I Don’t Need Anyone to Teach Me! Really?

“Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” – Proverbs 18:1

In some sectors of the internet, one can discover professing Christians who live their lives in isolation from the local Church.

Now, we all understand it when someone is providentially hindered from attending a local Church, and that is a very different scenario. I am not speaking of such people. I am referring to those who’s absence from the local Church is willful. Not only so, but they actively encourage others to do the same. I believe this to be extremely dangerous. More than that.. I believe the teaching is demonic in origin. Who else but the enemy of our souls would be the source of a teaching that seeks to remove God’s precious sheep from the nurture, care and protection of God-given elder/shepherds.

One verse championed by these people, taking out of context (as with all falsehood), is 1 John 2:27 which reads as follows:

“But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.”

Note the phrase, “you have no need that anyone should teach you.”

There you go… for these people, this verse clearly teaches that the Christian does not need to have leaders and teachers in their lives. They are more than ok to isolate themselves from the local Church.

But is this what 1 John 2:27 is teaching?

The context of the verse says ‘No… not at all!!’

Here are some notes from Dr. Sam Storms at his website (found here). You will see, once the context is understood, the true meaning of 1 John 2:27 is abundantly clear:

The Doctrinal Test (1) – 2:18-27

1. Antichrists and Christians – 2:18-21
a. the existence of many false teachers is evidence that this is the last hour – 2:18

John emphatically states that we may know this is (the) last hour because of the existence and activity of many antichrists.

Antichrist – occurs only in the Johannine epistles (2:18(2),22; 4:3; 2 John 7). This word is never used to describe the Beast of Rev. 13. The term is a combination of anti (against or instead of) and christos (Messiah, Christ). The Antichrist thus opposes Christ as his adversary or enemy with a view to taking his place. He is a lying pretender who portrays himself as Christ; he is a counterfeit or diabolical parody of Christ himself. See 2 Thess. 2:3-12.

Westcott writes: “It seems to be most consonant to the context to hold that antichristos here describes one who, assuming the guise of Christ, opposes Christ” (70). Again, “the Antichrist assails Christ by proposing to do or to preserve what He did while he denies Him” (70).

Although they had heard that this person’s appearance is yet future, “even now” (kai nun) says John, many antichrists have already come.

Paul wrote in 2 Thess. 2:7 that “the mystery of lawlessness was already at work.” In 1 John 4:3 he points out that the spirit of antichrist is now at work in the world. What John means in 2:18 is that the “many antichrists” are forerunners of the one they heard was still to come. Because they proclaim the same heresies he will proclaim and oppose Christ now as he will then, they are rightly called antichrists (esp. in view of their denial of Christ in vv. 22-23).

In 2:22, he writes: ‘Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. The spirit of the antichrist, says John, is found in anyone who denies that Jesus is God come in the flesh (1 John 4:3).

Again, in 2 John 7, he writes: ‘For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Thus, for John, ‘antichrist is

* Anyone ‘who denies that Jesus is the Christ (1 John 2:22)
* Anyone ‘who denies the Father and the Son (1 John 2:23)
* ‘Every spirit that does not confess Jesus (1 John 4:3)
* ‘Those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh (2 John 7)

Some have argued that John’s point is that there is no other antichrist than the one even then operative in his day or the one who takes up and perpetuates this heresy in subsequent history. In other words, anyone in general can be ‘antichrist, if he or she espouses this heresy, but no one in particular, whether in the first or the twentieth centuries, is the antichrist as if there were only one to whom the others look forward.

In other words, the ‘antichrist’ who his readers were told was yet to come is now with them in the form of anyone who espouses the heretical denial of the incarnation of the Son of God. According to DeMar, for example, it is possible that the early church ‘heard’ that one man was to come on the scene who was to be the Antichrist. John seems to be correcting this mistaken notion (Last Days Madness, 227).

Says B. B. Warfield: Continue reading

Questions about Inductive Teaching and Closed Communion

Here are a couple of insightful answers from Jonathan Leeman found at the 9marks ministry website:

Dear 9Marks,

I am a newly appointed missionary and am wrestling with the necessity of preaching in the church context. It’s a fad right now to do inductive style teaching in lieu of preaching in house churches. I brought up the imperative to preach from 2 Timothy 4:2 and the response was that Timothy was likely a missionary and the preaching here is evangelism, not Western-style pulpit ministry. Further, it’s not “practical” and as easily reproducible.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the necessity of monological (for lack of better words) preaching as a transcultural imperative.

Thanks for your time,


Dear Dave,

I sent your question to Zane Pratt who serves as the Vice President for Training for the SBC’s International Mission Board. I assumed (rightly, he tells me) that he’s encountered this before. He tells me it has become the party line in some places, in part because people are looking for a ministry program that’s quickly reproducible. Here’s what Pratt said:

This is a great question, and it shows the intersection between missions strategy, our understanding of the church, and our interpretation of Scripture. In the example you’ve been told, missions strategy is in the driver’s seat. The controlling concern is the desire to see churches reproduce quickly. That in turn leads to a desire to remove any feature of church life that might take time to develop—like having pastors who are able to preach. This requires redefining the function of Bible teaching in the church to something that anyone can do immediately after conversion, like leading a Bible discussion. Finally, in order to warrant this conclusion from Scripture, it becomes necessary to rule out proclamation-type verses in the New Testament from having application to the internal life of the church. Does such a procedure stand up to scrutiny?

There are two Greek word groups under consideration here. One is kerygma and its related verb forms, and the other is didache and its related verb forms. The first of these is often best translated as “proclamation,” and it is often used in the New Testament to refer to the proclamation of the gospel to the world—hence, to evangelistic preaching. In fact, 2 Timothy 4:2 begins with this word. The second word is usually translated as teaching. However, the line between these words is by no means solid. For example, the verbal form of kerygma is used in both Acts 15:21 and Romans 2:21 to refer to ordinary instruction and preaching in the synagogue. In the case of 2 Timothy 4:2, the explanatory context uses the word didache—teaching—to describe what kind of proclamation is in mind. This verse does in fact connect proclamation or preaching with the teaching that goes on in the church.

Of equal importance is the complete absence in the New Testament of any examples of inductive Bible study as the central teaching event in the church. Following the examples of Jesus, the synagogue, and the apostles (see, for example, Paul in Troas in Acts 20), the normal form of teaching would have been preaching or proclamation by one teacher. That is not to say that some form of discussion is out of order. It can be very useful. However, the normal pattern of teaching in the church from the earliest days of New Testament church life has been centered on preaching. Training pastors/elders/overseers to preach is a necessary part of healthy church formation, and the legitimate desire to see the gospel spread as quickly as possible does not negate that obligation.

Thank you, Zane. So helpful.

I remember encountering similar ideas in the Emergent Church movement about a decade ago. Therefore, I responded to the trend in my book Reverberation. When Moody suggested republishing Reverberation as Word-Centered Church last year, I assumed the conversation mostly had died, so I cut out the section on dialogical preaching. Apparently, it has now shown up in missionary circles! So, here’s what I wrote in Reverberation:

A number of writers have been promoting dialogical preaching lately. Such preaching focuses on the back and forth nature of dialogue, but places this conversation into the preaching event. It’s said to be particularly appropriate in these postmodern days since no one believes anymore that “one man has all the answers.” Dialogues give every member of the community an opportunity to express him or herself and offer a perspective on God’s Word. . . .

No doubt, group conversations about God’s Word, as in inductive Bible studies, can be rich and sweet. It is encouraging to hear the young and old, mature and immature, testify to their experience of God’s grace through the biblical text being discussed.

At the same time, God has gifted some—not all—to be pastors and teachers and given them as gifts to his church (Eph. 4:7–13). And he means to particularly bless and grow his church through them.

The pattern throughout Scripture is for a man—a judge, a prophet, an apostle, a preacher—to speak authoritatively on behalf of God: “Thus says the Lord. . .” The speaker’s authority does not derive from himself; it derives from the Word. It’s tied to his faithful presentation of it. The congregation, on the other hand, learns what it means to submit to God by submitting to his authoritative Word as it’s preached. The goal isn’t to exchange perspectives, but to hear what God says. Every Christian (including the preacher) must understand that first and foremost we live under God’s authoritative Word. This reality is best demonstrated and practiced through the preaching event, a place where we learn to sit quietly and listen. The preacher, if he has been faithful, has been sitting quietly and listening all week!

I pray something Zane or I have offered is helpful to you.

Dear 9Marks,

I just found out that the church I am a part of practices closed communion. (“Closed communion” is the practice of restricting the Lord’s Supper to members of a particular local church and only that church.) Could you give me Bible references that speak about this issue? It feels very exclusive and arrogant to exclude even close friends who I know have embraced the gospel and are walking with the Lord. I would appreciate any Bible passages that speak either for or against this idea.


Dear Amy,

If I may, first a word or correction, then of consolation, and finally of counsel. The correction: you shouldn’t assume people are being arrogant because they are trying to obey the Bible as they understand it. Now, I don’t agree with this particular view of the Lord’s Supper either, but I assume that the church and its leaders are doing their best to obey and submit themselves to God.

I do find it’s somewhat common to criticize as arrogant people with strong opinions about what the Bible teaches. And certainly, such people might be arrogant. But they might also might be the humblest of all, because they put aside their own opinions or popularity, and submit themselves to God. I’ve known people in both camps. For our part, let’s do our best to give people the benefit of the doubt, particularly when it comes to the motives of their hearts.

Now the word of consolation: I agree with you that closed communion mistakenly excludes people from the Lord’s Supper who should not be excluded. But let me start with what this position gets right. The Lord’s Supper is not an individual Christian ordinance, but a church ordinance. It marks off the church from the world. Listen to Paul: “Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf” (1 Cor. 10:17). We are shown to be one body when we partake of the one loaf. The Supper is a church revealing meal. He then practically concludes, “When you gather to eat, you should all eat together” (11:33).

This is why the Supper is for the gathered church. It’s for church members. It reveals who the church members are. And this much the closed communion position gets right.

Yet there is another principle we need to remember: the universal church is bigger than just our church. Therefore, it’s the practice of my own church to open the Table to members of other churches. Throughout the New Testament we see examples of churches working together, such as John’s commendation of Gaius for receiving the missionaries he sent (3 John 5–8). What’s more, we see John condemning Diostrephes because he won’t welcome other believers (3 John 9). When we open the Table to members of other churches, therefore, we demonstrate a rightful welcome to the larger body of Christ. So you’ll hear our pastors say something like, “If you’re a baptized member of another gospel-preaching church, then you’re welcome to receive the Lord’s Table here.”

Finally, my counsel. What do you do in your position? First, respect your own church and its leaders. Assume they have good reasons for their position. And, who knows, maybe they’re right and we’re wrong. I think it would be fine for you to have a conversation with the leaders about this issue, and even to present a different view. But I would only do this once, and then I would leave it alone. If you stay in the church, do so only if you can be content to leave the topic alone. Don’t be a source of division. If you feel like you cannot remain in the church because of its position here, that’s fine. But do your best to leave humbly, graciously, and with as little wake behind you as possible.

I pray this is useful. Thanks for your thoughtfulness and care.

The Great Heresies: Nestorius and Eutyches

Article by Gervase Charmley at this link.

We have made these studies of the so-called Great Heresies because they represent significant false steps in the history of Christian teaching; in each of them a true teaching is distorted, and so becomes false. Each precipitated a crisis that forced the Church to look deeper into the Scriptures and consider the fullness of God’s revelation there.

Our previous study, that of Apollinarius, marks a move from the question of the deity of Christ to that of the relationship between the Divine and human in Christ. Opposing the ruinous heresy of Arianism, Apollinarius took a crude approach, teaching that the Divine replaced a part of the human nature, a position that was rightly condemned on the ground that it made the Incarnate Christ less than human. The next great theological controversy would be driven at least as much by politics as theology, and ended in the great Council of Chalcedon. The two men who gave their names to the heresies condemned there were Nestorius and Eutyches, and they came from Antioch and Alexandria respectively.


After the Council of Constantinople in 381, theologians in the Eastern Church continued to debate the questions that had been raised by the Arian controversy, and consider how best to keep from falling into error on the question of the person of Christ.

Broadly speaking there were two main approaches, characterizing schools of thought based in Alexandria and Syrian Antioch respectively. The Alexandrians laid great stress on the unity of Christ’s person, while the Antiochenes stressed the two natures and the true humanity of Christ. The different emphases were not too much of a problem so long as they were only emphases, but there was always a danger of losing proportion; the Alexandrian emphasis could too easily result in a view of Christ that down-played his humanity, while the Antiochene approach might lead to a view of Christ that divided the two natures rather than just distinguishing them. Not only that, but there was a risk that the two schools might mistake a difference in emphasis for outright heresy.

This is what actually happened in the Nestorian controversy; Nestorius has perhaps the unique distinction of being the only one of the ‘great heretics’ who almost certainly did not teach the heresy that his name has become attached to. Complicating this were political issues; the church, freed from persecution and favoured by the Caesars, had developed its own complex political system of parishes, dioceses, bishops, archbishops, and patriarchs. The Patriarchs were archbishops of five particularly significant cities. These were Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Rome, and Constantinople. Jerusalem was always small and rather insignificant, while Rome, away in Europe, was distant and had its own concerns. Continue reading

Concerning the Fear of God

Article: No True Religion Without the Fear of God by John J. Murray (original source here)

It is now over sixty years since Professor John Murray, in his 1955 Peyton Lectures, later published in Principles of Conduct (IVP, London, 1957), spoke of the ‘eclipse of the fear of God’. It was such he said that ‘we have become reluctant to distinguish the earnest and consistent believer as God-fearing’.

If that was characteristic of the situation then, how much more so is it true of the present time? Professor Murray was a great admirer of Hugh Martin, the 19th century Scottish divine, who observes in his classic work, The Shadow of Calvary (1875, Banner reprint 1983): ‘I have no personal religion save as I fear God sincerely and supremely’, claiming that ‘Fear is the first principle of all piety.’ Perhaps it is time for us to examine again what is the mark of the true people of God.


Professor Murray says of the fear of God: ‘It is the reflex in our consciousness of the transcendent majesty and holiness of God. It belongs to all created rational beings and does not take its origin from sin.’ He gives as an example in the adoration of the angelic host in Isaiah’s vision (Isa 6.1-8). The seraphim are overwhelmed with awe and reverence before the manifestation of God’s transcendent holiness. Unlike the prophet Isaiah, however, there is no shame because of sin.

It is true that a fear of incurring the displeasure of the Almighty is a motive in the ministry of angels. It is also a fact that our first parents had the true fear of God before the Fall, for they were created in the image of God (Gen 1.27, 2.9-11). The fear of God was supremely manifested in the perfect humanity of Jesus. His whole life was governed by the fear of the Lord, and it was that fear that controlled his obedience even unto death (Heb 5.7). It was said of Him in prophecy: ‘And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord’ (Isa 11.2-3).


The God-consciousness produced in the fallen human heart can only, in the first instance, lead us to be afraid of God and His punitive judgments. We can see this in the reaction of the prophet Isaiah, compared to that of the seraphim. The sinner had to cry: ‘Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts’ (Isa 6.5). After the Fall, we find that ‘Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden’. The impulse was to hide from the ‘face’ of God, which they had previously beheld. We are told in the Book of Revelation that there is a day coming when the mighty ones of the earth will call on the mountains and rocks to fall on them to hide them from ‘the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb’ (Rev 6.15-17). In contrast with this when the redeemed are gathered home ‘they shall see his face’. (Rev 22.4).

In the case of Adam his newly acquired dread of the presence of God was the reaction of his consciousness to the rupture which sin had effected in the relationship. Murray asks: ‘Is it proper to be afraid of God?’ And answers: ‘The only proper answer is that it is the essence of impiety not to be afraid of God when there is reason to be afraid’. Wherever this consciousness is awakened in a sinner at any time he is constrained to cry out, ‘What must I do? How can I stand before a holy God? How can God’s anger be quenched?’

From the time that God intervened to give the first Gospel promise of ‘the Seed of the Woman’ (Gen 3.15), the only acceptable way for sinners to approach God was through a God-appointed sacrifice. We see it in Abel’s offering being accepted by God and therefore his person, while Cain was rejected (Gen 4.3-5). A propitiation has been graciously provided and when received by faith there is reconciliation and restored fellowship with God. ‘There is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared’ (Psalm 130.4)


Scripture leaves us in no doubt that the beginning of knowledge and of wisdom comes from the fear of God. (Prov 1.7, Prov 9.10, Psa 111.10). In that true knowledge of God we are delivered from the fear of terror but retain the fear of reverence and obedience. The Psalmist could say: ‘My flesh trembleth for fear of thee’ (Psa 119.120). Many professing Christians today think that such fear belongs to Old Testament times and that the New Testament rises above that which was represented before the coming of Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth. To quote Murray again: ‘The church walks in the fear of the Lord because the Spirit of Christ indwells, fills, directs and rests upon the church and the Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of the fear of the Lord’. (Principles of Conduct, p 230).

The saint of God is not free from sin. He knows that his sin is displeasing to God and is sensitive to the demands of holiness. He takes heed to the words of Paul: ‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.’ (Phil 2.12-13). He is ready to pass the time of his sojourning here in fear. (I Pet 1.17). The highest reaches of sanctification are realised only in the fear of God (2 Cor 7.1). Says John Calvin, ‘The fear of God is the root and origin of all righteousness’.

‘The fear of the Lord is clean enduring for ever’ (Psa 19.9). The most practical of mundane duties derive their inspiration and impetus from the fear of God, as we find in Ephesians 5.21 and 6.5, Colossians 3.22 and 1 Peter 2.18.


In the early stages of the Christian life there is often a battle to overcome slavish fear and nurture filial fear. John Bunyan points to the devil as the author of servile fear. The word servile comes from the Latin servus which means ‘slave’, while filial is from filius, meaning ‘son’. We are to have the loving fear of an adopted son to His Father. (Rom 8.15).

‘The filial fear of God is most prevalent when the heart is impressed with a lively sense of the love of God manifested in Christ’ (A Treatise on the Fear of God, Bunyan Works, vol 1, p 483). ‘Perfect love casts out fear ‘, that is, the fear of terror (1 John 4.18). ‘The fear of the Lord was a lovely grace in the perfect humanity of Jesus. Let it be the test of our “predestination to be conformed to his image”.’ (Sinclair Ferguson).

It will also helps us overcome the fear of man. ‘We fear men so much because we fear God so little,’ said William Gurnall. ‘The fear of man bringeth a snare’ (Prov 29.25). There are so many encouragements given us to overcome that fear. God called on Joshua to ‘Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest’ (Josh 1.9). ‘Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God (Isa 41.10).

Alex Motyer says: ‘The command to abjure fear is based on the divine presence ..and divine personal commitment.’ Jesus assures his followers: ‘Fear not, little flock: for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.’ (Luke 12.32). Hugh Martin exhorts: ‘Beware of ungodly fears. The fear of man bringeth a snare. Full half of the lies that are uttered in the earth are dictated by ungodly fear; and full half of the deeds of unrighteousness are prompted by some ungodly fear. Men will not fear God, and therefore they must frequently be at the mercy of ungodly fear’. (Shadow of Calvary, 219).

‘Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man’ (Eccl 12.13).

A Fresh Look At the Five Solas

Over the last five Sundays in a sermon series at King’s Church, we have been taking a fresh look at the Five Solas of the Reformation. In that time, we have drunk deeply at the well of salvation and seen the Lord Jesus Christ and His power to save in new and fresh ways. It has been a joy! I hope the series can be a blessing to others also, and so make these sermons available here.

Sola Scriptura: Sermon: The More Sure Word

Sola Fide: Sermon: The Heart of the Gospel

Sola Gratia: Sermon: Every Christian is a Miracle

Solus Christus: Sermon: Federal Headship – Adam and Christ

Soli Deo Gloria: Sermon: The Meaning of Life

The eBook and Audio Book Version of my new book is also now available at this link.

God bless,

A Mighty Fortress: The German Edition

Article by David Mathis (at this link)

The Reformers didn’t just protest; they sang. The Protestant Reformation, which began in earnest 500 years ago this week, didn’t just give birth to preaching and writing, but it inspired music and unleashed song.

That God declares us rebels fully righteous on the sole basis of his Son, through faith alone — such news is too good not to sing. And that our Creator and Redeemer himself has spoken into our world, and preserved his speech for us in a Book, to be illumined by his own Spirit — such news is too good not to craft into verse. Perhaps the greatest evidence that the Reformation released real joy in freeing captives from the bondage of man-made religion is that its theology made for such a good marriage with music. The Reformation sang.

Battle Hymn of the Reformation

Leading the way not just in word, but in song, was Martin Luther. He wrote nearly forty hymns, many of which he composed not only the words but even the music. His most famous, of course, “A Mighty Fortress,” often is called “The Battle Hymn of the Reformation.” The song embodies with strength and gusto the very spirit of the Reformation, breaking free from the flaccidity and poverty of medieval theology with rich God-confidence. Continue reading

What is Lordship Salvation?

Article by John Hendryx (original source here)

I have read some critical remarks of Lordship salvation which have some validity. These criticisms have indeed been true with some erroneous presentations of Lordship that appear to be nothing more than a works-based based gospel which give the impression that salvation, at least partly, has to do with our commitment every bit as much as Christ’s cross. However, just like any doctrine, things tend to go awry when humans are involved… but if understood rightly, biblically I believe that it actually conforms to the Reformed confessions and, more importantly, to the Bible’s central message of salvation by grace alone in Christ alone. Because of this I wish to write a very short piece to bring some clarity to the issue.

What is Lordship?

When the Holy Spirit touches or quickens a person’s heart, they recognize immediately that because of their sinful rebellion against a Holy God, that they justly deserve the His wrath and know sin to be their greatest burden and enemy. Yet being in captivity and bondage to it, they despair of all hope in their flesh (Phil 3:3), knowing there is nothing they can do to save themselves. So they appeal to Christ Jesus as their only hope to deliver them from both the guilt and power of sin. They know only He can save them from God’s wrath and sin’s captivity. That is why he is called the Savior.

The sinner whom the Spirit applies Christ’s redemption does not say, “Jesus, forgive my sin but leave me in the grip of its power.” That is a sure sign of a spurious conversion. No, a regenerate person who is united to Christ wants to be rid of that which breaks God’s heart but know he is utterly helpless in himself to free himself. He knows Jesus alone has the power to free the captives. By the very calling on Jesus to deliver him from sin’s tyranny, the quickened man reveals a renewed heart that no longer has allegiance to sin, but to Christ. Sin is no longer Lord, Jesus is Lord! In fact he will continually come to God in prayer knowing he has no strength in himself to fight sin, but appeals to Jesus to deliver him from it.

If a person simply wants their guilt removed so they can escape from hell but does not want to be rid of the sin which is what put them there in the first place, and this is the pattern of their life, it reveals an uncircumcised heart (Deut 29:4).

The regenerate believer, who a new heart, loves God so will fight against sin and mourn over the breaking of God’s law for the rest of his life (Deut 30:6). He will stumble, and know himself to daily woefully fall short of God’s holy standard, but will never fall away altogether (Psalm 37:24) for the Spirit works in him a desire to confess sin and do that which is pleasing to God. (1 Cor 11:31-32) It is not the perfection of his life which determines that he yields to Christ as Lord, but the Spirit driven direction of his life. He trusts in Christ alone for his standing before God and trusts in Christ alone to enable him to fight sin. Jesus has conscripted you in His army against it, first in your own heart and then in the world.

So, in short, Lordship salvation is not our commitment that saves us but Christ who grants me a renewed heart which wants to be delivered from sin in all its forms. Where people tend to go wrong on this issue is when they have a low view of the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration on the one hand (no Lordship,antinomianism) or too high a view of the fallen sinners native ability to follow Christ (Moralism, Legalism).

The opposite of “easy believism” is not “hard believism” but “impossible believism” (1 Cor 12:3, 1 Cor 2:14). But thanks be to God, “what is impossible with man is possible with God.”(Luke 18:27) A regenerate man recognizes his own spiritual impotence but also that the power of the resurrected Christ in him gives him the the only resource to overcome sin.

“…this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:2-4

It is not our faith or personal effort that overcomes sin but the LORD of our faith — the One whom we put our faith in who has all power, who has united us to Himself, that overcomes sin. We contribute nothing to our salvation. Obedience flows from the cross (always), and it does not contribute to it … It is a fruit of our union with Christ not the root. Nothing we do could remotely shine a candle to the “Sun” of God’s righteousness in Christ … nothing we could do to earn, attain or maintain our standing before God. That is Christ’s office and His alone. He has done it all.

Lordship vs. No Lordship vs. Moralism

“Lord, I justly deserve Your wrath and cannot save myself. Save me from sin’s guilt and from its power; from wrath and make me pure.” The regenerate saint is at war with sin, and while he sometimes may lose a battle, he continually appeals to Christ for the grace to obey. He wants to obey not in order to be saved, but because he is.

Lord, I justly deserve Your wrath and cannot save myself. Save me from sin’s guilt but I will let you know if and when I want to be saved from sin’s power and tyranny over me. Leave me in “Egypt” for a while, I don’t feel like fighting the “Canaanites”. To this professing Christian, obedience is optional. (antinomianism)

At one time I deserved your wrath but now I deserve your favor because, “look at what I have done.” This professing Christian trusts, at least partly, in his own righteousness, commitment, goodness, merit or works or attain or maintain his just standing before God.(Gal 3:3. 10, legalism) Of course, if they have a high view of God’s holiness, this person will fail over and over and fall into despair because they are not relying on God’s grace and God’s power, but continually attempt to do it in their own strength.

1 Cor 11:31-32, 1 John 3:9; 5:2-4; Rom 6:1-18, 8:13

Note: I realize that most “no-Lordship” people would probably not pray this exact prayer. If is meant for effect because this is what their theology is saying and what I often hear in debates online. It is meant to reveal an inconsistency in their theology in the hope that they will see the folly of such a position.

Was Martin Luther Insane?

Article: Was Luther Insane? by Dr. R. C. Sproul (original source here)

With the advent of modern psychoanalysis, it’s become popular to evaluate the psyches of famous historical figures: people like Alexander the Great, Moses, Nero, and others. One of the favorite targets of study is Martin Luther. Erik Erikson, for example, emphasized that Martin Luther was not only neurotic, but psychotic as well. This accusation implies that one of our great heroes of the faith is one whose sanity is seriously questioned.

Why do some thinkers come to the conclusion that Martin Luther was a madman? To be fair, even a cursory glance at the readings of Luther reveal a man of tempestuous spirit, personal intensity, and profound passion. There are certain events in his life that seem not only strange, but at times even bizarre. We can understand, to some degree, why some people think Luther might not have been sane.

We know Luther was preoccupied with a foreboding sense of his own death, having predicted it at least six times falsely. We know also that Luther went through several peculiar episodes, such as his being knocked from his horse by lightning, which led him to become a monk. Some think this episode explains his neurosis or psychosis. We also know the story of his pilgrimage to Rome and his going through emotional turmoil in climbing the stairs of the Scala Sancta on his knees. We know of first experience in celebrating the Mass. When he came to the part when he had to say, “Hoc est corpus meum,” the words lodged in his throat. There was an awkward silence as his family and friends waited. Luther stood there quivering, unable to complete the saying. He was terrified of the thought that he was holding in his hands the transubstantiated body and blood of Christ. A strange experience indeed for a man of great poise and presence—but not enough to deem him insane.

Luther was also obstinate and single-minded in his debates with Johann Eck and Thomas Cajetan. These debates led to the confrontation at Worms, where Luther dared to defy the church on a major point of doctrine. We know how Hollywood portrays Luther’s stance at Worms. When he’s called upon to recant, Luther stands with his chest out and says: “Unless I am convinced by sacred Scripture or by evident reason, I shall not recant. For my conscience is held captive by the Word of God, and to act against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other. God help me.” He then jumps on his horse and rides off to start the Reformation.

Perhaps it happened like that, but have you ever read the prayer Luther wrote the night before that meeting? Do you remember what happened in his first encounter before the princes of the church and of the state? When they asked him to recant, he stood there meekly. He looked at the princes, and he said in a hesitant voice, “Could I have twenty-four hours to think it over?” They granted him this time. He went back to the privacy of his own chambers, and he composed a prayer. If ever a man was broken before God and experienced a sense of utter helplessness and loneliness against the forces of this world, it was Luther at that moment.

But even that moment isn’t why people think he was crazy. The biggest reason for questioning Luther’s sanity has to do with his period of intense scrupulosity in the confessional. It was customary and required of the young monks of the monastery to go through daily confession. As a matter of prescribed procedure, the monks would come into the confessional in the morning, and they would confess the sins of the last twenty-four hours, receive the absolution of the priest, and go about the day’s labors. This would typically take each monk two or three minutes.

Not Luther. He would go into the confessional and recite the previous day’s sins not for five minutes, but for two hours, three hours, sometimes even four hours—reciting in detail every sin he could remember. Luther felt the imminent wrath and judgment of God. If it was crazy to feel this imminence, then Luther was undoubtedly a crazy man. He would come back from the confessional tormented after spending hours confessing his sins. As soon as he got back to his room, he would remember a sin he had forgotten to confess. This is a neurotic preoccupation with guilt, and so they say Luther was crazy. But was he really?

One of the things about Luther that’s often overlooked is that before the episode of his being knocked from his horse, Luther had already distinguished himself as one of the most brilliant students of law in all of Europe. His father was furious when Luther left a promising career in law to waste his life on religion. The keen analytical ability of Luther’s mind in understanding the demands of law were applied to Scripture.

Luther’s logic worked like this: “If the great commandment is to love God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and your neighbor as much as yourself, then what’s the great transgression? The failure to love God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and to love every human being in this world as much as you love yourself. To fail to do that is to commit an act of cosmic treason against the Lord God Almighty. That’s not a peccadillo. That’s enough to send me to hell forever, and so I tremble with every slightest act that transgresses the holiness of God and the sanctity of those who are created in His image.”

Logically and theologically then, Luther was the sanest man in Europe. He understood the demands of the law of God, and it seemed to be driving him crazy. That is, until his brilliant mind, in his preparation of lectures for Romans, turned its attention to Romans 3: “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” Then Luther read a word that is the most precious word in all of Scripture. It’s the gospel in one word—but: “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law.” Then he read the conclusion in verse 28: “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”

Luther said, “When that message made an impact on my mind and penetrated my understanding, the gates of paradise swung open and I walked in. The just shall live by faith.” Luther moved from torment to peace, from neurosis to confidence, from seeming insanity to sanity, giving him the strength and the courage to change the world.

Therefore, I hope that during this significant 500th anniversary of the Reformation, you are sane like Luther. On the one hand, Luther understood the holiness of the law of God, and on the other hand, he understood his utter and complete dependence upon the righteousness of Christ for peace and justification.

It’s one thing to understand justification by faith in the head. It’s another thing to get it in your bloodstream—to let it flow into the lives of everyone you meet. By this and by God’s grace, we can ensure that this gospel may never be hidden or obscured again.

Who are the 144,000?

Article by Dr. Sam Storms entitled “10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE 144,000 IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION” (original source here)

Will the debate ever end about the identity of the 144,000 servants in Revelation 7? Perhaps not, but I hope these ten truths will contribute something to our understanding of who they are and what they do. We read that 12,000 are “sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel” (Rev. 7:4).

(1) The list of tribes in Revelation 7 corresponds to none of the nearly twenty different variations found in the OT. Judah, listed first here, is found in that position in the OT only when the tribes are arranged geographically, moving from south to north (Num. 34:19; Josh. 21:4; Judges 1:2; 1 Chron. 12:24). The only exception to this is Numbers 2:3 (followed by 7:12; 10:14). Perhaps Judah’s priority here “emphasizes the precedence of the messianic king from the tribe of Judah (cf. Gen. 49:10; 1 Chron. 5:1-2) and thus refers to a fulfillment of the prophecy in Gen. 49:8 that the eleven other tribes ‘will bow down’ to Judah” (Beale, 417).

(2) One can hardly fail to note that the tribes of Dan and Ephraim are omitted. One tradition believed that the Antichrist was to come from the tribe of Dan (based on a misinterpretation of Jer. 8:16 and first found in Irenaeus, @ 200 a.d.). Dan was also closely associated with idol worship (Judg. 18:16-19; 1 Kings 12:28-30; cf. Gen. 49:17; Judges 18:30; Jer. 8:16), as was Ephraim (Hosea 4:17-14:8). In Revelation 7, Joseph and Manasseh substitute for Dan and Ephraim. In the final analysis, there is no clear reason for this and we may never know why.

(3) There are several noticeable differences between the 144,000 in vv. 4-8 and the great multitude in vv. 9-17. Notice that the first group is specifically numbered (144,000) whereas the second is innumerable. Furthermore, the members of the 144,000 are all taken from but one nation, Israel, whereas those in the innumerable multitude are taken from “every nation and tribe and people and language” (7:9). Another difference is their location: the 144,000 appear to be on earth, whereas the multitude is in heaven, before the throne of God (7:9). Finally, the 144,000 are in imminent peril and thus require divine protection, whereas the multitude are in a condition of absolute peace and joy.

Do these differences mean that the two groups are entirely different, or is it the same group viewed from different perspectives, at different stages of their existence and experience? I believe it is the latter. More on this in a moment.

(4) These in 7:4-8 are surely identical with the 144,000 mentioned in Rev. 14:1-5. In both cases it is said that they received the seal of God on their “foreheads” (7:3 and 14:1). In 14:3 they are described as those who had been “redeemed from the earth” and again in 14:4 they were “redeemed from mankind”. This echoes Revelation 5:9 where the Lamb is said to have “ransomed” or “redeemed” for God people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. This same phrase is used again in Revelation 7:9 to describe the innumerable multitude. This would seem to indicate that the 144,000 = the innumerable multitude = the redeemed of all ages, and not some special remnant of humanity. Continue reading