Friday, October 6, 2017

"Error" Part VI

"The means of finding out the true meaning of scripture are: constant prayer, knowledge of the language, examination of originals, consideration of the argument and purposes of the passage, distinction between literal and figurative passages; understanding of causes, circumstances, and consequences; logical analysis, comparison of obscure passages with clear ones, of like with like, and unlike with unlike; and finally, the analogy of faith" ~ Johannes Wollebius

Why is sound doctrine so important? Can't we just agree to disagree and love each other? We can when the truth of what God has revealed to us doesn't matter. We can when we put unity over the knowledge of truth. When we do this, it most always deteriorates and eventually separates into factions, then war.

Doctrine does divide, but if it's sound doctrine it separates and unites in truth. There is a dark side to Church History, we may touch on some of it in our journey as we study. These false doctrines that seem so insignificant now, over time have a tendency to reveal just how dangerous they are.

Little by little the Church began to veer of course, this ending in the Roman Catholic Church killing untold numbers of protestants during the reformation. How can a religion of love commit such atrocities in the name of Christ? (John 13:35  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.)  Wrong teaching leads to wrong believing; wrong believing leads to wrong actions and incorrect worship. Some would say that was just the Roman Catholic Church, but during that time the persecuted became the persecutor. Protestants killed untold numbers of Ana-Baptist fellow Protestants over Baptism mixed with other issues. There is no way to escape the fact that there were among these events regenerate Christ loving Christians killing other regenerate Christ loving Christians. I hope this makes my point in the dangers of false teachings, when mixed with our fallen nature is a very dangerous thing even among regenerate Christ loving Christians.

For those who may be following along with us and are new to Christianity, during the time we have been covering, there were no denominations, no Baptist, no Presbyterian, no Methodist, etc. There was just the Church. All these divisions developed later during and after the reformation. That is not to say all in the Church were in agreement on everything, much debate occurred, but the Church remained as one body. Division into the East and West came later, then the fractures of the Protestant Church broke into many divisions.

I think it would be good for us to take a quick look at how these things began to occur. I think you will be able see a difference between what the Church began to do as compared to what it had been doing so far in our study.

In the Eighth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople IV 869-70 AD, the church made this doctrinal statement:

(Summary. The images of our Lord and of His Blessed Mother and those of the Apostles, prophets, martyrs, and saints shall be duly honored and venerated.
Text. The holy images of our Lord Jesus Christ shall be honored in like manner as the Gospel-book. For, as the words of the Gospel lead us to salvation, so also do the pictures through their colors produce the same effect, and all, learned and unlearned, can derive benefit therefrom. The message that comes to us through the written word, the same is brought home to us through the color of the Picture. Since the honor directed toward the picture reverts in intention to the prototype, it follows, in accordance with right reason and ancient tradition, that pictures must be honored in the same manner as the Gospel-book and the picture of the precious cross. If, therefore, anyone does not now honor the picture of Christ, he shall not see His form when He comes to glorify His saints. Likewise do we design pictures and images of His Blessed Mother and of the angels, as also the Sacred Scriptures picture them for us in words; also of the Apostles, prophets, martyrs, and all the saints .)

I kid you not, that was instituted as a Christian article of faith. Remember we are looking for sound doctrine. Where is the soundness found in this doctrinal statement? We don't find it in any of the other Creeds and councils we have studied. Worse yet, we find no New Testament example or instruction concerning such doctrine. It is error and unsound doctrine to suggest that the color of a picture of Christ, Mary, or any Apostle has the effect upon the soul as the Gospel. Yet, in our own time unsound  erroneous doctrines find their way into our Churches.

In the Twelfth Ecumenical Council, Lateran IV 1215 AD 

(SUMMARY Everyone who has attained the age of reason is bound to confess his sins at least once a year to his own parish pastor with his permission to another, and to receive the Eucharist at least at Easter.)
Where did that come from?

In 1545 AD to 1563 AD the Council of Trent the Church set itself against the attempts of many to bring reform to the errors which had been induced into its doctrine. In Chapter 5 the Church affirms doctrine in opposition to doctrine already established in the Council of Orange in 529 AD. It states as follows:

Chapter V

On the necessity, in adults, of preparation for Justification, and whence it proceeds.
(The Synod furthermore declares, that in adults, the beginning of the said Justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God, through Jesus Christ, that is to say, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits existing on their parts, they are called; that so they, who by sins were alienated from God, may be disposed through His quickening and assisting grace, to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to and co-operating with that said grace: in such sort that, while God touches the heart of man by the illumination of the Holy Ghost, neither is man himself utterly without doing anything while he receives that inspiration, forasmuch as he is also able to reject it; yet is he not able, by his own free will, without the grace of God, to move himself unto justice in His sight. Whence, when it is said in the sacred writings: Turn ye to me, and I will turn to you, we are admonished of our liberty; and when we answer; Convert us, O Lord, to thee, and we shall be converted, we confess that we are prevented by the grace of God.)

Whereas in 529 AD, the Church understood Justification was by faith alone, unaided by man's actions, for he was dead in his sins. God in His mercy, so acted upon man as to turn his will toward God and bring him to faith in Christ. You may remember our discussing the Sovereign Grace of God against the nature of man to control his own destiny.

Here in Trent, the Church affirms the sovereign will of man against the Sovereign Grace of God. This understanding pervades most Churches to this day. They affirm that Christ die for people he cannot save, because their will supersedes His work of Grace. They are not saved of His Grace alone, but only aided by it. His work of Grace must have our free co-operating work of faith added to it, for his Grace alone is not sufficient to bring us to faith. The Scripture says, (Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:). But Trent states through this assisting grace, man converts himself to his own justification. He does this by an act of his will, choosing to believe. This act of his faith, when added to Grace brings regeneration. But Orange in 529 AD affirms that this faith is a gift of God and not of ourselves.  Therefore, our Salvation is wholly and completely the work of God. The concept of Grace alone is foreign to most Churches today, it is the doctrine introduced at Trent that prevails. Yet, this article of faith affirmed at Trent is not sound Christian doctrine.

In the first post in this series I mentioned I would appeal to your reason. Let us in conclusion approach these doctrines with some logic. First, Sovereign Grace. If God is Sovereign in His act of Grace, then no one for whom He died will perish. All He has chosen will be saved, because He is Sovereign. (John 6:37  All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.)

Now prevenient grace. Christ died for all, but only those who cooperate with this grace will be saved. This leaves a multitude of people for whom the price has been paid, but because they do not cooperate with it, don't fully understand it, or at lest enough to be persuaded, or are just not ready at a particular time, must all perish. Worse than that, there will be multitudes that would have been saved, but something happened to them and they died before hearing the Gospel.  They would have believed, but God must still cast them in Hell, for this Grace must be aided with man's personal faith.

Even worse than that, there will be whole nations that will perish, because they do not have the Gospel preached to them. Thousands would believe, God knows they would believe, but he must still cast them to hell because they could not aid this prevenient grace. So not only does their Salvation depend upon themselves, but on us for not getting it to them. So God must also cast them to Hell because of our actions, for they would have believed had the Gospel been preached.

It still gets worse, for all eternity, there will be people in Hell who would have been in heaven glorifying God, but they did not hear for some reason or another. God must condemn them. God will exist for all eternity having not accomplished the full measure of his work. God Himself will for ever be under the mark of perfection in Salvation. He died for all, He could not save all.

People tell me the doctrine of Sovereign Grace is harsh and cold. I say the doctrine of prevenient grace is insufficient for both God and man. I say it presents the most horrid acts of judgment to be imagined. It leaves God insufficient in His means and His provisions. It leaves Him an insufficient God. God forbid. For me, the doctrine of Election is a most comforting doctrine. I fall upon an all sufficient Sovereign God. With all my sin and weaknesses, He is my stay and hope of Salvation. My heart longs to love and serve Him, and that is not of myself, it is a gift of God. Praise His Name!

May the Grace of God be with you all,




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