False Religion

“Though most loudly denounce salvation by works, when examined closely, all false religion is works religion. Augustus Toplady put it this way – “Every religion except one puts you upon doing something in order to recommend yourself to God…It is the business of all false religion to patch up a righteousness in which the sinner is to stand before God. But it is the business of the glorious gospel to bring near to us, by the hand of the Holy Spirit, a righteousness ready wrought, a robe of perfection ready made, wherein God’s pegasople, to all the purposes of justification and happiness, stand perfect and without fault before the throne.”

This is what I am saying – False religion always makes room for the flesh to glory. The great contest between the religion of the world and the religion of Christ is just this – Who is entitled to the praise and glory of the sinner’s salvation? Is salvation by free-will or by free-grace? To answer that question I make no appeal to the preachers and theologians of the past, though I thank God for what he has taught me through the writings of those faithful men who served him in past generations. And I make no appeal to the preachers and theologians of the present, though I truly thank God for his faithful witnesses who minister to my soul. I turn, instead to the Book of God, our only rule of faith and practice (Psa. 115:1).

Who is entitled to the praise and glory of salvation? What does the Bible say? “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake!”

Is salvation by the free-will of man, or by the free-grace of God? What does the Bible say? “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy!” (Rom. 9:16).

What do I mean when I use that vile, ugly, reprehensible term – “free-will”? I mean anything decided, determined, or done by the sinner to attain God’s salvation.” – Don Fortner

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Election

Election

Here are eleven things expressly taught in the Word of God about election:

1. Election is “IN CHRIST.” No less than fourteen times in the first fourteen verses of Ephesians chapter one the Holy Spirit expressly tells us that every benefit and blessing of grace that comes to sinners from God is in Christ.

2. Election is UNTO SALVATION. Certainly, there is a sense in which it must be said that God’s elect were saved from eternity (Rom. 8:29); but we must never be deceived into thinking that election is salvation. Election is unto salvation. Election is not, as some teach, unto “Christian service.” Election is unto salvation.

3. Election is an act of pure, absolute, DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY. God has mercy on whom he will have mercy (Rom. 9:11-18). God was not moved by anything outside Himself to choose the people He chose to save.

4. Election took place in ETERNITY. God did not choose His people in time, but before time began, in eternity. He chose us before the foundation of the world, from the beginning, when nothing existed except God Himself in the tri-unity of the eternal Godhead.

5. The source and cause of election is God’s eternal LOVE for His people. He loved us freely, from everlasting, before ever the earth was made. Our love to Him is not the cause of His love toward us, but the result (Jer. 31:3; 1 Jn. 4:19).

6. God’s election was an act of free, UNCONDITIONAL grace. Grace is always free and unconditional. The moment a condition is put to it, it ceases to be grace. To say that God chose us because of something He foresaw in us, or foresaw we would chose to do, is to frustrate the grace of God, making it the reward of our work (Rom. 11:6).

7. Election is God’s PERSONAL choice of specific sinners to eternal life in Christ. Here is a sweet cordial of grace which shall never cease to amaze and rejoice the hearts of believing sinners – The Lord God chose me to eternal salvation in Christ, because He loved me with an everlasting, unconditional love!

8. Election is IRREVERSIBLE. “The gifts and callings of God are without repentance” (Rom. 11:29). Those who were chosen to salvation in eternity shall not be unchosen in time!

9. Election is EFFECTUAL. There is no possibility that one of God’s elect shall perish (2 Tim. 2:19).

10. Election is DISTINGUISHING. To talk of universal love in God toward reprobate men is to talk nonsense. Read Isaiah 43:1-4! 11. Election is BLESSED, for it is the cause of all blessedness (Ps. 65:4; Eph. 1:3-6).

Don Fortner

Roger Olsen on Freemasonry

SOURCE

Going where angels fear to tread: Christianity and Freemasonry

One of my biggest culture shocks in moving to the South has been seeing all the enormous Masonic lodges and discovering that many, if not most, older Baptist (and other) men are members.  Where I come from originally (upper midwest), evangelical Christianity (including the majority of Baptists) and Freemasonry don’t mix.  They’re like oil and water.  In fact, some denominations divided over whether members could be Freemasons; the conservatives considered the drift toward allowing it a sign of liberal theology or worse (nominal Christianity).

A friend of mine was in line to succeed the retiring Fire Chief in his town of about 100,000.  Some city council members came to him and told him he would be Fire Chief if he joined the Masonic Lodge.  It was against his evangelical convictions, so he never became the city’s Fire Chief.

As I was growing up in the thick of evangelicalism (my uncle was on the national board of the National Association of Evangelicals) somehow I just knew one could not be both evangelical and a Mason.  None of my relatives were Masons; nobody in our church or denomination was a Mason.

The reasons given when I asked (probably in my late teens when I became aware of Masons through my high school friends who were joining DeMolay–the boys’ branch of Freemasonry) were that 1) Christians should not belong to secret societies and should devote their free time to the church and its mission rather than to an organization that is not specifically Christian, and 2) Freemasonry’s deep background, if not present reality, is inconsistent with evangelical Christianity.

I didn’t really think that much about it for quite a few years.  After all, there were no Masons in the evangelical circles I moved in (even after becoming a Baptist while attending an evangelical Baptist seminary).  The issue really first came to concern me when we made our first move to the South for me to pursue my Ph.D. at a major Southern secular research university.  I became youth pastor and Christian education director at a Presbyterian church and discovered that most of the older men of the congregation were Masons and were inviting the boys of the youth group to join DeMolay by suggesting they would get college scholarships.  They started attending DeMolay meetings INSTEAD of youth group meetings.  It was a struggle to hold on to them for the youth group and church.  I gradually realized that some of the men of the congregation were more invested in their Masonic relationships and activities than in the church.

One elder of the church invited me to lunch to discuss this problem.  I had made a little noise about it–mostly just by asking questions such as “Why are our men drawing our boys away from church to Masonry?”  And I asked some questions about Masonic beliefs and practices–most of which never received answers. The elder, who was a 32nd degree Mason, took me to lunch and said (direct quote seared into my mind): “If there is a conflict between Masonry and the Bible I’ll go with Masonry any day.”

Curious, I decided to do some reading about the history, dogma and rituals of Masonry.  Of course, that’s not easy.  So I looked for a book by a current (not former) Mason that would explain its basic beliefs.  What I found was The Meaning of Masonry by W. L. Wilmshurst, a Grand Master over a group of Masonic Lodges in Great Britain.  Wilmshurst was clearly NOT talking about his own branch of Masonry (whether York Rite or Scottish Rite or whatever); he was talking about the deep roots of Masonry in general.  According to Wilmshurst, an acknowledged authority on Masonic history and beliefs, Masonry necessarily has an esoteric side.  As he described it I recognized it as modern Gnosticism.

What am I saying?  That all Masons are Gnostics?  No.  Of course not.  But, if Wilmshurst (and many knowledgeable critics of Masonry) is right, even in the 20th century Freemasonry is rooted in a basically esoteric quasi-religious belief system that is incompatible with orthodox Christianity.  Do most Masons know that?  I don’t know.  But why would anyone join a group without knowing as much as possible about its history and beliefs–especially if that group requires an oath of secrecy and loyalty?

A few years ago an influential fundamentalist Southern Baptist “anti-cult” watcher led a crusade against Freemasonry especially among Southern Baptists and evangelical Christians in general.  He produced a book and a video attempting to expose Freemasonry as incompatible with Christianity.  He and some of his friends brought a resolution to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention that, if passed, would have asked Southern Baptists to avoid membership in Masonic Lodges.  It would probably also have made it unlikely that Southern Baptist churches allow Masonic ceremonies in them and at Southern Baptist led funerals.  (Masonic members who die are given a special ritual by their Masonic brothers.  One explanation I was given by a Mason is that they do not believe in the resurrection of the body but only in the immortality of the soul.)

The resolution was soundly defeated.

I came to the South again 12 years ago and right away noticed the presence of enormous Masonic Lodges in this relatively small city with over 100 Baptist churches.  I discovered that many, if not most, older Baptist men have at one time or another been inducted into Masonry.  I have been told that all but the most recent presidents of the university where I teach were Masons.  I haven’t asked, but I’m sure many of the older men in the congregation to which I belong are Masons.  It’s part of the fabric of Southern culture including Southern Baptist culture.

Now, let me make clear I am not “against Masonry.”  I know too little about it to be against it.  Rather, I’m perplexed.  First, I was raised to believe that the church is one’s extended family, the family of God, and that one’s energy should be devoted to its ministry and mission first and foremost.  Second, I was raised to believe that membership in secret societies is not compatible with biblical Christianity.  It would be like an early Christian belonging also to a mystery religion; it wasn’t encouraged (to say the least).  Third, I was raised to believe that Masonic Lodges were competitors with the churches even if many Masons also belonged to churches.

Whether all that is true, I’m not sure.  But I continue to be perplexed about it.  How many Masons know that the first modern Masonic Lodges grew out of Rosicrucianism (an esoteric sect on the fringes of Christianity)?  How many know about the esoteric meanings of Masonic rituals?  How many are aware that, historically, Freemasonry denies the resurrection of the body and emphasizes the immortality of the soul instead?  Why would a Christian devote a hearty portion of his free time and energy to a secret society when that time and energy could be devoted to the work of Christ through the church?

These are questions I struggle with.  I’d love to hear real answers that carry some authority and weight from a knowledgeable Mason.  In the meantime I continue to suffer a bit of culture shock every time I drive by one of the several large Masonic Lodges in this region and realize that most of the members are probably Baptists.

“…draw all men unto me.” John 7.32

(First posted on Feileadh Mor 5 years ago.)

“It is most evident, that all men, that is, every individual of human nature, every son and daughter of Adam, have not faith, are not drawn, or enabled to come to Christ, and believe in him. There were many of the Jews who would not, and did not come to Christ, that, they might have life; who, instead of being drawn to him in this sense, when lifted up on the cross, vilified and reproached him; nay, at this time, here was a world spoken of in the preceding verse, whose judgment, or condemnation, was now come; and besides, there was then a multitude of souls in hell, who could not nor never will be drawn to Christ; and a greater number still there will be at the last day, to whom, instead of drawing to him in this gracious way and manner, he will say, Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity (Matthew 7:23, and 25:41). Christ died, indeed, for all men who are drawn unto him; but this is not true of all men that are, were, or shall be in the world. Add to this that the men is not in the Greek text; it is only panta, all; and some copies read panta, all things; so Austen read it formerly, and so it was in an ancient copy of Beza’s.

But not to insist on this;

By all men, is meant some of all sorts, all the elect of God, the children of God, that were scattered abroad; and particularly the Gentiles as well as the Jews, as Chrysostom and Theophylact interpret the words; which interpretation is perfectly agreeable with ancient prophecy; that when Shiloh was come (Gen. 49:10; Isa.11:10), to him should the gathering of the people, or Gentiles, be; and with the context, an occasion of these words, which was this; certain Greeks that were come up to worshiper the feast, desired to see Jesus; of which when he was apprised by his disciples, he answered, that the hour was come in which he should be glorified, and that as a corn of wheat falls into the ground and dies, so should he: and though he tacitly intimates, that it was not proper to admit these Greeks into his presence now, yet when he was lifted up from the earth, or after his death, his Gospel should be preached to them as well as to the Jews; and that large numbers of them should be drawn unto him, and brought to believe in him; agreeable to which sense of the words is Dr. Hammond’s paraphrase of them: “And I being crucified, will by that means, bring a great part of the whole world to believe on me, Gentiles as well as Jews.” – John Gill, Cause of God and Truth

The Christ of Arminianism

(First posted on Feileadh Mor 6 years ago.)

The Christ of Arminianism

Rev. Steven Houck

1. The Christ of Arminianism – loves every individual person in the world and sincerely desires their salvation.

The Christ of the Bible – earnestly loves and desires the salvation of only those whom God has unconditionally chosen to salvation. (Ps. 5:5, Ps. 7:11, Ps. 11:5, Matt. 11:27, John 17:9-10, Acts 2:47, Acts 13:48, Rom. 9:10-13, Rom. 9:21-24, Eph. 1:3-4)

2. The Christ of Arminianism – offers salvation to every sinner and does all in his power to bring them to salvation. His offer and work are often frustrated, for many refuse to come.

The Christ of the Bible – effectually calls to Himself only the elect and sovereignly brings them to salvation. Not one of them will be lost. (Isa. 55:11, John 5:21, John 6:37-40, John 10:25-30, John 17:2, Phil. 2:13)
3. The Christ of Arminianism – can not regenerate and save a sinner who does not first choose Christ with his own “free will.” All men have a “free will” by which they can either accept or reject Christ. That “free will” may not be violated by Christ.

The Christ of the Bible – sovereignly regenerates the elect sinner apart from his choice, for without regeneration the spiritually dead sinner can not choose Christ. Faith is not man’s contribution to salvation but the gift of Christ which He sovereignly imparts in regeneration. (John 3:3, John 6:44 & 65, John 15:16, Acts 11:18, Rom. 9:16, Eph. 2:1,Eph. 2:8-10, Phil. 1:29, Hebr. 12:2)

4. The Christ of Arminianism – died on the cross for every individual person and thereby made it possible for every person to be saved. His death, apart from the choice of man, was not able to actually save anyone for many for whom he died are lost.

The Christ of the Bible – died for only God’s elect people and thereby actually obtained salvation for all those for whom He died. His death was a substitutionary satisfaction which actually took away the guilt of His chosen people. (Luke 19:10, John 10:14-15 & 26, Acts 20:28, Rom. 5:10, Eph. 5:25, Hebr. 9:12, I Peter 3:18)
5. The Christ of Arminianism – loses many whom he has “saved” because they do not continue in faith. Even if he does give them “eternal security,” as some say, that security is not based upon his will or work but the choice which the sinner made when he accepted Christ.

The Christ of the Bible – preserves His chosen people so that they can not lose their salvation but persevere in the faith to the very end. He preserves them by the sovereign electing will of God, the power of His death, and the mighty working of His Spirit. (John 5:24, John 10:26-29, Rom. 8:29-30, Rom. 8:35-39, I Peter 1:2-5, Jude 24-25)

As you can see, although the Christ of Arminianism and the Christ of the Bible may at first seem to be the same, they are very different. One is a false Christ. The other is the true Christ. One is weak and helpless. He bows before the sovereign “free will” of man. The other is the reigning Lord Who wills what He pleases and sovereignly accomplishes all that He wills.

If you believe and serve the Christ of Arminianism, you must recognize the fact that you do not serve the Christ of the Bible. You have been deceived! Study the Scriptures and learn of the True Christ. Pray for grace to repent and trust Christ as your sovereign Savior.

Use Suitable Words

SUITABLE WORDS

Dear Brother Beebe: – I heard an Old School Baptist preach some time since, and he remarked that if sinners were lost, it was their own fault. I should like to have your views upon the subject. To me it had an awful, squinting towards Arminianism. I hope you will go fully into the subject as it is one that seems to puzzle the minds of a good many of the Baptists, even in this part of the world, though I am not of that number.

JOHN R. MARTIN
Franklin County, Va., Feb. 3, 1859.Beebe

Reply – Old School Baptist preachers should be exceedingly careful how they express themselves in setting forth their views, as a very considerable of the apparent difficulty which too often agitates the Zion of our God arises from a failure to understand the real meaning of each other. A loose, careless way of dashing out off-handed expressions can hardly fail to produce or promote such agitation, which, when produced, is often very hard to allay. The wise man, we are told, sought out suitable or appropriate words; and words fitly spoken are like apples of gold in pictures of silver. If we would preach, or talk, or write so as to edify the saints, and promote union, harmony and christian fellowship, we should avoid as far as possible all ambiguous expressions. We remember a short time ago a brother in the south said that he did not believe in revealed religion, and the expression startled many of his and our brethren, whereas the brother had no idea of denying what we generally mean when we use those words, but probably designed only to show that in his view the word “religion,” as used in the Scriptures, has reference to the conduct and works of men, rather than to what is revealed to them. So also some expressions made by us, and others, have been so construed as to charge us with holding sentiments for which we have not the least fellowship, and although we have from time to time disclaimed the imputation, the charges are in some quarters reiterated with as much zeal as though we had never disclaimed them.

In regard to the remark which brother Martin heard an Old School Baptist make, we should be at loss to know the meaning of the brother, unless he should explain. In some respects, with brother Martin, we think the remark has a “squinting to Arminianism.”

First. Because it is a favorite expression of all Arminians, and is used by them to signify that in their opinion every guilty sinner has salvation offered to him on certain conditions they are able to perform, and that it is therefore optional with them to be saved or damned.

Second. Should we hear an Old School Baptist make the remark, we would very naturally understand him to signify that he was not in perfect unison in his views with his brethren, or that he designed to convey the idea that his brethren exonerated that class of sinners that are finally and forever lost, from blame, and thus implying a charge of unrighteousness and injustice on God. In either or any case, we think such expressions thrown out are calculated to produce jargon and discord among those who, of all men, should strive to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Third. The IF in the remark seems to imply a doubt whether sinners will be, and a disbelief in the scriptural doctrine that sinners are already, lost; and this we think implies an Arminian idea. The blessed Savior has informed us that he that believeth not, is condemned already, and the wrath of God abideth on him. From the condemnation and wrath of almighty God nothing short of the blood of Jesus Christ can possibly save any of them, and the application of that blood is by no means within the reach or power of any sinner; if it be applied at all, it must be by the sovereign grace of God.

That men are in fault for being sinners, and that they are justly and righteously condemned as guilty sinners, is taught both by the word and Spirit, by the word as recorded in the Scriptures, and by the Spirit in his work on the heart, and in the experience of all who are born of God.

We have not room to pursue the subject farther at this time, but we hope our brethren will be more careful in the selection of words, knowing that we are surrounded by enemies who watch for our halting, and who rejoice when they can, either by fair means or foul, succeed in stirring up strife and discord among us.

Middletown, N.Y.,
March 15, 1859.

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 206 – 208

1689 Federalism compared to Westminster Federalism

“What is the nature of the federal union of an unregenerate person in the covenant of grace to Jesus Christ, and do they remain under Adam’s federal headship in spite of being in the covenant of grace (?) which is to say, can you be in the covenant of works and the covenant of grace at the same time? We would assert that you cannot.”