Bulletin Edition November 2019

Gospel Distinctives by Don Fortner

I know that the things we believe and preach, place us in direct conflict with the religious world around us. That really shouldn’t surprise us. When our Lord Jesus told the religious leaders of his day the things I am about to tell you, they started grabbing rocks to stone him to death. So we must never be surprised when lost religionists get upset with us for preaching the gospel.

Here are four things which place us in direct conflict with the entire religious world–

1. What we believe and preach about GOD himself is the primary, basic difference between us and those who do not believe the gospel. We believe, according to the plain statements of Holy Scripture that the one true and living God, the God of the Bible, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is the ABSOLUTE SOVEREIGN of the universe (Ps. 115:3; 135:6). That simply means that God is God. He does, he always does, exactly what he will everywhere, with everyone and everything! God always has his way. God always does all his pleasure. None can stay his hand. None can resist his will. In heaven, earth, and hell GOD RULES!

This great, sovereign God is absolutely, perfectly, immaculately HOLY. Everything he does is holy. Everything he requires is holy. He is so perfectly, absolutely, inviolably holy that he cannot and will not accept anything or anyone who is not perfectly holy.

Our great, sovereign, holy Lord God is immutably JUST. God our Savior declares himself to be both “a just God and a Savior.” His justice is unbending and unbendable. He will not forgive sin, except upon the grounds of strict justice. The just God must and shall punish all sin. He cannot forgive sin until full satisfaction for sin has been made. And this gloriously just God cannot charge any sin upon any sinner for whom atonement has been made. Justice, once satisfied, demands the release of all for whom satisfaction has been made.

2. That which we believe about MAN also separates us from the entire religious world around us. We believe, according to the plain statements of Holy Scripture, that all men and women are sinners, born in spiritual death, corrupt at heart, inclined toward every evil, incapable of doing good, and totally incapable of changing their condition. In a word, fallen man is “dead in trespasses and sins,” lost, justly condemned, under the wrath of God, doomed, damned, willfully ignorant of all things spiritual; without Christ, and without hope, apart from God’s sovereign mercy.

3. Everything we believe about the LORD JESUS CHRIST sets us apart from the religious world in which we live. Unlike most religious people, we actually believe the Bible. We believe all that the Bible reveals about the Son of God. We really do believe that Jesus Christ is God, God in human flesh.

-That he is the eternal Surety.

-That he brought in everlasting righteousness for his elect by his obedience to God as our Representative.

-That he fully satisfied the justice of God for the sins of his people, which were imputed to him, when he died as our Substitute at Calvary.

-We believe that all for whom the Lord Jesus Christ died must and shall be saved, because he cannot fail. He is an almighty, effectual Redeemer, an omnipotent Savior, an unfailing Advocate, and an all-prevailing High Priest!

4. Believing what the Bible teaches about SALVATION also separates us from the lost religionists of this world, who foolishly imagine that God’s salvation depends in some way, or to some degree, at some point upon the will, work, or worth of man. It does not! “Salvation is of the LORD!” Salvation is accomplished, in its entirety, by the free, sovereign, irresistible grace and power of God Almighty, through the person and work of his dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the omnipotent operations of his Holy Spirit, who alone can raise sinners from death to life, reveal Christ in them, and give them the gift of faith in him.

Every aspect of God’s salvation is by GRACE alone.

Are we ‘chosen’ of God? We were chosen unto salvation by the election of grace.

Are we ‘redeemed’ by the blood of Christ? We were redeemed because God the Father gave us to God the Son in the covenant of grace before the world began.

Are we ‘called’, ‘born again’? We are born again by the Spirit of God, who called us from death to life in Christ by the power of his omnipotent grace.

Are we ‘justified’? We are justified by grace.

Are we ‘sanctified’? We are sanctified by grace.

Are we ‘kept’? We are kept by the power of God’s grace.

There is no place between the pit of hell and the gates of pearl, where salvation depends on us. It is written in the Book of God in bold, capital letters– “BY GRACE YOU ARE SAVED!” That is the message written upon every page of the Bible. Any religion, any doctrine, any preacher, any religious teacher, anything or anyone who contradicts that message contradicts the Word of God. Salvation is by the grace of God, entirely by the grace of God. Human works, human effort, and the will of man has absolutely nothing to do with it. “Salvation is of the LORD!”

I know that men object to these things. I know preachers everywhere deny them. I know that proud men are offended by them. But I am not running for political office. I am here to proclaim the truth to eternity bound sinners for the glory of God. That which we have heard and learned of the Father, we must declare. I must be true to God, true to the Scriptures, and true to your souls.

The religion of JOY

(Octavius Winslow, “The Sympathy of Christ”)

The religion of Christ is the religion of JOY. Christ came to take away our sins, to roll off our curse, to unbind our chains, to open our prison house, to cancel our debt; in a word, to give us the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Is not this joy? Where can we find a joy so real, so deep, so pure, so lasting? There is every element of joy; deep, ecstatic, satisfying, sanctifying joy in the gospel of Christ. The believer in Jesus is essentially a happy man. The child of God is, from necessity, a joyful man. His sins are forgiven, his soul is justified, his person is adopted, his trials are blessings, his conflicts are victories, his death is immortality, his future is a heaven of inconceivable, unthought of, untold, and endless blessedness. With such a God, such a Savior, and such a hope, is he not, ought he not, to be a joyful man?

A solemn sham and an impudent mockery!

(Charles Spurgeon)

“Rend your heart–and not your garments!” Joel 2:13

Garment-rending and other external signs of religious emotion, are easily manifested, and are frequently hypocritical. True repentance is far more difficult, and consequently far less common. Unsaved men will attend to the most multiplied and minute religious ceremonies and regulations–for such things are pleasing to their flesh. But true godliness is too humbling, too heart-searching, too spiritual for the tastes of carnal men! They prefer something more ostentatious, flimsy, and worldly.

External religious rituals are temporarily comfortable; eye and ear are pleased; self-conceit is fed, and self-righteousness is puffed up. But they are ultimately delusive, for at the day of judgment, the soul needs something more substantial than religious ceremonies and rituals to lean upon.

Apart from vital godliness–all religion is utterly vain! When offered without a sincere heart, every form of religious worship is a solemn sham and an impudent mockery of the majesty of God!

Heart-rending is divinely wrought–and solemnly felt. It is a secret grief which is personally experienced, not in mere form–but as a deep, soul-moving work of the Holy Spirit upon the inmost heart of each believer. It is not a matter to be merely talked of–but keenly and sensitively felt in every living child of the living God. It is powerfully humiliating and sin-purging! But also, it is sweetly preparative for those gracious consolations which proud unhumbled souls are unable to receive! This heart-rending distinctly belongs to the elect of God–and to them alone.

The text commands us to rend our hearts–but they are naturally as hard as marble! How then, can this be done? We must take them to Calvary! A dying Savior’s voice rent the rocks once–and it is just as powerful now. O blessed Spirit, let us effectually hear the death-cries of Jesus–and our hearts shall be rent!

The religion of a dead professor


How different the religion of a child of God is, from the religion of a dead professor! The religion of a dead professor—begins in self, and ends in self—begins in his own wisdom, and ends in his own folly—begins in his own strength, and ends in his own weakness—begins in his own righteousness, and ends in his own damnation! There is in him never any going out of soul after God, no secret dealings with the Lord.

But the child of God, though he is often faint, weary, and exhausted with many difficulties, burdens and sorrows—yet he never can be satisfied except in living union and communion with the Lord of life and glory. Everything short of that leaves him empty. All the things of time and sense leave a child of God unsatisfied. Nothing but vital union and communion with the Lord of life, to feel His presence, taste His love, enjoy His favor, see His glory—nothing but this will ever satisfy the desires of ransomed and regenerated souls. This the Lord indulges His people with.

True or False?

(by Don Fortner)

1. False faith may be greatly enlightened

and knowledgeable of gospel truth. Judas was.

True faith receives the love of the Truth.

2. False faith excites the affections, like

the stony ground hearers of the parable,

and causes people to spring up like

shooting stars, only to fade quickly.

True faith is the abiding, growing gift of God.

3. False faith reforms the outward life and

causes people to live better before men.

True faith arises from a regenerate

heart and causes people to seek the

will and glory of God.

4. False faith may speak well of Christ,

as the Jews did. True faith loves Christ.

5. False faith confesses sins, like King Saul.

True faith confesses sin, like David.

6. False faith may humble itself in

sackcloth and ashes, like Ahab.

True faith humbles itself before God.

7. False faith may repent in terror, like Esau

and Judas. True faith repents in contrition,

being convinced of God’s way of salvation in Christ.

8. False faith often performs religious works

very diligently. Saul of Tarsus did.

True faith is a faith, which “works by love.”

9. False faith is sometimes very generous and

charitable (Ananias and Sapphira). True faith

causes ransomed sinners to be generous,

willingly, constrained only by love and gratitude.

10. False faith may tremble at the

Word of God, like Felix.

True faith trembles and bows.

11. False faith often experiences much in religion.

True faith trusts no experience, no matter how

great, and looks to Christ alone.

12. False faith often enjoys great religious

privileges, like Lot’s wife. True faith

places no confidence in the flesh.

13. False faith may preach, perform miracles,

and cast out demons, like Judas. True faith

rejoices in having one’s name written in heaven.

14. False faith often attains high office in the

church, like Diotrephes, and walks with great

preachers, as Demas walked with Paul.

True faith is honored to keep the doors

of God’s house and walk with Christ.

15. False faith may be peaceful and carnally

secure, like the five foolish virgins.

True faith presumes nothing, but looks

constantly to Christ.

Separation from the Ungodly World by Octavius Winslow

“Therefore, come out from them and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.” 2 Cor. 6:17

There is not a stronger mark of the Lord’s people than their separation. They are separated from the world, separated from their families, separated from their own righteousness, and often separated from the religious world–a godly people whom the Lord has set apart from all others, that He might set them apart for Himself. Now, it is this distinctive badge of separateness the Lord will have His saints retain in all their Christian course. We are very apt to forget it. We live in the world, mix with the world, hold transactions with the world, and, in some measure, are guided by the conventional habits of the world. Still, we have need to be continually reminded that, though living in the world, and, of necessity, compelled to conform to its proper and lawful customs, we yet are not OF the world. “I have chosen you OUT OF the world,” says the unworldly, loving Savior to His disciples; “therefore the world hates you.” “You are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” Now, in what sense, oh my soul, and to what extent, does your loyalty to Christ demand your separation from the world?

The words which suggest the present reflection are, by a slight variation, taken from the prophet Isaiah 52:11, and originally were applied to the captive Jews in Babylon,

“Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing! Come out from it and be pure, you who carry the vessels of the Lord.” Now, Babylon, a city of proud, unclean idolaters, and opposed to God, was an emblem of this ungodly, Babylonish world, in which the saints of the Most High dwell, but from which they are called to come, and from whose inhabitants they are called upon to separate themselves, touching not the unclean thing.

The religion of Christ is not ascetic and monkish. It knows nothing of “nunneries,” or “monasteries,” or “retreats.” These are all opposed to the genius and requirements of Christianity–its divine, social, and spiritual nature. Our blessed Lord, the Divine Founder of our religion, expressly warns His disciples of this perversion of His gospel–“Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold He is in the desert; go not forth–behold, He is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” It enjoins nothing like this upon its disciples, “for then must you needs go out of the world,” says the apostle.

But it does teach crucifixion to the world, nonconformity to the world, spiritual and marked separation from the world, from its pleasures, its gaieties, its principles, its religion. We are the professed disciples of an unearthly Christ, the followers of an unworldly Savior. “Let us go forth, therefore, unto Him outside the camp” (of the Babylonish world), “bearing His reproach,” keeping our consecrated garments unspotted from the world, touching not the unclean thing. Then will Jesus, our Lord, receive us, and infinitely make amends for all we have lost of power and wealth and honors, for His holy and precious Name.

Let our separation from the world be our closer union and fellowship with the Church of Christ in its every branch, and with Christ Himself, the one Head of the Church. This will tend more strongly to define and sharpen the line of demarcation between us and an ungodly world. Association with the saints will render us a more marked and distinct people. The world will take account of us that we are the Lord’s. O my soul! come away from an unclean and defiling world. “If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Lord! by Your cross may I be crucified to the world, and the world to me!

Comments are closed.