ must be 
revealed to the heart by the Spirit of God. Barnard used to say, 
“Preachers are wrapping salvation up in a neat little package and 
selling it to unsuspecting men and women. Preachers are trying to 
present the great mysteries of redemption in language which ‘the natural 
man can understand and approve of, so that he can make his peace with 
God and go on about his regular routine and fleshly pursuits.”

Blessed is the preacher who can shut men up to free and sovereign grace, 
and yet lovingly, sincerely invite all men to look to Christ and be 
saved. Blessed is the preacher who knows that “salvation is of the 
Lord,” who has the patience to wait upon the Lord to regenerate, awaken 
and call his hearers, yet he prays for their deliverance, urges them to 
close with Christ, and beseeches them to “be reconciled to God.” Blessed 
is the preacher who can preach with equal force and confidence both the 
preservation and perseverance of believers. He will not “turn away from 
us and we will not depart from Him.” Blessed is the preacher who can 
rejoice in imputed righteousness, “with His holy garments on, I am as 
spotless as His dear Son;” and yet along with his congregation hunger 
and thirst for spiritual growth and personal godliness. Blessed is the 
preacher who can find and preach both justification and sanctification 
at Calvary. We do not go to Calvary for justification and then to Sinai 
for sanctification. We are “complete in Him.” Blessed is the preacher 
who can preach prophetical truth in such a way that his hearers are 
looking for the returning Christ and not only the return of Christ! 
Blessed is the preacher who administers believers’ baptism, presides at 
the Lord’s table, and oversees the business of the Lord’s church, not 
according to the “way we do it in our circles and according to our 
custom and tradition,” but according to the Word of God! It may be, if 
preachers and people return to the Scriptures, someone will ask, “What 
kind of church is this?” And we can answer, “It is the church of the 
Lord Jesus Christ which He loved and purchased with His own blood and of 
which He is the sole Head.”

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