As you know we have been studying the gospel of Luke, but we have taken a bit of a break and I have been sharing with you on the subject of deliverance, the neglected doctrine. Some apology perhaps is necessary to those who have not been with us in the month of October. We are always in some continuity here, always teaching through a book. If you come on a given Sunday at Grace you may struggle to get yourself into the flow a bit, because there’s so much continuity from week to week as we go through the word of God.
We’ve take a bit of a break from Luke to address the subject of deliverance and I confess that too has been a continuous message over the month. I apologize for bursting on you in the middle of this morning. It has been of grave concern to me that the evangelical church has seemingly been willing and content to abandon sound doctrine. I’m not talking about liberal churches, I’m talking about those that would be confessedly evangelical. Many popular evangelical leaders and writers, pastors, professors, people who are the influencers are content with a lack of discernment as if it were some spiritual virtue.
They have entered upon what I suppose if we were living in Spurgeon’s time would be called a downgrade. Church is on a slippery slope, the evangelical church is progressing down away from the heights of truth and the honor of God. It is willingly abandoning its discernment, willingly abandoning bible exposition, and therefore a deep and accurate understanding of truth. In so doing it is moving away from what glorifies God, because what glorifies God is the exposition of scripture.
Let me tell you very simply why. In the bible God is revealed. God’s glory is on display through the biblical record. God puts himself on display in scripture. The preacher then has one clear compelling duty and that is to display the glory of God by the exposition of scripture. I’ll say that again the preacher has one clear compelling duty to display the glory of God by the exposition of scripture. When you exposite the word of God you wind up teaching sound doctrine, truth. When the truth is understood and the truth is known God is therefore displayed in that truth.
The Revelation of scripture is the truth, and it is the truth of God which is the very nature and essence of God. So I say again the preacher has one clear compelling duty and that is to display the glory of God by the exposition of scripture. That’s not what’s going on in the evangelicalism today, people are moving away from bible preaching and bible teaching and bible exposition. They’re moving away from an interest in sound doctrine, an interest in definitive truth. They are embracing anything and everything that nominally identifies itself as Christian, and the church will continue to do this until someone or someone’s hold up the word of God.
The word you see faithfully, the word accurately and the word relentlessly brings to people the true majesty of God. With it comes true understanding. Any preacher who doesn’t do this has failed in his responsibility before God. My task as a preacher is very simple, I am expected to teach the deep things of scripture so that I can lift you to the heights of praise. I suppose some of you who are visiting with us might say to yourself if you come from another church environment they sure sing a lot of old songs here. Where are the praise choruses? There’s a reason, hymnology is tied to theology.
Where you have depth you have height, where you have a shallow theology you have a shallow hymnology. Where you have a superficial understanding of divine truth you have superficial expression of it. But where you have a people who have come to grips with the depth of divine truth, and who have grandiose and glorious thoughts about God, produced by an understanding of the profound realities of divine truth they’re not content with a shallow expression. We love the old hymns because they are profound, they have a certain poetic genius that reaches into the depth of our theology and gives it expression.
We don’t need to be seduced by a saloon melody. It’s enough for us to sing great words, we don’t’ need a mantra to induce an emotion. Our thoughts of truth and our thoughts of God catapult us into lofty hymns. So the preacher’s responsibility is to dispense the truth, and in unfolding the truth of the word of God, going deep into the truth of the word of God, God’s glory is revealed. When God’s glory is revealed God’s people praise him; so the preacher goes down, takes his people up. Down into the depth of truth that they might be elevated to the heights of praise.
I only have one tool; can you imagine a profession with only one tool? I only have one tool, just one, scripture, it’s the only tool. There’s a popular book written by a well-known Presbyterian pastor that advocates the fact that the gospel is in the stars, that the whole gospel including justification is revealed in the constellations. In the book he says God preached the gospel and the stars to Adam even before he fell. This is nothing new, this has been advocated in years past. It surprises me that a man who knows theology well would write a book like that, because that is a flat denial of solascritura. Listen, I only have one tool and it’s not the stars, it’s this book.
God has revealed all divine truth in one book of which he is the author. If you say it’s in the book and it’s in the stars then why can’t the Roman Catholic’s say it’s in the book and it’s also in the Pope and church councils? Then why can’t Mary Baker Eddy say it’s in the bible and it’s also in the science and healthy key to scriptures, and why can’t the Mormons say it’s in the bible and it’s also in the doctrines and covenants of Pearl of Great Price in the Book of Mormon?
Divine truth is not in a church, it’s not in a Pope, it’s not in the Bishop, it’s not in the denomination, it’s not an experience, it’s not in somebody’s intuition, and it’s not in the stars, it’s in a book, the bible. Every time the church has wandered away from this it has been fraught with disaster. This is reformation Sunday; what produced the reformation was a Catholic priest by the name of Martin Luther came to the conviction that God’s truth was confined to the book. This is revolutionary, that’s not what the Catholic Church believes.
Martin Luther said God spoke only in the book, and all divine truth is confined to the book. Not Popes, not bishops, not church councils, not the magisterium, not the tradition, the book. He said it’s the book alone and next to Jesus and the apostle Paul Martin Luther was the most divisive man that ever came along in the Christian faith. He created a massive rift, which separated those who believed the book from those who were caught up in the Roman system. It was the conviction that God spoke only in the book that produced the reformation.
It was then once Martin Luther had come to the conviction that the truth was in the book he went into the book and he found the truth, and it was justification by grace through faith alone wasn’t it. You didn’t have to pay any attention to what the Pope said, what the bishop said, what the council said it was all in the book, and the book’s clear. In 1539 Luther commented on Psalm 119 he wrote this, “In this Psalm David always says that he will speak, think, talk, hear, read day and night and constantly, but about nothing else than God’s word.
Luther called it the external word, I like that. It’s outside of us, and Luther said the saving, sanctifying, illuminating word is the external word. What did he mean by that? He meant that it’s outside of us, like God is outside of us. You can’t invent God and you can’t invent truth, God isn’t the product of your imagination, God isn’t the product of your fantasy, God isn’t the product of your experience. God isn’t the product of your intuition, God isn’t the product of your charismatic emotion, God is not the product of your existentialism, God is God and he’s outside of you, not subject to your tampering. God is not a clay toy you can shape any way you like. So the bible is outside of you, it is external. You can take it, you can leave it, you can’t tamper with it.
You can’t make it other than it is, and you can’t make it say other than it says. It is a book, it is a fixed book with fixed letters and fixed words and fixed sentences. This was Luther’s great conviction that changed the world. Luther said with a resounding forcefulness in 1545, which was the year before he died, he said let the man who would hear God speak read holy scripture. You know there are books that’s flooding the Christian world today, you can see them at the Christian bookseller’s convention about how to listen for the voice of God.
Training yourself to listen for the voice of God. Learning how to hear God’s voice. Let me tell you something do you want to hear God, through the book. Stand around and listen who knows what you’re going to hear. Whatever it is it won’t be God. So what is the task of the preacher? John Piper says a large and central part of our work is to wrestle God’s meaning from the book. That’s right. Luther in 1533 said the word of God is the greatest, most necessary, most important thing in Christendom. It is, and I’ll tell you what you turn away the book and you have endless problems. You turn away from the book and Jesus becomes a clay toy, you can shape him any way you want.
Truth becomes a clay toy you can shape it any way you want. John Piper says, “Luther had one weapon to rescue Christ from being sold in the markets of Wittenberg. He drove out the money changers, the indulgent sellers with a whip of the external word, the book.” See people want to reinvent Jesus, shape him any way they want. They want to come up with their own view of truth, shape it any way they want. The book doesn’t let you do that. Our faith is rooted in a decisive revelation in history called the bible, and as a pastor, as a preacher, as a minister I have one job. I’m a broker of the book, the word of God transmitted in a book.
Fundamentally I am a reader, and I am a teacher and I am a proclaimer of the book. I have to feed you the book, the truth of the book. As much as I am faithful to that I discharge my duty before God, as much as I am unfaithful to that I fail in my responsibility and I incur a serious accountability before God. I want to take you down into the richness of the word so that you can go high to the heights of praise. When people grasp the deep truth of scripture they begin to grasp the high majesty of God. I look at the evangelical church today and I see shallowness, indifference towards scripture, truth is a problem because they see it as divisive.
I see because of that they don’t now the depth of truth, they also don’t know the glory of God. David Wells writing in No Place for Truth his wonderful book said, “It is this God majestic and holy in his being who has disappeared from the modern evangelical world.” Lesslie Newbigin wrote, “I suddenly saw that someone could use all the language of evangelical Christianity and yet the center was fundamentally the self and God is auxiliary to that.” This modern evangelical drift puts man at the center of everything. More important than the scriptures and more important than God. When that happens what can change that is to confront it, and that’s really why I have been addressing this the last few weeks.
I don’t anything else to do other than what Luther did and what John Calvin did and what Spurgeon did and what others have done in history. You just have to take it head on and say it the way it is. I look at – and I’ve been doing some reading in the life of Calvin and Luther and other reformers, trying to understand how it was that they had such a massive influence. When you think of those kinds of names you think they must have been strong personalities, they must have been gifted leaders, etc. As you study their lives what you find out is that they were absolutely, indefatigable and relentless expositors of scripture.
They took every single opportunity that ever came their way to exposit the word of God before people, and the word of God was what caused things to change. As people came under the powerful, clear preaching of the depth of truth they became consumed with the glory of God, they became discerning and they saw error for what it was and truth for what it was, and they made right choices. Benjamin Warfield, the great Princeton theologian who had a great ministry in my life long after his death when I was a seminary student and read the inspiration and authority of scripture.
Warfield said of John Calvin that no man ever had a profounder sense of God than he. He said that in work on Calvin and Augustine. He said no man ever had a profounder sense of God than John Calvin, and where did John Calvin get that profound sense of God? He got it out of scripture. John Calvin spent his life studying the scripture, he spent his life as an expositor of scripture. People assume John Calvin was some kind of a theologian. He was a theologian, but he was a theologian who had a right to be a theologian because he was an expositor. His theology was the product of his bible exposition.
Through Calvin sound reformed theology, theology the reformation took hold, found its roots and with that deep theology came the product of that theology which was high praise. Many of the songs and hymns that we sing that are the most beloved and the most rich and deep were written by those who were reformers, Puritans. Did you know John Calvin only preached bible exposition? God used him to change the face of the world.
He went into Geneva in 1536 and he did bible expositions until 1564 with a three year banishment that I’ll mention in a moment. But he preached the exposition of scripture, I’ve stood in the little – it’s almost like a chapel, it’s a consistory they call it next to the St. Peter’s Church where Calvin preached on the Lord’s Day. He preached in this little chapel every day. He did exposition of scripture and he had five guys sitting on the front row and they wrote down everything he said. All five of them collectively would get it, put it all together and give it back to him to edit, and that’s how he produced commentaries. Day after day after day he would teach, expositing the scripture.
R.L. Dabney writes, “All the leading reformers whether in Germany, Switzerland, England or Scotland were constant preachers, and their sermons were prevalently expository.” That means to – exposit means to explain the meaning of scripture. So he said we can assume with safety that the instrumentality to which the spiritual power of the great revolution and the reformation was mainly due, was the restoration of scriptural preaching.
Dabney also points out that what happens in history is a three step downgrade, and we’re watching it happen right now. There is a time in the church, he calls it the Golden Age, when the truth of God is preached from the word of God. That’s the Golden Age. When men exposit the scripture; I grew up in a time like that. Bible exposition was for issue, bible exposition was what people did, not anymore. The evangelical say there’s a second step; that they don’t know this, but Dabney says there’s a second step. Evangelicals say we still believe biblical truth, we still believe sound doctrine, we’re still evangelical.
But we just think the bible is archaic, and people don’t identify with it and it’s boring so we’ve taken the truth and we’ve put it in some cultural context that people can identify with that communicate better. It’s still the truth and we believe the truth and the bible is so old, and it’s stuffy and people just don’t relate to and so we still hold to the truth, and we just give it new clothes. That’s a transition folks, that’s the transition from the Golden Age. First, you preach the truth of God from the word of God; that’s the dress that God put on it.
That’s the way he clothed it and God knows what is best for the soul and the spirit and the mind of a man who is under the convicting influence of the Holy Spirit. So he knows what truth comes to a man most powerfully in the working of the Holy Spirit and that’s why he put it in the bible the way he put it. But maybe people think they know better than God so they take the truths of scripture out of the scripture, put them in another dress, clothe them differently in order to remove the stigma of the bible, the offense of the bible, and somehow think they can get through to the culture in a soft sell way.
They have basically set the bible aside because they think it’s embarrassing. Dabney says this is the transition state. In this the doctrine taught is still that of scripture. But their relations are molded into conformity with the prevalent human dialectics. God’s truth is now shorn of a part of its power over the soul. Third step, you know the bible was offensive, we got rid of that, now we find that the doctrine is also offensive so we get rid of that too.
Then Dabney pleads may we ever be content to exhibit bible doctrine in its own bible dress. That’s why you see I say that if people would just start preaching the bible, the bible would provide clarity, it would provide discernment, it would provide understanding, it would provide profundity and also lift people to the heights of transcendent praise. The bible forms the whole content of our preaching, it’s a one tool profession as I said. God set forth all its truths in such context and such proportions and such relations as he knows the soul and mind and man best when under the influence of the Holy Spirit. No other forms of truth are as good.
I just hate to see people beginning to see we still believe the truth, but we don’t teach it from the bible, because people don’t accept that. If you got rid of the bible because they didn’t like it why are you going to hold on to the truth when you find out they don’t like that either. I don’t think you can do ministry without a radical commitment to the bible. I mean a radical commitment to the bible; I’m viewed as a radical. I’m viewed and a non-intellectual, low level Christian pastor, because I’m not open to every view of everything. I’m seen as anti-intellectual. That’s fine, I really don’t care.
My intellect can only function effectively for the honor of God in one way and that is if I use it to come to an understanding of scripture, and then communicate it to you. Whether or not I understand every wrong view is not relevant. I don’t think you can do ministry in this climate today the way God wants it done without a radical commitment to the bible, and I say radical because it’s resisted even within the framework of evangelicalism.
As I said before the meaning of scripture is the scripture, as you clear the fog and reveal the meaning that is the scripture. That’s the truth of God and that puts God on display and that gives people discernment and it gives the church power. You know I just think there are people who don’t want to do the hard work. You look at Calvin he wrote prolifically, he wrote his institutes – he wrote his commentaries, several shelves of my study are filled with is volumes. He preached 10 sermons every two weeks, all of it scripture exposition. Same with Luther; between 1510 and 1546 he preached 3000 sermons. Many days a week and many times a day he preached.
All that with family struggles, with his wife Katie gave him six children, some of them died, the rest of them he catechized on Sunday afternoon. Do you want to hear a typical Sunday for Martin Luther; 5:00 a.m. was the first service, it was an exposition of an epistle; 10:00 a.m. was the second one, it was an exposition of the gospel. In the afternoon he taught the word of God to his children. At 5:00 p.m. he came back to exposit a book in the Old Testament. On Monday and Tuesday he taught more exposition, on Wednesday he taught on Matthew, on Thursday and Friday he taught on an apostolic letter, and on Saturday he exposited the gospel of John.
You know people don’t roll out of bed and lead a reformation. You understand that? There’s a reason why these people had the influence they had. Consumed with scripture, with its understanding and its proclamation. All he did was preach and preach and preach, and the people worshipped. He went down and they went up. That’s why I told you a few weeks ago it’s better to go slower than faster, it’s better to be deep and not shallow, it’s better to be thorough and not superficial. Back to John Calvin he never wavered from expository preaching for almost 25 years.
From 1536 to 1564 in Geneva, and he even ignored Christmas and Easter and every other event, and just kept doing his exposition. He didn’t give any special messages, he just stayed with his expositions. The scope of his pulpit is really amazing, it’s just amazing. He preached for six years on the book of Acts, he gave 46 sermons on Thessalonians, 186 sermons on Corinthians, 86 sermons 1, 2 Timothy and Titus, 43 sermons on Galatians, 48 sermons on Ephesians. In 1559 in the spring he started a study of the gospels, expositing the gospels in a harmony fashion, and he didn’t finish when he died in 1564 in the month of May.
That was on the Lord’s Day and in the middle of the week he preached 159 sermons on Job, 200 on Deuteronomy, 353 on Isaiah and 123 on Genesis and so on. All that took preparation and study. He was preaching on Easter 1538, after his sermon he left the pulpit of St. Peter’s Church and they threw him out of town. City council banished him, they’d had enough of him. He’d only been preaching for a couple of years there, but he was so strong, so powerful that they threw him out of town after his sermon. He came back just a little over three years later and picked up his exposition at the next verse.
As I was saying. Biographers tell us that Calvin believed the word of God was the only lamp and that the lamp had been taken away from the churches, and that’s what I believe. Calvin had a horror of those people who preached their own ideas in the pulpit. He believed that expounding the scriptures was the only thing that God wanted done. Calvin believed that God’s majesty was revealed in his word, and if you didn’t preach the word then you didn’t give glory to God. You know it wasn’t easy for Calvin preaching 10 times in two weeks, lecturing three times in theology, having a Friday bible study, visiting the sick, counseling people, reading and writing.
He had a weak stomach, he had severe migraines, and the only way he could control his migraines was by eating one meal a day. He worked night and day with scarcely a break, that’s why he died young. In 1564 when he was 53 years old he wrote his physician, describing colic, spitting of blood, ague, gout, excruciating sufferings of hemorrhoids, kidney stones, etc. At the same time his wife gave birth to children, they died one after another and she died, turned the world upside down. This literally turned the world upside down.
Because of the power of bringing the word of God to bear. Back to Luther for a moment, just to show you how prolific they were in the word Luther in 1520 wrote 133 works, in 1522 he wrote 130 works, in 1523 he wrote 183 works, one every other day. The same in 1524, all the product of intense scrutiny of the word of God. This is what turned history. Contemporary evangelical church sad to say is not interested in biblical depth, and therefore it doesn’t experience biblical height. It tends to be shallow and worldly and weak, and self-deceiving. Deceiving itself with superficial success.
At the heart of this is this tragic thing of embracing non-Christians as if their Christians; that’s what we’ve been talking about in this – I know this is a long introduction and I’ll never get to my point. But you understand this is a passion with me, and I just want you to know where I’m at in my heart. Without a deep grasp of biblical truth there’s no discernment, and with no discernment then you just can’t tell who’s a Christian and who’s not so Satan comes into the church, comes into the leadership, comes in to teach at colleges and teach at seminaries and write books and get on Christian TV, and on and on it goes.
As I told you where you don’t have the truth and you don’t have the preaching that brings clarity and discernment and the glory of God you have terrible problems. The first one is people no longer distinguish between who’s a Christian and who’s not. This was one of the great realities of reformation, the reformation said you’re not Christians period, you’re not. You say we’re Christian, no you’re not. It’s time for us to take the stand at the same point in this day, and as I’ve been trying to tell you the last few weeks the way you distinguish a true Christian from a non-Christian no matter what they claim is found in this category that we’re calling deliverance.
What have we been saying, you can tell who’s a Christian because they’ve been delivered. The ministry of the Lord is to deliver, to rescue, to save. A Christian isn’t known by some act, some event, some prayer, some signing of a card, some going forward, some being baptized, some joining a church. It’s not identified by an event, but by deliverance. True Christians are those who’ve been delivered, and deliverance is this general truth, it contains the realities of salvation. First we said true Christians had been delivered from error to truth, and that was a big issue, and it’s an issue we need to be clarified on.
If you haven’t been here you need to get those tapes; that’s just very important. Nobody is a Christian folks who doesn’t believe the true gospel. That’s a pretty sweeping statement; you have to believe the true gospel or you’re not a Christian. You can’t believe a false gospel like Mormons and people in the Roman Catholic system. You have to believe the true gospel, you can’t believe the liberal message of good works and social change. You can’t believe some abhorrent kind of thing about who Jesus is.
You can‘t be a non-Trinitarian and believe in a God who’s not a trinity such as T.D. Jakes and people like that and be a Christian. Christians believe the truth because what we saw clearly in Colossians 1:12 and 13 we’ve been delivered out of the domain of darkness into the kingdom of the son of God’s love. We have become saints in light, we’ve gone out of the darkness of ignorance and error, and into the light of truth. I’m being specific with you because I feel like we have to do that. Who is a Christian, somebody who’s been delivered from error to truth? You’ve come to understand, to believe, to embrace the truth.
Secondly we said true Christians have been delivered not only from error to truth, but from sin to righteousness. We looked in particular at Romans chapter 6, which is a very vital text last time, which talks about the fact that we were slaves to sin and we’re now servants of righteousness. I just want to finish up that point, turn to 1 John 3, just a couple of comments to finish that point up, and next week I’m going to give you the third point since I’ve run out of time.
1 John 3, John is just giving us a very black and white look here. 1 John 3 in verse 2 he says, “Beloved now are we children of God.” Alright, we’re children of God, how do you know that? How do you know when somebody’s a child of God? How do you know when somebody belongs to God, when they are a true believer? Go down to verse 4, “Every one who practices sin practices also lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.” Verse 5, “You know that he appeared in order to take away sins,” now stop right there.
Why did Jesus come into the world; to take away sins? So what should be characteristic of a Christian? Sin is taken away; how clear is that? Matthew 1:21 he came to save his people from their sins. So John is simply saying he appeared to take away sins. So what’s true about a Christian is sin has been replaced by righteousness, and he goes on to explain that. Verse 6, “No one who abides in him sins,” present tense, continues in sin in that same pattern. It doesn’t mean we never sin, because back in chapter 1 he said if you say you don’t have sin you’re making God a liar. Of course you have sin, but you do not continue in that constant pattern of sin; that’s a present tense verb in the Greek which indicates continuous action.
No one who abides in Christ continues in that same pattern of sin, and no one who continues in that same pattern of sin has seen Christ or knows Christ. People say all the time I know they’re living like this and they’re doing this, but I know they’re Christians. I know they’re Christians because I remember when this happened and that event. Christians don’t continue in a pattern of sin, it’s unbroken. Verse 7 here’s the key, “little children, let nobody deceive you,” don’t let anybody deceive you. “The one who practices righteousness is righteous,” is that difficult to grasp?
Come on, who’s righteous? People who do righteous things. It’s a matter of nature, it’s a matter of the life principle, the life power, and he makes that very clear. The one who practices, verse 8 sin is of the devil; he’s got the old nature under the control of Satan. The devil is a sinner from the beginning, but the son of God appeared for this purpose to destroy the works of the devil. What are the works of the devil, sin? Second time verse 5, verse 8, the son came to destroy that pattern of sin. To destroy that principle of sin, that power of dominant sin, and so in verse 9 no one who is born of God practices sin, practices that idea of constant unbroken, continual sin because he has a new seed in him.
He uses the analogy of birth, human birth. A baby is the product of its parents, it bears the life of its parents. The seed, the egg the parents have create the essence of that child. That child is literally the coming together of the two lives that produced it, and the child will manifest characteristics. It’ll be shaped like its parents, it’ll look in the face like its parents, it’ll have physical mannerisms like its parents, it’ll have some intellectual capabilities like its parents or maybe some other capabilities as well. It’ll reflect the genetic structure inherited from parents and that’s essentially what he’s saying.
If you’re born of God you’re going to be a product of that new birth and you’re not going to continue to practice sin. But what’s going to happen is you have a new seed in you and you can’t continue in sin, because you’re born of God. Look, if you were ever born of God the principle of sin has been broken and the practice of sin has been interrupted. If somebody looks like they’re a Christian and all of a sudden wanders off into sin and stays there they never had that new birth. Because if they had a new birth, if they were born of God no one who was born of God practices sin
No one has that same constant pattern. As I told you last week it has to do with what you desire. We sin as Christians but we hate that sin. We love righteousness; like Romans 7 I want to do things and my flesh gets in the way, and I don’t do want to do and I do what I don’t want to do. But I know that’s a wretched thing and despise that, and I cry out to be delivered from it. One of the great reasons to go to heaven, you talk to people about going to heaven and they say streets of gold, and you know the best thing about heaven no sin.
That’s the most appealing thing about it. Don’t you get sick of it? I’m not talking about sin in your spouse, I’m talking about yours. No one who’s born of God continues in an unbroken patter of sin, it can’t happen. Why, because his seed is in you. You have incorruptible seed Peter says, a new life, a new nature, a new creation. In verse 10 sums it up, here’s how you distinguish the children of God and the children of the devil. It’s obvious, I like that; how obvious is it? Anyone who doesn’t practice righteousness is not of God, that’s enough for me.
How do you know who’s a Christian? Somebody who loves what is right, who loves the law of God, who hates sin, who has a pattern of righteousness interrupted by sin. That’s sin that he hates, it’s the residual of his old self, his old disposition. Galatians 2:20 apostle Paul talks about this and he says, “I have been crucified with Christ.” What do you mean Paul? I’m dead, the old Paul’s gone, the old life has died, it’s no longer I who live. That old ego, that old I is gone, but Christ lives in me.
If Christ lives in you everything is different, everything. There’s a new life principle that produces a new life practice. If we don’t understand who a true Christian is we’re confused at the most critical point, aren’t we? Because we can’t tell a person their true spiritual condition; they may be lost on their way to hell, it doesn’t help them to tell them they’re Christians. We’ve also invited Satan’s terrors into the church; people who do not love God’s truth, who do not love his righteousness law, who do not hunger for what is right, don’t have a new heart.
Don’t have a new birth, don’t have an incorruptible seed, don’t have Christ living in them; they haven’t been delivered. If the heart hasn’t been changed to love God’s word, if the heart hasn’t been changed to love God’s law, if the heart hasn’t been changed to desire to obey the law of God as Ezekiel 36 put is, if the heart hasn’t been changed to pursue virtue, not sin then that heart hasn’t been changed at all. The hallmark of salvation folks is you understand, you believe, you embrace the truth of the gospel. You love that truth and you love righteousness, and you hate sin.
True Christians worship God, love the word of God, and obey the word of God. They are like the deer we read about in Psalm 42 who pants for the water brooks, their soul pants after God. Simon says my soul thirst for God, for the living God. Simon says in Psalm 119:97 O how I love your law. So if you have a child or a spouse or a brother or sister or friend or an acquaintance who really wants to sin, plans to sin, plans fulfillment in sin, doesn’t have a passion for righteousness, doesn’t have an interest in the truth, the person hasn’t been delivered, not a Christian no matter what they claim.
Today as we have been saying evangelical churches and leaders are saying anyone who says he’s a Christian is a Christian, anybody who says they believe in Jesus is a Christian. Liberal, Protestants, charismatics, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, free floating unattached people who believe in Jesus, athletes who do this, and they make a good play and get caught soliciting a prostitute. Anybody who claims to be a Christian can be tested by truth and virtue. This is critical; real deliverance produces changed life. There’s a third point and I’ll just tell you what it is and we’ll do it next week. They have been delivered from the dying world to the eternal kingdom. Profound and we’ll look at that next time, let’s pray. Father, what clarity, what precision your word provides. Thank you for the examples of men of the past that we talked about this morning who’s testimonies are instructive to us, because of their faithfulness, power of their lives which you so mightily used.
Give your church a restored confidence, a restored passion, a restored hunger for truth, for the word of truth. We pray father that you will give us the discernment so that we can truly judge a person’s spiritual condition. Protect your church from the downgrade of truth, the downgrade of scripture. We just pray father that you will awaken pastors and leaders to be faithful, to preach bible truth and bible dress relentlessly and passionately for all the years of their ministry that you might do a mighty and a true work in hearts. Thank you for the deliverance that you have provided us by your grace, in Christ name, amen.
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