Charles E Whisnant
I am the Pastor/Teacher of Rivers of Joy Baptist Church in Minford, Ohio since August 2008. I am married to Charity since June 14, 1969. I have four grown children. Having served in the local church for over forty years as Pastor/Teacher, Asso., Youth Pastor, Minister of Education, Building Upkeep, Camp Director, Sunday School Teacher, etc. Also I have worked in the public place for as many years as I have preached. Charity and her sister are co owner of Union Mills Conf. (Bakery) in West Portsmouth Ohio
January 17, 2010
How Do You Measure Success?
2 Corinthians 3:1-3
Would you hire this man as your pastor?
*Arrested many times.
*In and out of prison.
*Often run out of town.
*Never built a building.
*Never spoke on television.
*Never had a website.
*Never had a Facebook page.
*Never owned his own home.
*Had to work on the side to support himself.
*Never stayed very long in one place.
*Not a skilled public speaker.
*Sometimes preaches for hours at a time.
*Seems to get involved in public controversies.
Most churches would take a pass on a man like that. After all, you can’t trust your pulpit to just anyone who comes along. And that’s why the Apostle Paul would not feel at home in many of our churches today.
Every year I spend a good part of my time talking with pastors. I love pastors and I love spending time with them. Sometimes I’ll ask, “How is it going?” and then sit back and wait for the answer. Just as I typed that sentence, I shrugged my shoulders, as if to say, “It depends.” It depends on who is asking and when and where and why. And it depends on what day you ask.
Success in the ministry is notoriously hard to define. Even if we have met all our goals, have we truly been successful in the eyes of the Lord?
How do we measure success in the ministry?
That’s the question Paul faced in 2 Corinthians. He had to justify himself because a group of critics had virtually taken over the church, filling the people’s minds with base accusations against Paul’s character and his conduct. “You can’t trust him. Look how fickle he is. He says he’s coming for a visit, then he doesn’t show up. How do you know he’s not a fake?"
Part of Paul’s answer comes in 2 Corinthians 3:1-3 where he declares that the real measure of his ministry is the lives changed by the Holy Spirit. That constitutes true success in the eyes of the Lord.
It’s not about programs or buildings.
It’s not about budgets or titles.
It’s not about a big reputation.
I. Inadequate Measures of Success
“Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you?" (2 Corinthians 3:1).
Paul says, “I don’t need to boast and I don’t need a letter of reference to prove the validity of my ministry."
That’s different from the way we do things today.
Sometimes we measure success by our degrees. So we go to college for four years to get a BA or a BS. Then we may go to graduate school for an MA or an MBA. Some will seek a professional degree, such as an MD, JD, DDS, or DMin. Those with a scholarly bent will pursue a PhD so they are qualified to write or teach at the highest levels. So in the end the extremely studious person may have a string of degrees after his name, such as BA, MA, PhD.
And of course these things matter. We pay attention to them. We put our degrees up on the wall. We want people to know we went to Georgia Tech or Miami or to Notre Dame or Princeton or Multnomah or Biola. And it’s not just those letters. We gain status, we make friends, we network, we may meet our spouse at college or in graduate school, and when we graduate, having a degree from a particular school may land us a job some day. So it does matter.
Sometimes we ordain people to the ministry. That’s important because it means that a certain group of well-respected people examined you carefully regarding your testimony, your background, your education, your doctrine, your spiritual life, and your call to the ministry. In some denominations a candidate without ordination papers will not be considered for the pastorate. We put our ordination paper on the wall. It’s a mark of accomplishment, a sign that someone, somewhere has checked us out and we pass muster.
Often we measure pastors by church size. Probably nothing matters more than this. Go to any ministerial gathering and after the initial greetings, someone is sure to ask, “How large is your church?” or “How many are you running in Sunday School?” That matters because 50 is better than 25, 100 is better than 50, 500 is better than 100, 1000 is better than 500, 2000 is better than 1000, and anything over 2000 is considered a megachurch. And these days there are quite a few churches in America that draw more than 7000 people very Sunday. Currently the largest church in America attracts over 40,000 people. And around the world there are mega-megachurches that number over 100,000 or 200,000.
There are other ways of looking at success. Who do you know? How well are you connected? Do you know a senator? How many millionaires attend your church? Do you have Bill Gates’ cell phone number? Do you Twitter with Shania Twain? Do you drop by and say hi to Donald Trump when you are in New York? Have you met President Obama? Will Peyton Manning return your calls? Did you eat lunch with Chuck Colson last week? On and on it goes. Because we live in a celebrity culture, it matters to all of us who we know. Knowing important people gives you clout, it helps you get things done, and it elevates you in the minds of others.
But these things, the “letters of recommendation” that Paul is talking about, the approval and recognition of others and the applause of the world, these are not the true measures of success.
God views it differently.
II. The One Thing That Matters Most
It’s all about lives changed by the Holy Spirit. See how Paul explains it in verses 2-3:
You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
As far as Paul was concerned, the real proof of his ministry was the changed lives of his hearers. As he preached the gospel, the Holy Spirit applied it to his hearers so that when they believed in Jesus, their lives were completely changed. Corinth was a thoroughly pagan city, given over to idol worship and gross sexual immorality. As a seaport town, it had a reputation for sensuality to the point that “to corinthianize” had become a by-word in the first century. It meant to live on the level of brute sexual appetites. Corinth was a place where you could say that truly “anything goes.” So when the gospel entered with its promise of life transformation through the power of Jesus Christ, sinners were converted, and some of them were radically changed. Paul had written about that in his first letter to the Corinthians:
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
In today’s world we tend to regard that as a “hard passage” that makes us squirm because it seems so negative-and it is! But that’s not the end of the story. Read on to verse 11:
And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
The most important part of this text is the first phrase of verse 11: “And that is what some of you were.” In those eight words we find the entire Christian faith. The effective power of all that we believe is summed up in those few words. Christianity is supremely a religion of conversion. Everything we say and everything we believe is built upon one fundamental and revolutionary premise: You don’t have to stay the way you are. Your life can be radically changed by God. The miracle of conversion happens when the life of God intersects with human personality. Once God enters the picture, your life will never be the same again. Until then, you may be religious and you may be a very good person and you may obey all the rules of the church, but you have not been converted.
Let’s just write it down for the whole world to understand. The Christians at Corinth were . . .
Wicked no more.
Immoral no more.
Idolaters no more.
Adulterers no more.
Homosexuals no more.
Thieves no more.
Greedy no more.
Drunkards no more.
Slanderers no more.
Swindlers no more.
Talk about a change. Can you imagine the impact in Corinth when an idol worshiper came to Christ and his buddies at the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, wondered what happened to him. Why didn’t he come around anymore? Why didn’t he offer sacrifices? Why did he partake in sexual escapades with the many priestesses attached to the temple? Why didn’t he join in the bacchanalian celebrations? What happened to him? “I met some people who told me about Jesus, and he changed my life completely."
Or suppose a woman was one of those priestesses who practiced a form of religious prostitution. What would her friends say when suddenly she stopped plying her trade? Her answer would blow their minds.
Or here is a man in Corinth who has lived a homosexual lifestyle. But no more. He has been washed, cleansed, sanctified, given a new heart, a new life, a new direction. Yes, the temptations remain, but the direction of his life has been altered forever. Can you imagine what his friends would say when he declared, “I’m not going to do that anymore"?
There is another way to say it. Conversion is the miracle whereby God changes the tenses of your life:
This is what you were.
This is what you are.
Christians believe that Jesus Christ can do it, and we believe that only Jesus has the life-changing power to utterly transform your life from the inside out. That’s what happened to the first-century believers in the seaport town of Corinth. It could happen to you today as you read these words.
How did this radical change take place among those who heard his message? These former idol-worshiping pagans were now . . .
You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody” (v. 2). It’s a wonderful thing when your conversion is so real that no one can deny the change in your life.
Followers of Christ
“You show that you are a letter from Christ” (v. 3). Their lives were like a letter from Christ, written in their hearts, plain and clear for the whole world to see.
“Written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God” (v. 3). They had not been changed by “joining the church” or “walking an aisle” or “signing a card." Those things have no power to change us. Only the Holy Spirit working within can write God’s truth in our hearts.
“Not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (v. 3). The Ten Commandments were written on stone, giving them permanence as a rule of life for ancient Israel. If someone said, “Is it okay to sleep with my neighbor’s wife?” the answer was, “Check out the tablets. What do they say?” Rules can do many things. They can tell you right and wrong, and they can provide guidance in tough situations. Only the gospel can change us from the inside out.
Christians are “living epistles,” letters that anyone can read. Christianity written on the soul is
Jesus is the writer, the Holy Spirit is the ink, you are the letter!
You are writing a Gospel,
A chapter each day,
by the deeds you do and by the words you say.
People read what you write, whether faithful or true.
Just what is the Gospel according to you?
So what is the real mark of a successful ministry? It must be the lives changed by the preaching of the gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s why the proof of the ministry can never be simply counting nickels and noses or listing degrees or books written or places preached or the size of your Sunday School or how many services you have or how big your budget is or who came to speak for you or who serves on your Board of Reference or how long you’ve been in the ministry.
Michael Andrus makes a telling observation on this very point:
Paul never gives us any attendance statistics from his churches; never tells us how many baptisms were performed in a given year; never reports on the number of new programs he started; and he never even tells us how the giving was doing compared to budget!
We count those things and say, “Well, if you’ve got those, you’ve got a successful ministry.” Paul said, “I’m not playing that game." He wouldn’t ask for letters of reference nor would he provide any. He simply said, “If you want to know about my ministry, check out the people who listen to me. Look at what God has done in their lives.”
That’s the only thing that matters. The rest is just details. And a lot of it is just ministerial window-dressing.
III. The Source of Our Success
If you take this passage as a standard, it means that God measures our success in terms of lives changed. He’s evidently not that impressed by the size of our budget or by the stained glass in our sanctuary. The One who hung the stars in space doesn’t really care how many books we’ve written or how much money we make or whether or not we see our name in lights.
He’s Almighty God, Maker of heaven and earth.
Like we’re going to impress him?
I think not.
I’ve already said that the proof of our ministry is lives changed by the Holy Spirit. So who does the changing? (This isn’t a trick question.)
The Holy Spirit (who is God himself).
If lives are truly changed under our ministry, God did it!
He has arranged things so that we get the honor and privilege of serving him. To us he committed the message of reconciliation and told us to go into the world and preach it in every nation, saying to one and all, “Be reconciled to God."
We do the preaching.
God does the saving.
We do the praying.
God does the answering.
And it is God who takes the message we preach and writes it on the hearts of those who hear. And let us be thankful about that. If we had to save people, no one would ever be saved. I can preach from sunrise to sunset, I can preach till the cows come home, but if God doesn’t work, no one will ever be saved. A wonderful old hymn from the colonial era says it this way:
Brethren, we have met to worship and adore the Lord our God;
Will you pray with all your power, while we try to preach the Word?
All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down;
Brethren, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.
I don’t know how you feel about this, but I’m very happy that “all is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down” because that means it doesn’t all depend on me.
My success depends on the Lord!
Not partly, but entirely.
Three Simple Conclusions
Let me draw three simple conclusions from this and we will be done.
First, I have a part to play and I must do my part. I am called to preach and teach the Word of God. The where and the how and the when are not specified. Circumstances change all the time. Look at Paul’s life. He had great success in one city and was run out of the next. He stayed in one city for months and in another for three or four weeks. He was loved and hated, admired and reviled, praised and criticized wherever he went. Some of the churches he started had major problems. Not everyone who heard him believed his message. Not all of his disciples stayed true to the Master. And yet he determined to go wherever he was led, to become “all things to all men” so that by God’s grace, he might win some to Christ.
Was Paul successful? From the perspective of twenty centuries later, we know the answer is yes. But he ended up in jail in Rome (twice!) and evidently died by beheading at the order of Nero.
In 1 Corinthians 4:1 Paul reveals a key secret of success in the ministry. “It is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful." There it is, plain for all to see.
That’s what God wants from you and me.
Be faithful to our calling.
Be faithful to the Lord.
Be faithful to preach the Word.
That is my part and I must do my part. No one else can do it for me.
Second, I won’t really know how successful I’ve been until I get to heaven. Several years ago I watched Larry King interview Billy Graham. At one point he asked Dr. Graham, “How many people have been saved under your ministry?” Without missing a beat, Billy Graham answered, “I have no idea.” “You have no idea?” “No, only the Lord knows that."
Here’s a man who has preached to more people in person than anyone else in history. And hundreds of millions have seen him on TV. He is the best-known evangelist in Christian history. But when you ask how many have been saved, he says, “I have no idea.” You can count decisions but only the Lord knows the true heart condition of those who come forward.
His attitude is exactly right.
Whatever success we have in serving the Lord comes because the Lord himself granted it to us. Since we don’t save anyone, all the glory belongs to the Lord alone.
Third, I shouldn’t bother comparing myself with anyone else. Years ago I heard Dr. Vernon Grounds, longtime president of Denver Seminary, share a story from a time in his early ministry when he was bring harshly criticized for some stands he had taken. The men criticizing him felt he should have been stronger or stated things more forcefully or done things a different way. They were so vocal that he could not ignore them. Eventually he became angry and discouraged. Then the Lord impressed upon his heart the passage in John 21:20-22 where Peter, evidently feeling a bit of apostolic competition, asks the Lord what will happen to the Apostle John. Here is the Lord’s answer in verse 22, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." It’s a polite way of saying, “What happens to John is none of your business.” The King James Version renders the last phrase this way, "Follow thou me.”
“Follow thou me.”
Dr. Grounds said the Lord used those three words to set him free.
“Follow me, and don’t worry about anyone else.”
“Follow me, and I’ll take care of the others.”
“Follow me, and you’ll have plenty to do.
Here is our calling put simply:
Feed God’s sheep.
If we do that, we are successful already, and when our work is done, we will discover that the Lord made more of what we did than we knew while we were on the earth. The applause of heaven will welcome us home, and that’s the only success that really matters.
I don't necessary believe one can question my hearts desire to be the kind of teacher I desire to me. The question seems to be the interpretation of Scripture that I make with scripture.
What I have learned over the years, it seems that pastors are not willing to teach publicly what they really believe in private. I think the reason why preachers don't preach from the text is because they are not willing to teach the truth from the text.
The Scripture seems to be clear about what it teaches. But over the years preachers have avoided teaching the truth about the text, and thus the members have not learned the scriptures.
Then when a preacher really began to teach the text and what it is really saying, the people throw a fit. "Well its not what we have been taught by our pastors in the past." The truth is they are right, they haven't.
Many fundamental preach preaches on topic of sin, and legalism, and stuff that are not in the scripture, and fail to teach the Word of God, and thus the people are ignorant of the truth.
In every cast that I have confronted are people who say, "You are not Baptist." "You teach the doctrine of Calvinism." "You don't preach to us,you teach."
While I do believe its more of a personality, or control issue, they often leave the church. They are willing to get back into a church like the one they had and didn't really like in the first place.
They are more willing to listen to a preacher who just tells them how sinful they are, and gives an altar call, and is in control of the church. And where you are simply saved when you just invite Jesus into your heart at the end of some sermon and Just as I am is sung. That is the way its always been.
Good Christian people get so caught up in these things that they are not willing to really listen to what they are saying or even believe.
I have never tried to pressure people to believe any doctrine. But I don't skip doctrine. All my preaching is teaching doctrine. I try my best to teach people how to study the people. To examine what I preach, I am not afraid of examination of what I preach, as a matter of fact I welcome it.
I am not afraid to change my position if my current position is incorrect. But I firmly believe after carefully studying the text I am correct to teach the text to the people before me.
I continue to view others who are much smarter than I in matters of interpretation. I don't change my position just because some Dr. says so, but after carefully viewing his position again mind.
There will always be two sides to the same doctrine position. I have to agree that some are not going to change their position.
I am forced to preach the verse that I am current's in and not back down from what I believe it says. As a pastor/teacher I have been given the responsibility to teach the word as I have studied it.
• to think,
• to have an understanding,
• to reason the thing out thoroughly.
Sanctification happens in our life as Philippians 2:12-13 tell us, but as I have said, we have to put forth the effort to think on the spiritual things of the Word of God and then God gives us the will to do His will for His good pleasure.
“The word discipline was disappeared from our minds, our mouths, our pulpits, and our culture. We hardly know what discipline means in modern American society. And yet, there is no other way to attain godliness. Discipline is the path to godliness.”
- Jay Adams
Concerning discipline two things must be understood:
1. Discipline is the necessary key to accomplishing anything in this life.
2. Discipline without direction and desire is drudgery.
That is true in regards to any kind of discipline, but it is especially true concerning the spiritual disciplines. Discipline is not an end to itself, it’s the means to an end. Referring again to 1 Timothy 4:7-8 we learn that spiritual discipline is for the purpose of godliness.
There was the NASCAR Daytona 500,
There was the NBA All Stars
There was the Winter Olympics
There was the PBA Masters Bowling
There was the NHRA Funny Car Race
There was the College Basketball
There was the Tennis Games
There was the PGA Golf
And Rivers of Joy Baptist Church in Minford Ohio was having a great time in their services.
Of course you would expect the pastor/teacher to say that. Well know always. But there are times you might say the worship, fellowship and services were a bit better.
So what would make one service better than another when you are doing the same things each week? The singing is always good, the fellowship is always good. And generally I really enjoy teaching and preaching each week.
And the attendance should not be a factor, having visitors is always a good sign, and people not walking out while I preach is a good sign. Kidding.
We do have a really small church. Really small. But again we have a great group of people who do love the Lord and generally love to fellowship and like hearing the teaching of the word of God.
One member said to a former member last week. "You know, our problem before was that we were not getting spiritually feed by the Word of God, and we are now."
I know personally that the joy I had Sunday was as much joy as any of the winners had in the sporting events mention above.
GOD IS HOLY – So He always does what’s right.
GOD IS LOVING – So He is always concerned with our best.
GOD IS GRACIOUS – So He always forgives.
GOD IS MERCIFUL – So He always holds back the fullness of judgment.
GOD IS JUST –So He is always fair.
GOD IS GENEROUS – So He always gives more than enough.
- No form of leadership a pastor provides is more decisive than his proclamation of Scripture. Preaching both defines the priorities for your church and fuels the implementation of those priorities in the church. We must never sever the connection in our minds between leadership—providing direction for the church—and your preaching plan. It’s that preaching plan, and its execution, that provide the most powerful and biblically rooted leadership. And I’m not just speaking about the “leadership opportunity” on any given Sunday. The preaching diet over a period of time will be the most formative, shaping influence on a church.
- If all this is true, what then? If you’re a senior pastor, then nothing you do this week is more important than, nor should it supplant, your prayerful preparation for the preaching of God’s Word. If you serve on a pastoral team with a specialized sphere of ministry, you should be thinking about how the Sunday preaching can be applied in the life of the church in your sphere. If you’re a member of a church, there is no more important moment for you than when you sit under the teaching of God’s Word, hearing his voice, and receiving direction for your life as a part of your church.
- THUS PREACHING THE WORD OF GOD IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE PASTOR/TEACHER'S MINISTRY FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH BODY.
WHAT ARE SOME PRACTICAL WAYS TO GLORIFY THE LORD?
BY CONFESSING JESUS AS LORD: Philippians 2:11
BY MAKING IT OUR GOAL TO GLORIFY HIM 1 Corinthians 10:31
BY CONFESSING OUR SIN Joshua 7:19
BY TRUSTING IN HIM Romans 4:20
BY PRAISING HIM Psalms 50:23; Psalms 145
BY PRAYING John 14:13
BY MINISTERING OUR GIFTS 1Peter 4:10-11
BY PROCLAIMING THE WORD 2 Thess 3:1; 1 Thess 1:8
BY MORAL PURITY 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
BY TELLING PEOPLE ABOUT CHRIST 2 Corinthians 4:15
BY BEARING MUCH FRUIT John 5:8; John 15:5, 15:16
2. Tradition is a wonderful servant but a terrible master.
3. God blesses preaching that is scriptural, personal, and evangelical.
4. Do not neglect the Lord's Supper.
5. Fear God, not people.
6. Doctrinal fidelity and evangelistic fervor do not have to be at odds.
7. Passion and courage are no excuses for a harsh spirit.
Charles E. Whisnant, Pastor/Teacher
Philippians 2:13 for it is (3SPAI) God who is at work (PAPMSN) in you, both to will (PAN) and to work (PAN) for His good pleasure
Work (1754) (energeo from energes = active, operative, at work in turn from en = in + érgon = work)
- refers to active, efficient, effectual fervent work. God energizes His children to obey and serve Him; His power enables their sanctification.
1B The Christian working 100% out what is on the inside.
2B The Lord working 100% on what is on the inside.
Remember: Whatever is being produced in your life for the glory of God is being produced by God, He is at work in you. So which one is it? You or God bringing about your salvation?
FIVE KEY TRUTHS ABOUT GOD WE MUST UNDERSTAND.
1B HIS PERSON: It is God in person working in you.
2B HIS POWER: It is God’s power who is working in you.
- It is God who is energizing the fulfillment of His own command in us.
3B HIS PRESENCE: It is God who is in you, working out His will.
- Acts 1:8; I Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Psalms 139:3
His presence is always present in your life from the first day to the last day on earth and into eternity. Always sustaining, supporting, upholding, strengthening, shielding, never out of His care.
4B HIS PURPOSE: He is trying to develop something very specific in us. Thus He is working in us both to will and do His good pleasure.
BOTH TO WILL AND TO WORK: kai to thelein (PAN) kai to energein (PAN):
• 1 King 8:58; 1 Chro 29:14-18; Ezra 1:1,5, 7:27; Nehemiah 2:4; Psalms 110:3; 119:36; Psalms 141:4; Proverbs 21:1; John 6:45, 65; Ephesians 2:4-5; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; Titus 3:4-5; I Peter 1:3
There are two things God wants to energize in us!
- Our Will and
- Our Work.
- Psalms 110:3; Ezra 1:5; 7:27; Proverbs 21:1
- God is working in you on your will to produce the intent, the will to do what He desires.
HOW DOES GOD PRODUCE IN US TO MOVE OUR WILL?
1B HOLY DISCONTENT:
- You are discontent with your holiness, your spiritual state. He wants you to hate sin.
2B HOLY ASPIRATION:
- A Strong desire to achieve something higher or greater: knowledge, wisdom, to be like Paul, Peter, James and John
3B HIS PLEASURE:
- Why is God doing all this in you…..for His good pleasure. For His satisfaction. He wants to cause us to do what pleases Him.
Pastor/Teacher Charles E. Whisnant
Romans 1:22 Professing (PAPMPN) to be wise, they became fools (3SPAPI)
Romans 1:23 and exchanged (3PAAI) the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures
- PROFESSING (alleging, asserting, affirming) TO BE WISE: phaskontes (PAPMPN) einai (PAN) sophoi:
- (Ro 11:25; Pr 25:14; 26:12; Is 47:10; Jer 8:8,9; 10:14; Mt 6:23; 1Co 1:19, 20, 21; 3:18,19)
• For contempt of others.
• For unwillingness to forsake sin.
• For falsely professing to follow Christ.
• For assuming Jewish lineage can save.
• For rejecting the Messengers of Christ
• For failing to fear and reverence God.
- God has a right to judge: Romans 1:18-23.
- Paul gives FOUR REASONS FOR THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD’S JUDGMENT:
- God has given the truth of God.
- Man is responsible for responding properly to the revelation of God:
- • Acts 14:15, 17:23,27, John 1:9
- 1. Men have rejected the revealed creation of God, and refuse to thank and glorify Him.
- 2. Rejecting the light of God’s knowledge in their consciences, men now arrogated to themselves wisdom, and became—what? Fools! “The fear of the Lord is the beginning”—of both knowledge and wisdom (Pr 1:7; 9:10; 15:33; Ps 111:10-; Job 28:28).
1B Professing (5335) (phasko from phemi = to say or affirm) means to affirm, allege, pretend, profess. The idea conveyed by this verb is that one is speaking with an air of certainty, stating something with a high degree of confidence The English word assert which means to affirm or declare positively or with assurance and often even forcefully or aggressively. The idea of assert implies stating confidently without need for proof or regard for evidence.
- Man rationalizes his sin and proves his utter foolishness by devising and believing his own philosophies about God, the universe, and himself
- Rejecting the light of God’s knowledge in their consciences, men now arrogated to themselves wisdom, and became—what? Fools! “The fear of the Lord is the beginning”—of both knowledge and wisdom (Pr 1:7; 9:10; 15:33; Ps 111:10-; Job 28:28).
THREE WAYS THEY HAVE BECOME FOOLS:
1B COMPROMISE: THEISTIC EVOLUTION:
2B LIBERAL THEOLOGY:
IS THE TEACHING AND LEARNING DOCTRINE IMPORTANT?
Pastor/Teacher Charles E. Whisnant
One of the fundamental marks of liberalism is its constant attack against "doctrine." A growing number of people are now saying, "Doctrine is not important. Jesus is important. Let's lay aside our petty doctrinal differences and get back to Jesus."
Bible doctrine is SO IMPORTANT that God made sure 2 John 9-11 was recorded: "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." If doctrine is not important, then these verses do not mean anything. Doctrine is of utmost importance!
The word doctrine means: "instruction, teaching." Therefore, the "doctrine of Christ" is the instruction or teaching that Christ gave. Is the teaching of Christ important? Is the truth important? Is sound doctrine important? YES! A thousand times YES!
Just how important is the doctrine or teaching of Christ? Paul told Timothy to "give attendance to...doctrine" and "charge some that they teach no other doctrine" (1 Timothy 4:13,16; 1:). Titus was told to "speak the things which become sound doctrine" (Titus 2:). Paul warned that some " will not endure sound doctrine" (2 Timothy 4:3), that we are as "children" when we are "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:), and to "mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine" (Romans 16:17). Elders are to be able "by sound doctrine both to exhort and convict the gainsayers" (Titus 1:9). Every Christian is to "hold fast the form of sound words" (doctrine) and "earnestly contend for the faith" (doctrine) (2 Timothy 1:13 Jude 3). Therefore, we see not only the importance of doctrine but also the strict warning to anyone who would pervert or change Christ's doctrine.
If doctrine is unimportant, then what parts can be changed? Can we do away with the doctrine of: the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, the church of Christ, the acts of worship, the plan of salvation? If any point of doctrine can be changed, then WHO has the right to change it and HOW FAR can he go in changing it? Let's submit to Christ's doctrine, for therein only do we purify our souls (1 Peter 1:22).
"We believe that Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which he graciously regenerates, sanctifies, and saves sinners; that being perfectly consistent with the free agency of man, it comprehends all the means in connection with the end; that it is a most glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, being infinitely free, wise, holy, and unchangeable; that it utterly excludes boasting, and promotes humility, love, prayer, praise, trust in God, and active imitation of his free mercy; that it encourages the use of means in the highest degree; that it is ascertained by its effects in all who truly believe the gospel; that it is the foundation of Christian assurance; and that to ascertain it with regard to ourselves, demands and deserves our utmost diligence." (Ibid, p. 364)
It has always seemed to me that any Baptist group, wishing to stand with the mainstream of the venerable Baptist past and desiring to be true to the gospel, would be proud to include such a biblical and Baptistic statement in its Articles of Faith. In fact, if purposely done, it seems to me to be historically dishonest to have omitted it, particularly when such Articles were and are set forth as representing the historic Baptist position.
• "The silliness of these "modern" shallow-pan days! How men are rushing back to the old pagan pit out of which God’s Word and His gospel would have delivered them!
• They suck up sin; they welter in wickedness; they profess to be wise! They sit at the feet of "professors" whose breath is spiritual cyanide. They idolize the hog-sty doctrines of a rotten Freud: and count themselves "wise"!
• They say, "God is not a person; men evolved from monkeys; morals are mere old habits; self- enjoyment, self-expression, indulgence of all desires—this, " they say, "is the path of wisdom."
• It is the path of those who go quickly down to the pit and on to judgment!
• The very morals of Sodom, as our Lord foretold, are rushing fast upon us, and God will bring again the awful doom of Sodom (Lk 17:28-31).
• This is a strange introduction to the gospel of God’s grace, we answer, It lies here before us, this awful indictment of Romans One, and cannot be evaded!
• Moreover, until man knows his state of sin, he wants no grace. Shall pardon be spoken of before
the sinner is proved a sinner?
• While the evidence is being brought in, the whole attention of the court is upon that.
• If the evidence of guilt be insufficient or inconclusive, there is no necessity for a pardon!
• Preachers and teachers have soft pedaled sin, until the fear Of God is vanishing away.
• McCheyne used to Say, "A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hands of God" A preacher who avoids telling men the truth about their sin as here revealed, is the best tool of the devil. (2Ti 4:3, 4, Acts 20:30, Heb 13:9)"
The gospel of Christ in general is this: It is the good tidings that God has revealed concerning Christ. More largely it is this: As all mankind was lost in Adam and became the children of wrath, put under the sentence of death, God, though He left His fallen angels and has reserved them in the chains of eternal darkness, yet He has thought upon the children of men and has provided a way of atonement to reconcile them to Himself again...Namely, the second person of the Trinity takes man's nature upon Himself, and becomes the Head of a second covenant, standing charged with sin. He answers for it by suffering what the law and divine justice required, and by making satisfaction by keeping the law perfectly, which satisfaction and righteousness He tenders up to the Father as a sweet savor of rest for the souls that are given to Him...And now this mediation of Christ is, by the appointment of the Father, preached to the children of men, of whatever nation or rank, freely offering this atonement unto sinners for atonement, requiring them to believe in Him and, upon believing, promising not only a discharge of all their former sins, but that they shall not enter into condemnation, that none of their sins or unworthiness shall ever hinder the peace of God with them, but that they shall through Him be received into the number of those who shall have the image of God again to be renewed unto them, and they they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
- Charles H. Spurgeon sermons has been used by more preachers than any other preacher I think. I remember on of my first experience preaching outside my home church was in North Caroline, at my father's friends church. That Sunday Morning I preached a sermon that Charles Spurgeon had preached. I was only about 17 years old. I had no idea of the impact of Charles Spurgeon. I knew that Dad had a set of his sermons in his own library and I was reading the sermons. So I thought it would be good to take on of the sermons and try to preach it. Of course I had not been to seminary and had little idea about the art of preaching. But that was the beginning of my learing to preach.
Simply recording Spurgeon's messages was a labor-intensive process in those days before electronic sound-capture was commonplace. Spurgeon spoke extemporaneously, without the use of a manuscript. (He normally took only half a used envelope or a similar scrap of paper into the pulpit with him, containing just a handwritten, bare-bones outline.) Two or three stenographers would record his words as he spoke. Their transcriptions would be compared and combined, insuring that very few words were missed. Then either Spurgeon himself (usually), his trusted secretary (especially in later years), or another qualified editor (beginning around the turn of the century) would edit the transcript for publication. I own several pages of edited transcripts with emendations scrawled into the margins by Spurgeon's own distinctive hand, and he was a meticulous editor. (It is some consolation to me as a rather halting preacher to see that some of the stunning eloquence of the published sermons was added during the editorial process. All that genius wasn't straight off the top of Spurgeon's head when he preached-though much of it was.) The task of editing and proofreading sermons was a massive one, and the stress of so many relentless deadlines no doubt complicated Spurgeon's frequent health problems. It may well have hastened his death.
God’s Begetting Causes Our Believing
John says this plainly in 1 John 5:1. This is the clearest text in the New Testament on the relationship between faith and the new birth. Watch the verbs closely as I read 1 John 5:1, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.”
Here is what John Stott says on this verse, and I agree totally:
- The combination of present tense (believes) and perfect tense [has been born] is important. It shows clearly that believing is the consequence, not the cause, of the new birth. Our present, continuing activity of believing is the result, and therefore, the evidence, of our past experience of new birth by which we became and remain God’s children. (The Letters of John, 175)
The Divine Power of God in and through the preaching/teaching of the Gospel when connected with the spiritual deadness of man’s heart and at that moment is awakened to the reality of Jesus Christ. Believing happens; faith is activated when the New Birth occurs.
We hope at least once a month we can make this a church activity. Maybe I will get in form after a few months.