Marketable Christianity

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“The philosophy that marries marketing technique with church growth theory is the result of bad theology. It assumes that if you package the gospel right, people will get saved. It is rooted in Arminianism, which makes the human will, not a sovereign God, the decisive factor in salvation….”—John MacArthur

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Sacrilege!

(Octavius Winslow)

Cultivate a profound reverence for God’s Word. Nothing is more grievous to the Holy Spirit than a trifling with Revelation. The words of Scripture are divinely inspired, “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

Beware of referring to it with levity. To use the words of Scripture irreverently, or to employ its phraseology flippantly, is . . .
to cast discredit upon inspiration,
to press it into the service of the flesh, and
to make the Word of God the jest book of the profane.
This is awful trifling with the thoughts and words of the Holy Spirit!

Stand in awe of this Holy Book! 

God says, “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at My Word.” Isaiah 66:2

“Then all who trembled at the Words of the God of Israel…” Ezra 9:4

“My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of Your laws.” Psalm 119:120

My heart stands in awe of Your Word.” Psalm 119:161

“God’s name is taken more times in vain in churches than anywhere else.
The blasphemy in the sanctuary is worse than the blasphemy in the street!” MacArthur

(Editor’s note: How very sad is it that many professing Christians use the holy Word of God to amuse others with ‘bible jokes’ and in other trifling and irreverent ways. Much of today’s pseudo Christian music, movies and children’s literature use the Word of God in a flippant manner, if not in a downright profane and sacrilegious way.) 

How Christians Freedom Works

Well, again this morning we’re back in the book of Galatians, and I would encourage you to turn to chapter 5. For those of you who have not been with us, we have been looking at this wonderful epistle by the beloved Paul, and one of the concerns that we have addressed in our study of this is that there are certain Christians – and this is nothing new, but it seems to be rather popular today – certain Christians who say once you’ve come to Christ, once you’ve embraced Jesus as your Lord and Savior your sins are forgiven, you really don’t have to worry about being concerned with God’s law; you are free from the law. There are statements like that in Scripture, of course, we read some from Romans chapter 8; there are others here in Galatians. You’re free from the law, so you don’t need to bind your life with a lot of, sort of, duties to obey the law; you’re free in Christ.

There are people who go so far as to say that the fact that you continue to sin gives God an opportunity to demonstrate His grace, and you allow Him to put His grace on display. So we shouldn’t be bound by rules, we shouldn’t be bound by the law as believers; we have been set free from that. They will say, “Whatever violation of the law we might have made Christ paid for that sin in His death; and furthermore, His life has been credited to our account. He lived a perfectly righteous life. God credited His life to our account; don’t worry about the issue of sin and obedience.” That is a heresy of epic proportions, even though it is extremely popular today.

And so, we have been endeavoring, as we look at the book of Galatians, to come to a true understanding of what the Christian life should be like and what should characterize the believer. And I want to continue that today by going back to chapter 5, verses 13 to 16. We began to look at it last week, and we’ll wrap it up this morning.

Let me read these verses to you. Galatians 5:13, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not” – use or “turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”

Now we’re going to be looking at that passage; it’s a very simple, straightforward one, and extremely practical. But let me kind of work my way in the direction of this passage with a few preliminary comments.

The Bible is crystal clear about one thing, that if a person loves God he keeps God’s commandments. If a person loves God he obeys God’s Word. That is essential in terms of the definition of a Christian. In fact, if someone loves God he not only obeys God, but he obeys God with eagerness. He obeys God motivated by love. He desires to honor God, to worship God, to bring glory to God. He longs to see the will of God and the Word of God fulfilled. He loves God. True Christians love God.

On the other hand, if someone has no interest in keeping His commands or is indifferent to His commands, doesn’t seem to be concerned about honoring God or obeying the word and the will of God, he hates God. Now that’s an extreme statement, but there are only two possibilities: you either love God or you hate God. There is no middle ground. To show you this, let’s go all the way back to the book of Exodus in chapter 20. Exodus chapter 20 sets forth this clear truth. You are either a lover of God or a hater of God.

In the twentieth chapter God speaks, and He says in verse 2, I am the Lord your God, who brought you” – meaning Israel – “out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

Loving God is manifestly demonstrated in keeping His commandments. If you do not keep His commandments you are identified as one who hates God. This is repeated again in Deuteronomy chapter 5, verses 8 through 10. And then in Deuteronomy 32:41 we read that God judges with divine justice and divine vengeance “those who hate Me.”

Now, there are people who would say, “Well, I certainly don’t hate God.” If you do not obey His commandments – which is a manifestation that you love Him – you hate Him. For anyone who does not obey His commandments hates Him. John 15:14 records the words of Jesus Himself: “If you love Me you will keep My commandments.”

Now with all the discussion and dialog about this issue of Christian freedom let’s be very clear: Christian freedom is not freedom to be indifferent toward the will of God. It is not freedom to be disobedient to God. That’s what God-haters do; that’s not what those who love God do.

To read the rest of this article, click HERE

A Nation Abandoned by God

John MacArthur

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

John MacArthur Sermon – A Nation Abandoned by God

What Is Lordship Salvation?

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The doctrine of lordship salvation teaches that submitting to Christ as Lord goes hand-in-hand with trusting in Christ as Savior. Lordship salvation is the opposite of what is sometimes called easy-believism or the teaching that salvation comes through an acknowledgement of a certain set of facts.

John MacArthur, whose book The Gospel According to Jesus lays out the case for lordship salvation, summarizes the teaching this way: “The gospel call to faith presupposes that sinners must repent of their sin and yield to Christ’s authority.” In other words, a sinner who refuses to repent is not saved, for he cannot cling to his sin and the Savior at the same time. And a sinner who rejects Christ’s authority in his life does not have saving faith, for true faith encompasses a surrender to God. Thus, the gospel requires more than making an intellectual decision or mouthing a prayer; the gospel message is a call to discipleship. The sheep will follow their Shepherd in submissive obedience.

Advocates of lordship salvation point to Jesus’ repeated warnings to the religious hypocrites of His day as proof that simply agreeing to spiritual facts does not save a person. There must be a heart change. Jesus emphasized the high cost of discipleship: “Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27), and “Those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” (verse 32). In the same passage, Jesus speaks of counting the cost; elsewhere, He stresses total commitment: “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that eternal life is a narrow path found by “only a few” (Matthew 7:14); in contrast, easy-believism seeks to broaden the path so that anyone who has a profession of faith can enter. Jesus says that “every good tree bears good fruit” (verse 17); in contrast, easy-believism says that a tree can still be good and bear nothing but bad fruit. Jesus says that many who say “Lord, Lord” will not enter the kingdom (verses 21–23); in contrast, easy-believism teaches that saying “Lord, Lord” is good enough.

Lordship salvation teaches that a true profession of faith will be backed up by evidence of faith. If a person is truly following the Lord, then he or she will obey the Lord’s instructions. A person who is living in willful, unrepentant sin has obviously not chosen to follow Christ, because Christ calls us out of sin and into righteousness. Indeed, the Bible clearly teaches that faith in Christ will result in a changed life (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:22–23; James 2:14–26).

Lordship salvation is not a salvation-by-works doctrine. Advocates of lordship salvation are careful to say that salvation is by grace alone, that believers are saved before their faith ever produces any good works, and that Christians can and do sin. However, true salvation will inevitably lead to a changed life. The saved will be dedicated to their Savior. A true Christian will not feel comfortable living in unconfessed, unforsaken sin.

Here are nine teachings that set lordship salvation apart from easy-believism:

1) Repentance is not a simple synonym for faith. Scripture teaches that sinners must exercise faith in conjunction with repentance (Acts 2:38; 17:30; 20:21; 2 Peter 3:9). Repentance is a turning from sin (Acts 3:19;Luke 24:47), and even this is a gift of God (2 Timothy 2:25). Genuine repentance, which comes when a person submits to the lordship of Christ, cannot help but result in a change of behavior (Luke 3:8; Acts 26:18–20).

2) A Christian is a new creation and cannot just “stop believing” and lose salvation. Faith itself is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:1–5, 8), and real faith endures forever (Philippians 1:6). Salvation is all God’s work, not man’s. Those who believe in Christ as Lord are saved apart from any effort of their own (Titus 3:5).

3) The object of faith is Christ Himself, not a promise, a prayer, or a creed (John 3:16). Faith must involve a personal commitment to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:15). It is more than being convinced of the truth of the gospel; it is a forsaking of this world and a following of the Master. The Lord Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

4) True faith always produces a changed life (2 Corinthians 5:17). The inner person is transformed by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:20), and the Christian has new nature (Romans 6:6). Those with genuine faith—those who are submitted to the lordship of Christ—follow Jesus (John 10:27), love their brothers (1 John 3:14), obey God’s commandments (1 John 2:3; John 15:14), do the will of God (Matthew 12:50), abide in God’s Word (John 8:31), keep God’s Word (John 17:6), do good works (Ephesians 2:10), and continue in the faith (Colossians 1:21–23; Hebrews 3:14). Salvation is not adding Jesus to the pantheon of one’s idols; it is a wholesale destruction of the idols with Jesus reigning supreme.

5) God’s “divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3; cf. Romans 8:32). Salvation, then, is not just a ticket to heaven. It is the means by which we are sanctified (practically) in this life and by which we grow in grace.

6) Scripture teaches that Jesus is Lord of all. Christ demands unconditional surrender to His will (Romans 6:17–18; 10:9–10). Those who live in rebellion to God’s will do not have eternal life, for “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6).

7) Those who truly believe in Christ will love Him (1 Peter 1:8–9; Romans 8:28–30; 1 Corinthians 16:22). And those we love we long to please (John 14:15, 23).

8) Scripture teaches that behavior is an important test of faith. Obedience is evidence that one’s faith is genuine (1 John 2:3). If a person remains unwilling to obey Christ, he provides evidence that his “faith” is in name only (1 John 2:4). A person may claim Jesus as Savior and pretend to obey for a while, but, if there is no heart change, his true nature will eventually manifest itself. This was the case for Judas Iscariot.

9) Genuine believers may stumble and fall, but they will persevere in the faith (1 Corinthians 1:8). This was the case for Simon Peter. A “believer” who completely turns away from the Lord plainly shows that he was never born again to begin with (1 John 2:19).

A person who has been delivered from sin by faith in Christ should not desire to remain in a life of sin (Romans 6:2). Of course, spiritual growth can occur quickly or slowly, depending on the person and his circumstances. And the changes may not be evident to everyone at first. Ultimately, God knows who are His sheep, and He will mature each of us according to His perfect time table.

Is it possible to be a Christian and live in lifelong carnality, enjoying the pleasures of sin, and never seeking to glorify the Lord who bought him? Can a sinner spurn the lordship of Christ yet lay claim to Him as Savior? Can someone pray a “sinner’s prayer” and go about his life as if nothing had happened and still call himself a “Christian”? Lordship salvation says “no.” Let us not give unrepentant sinners false hope; rather, let us declare the whole counsel of God: “You must be born again” (John 3:7).

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