Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Wise Words on Apostasy

James Spurgeon has produced a marvelous post on apostasy and some Baptists' skewed emphasis on the doctrine of eternal security that, dare I see, our F/G friends should peruse carefully. I would also like to commend James as a faithful brother and servant of God's people. I have watched and sometimes interacted with him since my days at the Baptistboard. Thank you, James, for your work for the glory of God and the instruction of His people.

Sometime before the end of this week I am going to take a further look at the reality of the warnings in Scripture toward us that apostasy is a real and present danger. It is important that we establish that reality in order to fully appreciate what the author of Hebrews is telling his readers in the latter part of chapter 10. Our problem in this day as Baptists (I can't speak for other groups) is that we have un unbalanced perspective of eternal security. Due to that imbalance we do not take seriously many of the admonitions and warnings of Scripture. In fact, we miss their significance totally. Make no mistake, because of this imbalance, many modern ministers are putting souls in danger, leaving them in danger with false assurances, and will have blood on their hands one day. More, this imbalance has seriously affected the purity of the local church by populating her pews with presumptious people who know nothing of genuine grace--mere professors (when they show up at all). A return to doctrinal soundness on this issue would alleviate many of the problems in our churches. This look at potential apostasy, by the way, and its relation to the perseverance of the saints, dovetails nicely with Phil's series on sanctification. The two themes will be quite complementary.

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to a quotation from Arthur W. Pink on the doctrine of perseverance.

From his An Exposition of Hebrews:

Sad indeed is it to witness so many young professing Christians just starting out on their arduous journey to Heaven, being told that the words "He that endureth to the end shall be saved" apply not to them, but only to the Jews; and that while unfaithfulness on their part will forfeit some "millennial" crown, yet so long as they have accepted Christ as their personal Savior, no matter how they must indulge the flesh or fraternize with the world, Heaven itself cannot be missed. Little wonder that there is now such a deplorably low standard of Christian living among those who listen to such soul-ruinous error. Not so did teachers of the past, who firmly held the eternal security of Christ’s redeemed, pervert that blessed truth. No, they preserved the balance, by insisting that God only preserved His people in the path of obedience to Him, and that they who forsake that path make it evident that they are not His people, no matter what their profession, and no matter what past "experience" they had.To illustrate what we have in mind, an article appearing in a recent issue of a periodical, on the subject of the security of a Christian, begins thus: "The person who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ as the one who died for all sin on the cross, and has accepted Him as his own personal Savior, is saved. And more, can never again, under any circumstances or conditions whatsoever, no matter what he may do or not do, be lost."

Such an unqualified, unguarded, unbalanced statement as that is misleading, and dangerous to the highest degree; the more so, as nothing that follows in the article in any wise modifies it. But more: stated thus, it is unscriptural. God’s Word says, "Whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end" (Heb. 3:6). And again, "if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die" (Rom. 8:13); that is, die eternally, suffer the "second death," for "life" and "death" throughout the epistle of the Romans is eternal.Such a statement as the above (made thoroughly in good faith, we doubt not; yet by one who is the unwitting victim of a school of extremists) leaves completely out of sight the Christian’s responsibility, yea, altogether repudiates it. Side by side with the blessed truth of Divine preservation, the Scriptures uniformly put the solemn truth of Christian perseverance. Are the Lord’s people told that they are "Kept by the power of God through faith" (1 Pet. 1:5)? So are they also exhorted to "keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life" (Prov. 4:23); "Keep himself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27); "keep yourselves from idols" (1 John 5:21); "keep yourselves in the love of God" (Jude 21). And it is not honest to quote one class of these texts and not quote, with equal diligence and emphasis, the other.

"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering." The one-sided teaching of a certain school today renders such an exhortation as this, as not only superfluous, but meaningless. If my only concern (as so many are now affirming) is to trust in the finished work of Christ, and rely upon the promise of God to take me to Heaven; if I have committed my soul and its eternal interests into the hands of God, so that it is now only His responsibility to guard and preserve me; then it is quite unnecessary to bid me guard myself. How absurd are the reasonings of men, once they depart from the Truth! As well might I argue that because I have committed my body into the hands of God, and am counting upon Him to keep me in health, that therefore no matter how I neglect the laws of health, no matter what I eat or do not eat, He will infallibly preserve me from sickness and death. Not so; if I drink poison, I shall come to an untimely grave. Likewise, if I live after the flesh, I shall die.

The apostles believed in no mechanical salvation. They busied themselves in "confirming the souls of the disciples and exhorting them to continue in the faith" (Acts 14:22). According to the lopsided logic of many teachers today, it is quite un-necessary to exhort Christians to "continue in the faith"; they will do so. But be not wise above what is written, and deem not yourselves to be more consistent than the apostles. They "exhorted them all that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord" (Acts 11:23), yea, "persuaded them to continue in the grace of God" (Acts 13:43). The beloved Paul held no such views that, because his converts had been genuinely saved there was therefore no need for him to be any further concerned about their eternal welfare: rather did he send Timothy "to know your faith, lest by some means the Tempter have tempted you, and our labor be in vain" (1 Thess. 3:5). So Peter warned the saints, "Beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked fall from your own steadfastness" (2 Pet. 3:17).

Should we be asked, Then do you no longer believe in the absolute and eternal security of the saints? Our answer is, We do, as it is set forth in Holy Writ; but we most certainly do not believe in that wretched perversion of it which has now become so current and popular. The Christian preservation set forth in God’s Word is not merely a remaining on earth for some time after faith and regeneration have been produced, and then being admitted, as a matter of course, to Heaven, without a regard to the moral history of the intervening period. No, Christian perseverance is a continuing in faith and holiness, a remaining steadfast in believing and in bringing forth all the fruits of righteousness. It is persisting in that course which the converted one has entered: a perseverance unto the end in the exercise of faith and in the practice of godliness. Men who are influenced more by selfish considerations of their own safety and security, than they are with God’s commands and precepts, His honor and glory, are not Christians at all.

Pretty much says it all, doesn't it? Let me just add my "amen" and leave it for you to discuss.

No comments:

Post a Comment