“You cannot slander human nature; it is worse than words can paint it.”
1834 – 1892
Sound, biblical doctrine is a necessary aspect of true wisdom and authentic faith. The attitude that scorns doctrine while elevating feelings or blind trust cannot legitimately be called faith at all, even if it masquerades as Christianity. It is actually an irrational form of unbelief.
The gospel message in all its component facts is a clear, definitive, confident, authoritative proclamation that Jesus is Lord, and that He gives eternal and abundant life to all who believe. We who truly know Christ and have received that gift of eternal life have also received from Him a clear, definitive commission to deliver the gospel message boldly as His ambassadors. If we are likewise not clear and distinct in our proclamation of the message, we are not being good ambassadors.
But we are not merely ambassadors. We are simultaneously soldiers, commissioned to wage war for the defense and dissemination of the truth in the face of countless onslaughts against it. We are AMBASSADORS – with a message of good news for people who walk in a land of darkness and dwell in the land of the shadow of death (Isaiah 9:2). And we are SOLDIERS – charged with pulling down ideological strongholds and casting down the lies and deception spawned by the forces of evil (2 Corinthians 10:3-5; 2 Timothy 2:3-4).
Notice carefully: our task as ambassadors is to bring good news to people. Our mission as soldiers is to OVERTHROW FALSE IDEAS. We must keep those objectives straight; we are not entitled to wage physical warfare against people or enter into diplomatic relations with anti-Christian ideas. Our warfare is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12); and our duty as ambassadors does not permit us to compromise or align ourselves with any kind of human philosophies, religious deceit, or any other kind of falsehood (Colossians 2:8).
If those sound like difficult assignments to keep in balance and maintain in proper perspective, it is because they are indeed. Jude certainly understood this. The Holy Spirit inspired him to write his short epistle to people who were struggling with some of these very same issues. He nevertheless urged them to contend earnestly for the faith against all falsehood, while doing everything possible to deliver souls from destruction: “pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh” (Jude 23).
So we are ambassador-soldiers, reaching out to sinners with the truth even as we make every effort to destroy the lies and other forms of evil that hold them in deadly bondage. That is a perfect summary of every Christian’s duty in The Truth War
– John MacArthur from his book The Truth War (pages 25-26):
“By its very definition grace, as it is worked out in our salvation, is in direct opposition to all works and worthiness. We discover from this that those who seek to join grace and works together are terribly deceived. They may make high claims concerning their own holiness of life. However, it is clear from the Word of God and from the very nature of grace that they are on a road that will certainly lead to the everlasting ruin of their souls. Perhaps grace will prevent this, that very grace of which they have such false and corrupt ideas. Divine grace disdains the assistance of men and women’s poor and imperfect efforts in the work of salvation. This is the exclusive right of grace alone. Any attempt to complete what grace begins betrays our pride, offends the Lord and cannot be for our spiritual advantage. Never forget that grace is either absolutely free or it is not grace at all. Never forget that anyone who professes to be saved by grace must believe in his heart that he is saved entirely by that grace. If he does not, then he is being inconsistent in matters of the greatest importance.”
1734 – 1806
Excerpt taken from the The Reign of Grace, by Abraham Booth
HAT TIP: The Bororean
“Death (of a Church) occurs when unbelievers are allowed to take over ministries in the church. It happens when a church becomes more concerned with form and liturgy than it is with life on a spiritual level. Death occurs when a church becomes more concerned about welfare and social ills than it is about salvation. It happens when a church loves systems more than it loves Jesus Christ. And it happens when a church becomes more concerned with material things than spiritual reality. That’s how a church dies. It all is a result of sin.
Sin–in any form that the church tolerates, whether it is in the members or the leaders. Tolerance of sin begins the cycle; then comes the tolerance of unbelievers in the church until no one cares who is a believer or an unbeliever. The end comes when the man who runs the church isn’t a believer. Sins of commission and omission kill a church little by little. When that happens, Christians become carnal. Soon afterwards, unbelievers come into the church, and then a total tolerance for sin exists. The church begins to die, and the people who really love Jesus Christ leave only to be replaced by people who don’t know Him.”
1834 – 1892
For another thing, let us not expect too much from our own hearts here below. At our best we shall find in ourselves daily cause for humiliation, and discover that we are needy debtors to mercy and grace every hour. The more light we have, the more we shall see our own imperfection. Sinners we were when we began, sinners we shall find ourselves as we go on; renewed, pardoned, justified—yet sinners to the very last. Our absolute perfection is yet to come, and the expectation of it is one reason why we should long for heaven.
– J.C. Ryle
1816 – 1900