The Ghastly Doctrine of the Carnal Christian
To understand what the Bible teaches about genuine salvation we must also have a category in our minds for false conversion. Many who profess faith in Christ are not truly regenerated (born again).
The following is a transcript from an excerpt of a sermon by Dr. R. C. Sproul concerning Mark chapter 4 and the Parable of the Sower. Quoting the text Dr. Sproul says:
And the ones sown on stony ground are those who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; but they have no root and endure only for a time…
What I see here theologically is a vivid description of “the Spurious Conversion.” We see it all the time, where the Evangelist gives his altar call and the people rush to the front of the Church, sign the commitment card, they raise their hand, they make the profession of faith, they are all excited, they are filled with joy and the next day its “business as usual”…
I’ll never forget the night I was converted to Christ. My best friend and I were together. Before we went to bed, later that night we both sat down and wrote to our girlfriends about our conversion. When we woke up in the morning, my friend had completed repudiated what he had embraced with joy the night before - where my life was changed forever.
Its always haunted me, where I see people initially respond to the gospel but it doesn’t take root, it doesn’t last. The gospel says “immediately” that seed withers and dies because it has no place to take root.
Then Jesus said that some of those of the seed fell among thorns and the thorns grew up and choked it and it yielded no crop.
Again we see an example of a spurious conversion – how somebody who makes the profession of faith but is immediately intoxicated by the enticements of this world – the quest of money, fame, lust, whatever it is; and what they professed is choked out, never taking root again.
Beloved this is why, until you’re tired of hearing it, I keep warning you and telling you that no one was ever, ever justified by a profession of faith. We must possess that faith in order to be justified. That seed has to take root in our hearts if we are to enter the kingdom of God. A superficial profession of faith is no sign of true redemption.
One of the most ghastly doctrines that has made its way through the Evangelical Church today is this idea of the “carnal Christian.” The Carnal Christian is described as a person who is truly redeemed but whose life never brings forth fruit. Even though they’re saved they are still altogether and completely carnal. Don’t confuse this with what the New Testament teaches about the TRULY converted Christian who has to fight against his flesh all of his life. But there’s no such thing as a Christian who is totally carnal. It’s a contradiction in terms.
But why does that doctrine emerge? I’ll tell you where it comes from. It comes from Evangelists who can’t stand to admit the idea that they are dealing with false professions all the time. They see people who make the profession and have no change in their life and they say “well, we’ll still count them as converts. They’re just carnal Christians.” And this gives confidence to people who are not converted that in fact they are converted.
But if the parable really is going to be called the parable of the soil, then we have to understand the ONLY ONES who bring forth fruit, the harvest of thirtyfold, sixtyfold and a hundredfold, are those where the seed falls upon good soil.
Now here’s where we have to be very, very careful. We could say “well the good soil means that the seed is not going to take root unless the person who receives that seed, who hears that word is a good person. “I’m a Christian because I believed the word and the reason why I believe the word is because I am a good man.” If that’s how I think, I’ve never received the word at all.
That’s not the point of this parable.
What makes the soil “good” soil?
Divine Election by Dr. James Montgomery Boice
This outstanding message by Dr. James Montgomery Boice comes from the 1997 Ligonier National Conference "Essential Truths of the Christian Faith." It is superb! MP3 found here.
Confessions of a Former "Word of Faith" Pastor
Repost: I was, for quite some time, a pastor in the “word of faith” movement. Back in September (2014), I had the privilege of guest hosting on Dr. James White's 'dividing line' broadcast and got to share something of an insider’s guide, as well as the powerful biblical truths God used to alert me to the gross deception. The youtube video (below) has now had more than 5,000 views and the feedback received has been most encouraging. The Lord seems to be using the teaching to help a good many people. If you know of someone still enamored with or caught up in the "health and wealth gospel", perhaps this video is something that you might feel you can share with them. May God be pleased to open many eyes to His truth. - John Samson
The Sufficiency of Scripture to Diagnose and Cure Souls By David Powlison
How do destructive people become constructive? How do out-of-control people
become fruitfully self-controlled? How do rigid people become flexible? How do drifty people learn focus? How do hopeless people grow in hope? How do angry people learn to make peace? And even before we can ask How? We must ask, Why are troubled people troubled? What’s wrong with us? In modern society, Scripture’s way of explaining and engaging people has been largely displaced. What must be done to recover the centrality of Scripture for helping people to grow up into the image of Christ? How can face-to face “helping” relationships be reconfigured to serve as instruments of the only enduring wisdom and the only true humanity?
To recover the centrality of Scripture for the cure of souls demands two things: conviction backed up with content. The conviction? Scripture is about understanding and helping people. The scope of Scripture’s sufficiency includes those face-to-face relationships that our culture labels “counseling” or “psychotherapy.” The content?
The problems, needs, and struggles of real people—right down to the details—must be rationally explained by the categories with which the Bible teaches us to understand human life. Conviction alone simply waves a flag and eventually degrades into sloganeering. But convictions demonstrated in action, convictions shown to be penetrating, comprehensive, and subtle, will edify the teachable and even persuade the skeptical. The church needs persuading that the conviction is true. A key ingredient in such persuasion will be to parade the riches of Scripture for curing souls. In the pages that follow, we will look first at the conviction that Scripture is about “problems in living.” We will then explore one small bit of content, the term, “lusts of the flesh.” This phrase is central to how God explains us. It cuts to the root of our problems in living, but it has languished in near uselessness.
Conviction: Systematic Biblical Counseling
What is a genuinely biblical view of the problems of the human soul and the procedures of ministering grace? Such a view must establish a number of things. First, we must ask, does Scripture give us the materials and call to construct something that might fairly be called “systematic biblical counseling.” In fact, we do have the goods for a coherent and comprehensive practical theology of face-to face ministry. Scripture is dense with explanations, with instructions, with implications. We have much work to do to understand and to articulate the biblical “model.” But we don’t have to make it up or borrow from models that others have made up as ways to explain people. In many places, the Holy Spirit reflects on the sufficiency of the treasure that He has created through His prophets and apostles.
For example, in one classic passage Scripture proclaims itself as that which makes us “wise unto salvation.” This is a comprehensive description of transforming human life from all that ails us (2 Tim. 3:15-17). This same passage goes on to speak of the Spirit’s words as purposing to teach us. The utter simplicity and unsearchable complexity of Scripture enlightens us about God, about ourselves, about good and evil, true and false, grace and judgment, about the world that surrounds us with its many forms of suffering and beguilement, with its opportunities to shed light into darkness. Through such teaching, riveted to particular people in particular situations, God exposes in specific detail what is wrong with human life. No deeper or truer or better analysis of the
human condition can be concocted.
Written in 1989, and now updated in an acoustic style, Amazing Love (My Lord what love is this) is performed by Graham Kendrick, Mark Prentice (Double Bass) and Terl Bryant (Percussion) - re-recorded here for 2011's "The Very Best of Graham Kendrick". This song expresses the heart of the converted soul:
My Lord What Love Is This
That Pays So Dearly
That I, The Guilty One May Go Free!
Amazing Love, O What Sacrifice
The Son Of God Given For Me
My Debt He Pays And My Death He Dies
That I Might Live
That I Might Live
And So They Watched Him Die
But Oh, The Blood He Shed Flowed For Me
And Now This Love Of Christ
Shall Flow Like Rivers
Come Wash Your Guilt Away, Live Again!
One dictionary defines the word “protocol” as “the official procedure of rules governing affairs of state or diplomatic occasions.” In meeting any high ranking dignitary there is an understood etiquette which need to be learned and adopted or else there might be dire consequences.
Allow me to give you an example of protocol as it relates to interaction with the Queen. At Buckingham Palace, in London, should you be given the privilege of an invitation to have an audience with her Majesty, you cannot just walk in to the Palace unannounced. A time and date is scheduled. Bear in mind that it is highly offensive to be late for your meeting.
Before the actual audience takes place,you would be escorted into a room where for several minutes a Palace official will explain correct procedure and protocol. These include the following:
When the Queen enters a room, all in attendance are to stand.
Men are to bow, women are to curtsy (U.S.A. citizens need not comply with this - only the Queen's subjects under her rule).
When first meeting the Queen, she should be addressed as “Your Majesty” and then afterwards as “Ma’am.”
If her Majesty is accompanied by her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, it should be noted that by rank, he is lower than the Queen, and should be addressed as “Your Royal Highness” rather than “Your Majesty.” After this initial greeting he may be addressed as “Sir” and then, when departing as “Your Royal Highness” again.
Should you be eating a meal with the Queen in attendance, when the Queen stops eating, all others should stop eating also.
Regarding shaking hands, you must wait until the Queen extends her hand towards you. You are not to initiate contact (offering a handshake). Definitely, there are to be no hugs, kisses on the cheek or the touching of the shoulder.
In conversation, allow her Majesty to initiate any conversation with you.
Never, for any reason, turn your back on the Queen.
If this is the protocol for interaction with an earthly ruler, what does the Bible say regarding protocol for God Himself, the King of kings and Lord of lords?
The Law and the Gospel
“I do not believe that any man can preach the gospel who does not preach the law. The law is the needle, and you cannot draw the silken thread of the gospel through a man's heart unless you first send the needle of the law to make way for it. If men do not understand the law, they will not feel that they are sinners. And if they are not consciously sinners, they will never value the sin offering. There is no healing a man till the law has wounded him, no making him alive till the law has slain him.” - C.H. Spurgeon
Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus by D.A. Carson Part 1
In the passage in front of us, Paul talks about the solution, how we are just before God. The controlling expression in this paragraph is “the righteousness of God” . The expression, which would be rendered “the justice of God or “the justification of God”, occurs four times in these six verses. The verb to justify occurs an additional two times, and the adjective just or righteous occurs once. This whole passage has to do with how a person can be considered just before this hold God, granted that our condition is miserable as it is made out of to be in the first two and half chapters. To get at the heart of Paul’s solution, we will reflection on the four steps that he establishes in his argument.
“But now” introduces something new into Paul’s argument. This is not just a logical transition: “but now, at this step in the argument…” Paul can use “but now” in diverse ways, but in this context the expression means, “But now, at this point in the stream of redemptive history”. Something new has come along.
What is the nature of the change that Paul here envisages? In the past there was something else, “but now” what is there? A popular but misguided view is that in the OT God was especially wrathful, “but now” in the NT God is especially love and gracious. The argument runs like this: in the old covenant, God demonstrated himself in righteous wrath, not least in famines, plagues, and war. Now, however, under the terms of the new covenant established by the cross, God displays a gentler side to his character in the gospel. Many Christians think that in the OT God is almost bad-tempered, while in the NT Jesus tells his followers to turn the other check—and he himself goes to the cross on our behalf. So when Paul introduces his paragraph with the words “but now”, he is preparing to paint a portrait of God that is a little softer than what is found in the NT.
The Trinity and Worship
Graham Kendrick shares some thoughts as a worship leader about the doctrine of the Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Access all areas! Sometimes we can lose the wonder and the awe of the fact that we can worship God at all - that we are welcomed into His presence. We must understand that our only access to be able to come before God is through Christ - The Worship Leader.
When People are Big and God is small By Ed Welch
There are many other biblical themes and passages that direct us to the fear of the Lord. The gospel of Mark, however, is the book of amazement. It is constantly saying that Jesus amazed those who witnessed his ministry. This amazement did not always lead to reverent submission, but it is Mark’s way of teaching us that Jesus is the Holy one, God in the flesh.
Mark’s basic them is that Jesus amazed people by both his teaching and his miraculous deeds. He starts this immediately: “The people were amazed at his teaching” (Mark 1:22). Mark’s gospel proceeds to show Jesus’ demonstrating authority over evil spirits (1:27). Then, when Jesus told the paralytic that his sins were forgiven and he could walk, everyone was amazed and praised God (2:12).
The next story of amazement took the disciples back to the creation account and the creative word of God. Crowds were already following Jesus to the point where a boat was one of the few places he could rest. “Let us go over to the other side,” Jesus said to his disciples. After they rowed beyond view of the shore, a furious storm came up, threatening to capsize the boat. Waves were already breaking over the sides and the boat was filling up with water. How Jesus could ever sleep through such an even seems superhuman in itself, but that is not what caused the amazement. When the disciples could finally shake him awake, Jesus spoke to his creation, “Quite! Be Still!” And the water became flat as grass.
Prior to this time, the disciples had seen and heard many things. They had witnessed many miraculous healings, and they had heard teaching that elicited as much awe from the crowds as did the miracles. But this is the first time that Mark talks about the disciples responses. How would you respond if you were standing next to the Creator God and heard him speak to his creation? Don’t forget, even the words of the seraphim could shake the temple. “They were terrified”, Mark says about the disciples. They did not feel relief or happiness that they would live and not even lose their boat. They were terrified. What a wonderful response. It was ideal for people being schooled in the fear of the Lord.