Well, we have come to the Lord's table and this is a time when we look to the cross of Jesus Christ, when we remember God's offering of His Son on our behalf as Savior. As you know, the last few weeks I have been addressing the subject of deliverance, the neglected doctrine. And it seems to be very suitable, this morning, to continue talking about that subject.
We have come today to the Lord's table to celebrate our deliverance. Those who belong to God's Kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ have experienced the reality of deliverance. And this morning what I really want to do because I wasn't able to finish last time is to give you a footnote, not really a message but a footnote. A footnote to the last message and I encourage you if you weren't here to get the last two Sunday mornings on this matter of deliverance on tape, it's available in our tape center out there. But I didn't get to say everything and I want to sort of pick up some of the pieces that I was unable to present to you last time.
Let me say in a general way, salvation is a great subject. The subject of God's work in the lives of sinners is the great theme of redemptive history and it is the great theme of Scripture. It is not to be understood any way you want to understand it. It is to be understood the way God has revealed it.
There are so many rich elements to the great truth of salvation but they are divided, I would say, into two categories. There are those non-experiential realities in salvation and then there are those experiential ones. There are those realities with regard to salvation that occur on the divine level. And there are those that occur on the human level. There are those which effect the way God views us. And there are those which effect the way we view God. There are realities in our salvation that are not experiential, that is you can't feel them, you can't see them, you don't manifest them. There are realities in our salvation that we could say are divine perspectives or divine directives, or divine adjudications or verdicts or decisions or choices or acts. As such, they are not manifest in our lives, such as justification which is God declaring us righteous by virtue of the application of the righteousness of Christ to us because our sins have been paid for by Him on the cross. Such as redemption, an act by which God buys us back from sin and death and hell. That encompasses the idea of the ransom.
There is also the idea of adoption. The Bible tells us that in salvation we are adopted into the family of God. That is an official new legal status. And then there is the great truth of reconciliation, that the sinner has the enmity between himself and God removed so that he is suitable for God's presence and eternal life.
Things like justification, redemption, ransom, adoption, reconciliation are ways in which God changes His relationship to us by the application of the work of Christ on our behalf through grace. They are not experiential and they are not manifest as such.
But accompanying those are some manifest experiential realities in salvation. They change not our status, they change not just what God thinks about us, or how God views us, but they change us not just legally but actually. They make a difference in our lives. They are manifest, they change our nature. They change the way we think. They change our will. They change our desire. They change our speech. They change our behavior.
Now these spiritual realities in the second category are what make up the understanding of the great truth of deliverance. True Christians don't just have a change in status, they have a change in nature. They are not only new in terms of their position before God, but they are new in terms of their creation. That's why we use terms like regeneration, born again, new life, conversion. We have not only a change in status, we have a change in nature.
And to understand the doctrine of deliverance in its fullness, we need to understand the dramatic change that is manifest in the life of a delivered soul. As I've been telling you the last couple of weeks, this is a most critical matter in the life of the church. There isn't anything more important in the life of the church than being able to distinguish between who is a true Christian and who is a false one. To know who is real and who is not is critical for a number of reasons. One, because we know the enemy would like to sow in the church as many false believers as possible to suck the life out of the church, to be leaven that leavens the lump, that is to be like a rotten apple and spoil the whole barrel and also the devil would like the church to be confused about who a true Christian is in order that false Christians might live in a continued state of deception and false security. When the church fails to make this distinction, it gives place to the tares that the enemy would sow, it allows people to carry on their life under the delusion of belonging to God, when in fact they don't, and it literally destroys the great impact and power of the church in the world when it functions in its true purity of identity.
So, in this brief series we have been looking at the matter of who is a Christian by examining this issue of deliverance, and in particular that element of deliverance which relates to the change in our person, the real change that takes place in a believer. We should be able to look at someone and see manifest characteristics of deliverance.
Now last time, and this is what I want to put a footnote on, last time I said to you and it bears repeating until it sinks deep into our hearts, the first element of deliverance that will be manifest in the life of a true Christian is that they have been delivered from error to truth. They have been delivered from error to truth. And I pointed out to you in the last couple of weeks that there is this new idea, this new notion, this new movement in Christianity that you can be a Christian and not embrace the truth. You could...you're going to end up in heaven if you're a faithful Buddhist, or a faithful Mohammed, or Muslim, you're going to end up in heaven if you're a Jew or if you're an atheist. You may end up in heaven if you're a faithful Mormon. Anybody who is in the orthodox church, or the Roman Catholic Church or if you just name the name of Jesus, or if you just say you're a Christian. That's enough, it's this minimalistic kind of thing. But when you look at the New Testament what you see is quite different than that. You see the manifest work of God in delivering true believers from error to truth so that a true believer can be known by their affirmation of the truth.
Let's go back to Colossians chapter 1. This is the text we looked at and this the text that needs to be footnoted. Colossians 1, I take you back to verses 12 and 13. "Giving thanks to the Father," this is, of course, obvious, we thank God for our salvation, "who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints." Now that would be forensic, that would be non-experiential, that would be a change in our status, a change in our position. But we have been given the privilege of sharing in the inheritance of the saints in light. Now that becomes experiential, for He delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son. We have been delivered out of darkness into light and light is synonymous with Jesus Christ who said He is the light of the world. We have been delivered out of the domain of error, darkness synonymous with error. Out of the domain of error into the domain of truth which is synonymous with the Kingdom of His beloved Son who is Himself the truth.
So, first of all, a delivered person has been delivered by the power of God through the work of the Holy Spirit from error to truth. Truth is our domain. We understand the truth. We believe the truth. We embrace the truth. We obey the truth. We love the truth. We proclaim the truth. And we would even take up our cross and die for the truth.
Truth is synonymous with Christ who is the way, the truth and the life who is the light. So it is not true to say that someone is going to be included in heaven in the Kingdom of God, that someone has a true relationship with the living God but does not believe the truth. There is only one way to enter into a relationship with God and that is to be delivered from error to truth.
Go back with me to John chapter 8 and we'll remind you a very notable and important chapter, John chapter 8. By the way, this matter of who is a Christian and who is not was a very significant and important truth in John's mind and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he plays a great amount of attention to it in his gospel as well as in his epistle. But in John chapter 8 verse 32 says, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." Back to verse 31, "If you abide in My Word," which is synonymous with the truth, "then you are truly disciples of Mine." A true, mathetes alethos, a true disciple of Christ abides in the Word because it is the truth that has set him free from error. It is truth that is at the very heart of deliverance.
Now drop down to verse 41. And the Jews are making a profession here. They say, "We have one Father, even God." That's what a lot of people are saying today. Oh, we all have one Father, we all worship the same God, it doesn't matter where you are on this religious spectrum this sort of pantheon of monotheistic viewpoint...it doesn't matter where you are in this thing we all have one Father, even God.
That's what the Jews are claiming. And I suppose it's a reasonable thing to claim, after all they believed in the creator God of the Old Testament, they believed in Elohim, Yahweh. They believed in the God who was the creator and the God who was the covenant God who granted the great covenant to Abraham and other covenants, the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And they say we have the same God. We have exactly the same God. And the modern mentality today...Oh of course you have the same God, isn't it wonderful we all have the same God...isn't that great?
And Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me." Plain and simple. If somebody doesn't love Jesus Christ, God is not their Father. That couldn't be more clear. And when you say "love Jesus Christ," what do you mean by that? You mean that you love Jesus Christ in the same way that you love God for...verse 42 says..."I proceeded forth and have come from God." To love Christ as you love God.
Don't tell me you worship the same God unless you love Jesus Christ as God a very God. Unless you believe the right thing about Christ, embrace the right thing about Christ and love Him, you don't know God. God is not your Father. You don't have a relationship with God. No man comes unto the Father but by Me. In fact, it's very serious, verse 44, "Actually you are of your father...whom?...the devil." Anybody who doesn't believe in the true Christ, the true Christ and His true work and a true salvation by the true means which Scripture has identified, doesn't have God as their Father. Error about the person of Christ, error about the work of Christ, error about the salvation that is provided in Christ and you don't have God as your Father. In fact, your father is the devil.
Now Jesus couldn't have said it more starkly, could He? And He was speaking to those people who prided themselves on knowing the true God. And the evidence in verse 44 is, "You want to do the desires of your father and he was a murderer from the beginning...listen to this...and does not stand in the truth because there's no truth in him." You show me somebody who is in error and I'll show you a child of the devil. That's what Jesus is saying. The truth is the dividing line. Nobody is a child of God who doesn't believe the truth about Jesus Christ.
And then Jesus says in verse 45, "Because I speak the truth, you don't believe Me." Now listen to this. Nobody is a child of God who doesn't believe the truth about Jesus Christ and love Jesus Christ. And somebody who doesn't believe the truth about Christ inevitably...look at it...inevitably doesn't believe when somebody proclaims that truth. In other words, they don't believe the truth and they don't believe people who try to make it understandable to them. Jesus says, "The fact that I'm speaking the truth manifests who you really belong to because you can't connect with it." Truth is our domain. Truth is the sphere of our existence. Truth is synonymous with Jesus Christ.
Verse 46 He says, "If I speak the truth, why don't you believe Me?" And He answers the question in verse 47, "He who is of God hears the words of God, for this reason you don't hear them because you're not of God." You're very religious. You've got the Old Testament. You're very devout. You're very fastidious about your legalism. You're very concerned that you are the elite in the world because you worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Creator God. But I'm telling you right now, your father is the devil and you don't know God and you're not God's children, you're the devil's children and the reason I know you're the devil's children is you don't love Me and you don't believe what I say.
That is the initial definitive line to draw between a believer and a non-believer. It is not a matter of sincerity, it is a matter of truth. Now let's take it a step further. Go to John's epistle, 1 John chapter 4. In verse 5 of 1 John 4, John speaking of unbelievers says they're from the world, therefore they speak as from the world and the world listens to them and the world has its own frequency and all of the antenna are set to that frequency and the world understands itself and it listens to itself. We, verse 6, are from God. He who knows God listens to us.
Boy, this is so good. Now listen, let me build this little sequence for you. In John 8 Jesus said if you belong to God you love Me. You believe in Me as the very God of Gods, you affirm the truth about Me and you love Me and you listen to Me and you obey Me. Here he says, "If you're from God, you not only listen to Jesus, but you listen to John." That is to say you affirm the truth of apostolic doctrine...you affirm the truth of the teaching of the apostles. He who is not from God doesn't listen to us. John is taking it a step beyond Christ and he is saying if you're of God, you listen to what we say. The apostles and by the apostles and those who associated with them the New Testament was written. And a true believer believes in the apostles' writings, believes in the New Testament, believes that the message of salvation, the truth of God, is singularly revealed on the pages of the New Testament. And whoever is not from God, doesn't.
Then in verse 6 he says, "By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error." There is the Spirit of truth. Who's that? There's only one Spirit of truth, who is it? The Holy Spirit, really. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. He's called that in John's gospel. "The Spirit of truth when He comes will lead you into all truth."
Now there are many spirits of error. All of demonic hosts and Satan himself are all spirits of error. And the Spirit of truth is in conflict with the spirit of error. And what does John say? He says, "We know when somebody is under the power of the Holy Spirit and when somebody is under the power of a lying spirit. The way we know it is how they view the apostles' teaching."
What happened on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2? The people were saved that day, instantaneously saved. These Jewish people on the day of Pentecost, thousands of them, as we remember, were saved on that one day and immediately, it says, "They continued in the apostles'...what?...doctrine." How was that? How could they make such a transition of conviction, such a transition of confidence, such a transition of absolute, total trust? How could they come to grasp the complete authority of the New Testament so rapidly?
Answer: the work of the Holy Spirit of truth who convicted their hearts and convinced them of truth. So you're going to believe Christ to be exactly who he's revealed to be in the Scripture and you're going to believe Him to the point where you love Him which means you render to Him that which belongs only to God whom we are to love with our all heart, soul, mind and strength.
Not only that, you are going to believe and embrace the writing of the apostles because the Spirit will do that in your heart. We have an anointing, 1 John 2:27, from God, we don't need human teachers. The anointing from God, the Holy Spirit, teaches us all things. The Spirit of truth will lead you in to all truth, the anointing, the Spirit of truth will teach you all things.
That's really not the end of it. Go to verse 7 and we take it to another step. "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who doesn't love, doesn't know God."
Drop down to chapter 5 verse 1, "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. And whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him...loves the one born of Him."
Now follow the thought here. John is saying if you're born of God, first of all, you're going to listen to the apostles, you're going to believe what the apostles have written because the Spirit of truth is going to convince you of that. And you're going to embrace apostolic teaching and apostolic truth. And one step further, you're going to love those that are born of God. That would, of course, include Jesus Christ, but it goes beyond that, you're going to love the brethren, you're going to love because you've been taught to love by God. And because you know God you're going to love those who also know God.
It is that manifest love of the brethren. He's talked about it a number of times. Back in verse 14 of chapter 3, "We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brethren and he who doesn't abide...doesn't love abides in death." Now look at it. First of all, if you've been delivered from error to truth, you now believe Jesus Christ to be that truth and you believe in the true Christ, His true work and the true salvation He provides. You also believe the truth written in Scripture by the apostles and you also not only embrace Christ and embrace apostolic doctrine, listen, you embrace the people of God. You embrace those who love God. That's where your home is. That's where your heart is. That's where you belong and the Spirit of God has wonderfully placed you into the body of Christ so that you have a love for and a devotion to the church, the true people of God.
People always ask me, you know, "Can you...can you be a true Christian and be in a false religion?" Well I suppose it's possible to be a true Christian and attend events or services there but if you're in a false system you can't be a true Christian if you believe what they believe. And you certainly can't be a true Christian if that's the fellowship that you cherish...if that's the fellowship you seek, if you're comfortable in that fellowship. The people who love Christ love the truth in Christ. The people who love sound doctrine also love the people who love Christ and love sound doctrine. That's their people. That's the work of the Spirit to build the body together.
Now look at 2 John. I can't say, again, everything I want to say but I think you're starting to get the picture here. In 2 John verse 9, this is very important as a perspective and I made a few comments but I need to make a few more. Anyone who goes too far, who actually goes beyond, is the idea, gets outside the fence, there's a certain fence around the truth, there's a certain body of truth, there's a certain commandment from God, the true commandment...that is the revelation of God, the truth about Jesus Christ. Anybody who goes beyond that and doesn't abide in the teaching of Christ, that doesn't mean in the teaching that Christ taught, but the teaching about Christ, okay? Anybody who gets outside the truth about Christ that is taught in Scripture, anybody who gets outside of that doesn't have God. Boy, is that straight? They don't have God. Why? Because if there's anything the Holy Spirit does, it is that the Holy Spirit leads us into all...what?...truth and you will have the truth about Christ. That's the work of the Holy Spirit of God.
So, if you don't abide in the true teaching about Christ, if you have a skewed view of Christ, you don't have God. If you don't believe that Jesus is God, if you don't believe Jesus is the second member of the trinity, virgin born who lived a perfect sinless life, if you don't believe the facts about Jesus' death and resurrection, exaltation, if you believe like some of these bizarre word/faith people that Jesus became a sinner on the cross and became wicked and God had to send Him to hell for three days to pay for His sins, then you don't believe the truth about Christ. So, the question is...are you being taught by the Spirit of truth, or are you being taught by the spirit of error? John makes this very understandable for us.
Now he says if anyone doesn't abide, verse 9, in the teaching about Jesus Christ, the true biblical teaching about Jesus Christ which was, of course, laid out in the New Testament by the apostles and those associated with them who wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, if anyone doesn't believe that then he does not have God. On the other hand, the one who abides...I love that word, this isn't a fringe thing, this isn't somebody marginal, this is somebody who is settled down in the true teaching...he has both the Father and the Son. You have the fullness of God in Christ when you settle down to the truth.
And then comes a warning in verse 10. "If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching...that is, something that's not biblical, something that's not true about Christ, something that's beyond, outside the fence, outside the pale of orthodoxy, if somebody comes...and brings you this teaching, do not receive him into your house." What that means is, don't strike up any association whatsoever with that individual and don't put yourself in a position to accommodate that person as they go on their way. You know, traveling teachers, and traveling speakers would seek to stay with people and by accepting those people in they would be affirming their ministry. This is a separation issue here. Don't let him in your house and don't give him a greeting. It doesn't mean don't say "hi" to him, it means don't wish him well. What you could do is say, "Sorry you can't stay here and may God curse your efforts." I mean, that's essentially it. I just thought of that, but that's essentially it. You certainly don't invite them in and give them a platform and say, "Aren't they wonderful? I don't have a problem with them. We just want to embrace them and love them and, you know, I'm sure they'll all end up in heaven with us." If you do receive them and wish them well, verse 11 says, "Then you have participated in their evil deeds." You have aided and abetted the spirit of error. You have aided and abetted the deception.
So when a person is delivered, they are delivered from error to truth. That means that the Spirit of God has gone inside and the natural man who understandeth not the things of God, they're foolishness to him because they're spiritually discerned and he's spiritually dead...the natural man who is dead in trespasses and sin and hopeless, without God in the world, the natural man is literally transformed by the Holy Spirit to awaken to truth. And all of a sudden the person believes the Scripture and the Spirit of God quickens the heart so that they believe the Scripture to be true and they believe that the Scripture gives the way of salvation. They believe the Scripture is able to make them wise unto salvation. This is essential to saving truth, you have to believe the Scripture, you have to believe the gospel recorded in Scripture.
Then when the Spirit of truth is working to deliver a person from darkness to light, the person believes themselves to be a helpless sinner. You believe that you are helpless, lost, hopeless, doomed, damned and there's a certain distress about that, that you are under a divine curse and judgment. And then the person believes that Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh, a member of the trinity, the eternal trinity, the Godhead who came into the world virgin born, becoming the eternal God/Man, believing that Christ has come in the flesh. He believes that Jesus lived a sinless, perfect, holy life, never committed a sin, never was guilty of any sin ever, that Jesus spoke only the true words of God. That Jesus had all of the attributes of God. That Jesus did miracles and demonstrated His creative power over the material world. That He did miracles with regard to demons and demonstrated His tremendous authority and omnipotence over the spiritual world of demons as well as holy angels which He could have called legions of had He wanted. Now if you believe, you believe what the Spirit prompts you to believe that Jesus died on the cross as an innocent substitute, as a spotless lamb, one who never did any evil at all but only pleased God. He died there as a substitute in your place and that He rose again from the dead the third day, ascended in to heaven where God seated Him at His right hand. That He sent the Holy Spirit to establish the church and indwell it. That He is now interceding for us and some day will return to establish His eternal Kingdom and glory.
We also believe that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. That justification is by faith, that we have no righteousness of our own, but God's perfect righteousness is imputed to us by faith in Christ so that the Lord Jesus is our righteousness. That's what we believe.
Those that come to understand that, believe that, embrace that, singularly commit to that and love the Lord Jesus Christ, willingly, eagerly calling Him Lord, they submit and obey Him, those are the delivered...those are the delivered. And we are the ones who obey Him. John further talks about that and we'll say more about that in another study. But in chapter 4 verse 15 he writes, "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him." You have to confess the fullness of who Jesus is, what He did and how it is that salvation in Him is applied to us. Back in chapter 3 verse 23, "This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another."
So what is a true Christian? He believes in the truth about Christ which Christ Himself spoke and which the apostles as well wrote about. And he also loves those who love Christ. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, to exalt the Word of God and in that the Son of God. Being delivered from darkness to light is synonymous with being delivered from the domain of Satan into the kingdom of God's beloved Son...light, truth, synonymous with Christ. If you're in the light, in the truth, if you have had the mighty work of the Spirit of truth within you, you believe the truth, you love the truth and you love the people of the truth.
I'll close with some comments from the masterful work by Jonathan Edwards called The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God. Edwards' monumental mind had a grasp on what it meant to be a true believer and he understood the matter of truth. He wrote, "Would the spirit of error in order to deceive men produce in them a high opinion of the infallible rule, that is Scripture, and incline him to think highly of it and be very familiar with it?" The question obviously implies a "no" answer. So wherever you go that people are questioning the Bible, manipulating the Bible, adding to the Bible, subtracting from the Bible, that's not the Spirit of truth, that's the spirit of error.
Further Edwards writes, "Would the prince of darkness to promote his kingdom of darkness lead men to the Son? The devil has always shown a deadly spite and hatred toward that holy book, the Bible. He has done all in his power to extinguish that light and draw men away from it. He knows it to be that light by which his kingdom of darkness will be overthrown. He has for many ages experienced its power to defeat his purposes and baffle his design. It is his constant plague...writes Edwards...it is the main weapon that Michael uses in his war with him, it is the sword of the Spirit that pierces him and conquers him, it is that sharp sword that proceeds out of the mouth of him who sat on the horse with which he smites his enemies. Every text is a dart to torment the old serpent. He has felt the stinging smart thousands of times, therefore he is engaged against the Bible and hates every word in it. We may be sure that he never will attempt to raise persons esteem of it or their affections for it."
If you see people who are committed only to the Word of God, solely to the Word of God, wholly to the Word of God, that's the work of the Spirit of God. And when they take from the Word, add to the Word, elevate themselves higher than the Word, they say...Well, there's this revelation, that revelation, this council, that edit, this papal document, there's this vision, this revelation, this intuition that elevates itself above the Word...whenever they say there is light somewhere else, they are demonstrating the spirit of darkness.
And then Edwards wrote, "The true Spirit confirms people in things that are agreeable to sound doctrine. The Spirit who works thus operates as the Spirit of truth. He represents things as they truly are. He brings men to the light for whatever makes truth manifest is light. As the Apostle Paul observes that everything exposed by the light becomes visible for it is the light that makes everything visible."
And then says Edwards, "The devil's kingdom is the kingdom of darkness. His kingdom is upheld and promoted only by darkness and error. Satan has all his power and dominion by darkness, thus we read of the power of darkness and demons are called the rulers of darkness of this world. Whatever spirit removes our darkness and brings us to the light undeceives us. The Spirit who convinces us of the truth does us this great kindness. If I am brought to a site of truth and am made aware of things as they really are, my duty is immediately to thank God for it...I like this...without standing first to inquire by which means I have such a benefit," end quote.
You know why you shouldn't stand and inquire? Because there isn't any answer to the question as to why you have such a benefit other than God's grace. And Edwards then closes this little section by saying, "When the operation, any spiritual operation, raises people's esteem of Jesus, it is sure a sign that it is from the Spirit of God." When they get it right about Jesus, who He is, why He came, what He did and how we trust Him for salvation, that's of God. The absolute truth about Jesus is the only thing the Holy Spirit ever promotes. Understand? So anything other than that is from the spirit of error. True believers then believe all the claims of Jesus. They believe all the writings of the apostles. They love the truth in Jesus. They love the truth in Scripture. And they love the people who love the truth. Because the truth is our domain, the light is where we live. There's people who are content to sit in a system of darkness. They don't know the truth, or they don't love the truth and they don't love the people of the truth.
That's the first area of deliverance. That's the footnote. Pray with me.
What can we say, Father? As Jonathan Edwards put it, we can't just stand around to try to figure out how it was that we came to the knowledge of truth, all we can do is fall on our face and thank You. Thank You that once we were darkness and now we are light, and once we knew only error and now we know truth, the truth about Christ, the truth of apostolic doctrine and we love the people of the truth because we are subjects of the King of truth who dwell in the kingdom of light. Oh how glorious it is. Father, if there are people here who are in error and people who are in association with error, may they understand the serious, serious plight being captive to the devil, being children of the devil who is a liar from the beginning and a deceiver and who sends out lies and deceptions through all of his demons. Lord, bring us to the truth, the truth of Scripture as made clear to our hearts by the Spirit of truth. We see and we glorify the Holy Spirit in His mighty work of transforming us, of delivering us from darkness to light. That is His true work and we praise Him for it and we thank Him for it.