Monday, 1 October 2012

Believing the Whole Bible?

While it is difficult for a minister even after 40 years preaching to deal with every verse in the canonical Scriptures, it is to be expected that every major doctrine of the Bible will be dealt with.  And there is probably no more important doctrines in the Bible that those that relate to salvation. 

Amongst those very important doctrines are those that present the Gospel in clear and unambiguous terms.  God has revealed His will towards mankind in the Scriptures through the words He decided to use in presenting the Gospel.  Many of these words are universalistic in import, for example, John 3:16, 2 Pet.3:9; 1 John 2:2; etc.

Yet how often do you hear 'reformed' preachers preach from these glorious Gospel texts that call the world to faith in the Saviour?  When was the last time you heard a 'reformed' preached preach Jn.3:16?  And did he do it without "adding to the word of this prophecy," the Scriptures?

You have heard many sermons, but when did you last hear a message from the Lord?  You may have heard many Bible studies that were passed off as sermons, but no messages from God.  You may even have witnessed the Scripture texts being bowdlerised by dogma-driven preachers, but not a clear 'word from the Lord'?

Just think of the multitudes of lost sinners who are being left to drift into a lost eternity for want of hearing a living message from the Lord.  Just imagine what the Lord will say by way of judgement to those unfaithful preachers who occupied pulpits that were dedicated to the preaching of the Gospel and who refused, for purely dogmatic reasons, to declare the life-giving message of salvation to the guilty.  It is too awful to imagine.

What makes it even worse, of that were possible, is that these dear men are convinced that God does not want all men to be saved!  God has no message for the world, only for 'the world of the elect.'  He is a compassionless Deity  and they are like their god.

But not so the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is God most compassionate, full of mercy to the lost - all of them - and desires their salvation.  Even John Calvin is criticised when he preached in His Isa.53 sermons that God is trying to save the world.  Calvin's God is a defeated God, not the god of the high orthodox.

However, the fact that these men do not really accept the perspicuity of Scripture means that they have to add to God's revelation in order for it to cohere with the credal position.  Indeed, they add in such an unfaithful way that they end up making Scripture say what it had never intended to say; namely, that God sent Christ to die only for the elect, and no one else. 

But when we remember the words of good Bishop and English Reformer, Hugh Latimer, who taught that Christ shed as much blood for Judas as He did for Peter and Paul, we find that high orthodox men are at variance not only with Scripture but also with many of the great historical figures of the church. 

No, we cannot claim to believe the whole Bible and at the same time re-write its clear evangelistic message.  Nor can we criticise Romanism for its magisterium, while at the same time adhere relentlessly to our own chosen magisterium.

Let us beware, lest we claim too much, and give no evidence that we believe what we claim.

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