Volume 1, Number 5, Special Edition



Justification by Faith and the Charismatic Movement


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New Religious Boundary Lines: Editorial
Subjectivism and the Everlasting Gospel
Justification by Faith and the Baptism of the Spirit
Questionnaire – The Great Issues of the Reformation
The Great Issues of the Reformation
Protestant Revivalism, Pentecostalism, and the Drift Back to Rome
By Blood and by Water

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Editorial:


New Religious Boundary Lines



          When the armies of Napoleon began to overrun the historic European boundaries, William Pitt stood up in the British parliament and cried, "Roll up the map of Europe. It will not be wanted for ten years."

          The charismatic movement is on an unprecedented rampage through the churches of the United States. It is crossing all denominational boundary lines, even blurring the distinction between Catholic and Protestant. Roll up the historical denominational distinctions. There is going to be a regrouping along new religious boundary lines.

          The charismatic movement (which embraces Pentecostalism, neo-Pentecostalism, the Jesus movement and most American revivalism) is not a passing fad. The editors and publishers of this magazine believe that it is a definite fulfillment of Bible prophecy (Rev. 13:13, 14); and, without rashness or rancor, we must candidly state our convictions that it is destined to sweep the whole world into the delusive frenzy of an anti-gospel religious excitement.

          We also want to make clear our position that many good Christian people are involved in different phases of the charismatic movement. They do not see that it is leading back to the religious philosophy of the medieval church and the Dark Ages, or that it is absolutely inimical to every eternal principle of the Protestant Reformation. We hope that many of these sincere people will read this magazine. To them we make the appeal, "Come, let us reason together." No one can confront the realities of the everlasting gospel and remain a part of the modern charismatic movement.


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          Churches and religious leaders are deeply divided over the Pentecostal issue. In the last two months, this editor has received volumes of mail from Protestant ministers. Some Lutheran ministers are ashamed of their Protestant heritage, and they feel that the charismatic movement is the true Reformation in contrast to the one of the sixteenth century. Other Lutheran ministers are enthusiastically behind our efforts to restore the primacy, supremacy and all-sufficiency of the Reformation doctrine of righteousness by faith. Some Methodist clergymen are wholly for ecumenism, for the charismatic movement and for burying the great religious issues of the past, while other Methodist ministers praise God for a voice to uphold the objective gospel. And there are Baptists for and Baptists against the charismatic movement. We agree with one minister who wrote to us, exclaiming, "American Protestantism is drowning in a sea of religious subjectivism!"

          Many descendants of the Reformation now feel guilty about the use of the word Protestant. It has become a dirty word. Was Paul Tillich right when, about twenty years ago, he observed that the Protestant era had come to an end? During the summer of 1972, while in the U.S., we made out a simple five-point questionnaire which dealt with the most basic issues between the medieval church and the Reformation. Sample pollings showed that ninety-five per cent of the "Jesus People" were decidedly medieval and anti-Reformation in their thinking. And among churchgoing Protestants the ratings were nearly as high.

          We could not state the situation better than the words of a Lutheran pastor who wrote to us, saying, "I believe that the last times are marked by the opportunity to hear the Word as never before, paralleled by the deception of Satan which causes men, in the clear light of noonday, to be more blind, stupid and unbelieving than ever before."

          In this special issue of Present Truth, we have documented the material presented in seminar by this editor. We trust that the written presentation will bring forth the same earnest and enthusiastic response that was given the oral presentations.

 

– This editorial was written by the former editor and appears in Present Truth Vol. 1, #5.






Subjectivism and the Everlasting Gospel


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          "And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself." Gen. 3:9, 10.


          This brief dialogue illustrates the stark contrast between the character of God and the character of the natural man. God is concerned for man. Man is concerned only for himself. Through sin he has become the wretched victim of subjectivism.

          The worst form of subjectivism is religious subjectivism. Man is a sinner precisely because his own experience is the center of his concern; but how much worse when this tendency is stimulated and "sanctified" by religion. A few weeks ago, while on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley, I saw a poster advertising an Eastern religion. The caption read:


          "You go in and in and in,

          And then you go in and in and in,

          And after that you go in and in and in and in."


          Eastern religions are not the only ones that "go in and in and in." Subjectivism is the common denominator of all false religions. Instead of curing the sin problem, they make men prisoners within themselves many times more than before.



The Objective Nature of the Gospel

 

          God's cure for subjectivism is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Says the apostle Paul:


            "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." 1 Cor. 15:1-4.


          The Christian religion is unique in that it is the only historical religion; i.e., it proclaims a salvation that is based on concrete historical events: the life, death and resurrection of Christ. It is not centered in the worshiper's own experience but in the saving acts of God in Christ – historical acts that were accomplished outside, above and beyond the sinner's own life. The gospel message is therefore an objective reality.

          Paul's statement of the gospel is all the more remarkable when we consider it in the context of his first letter to the Corinthians. The church at Corinth had become confused about spiritual gifts. Ecstatic religious demonstrations and marvelous experiences were thought to be the proof of the higher Christian life. In chapters 12 to 14 Paul uses a variety of arguments to point out the fallacy of this "charismatic" distortion. But his crowning argument is in chapter 15. He calls the Corinthians back to reconsider the gospel. They were in danger of apostasy (2 Cor. 11:3, 4).

          Paul's definition of the gospel seems to be startlingly simplistic: Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day. This statement of the gospel makes no reference to religious experience at all. The Corinthians were already far too preoccupied with their "marvelous" religious experiences. Paul seems to be saying to them, "You who are making your boast in your high and mighty experiences are forgetting the gospel which brings you salvation. None of your charismatic experiences are able to save you or recommend you to God's favor."



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          The human tendency is to forget the objective gospel and gravitate back to subjectivism. The heretic says, "Who doesn't know that Jesus died and rose again? We can't be forever talking about this. We must rise higher." Failing to see the glory of the mystery of Christ, he does not see that there is no truth or experience higher than the revelation of Christ crucified.



Christ's Victory Is Our Victory


          Christ's death, burial and resurrection need to be considered in the light of His position as the second Adam.


            "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." 1 Cor. 15:21, 22.


            "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous." Rom. 5:18, 19.


          Adam was the first head of the human race. Because the whole human race was incorporated in him, he stood before God as if he were every man. When he sinned, the whole race of men became sinners in the sight of God. When he fell, all fell in him. We did not become sinners because of something we did or experienced but by something that happened completely outside of us in the person of Adam, i.e., by an historical, objective event.

          God did not redeem us by doing something within our experience. While we were dead in trespasses and sins, He gave us another Father (Isa. 9:6), a new Head, a second Adam. Christ now stood before the bar of eternal justice as the representative Man; for by His Incarnation, humanity was incorporated in Him as it was in Adam. He stood before God as if He were every man. When He lived, humanity lived in Him; when He was punished, humanity was punished in Him; when He died, humanity died in Him; and when He rose again, humanity was restored to God's favor in Him. All that a father does and acquires belongs to the children. As Luther declared in a sermon preached in 1519, "Therefore a man can with confidence boast in Christ and say: 'Mine are Christ's living, doing, and speaking, His suffering and dying; mine as much as if I had lived, done, spoken, and suffered, and died as He did.'" – Luther's Works (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1957), Vol. XXXI, p. 297.

          "...the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." Rom. 5:18. God's act of liberation in Christ includes all, even as Adam's fall includes all. In Christ, God has provided forgiveness for the race and reconciled the world unto Himself (Rom. 5:10). "...if One died for all, then were all dead." 2 Cor. 5:14. As Karl Barth has well said, "There is not one for whose sin and death He did not die, whose sin and death He did not obliterate on the cross, for whom He did not positively do the right, whose right He has not established. There is not one to whom this was not addressed as his justification in His resurrection from the dead. There is not one whose man He is not, who is not justified in Him." – Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1936), Vol. IV, Bk. 1, p. 630.

          A football fan goes to see a superbowl game. As he sits watching from the bleachers, his favorite star gets the ball and makes a spectacular touchdown. His team wins. The fan rises. from his seat, throws his hat into the air with ecstasy and cries, "We have won!" He does not hesitate to say "we" even though the whole game was won without any effort on his part. If people can become so excited over the exploits of a few men running around with a bit of pig skin, what profound joy should animate their hearts as they consider the greatest contest of all eternity! Christ, the Son of the eternal God, came to earth to take our very place in the arena of life and death. In our name and on our behalf He ran to the finish line to win for us an eternal victory. "It is finished!" he cried. By His death He destroyed sin – our sin (Heb. 1:3), crucified our old sinful nature (Rom. 6:6), defeated Satan – our foe (John 16:11; Heb. 2:14), abolished death (2 Tim. 1:10), perfected His people forever (Heb. 10:14) and brought in everlasting righteousness (Dan. 9:24). There is no more need to serve sin, obey our sinful nature, do Satan's bidding or fear death. Looking to Christ's substitutionary work, we can triumphantly cry, "We have won!"






          Picture a raging stream that we are required to cross in order to be saved. Treacherous rapids beat on murderous rocks and defy any hope of our swimming across. Then comes a mighty athlete who takes our cause upon himself. He plunges in and strikes across for the other shore. At times it seems that he must surely perish in the boiling, rocky stream. Finally he struggles up yonder bank and raises his arm in a salute of victory. Now Christ is not such a One who stands on the other side and cries, "I showed you how to do it. Now plunge in and do as I have done." When He crossed that river of death and destruction, we were in Him, and He carried humanity across in Himself. We triumphed in Him. That is the gospel.

          The gospel is about Christ (Rom. 1:3) – about His doing and dying, and about God's awesome act of redemption in Him. This historical, objective event is our salvation and the science and song of the unfallen worlds. Any human experience, other than Christ's experience for us, is very small by comparison and should never be the focal point of our concern, much less of our Christian witness. No wonder Paul declared to the experience-centered charismatics at Corinth, "I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." 1 Cor. 2:2.



The Work of the Holy Spirit


          Says one, "I know that the gospel is about what Christ did for me. But what about the Holy Spirit? The full gospel is the good news of what God does in me." Instead of leading men to bask in the light of the gospel, this "full gospel" leads multitudes to wallow and drown in a sea of subjectivism.

          Jesus said, "When He, the Spirit of truth, is come... He shall not speak of Himself... He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shew it unto you." John 16:13, 14.

          These comments by Victor Matthews are worthy of note:


            "'He shall not speak of Himself...' This means that the Holy Spirit will not draw attention to Himself. This profound statement, expressed so simply, indicates that the entire ministry of the Spirit is away from Himself. All endeavors, whether by the individual Christian or by a church or denomination, to place the Holy Spirit at the center of their attention and instruction is, therefore, under divine censure." – Victor Matthews, Growth in Grace (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1970), pp.99, 100.


          The Holy Spirit does not speak of Himself. Neither will anyone who is filled with the Spirit. Many times we have had people stand up in our forums and declare something like this: "I am a Spirit-filled believer. Now let me tell you about my experience..." They want to tell what it feels like to receive the Holy Spirit. Others write in detail about how the Spirit gives them marvelous religious sensations, as one clergyman said, "right down to the balls of my feet." But can we imagine Peter standing up on the Day of Pentecost, proclaiming, "Men and brethren, I have just received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and I want to tell you how wonderful it is. When it came upon me, it was like being thrilled with a vital electric current. I felt such a beautiful love and peace thrill through my whole body, right down to the balls of my feet..." On the contrary, Peter made no reference to himself or to his feelings. His message was Jesus Christ and Him crucified: "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a Man approved of God..." Acts 2:22.

          "He shall not speak of Himself." The great affirmation of the apostles was the gospel – God's act of redemption in Jesus Christ. They did not turn the world upside down by telling people about their own exciting experiences in the Spirit. (Pride is never so high as when it has a startling experience to relate, especially a religious experience!) The record says, "With great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all." Acts 4:33. In his Corinthian letters, Paul shows how repugnant it was to him to parade his experiences as the charismatic "apostles" did (see 2 Cor. 11).

          "He shall glorify Me." The Holy Spirit's work is to make men Christ-conscious. He never causes men to focus on their own subjective experiences but leads sinners out of themselves to behold what God has done outside of themselves in the person of Jesus Christ. In this the Spirit's work is objective.

          We have seen that the work of reconciliation has been done for all men. Christ was born, died and has risen for the sake of all. God's act of liberation in Jesus has been effected for all, and, as many as are found in Him, are justified (Rom. 5:18). However, all men have not as yet heard, received and possessed their possessions in Christ. Here is the Spirit's work. Without the work of the third Person of the Godhead, the sacrifice of Christ would be of no avail. Men must hear the gospel of what Christ has done, and they must be persuaded to believe and accept God's gracious provision in His Son. This is the Spirit's work. He comes to create faith by the preaching of the gospel. "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." 1 Cor. 2:12.

          Faith is not self-generated. Calvin expressed the view of all the Reformers when he said,"...faith is the principal work of the Holy Spirit." Again he says, "We have said that perfect salvation is found in the person of Christ. Accordingly, that we may become partakers of it, 'He baptizes us in the Holy Spirit and fire' [Luke 3:16], bringing us into the light of faith in His gospel..." – John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, (Philadelphia: the Westminster Press, 1960), Bk. III, pp. 541, 542.

          Salvation has been freely provided for all in Jesus. The Spirit works to draw all men unto Christ that they may be saved by faith. As Luther said, there is no reason why men should not believe the gospel. But in their resistance to the Spirit, men call God a liar and bring condemnation on their own heads (John 3:36; 1 John 5:10). The unpardonable sin is to believe not. If any reason could be given for it, it would not be unpardonable. We cannot explain it because it is "the mystery of iniquity."



Faith Is Objective


          We are called to be heirs of the righteousness which is of faith (Rom. 1:17; 4:13; Heb. 11:7). Faith – not feelings, euphoria, ecstasy or demonstrative spiritual exercises – is the principal work of the Spirit. Feelings, rapture and extraordinary spiritual manifestations are subjective. The Christian is not saved by them nor can he live in security before God by these things. But faith is objective. It is always "faith to God-ward" (1 Thess. 1:8). It is the eye of the soul. Like the eye, it cannot see itself. It looks to the glory of the person of Christ and appropriates His merit for the needy soul. There is no saving virtue in faith itself but in the object of faith – Christ Himself. Just as the football fan identifies himself with his favorite team and cries, "We have won!" so by faith the soul identifies with Christ and says, "When Christ lived, I lived in Him; when He died, I died in Him; and when He arose, I arose in Him. 'Mine are Christ's living, doing, and speaking, His suffering and dying; mine as much as if I had lived, done, spoken, and suffered, and died as he did'" (see Luther's Works, loc. cit.).

          Again we say, Faith is objective, for it glories alone in Christ's doing and dying. Although it is rooted in the heart, it rests upon something which is completely outside the heart. It is the eye of the soul that beholds the glory of Christ. And faith is the Spirit's work. When religious people are devoid of the "Spirit of faith," they try to find some confirmation and security in tangible demonstration; hence the temptation to put God to the test in the appeal for charismatic manifestations.

          Now faith, being a gift of God through the Spirit, becomes a living, busy, active principle in the life. As Paul explained to the Galatians, faith works by love (Gal. 5:6). Love is also objective. It "seeketh not her own" (1 Cor. 13:5). Self is not the center of its concern. It is self-forgetful, for faith has released the soul from the intolerable burden of looking for salvation within its own experience. Through Isaiah, God rebukes subjective religiosity and calls men to serve Him by unselfish service for others, feeling or no feeling:


            "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?" Isa. 58:6, 7.


          Love is obedient. Footnote Bible obedience is not a matter of following uncertain voices within our own hearts, confounding human impulse with the movings of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit teaches believers to obey God by conforming the life to the objective Word and law of God as the unerring, absolute standard of right and wrong.



Conclusion


          A popular religious song proclaims:


          "He lives, He lives...

          You ask me how I know He lives?

          He lives within my heart."


At best, that is a very subjective criterion for truth. Karl Barth was once asked what was the most profound thought he had discovered in a lifetime of study. He replied:


          "Jesus loves me! this I know,

          For the Bible tells me so...."


That old song for children proclaims a theology infinitely better than that of the other because its criterion of truth is objective.

          The gospel of Christ is objective, for it points the sinner (a victim of subjectivism) to something which is completely outside of his own experience. The Holy Spirit comes to cause him to make the experience of Christ the foundation of his hope and crown of his rejoicing. By beholding the glory of Christ through the revelation of the Spirit, he is brought out of himself to live in Jesus Christ. His life has a new center. He is delivered from the prison of subjectivism. This is what Paul means when he says, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Cor. 5:17.


– This article was written by the former editor and appears in Present Truth Vol. 1, #5.







Justification by Faith

and the

Baptism of the Spirit




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          When we consider the message of Saint Paul, one word stands out – justification. His letter to the Romans is the great beacon light on the doctrine of justification.

          The words justify and justification are legal words, closely related to the idea of a court trial and judgment. Justification with God implies that one has stood before the divine court and has been declared just, or righteous.

          Being a legal word, justification is also closely related to law. The divine court has a holy, just and good law (Rom. 7:12) which must be reckoned with in the matter of justification. At the outset of his epistle, the apostle declares, "...the doers of the law shall be justified." Rom. 2:13. The law demands perfect obedience, and unless this demand is met, no man will ever be justified.

          The human predicament, however, is that absolutely no man can render an obedience that will satisfy the law. "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." Rom. 3:20. Let a man climb the alpine heights of holy living, and the law will say, "Not good enough." A man might just as well reach up and touch the stars as satisfy the law with his obedience. Not only is it true that "all have sinned," but all "continue to come short Footnote of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).

          Thus does Paul use the law to level all men and show that a man has to look outside of his own experience for justification.



Three Objective Aspects of Justification


          The justification of sinners is the work of the Triune God (Rom. 8:33). As there are three Persons in the Deity, so there are three aspects to God's way of declaring men righteous. It is said to be:


                    by grace – (the Father),

                    by Christ – (the Son),

                    by faith – (the Spirit).


            "Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." Rom. 3:24, 25.


          By Grace. Grace in this context is not a quality infused into man but is simply God's attitude of favor and mercy toward undeserving sinners. Justifying grace is qualified by the word freely, which is elsewhere translated "without a cause." Grace therefore is unearned and unmerited. The sinner must not look for it in his own heart but only in the heart of God. Grace means to be accepted in spite of being unacceptable.


          By Christ. Justification is said to be "by Christ" (Gal. 2:17), or "by the obedience of One" (Rom. 5:19). We have seen that the law demands perfect obedience. This the sinner owes to the law, but he is incapable of rendering it. Christ became the sinner's Substitute. By His doing and dying He satisfied the demands of a righteous law in the sinner's name. Salvation comes through perfect obedience to the law of Jehovah – not ours but His. Men are saved by good works – not theirs but His.

          Justification by Christ means that we are accepted before God by means of a substitute life. We are accounted righteous because Jesus is righteous. We are pleasing in the sight of a holy God because Jesus is pleasing.


          By Faith. Faith is given to the sinner by the mighty working of the third Person of the Godhead. When the gospel is proclaimed, the Spirit persuades the sinner that it is true, and creates in his heart both the desire and the willingness to accept the salvation which is in Jesus.

          There is no saving merit in faith, but faith brings to God the obedience of Jesus Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinner's account. This is how faith is counted (reckoned, or imputed) as righteousness (see Rom. 4:5, 6, 9, 10, 21-25).

          Justification with God comes by an imputed righteousness. The word impute is very different from the word infuse. Imputed righteousness means that this righteousness is outside of the believer, in the person of Jesus Christ. It is, as Luther said, an alien, foreign and extrinsic righteousness. It is not on earth but in heaven. Justification therefore is God's verdict of righteousness upon the fallen sinner for the sake of Christ in whom the sinner believes. It is a work that God does for man, and must not be confused with what He does within man. As John Bunyan said, "That man will be at a loss that looketh for a righteousness in himself, when it is to be found nowhere but in Jesus Christ." "Indeed this is one of the greatest mysteries in the world – namely, that a righteousness that resides with a person in heaven should justify me, a sinner, on earth." – John Bunyan, Justification by an Imputed Righteousness (Swengel, Penn.: Reiner Publications, 1967).

          Thus, the grace which justifies is outside of us, the doing and dying of Christ which justifies us is outside of us, and the righteousness of faith which justifies is outside of us. There is no room for subjectivism in Paul's doctrine of justification by faith.



The All-Sufficiency of God's Justification


          The life which Jesus lived for us and in our name was equal to the broadest demands of an infinite law. In Him was "all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9) – a life of infinite perfection, a life superior to sinless Adam or highest angel. Christ's righteousness was the very righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21), and all this and nothing less than this is imputed to the believing sinner. The "righteousness of God" Himself (Rom. 3:21, 22), in all its infinite plenitude and immeasurable totality, is ascribed to the believer in Jesus. God does not impute His righteousness in degrees but gives it all – all the accumulated wealth of eternity, all the virtue of Jesus Christ. The gift of justification is an exceeding and eternal weight of glory. It cannot be infused into mortal man; it cannot be reduced to an intra-human experience. But this unspeakable inheritance is put to the believer's credit in the bank of heaven. In the sight of God and in the verdict of the supreme Judge of the universe, the believing sinner is righteous – as righteous as Jesus Himself. He is faultless, blameless and perfect (Col. 1:20-22; 2:10; Heb. 10:14). He stands as one who has perfectly fulfilled the law of God and as one who is in harmony with all its righteous precepts (Rom. 10:4).

          God is not playing make-believe in this matter of imputed righteousness. Christ took humanity unto Himself. The believer's real life is in Christ (Col. 3:3, 4), and that life is pure and sinless – indeed, it is the very righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). Furthermore, faith unites the sinner to Jesus. By faith he is "married to Another, even to Him who is raised from the dead" (Rom. 7:4). As Luther said in one of his great passages:



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            "Faith... unites the soul with Christ, like a bride with the bridegroom, and from this marriage, Christ and the soul become one body, as St. Paul says (Eph. 5:30). Then the possessions of both are in common, whether fortune, misfortune, or anything else; so that what Christ has, also belongs to the believing soul, and what the soul has, will belong to Christ. If Christ has all good things, including blessedness, these will also belong to the soul. If the soul is full of trespasses and sins, these will belong to Christ. At this point a contest of happy exchanges takes place. Because Christ is God and man, and has never sinned, and because His sanctity is unconquerable, eternal, and almighty, He takes possession of the sins of the believing soul by virtue of her wedding ring, namely faith, and acts just as if He had committed those sins Himself. They are, of course, swallowed up and drowned in Him, for His unconquerable righteousness is stronger than any sin whatever. Thus the soul is cleansed from all her sins by virtue of her dowry, i.e., for the sake of her faith. She is made free and unfettered, and endowed with the eternal righteousness of Christ, her bridegroom. Is not that a happy household, when Christ, the rich, noble, and good bridegroom, takes the poor, despised, wicked little harlot in marriage, sets her free from all evil, and decks her with all good things? It is not possible for her sins to damn her, for now they rest on Christ and are swallowed up in Him. In this way she has such a rich righteousness in her bridegroom that she can always withstand sins, though they indeed lie in wait for her." – B. L. Woolf, Reformation Writings of Martin Luther (London: Lutherworth Press, 1952), Vol. I, pp.363, 364.



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          This beautifully illustrates how the sinner may be righteous through faith; and whoever has this faith is righteous – fully and completely. He is ready for anything – life, death, judgment, Christ's coming, the day of wrath, glorification.


            "Therefore being justified by faith, we... rejoice in hope of the glory of God [i.e., the coming of Christ]." Rom. 5:1, 2.


            "...being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." Rom. 5:9. (When "the great day of His wrath is come," "who shall be able to stand?" [Rev. 6:17]. Those who are justified.)


            "Whom He justified, them He also glorified." Rom. 8:30.



The Baptism of the Holy Spirit


          Having viewed the greatness and all-sufficiency of God's act of justifying the sinner, we should be ready to answer the question, "Does God's verdict of righteousness upon the fallen sinner qualify him to receive the baptism, or infilling, of the Holy Spirit?" Of course! The justified sinner stands before God, not only as if he had never sinned, but as righteous as Jesus Himself. Is not Jesus righteous enough to receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost? And we may ask, If God's act of justification does not qualify the believer to receive the infilling of the Spirit, what else will?

          The doctrine of Paul is that the Holy Spirit fills every soul who is justified by faith, and fills that soul immediately upon his justification:


            "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ... the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Rom. 5:1, 5.


          To the Galatians Paul declared:


            "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law.... that the blessing of Abraham [justification] might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." Gal. 3:13, 14.


          Faith in the gospel not only justifies but brings to the justified believer the measureless gift of the Holy Spirit as soon as he believes. Paul challenged the Galatians, "Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" Gal. 3:2. And to the Ephesians he wrote,"...after that ye believed [or literally, having believed), ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise..." Eph. 1:13. This agrees with the words of Jesus, "He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive...) John 7:38, 39.

          In the book of Romans Paul deals very specially with two gifts: the gift of righteousness (Rom. 5:17) and the gift of the Spirit (Rom. 5:5; Rom. 8). The gift of righteousness is imputed for our justification; the gift of the Spirit is imparted (infused) for our renewal and sanctification.

          The imputed gift of righteousness and the imparted gift of the Spirit must not be confused but must be properly distinguished. Justification is what God does for us; the infilling of the Spirit is what He does in us. Our renewal in the Spirit is not the cause of our justification in whole or in part. Justification is by imputed righteousness alone – that is, it rests on something completely without us. Renewal and sanctification of the Spirit are the fruit of justification (see Rom. 5:1-5).

          While we must be careful not to confuse God's work for us (justification) and God's work in us (the infilling of the Spirit), we must be equally careful not to divorce one phase of His work from the other. His work for us (justification) brings the gift and infilling of the Spirit. Indeed, this gift of the Spirit is the seal, pledge and guarantee that we have been justified (Eph. 1:13, 14; Rom. 8:14-16). Consequently, where there is no renewal by the transforming power of the Spirit, no fruit of the Spirit, it is certain that justification has never taken place.



The Gift of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts


          The book of Acts amply illustrates what Paul teaches – namely, that the acceptance of Christ for our justification brings the gift of the Holy Spirit.

          The book of Acts begins with Jesus' command to His apostles and small band of followers:


            "...and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." Acts 1:4, 5.


          Jesus commanded His disciples to "wait" for the baptism of the Spirit. Waiting is hardly the posture of heroes, but it does accentuate the truth that the Spirit is given, not obtained. Jesus did not say, "Pray for the promise of the Father." Doubtless the disciples did pray, but the accent is on waiting, because the Spirit, being a promise and a gift, does not come upon men as a result of their activity.

          Then the next chapter of Acts continues:


            "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they Footnote were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." Acts 2:1-4.


          If Luke wanted to emphasize that prayer or some other activity brought down the Holy Spirit, he missed a wonderful opportunity. The scripture does not say that the 120 were praying when the Spirit fell, but that "they were sitting." There appears to be a definite effort to play down any great activity on the part of the disciples in connection with the baptism of the Spirit.

          The crowd gathered, and finally Peter stood up to preach that great Pentecostal message. In explaining the gift of the Holy Spirit, he did not say, "This Spirit has been poured out upon us because we have waited for it, and for many days we have prayed earnestly for it." Never! Peter made no reference to his activities. Here is what he said:


            "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear." Acts 2:32, 33.


          The Spirit was given because of Christ's atonement, not the believer's attainment. He destroyed sin, conquered death and removed every barrier that kept the Holy Spirit from His people. He was glorified in the presence of God, exalted far above principalities and powers with glory impossible to describe. But in His exaltation He could not forget His toiling, struggling ones on earth. He longed to share His glory with those who believed on Him. Pentecost was Christ sharing His glory – all that mortal beings could endure – with His disciples. It was a gift, the fulfillment of a promise, and came upon the fledgling church solely because Jesus was glorified.

          At Pentecost the gospel was preached under the demonstration and power of the Spirit. Like arrows from the Almighty, the truth went home to the hearts of the hearers. They cried out, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"


            "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost... Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." Acts 2:38, 41.


          Now it is imperative that we understand how the 3,000 souls received the Holy Spirit. They were not told to wait. The disciples had waited. But after Pentecost there is no command or suggestion that believers should wait for the Spirit. The Spirit had come upon the church in a once-and-for-all event. Peter did not tell his hearers, "First you be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. After that you must wait for the Spirit like we did." No! Since Pentecost, the message of the gospel is believe and receive. All who believe receive the Spirit.

          Not only did the 3,000 have no need to wait, but there is no suggestion that the Spirit came upon them with a sound of wind, appearance of fire, and speaking in foreign languages. Footnote The great inaugural events of redemption – Christ's death, resurrection, ascension and glorification (Pentecost) – were attested to by great signs and wonders. At His death the sun was darkened, at His resurrection there was an earthquake, angels appeared to the disciples at His ascension, and wind, fire and tongues were associated with His glorification and the Spirit's initial outpouring upon the church. Men are now called upon to identify and participate in the benefits of Christ's death, resurrection, ascension and glorification. It would be as wrong to demand wind, fire and foreign languages to accompany the gift of the Spirit today, as to expect to see the sun darkened when we experience dying with Christ, or an earthquake when we rise to walk with Him in a new life. We are justified by faith, and by faith (not sight, sound or feelings) we receive the Holy Spirit. Miraculous demonstrations may or may not accompany the gift of the Spirit. Faith does not rest on these, however, but on the infallible Word of promise.

          Acts 2:38 shows us that, since Pentecost, the Spirit is given at the time of Christian initiation. The baptism of the Spirit is associated with the baptism into Christ. We are not here concerned with the mode of Christian baptism Footnote but with the principle of baptism. Baptism means that one is identified with the death and resurrection of Christ (see Rom. 6:3-7). Faith unites and identifies the soul with Jesus. Those who thereby share in Christ's death and resurrection, share in His glorification at the right hand of God. This is why the Holy Spirit accompanies Christian baptism. The book of Acts amply demonstrates that baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit belong together.

          Peter preached Jesus to the Gentiles at the home of Cornelius. He said:


            "...God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him... To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the Word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" Acts 10:38, 43-47.


          What a clear testimony to the truth that faith in Jesus for justification, or forgiveness of sins, brings the gift of the Holy Spirit! This is further illustrated by Paul's visit to Ephesus:


            "And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on Him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied." Acts 19:1-6.


          It is strange how some people will use this scripture in support of a post-conversion baptism of the Holy Spirit, or "second blessing." It would be more consistent if they would use the passage to support the idea of two water baptisms – one to become a Christian, and one more to get the Holy Spirit. Paul's vital question, "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" is not to be read as if Paul were asking if they had gone on to receive the second blessing. The Revised Standard Version more correctly translates the question, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" Paul is really saying, "If you did not receive the Holy Spirit when you believed, you have not true Christian faith." That is Paul's doctrine – the Spirit comes when men believe in Jesus. But these disciples of John had not shared in the blessing of Pentecost, for they had not heard about Christ's atonement and glorification. The information which they lacked was not information about the Holy Spirit as such, but information on the gospel of Christ. Paul told them about Christ, baptized them in the name of Jesus, and they shared in the blessing of Pentecost. Thus, the gift of the Spirit must accompany Christian baptism, else something is very wrong.

          Our Pentecostal friends will then say, "What about Acts 8? Philip preached the gospel in Samaria. The people believed and were baptized. But they did not receive the Holy Spirit until the apostles came down and prayed for them."


            "Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (for as yet He was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost." Acts 8:14-17.


          We will admit that this is an exceptional case. But rather than prove that the Spirit does not come at the time of conversion, it really proves the opposite. According to Acts 2:38, the disciples knew that the gift of the Holy Spirit should accompany baptism. But at Samaria (their first missionary outreach to non-Jews) it did not. This led them to take immediate steps to remedy the abnormal situation. That believers should be baptized without having the gift of the Holy Spirit was unthinkable, a contradiction. The apostles hastened down, prayed for the Samaritans, and they also shared the blessing of Pentecost.

          Why did God work this way in Samaria? When we consider the historical situation, the reason is not difficult to determine. The Jews and the Samaritans were traditionally hostile to each other. They were divided racially and religiously. The Lord did not want this division to continue in the Christian church. If the Samaritans had received the full blessing of the gospel apart from the church at Jerusalem, they might have been inclined to have a Christian church of their own. On the other hand, the apostles were still inclined to be prejudiced against the Samaritans. The leaders of the church needed to see that God put no difference between the believing Jews and the believing Samaritans. Acts 8 shows how the Spirit worked to preserve unity in the developing church.

          The idea of a post-conversion, second-blessing gift of the Holy Spirit is unknown in the book of Acts. When Paul preached the gospel to the heathen Galatians, they believed and received the Spirit (Gal. 3:2). When Paul and Barnabas returned to them, the apostles did not say, "Last time we preached to you the gospel. Now we want to give to you the full gospel." No, for Paul's gospel was only and always the full gospel – the gospel of Christ. But what did Paul tell them on his second visit?


            "...confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." Acts 14:22.


          There is no second blessing suggested here. As men received Christ Jesus the Lord, so they must walk in Him (Col. 2:6). Nowhere in the New Testament are Christians exhorted to wait for the Holy Spirit; but through the Spirit they are exhorted to wait, hope and expect the coming of Jesus Christ in power and great glory (Gal. 5:5; Rom. 5:2; 8:23, 24; Heb. 9:28; 1 Thess. 1:10). The coming of Jesus Christ and the glorification of the saints are the real second blessing of the New Testament.



Why Modern Pentecostalism Is a Complete Negation of the Truth of Justification


          The central thesis of the Pentecostal movement is that the baptism, or infilling, of the Spirit is a definite second blessing which comes at a time subsequent to conversion. This Pentecostal thesis is a complete negation of the truth of justification by faith. This is a most serious charge, and we realize that it comes as a great shock to many Pentecostals who think that they believe in justification by faith. It is true that sometimes Pentecostals sound quite orthodox when dealing with justification; but it is impossible to embrace the Pentecostal doctrine and hold to the primacy, supremacy and all-sufficiency of justification by faith, for the following reasons:


          1. The Pentecostal idea of a post-conversion baptism of the Spirit implies that God's act of justification is not sufficient to bring the infilling of the Spirit. But if God's gift of His own righteousness cannot qualify the believer for the baptism of the Spirit, what else will? In the light of Paul's message about the all-sufficiency of justification, Pentecostalism is an awful error. If God's greatest work for the sinner does not bring the Holy Spirit's infilling, then man must resort to his own works – and so there are books and papers which advocate five steps, seven steps or ten steps to receive the Spirit. Psychological gimmicks, "emptyings," "letting go," "absolute surrender" and tricky inner doings are supposed to bring the Holy Spirit.

          If Paul were here, he would ask, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you were justified (that is, when you believed)?" If our answer were "No," Paul would reply, "Then you have not received Christian justification." He would not take us on to higher things; he would take us back to fundamental things.


          2. The Pentecostal teaching implies (and sometimes states explicitly) that the experience of being baptized in the Spirit is something greater and beyond the justification which comes by faith. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Luther talked about justification most because to him it was the chief doctrinal jewel of the Bible. Pentecostals talk about their experience more than anything else simply because they feel it is greater than the gift of justification.

          Justification is the gift of God's righteousness, in all its totality, to the believing sinner. In God's act of forgiveness, the entire inheritance of Jesus Christ, the exceeding and eternal weight of glory, is given to the believer. This gift can never be superseded, for in it God gives absolutely all the accumulated treasure of eternity. So far from being greater, the experience of being filled with the Spirit is called the "firstfruits" (Rom. 8:23), guarantee or down payment (Eph.1:13, 14) of that infinite inheritance.

          It is as if a man, journeying abroad, finds himself in need. A benefactor gives him $30 million – a sum so large that it cannot be contained on the traveler's person. So it is deposited to his account at home. In the meantime, however, he draws $100 from the account as spending money on the way. As he extolls the goodness of his benefactor, which does he talk about most – the $30 million or the $100?



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          The grace which is above us is always infinitely greater than the grace that is within us. Justification is like the whole ocean of water that covers and surrounds the little shell. The experience in the Spirit is like the bit of water the shell contains.

          But Pentecostalism would make it appear that the down payment of the inheritance is greater than the inheritance, that the $100 is more wealth than $30 million, that the shell full of water is more than the ocean. In all this it represents a serious distortion of the gospel message.


          3. Pentecostalism presents an unfortunate dichotomy of receiving Christ and receiving the Holy Ghost. Not only is the impression often left on minds that the Holy Spirit gives a greater and richer blessing than the blessing of the Savior, but Christ is not presented as a complete gift. The Pentecostal doctrine declares that there is more to the gospel than simply receiving Christ as a Savior. In fact, Pentecostal literature often speaks demeaningly about those who only know Christ as a Savior. But we are glad to affirm our faith in the all-sufficiency of Christ. To know and receive Him as Savior is to receive all that God has to give. He is both the power and wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24). To have Jesus is to have all wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30). It is not only vain, but a positive denial of the gospel, to look for a fulness that is outside or beyond Him. This was the heresy that threatened the church at Colosse. But Paul affirmed before the church the absolute all-sufficiency of Christ. "In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete [made full] in Him... "Col. 2:9, 10. Therefore, to possess Christ is to possess all of the Godhead in Him. The Spirit in all His infinite plentitude is given to every believer in Jesus. Everything Christ has belongs to those who are "married" to Him. Therefore, the gospel of Christ is the full gospel; and anything that offers Christ plus something else is Judaizing with another gospel.


          4. Pentecostalism makes two different events of the baptism into Christ and into the Spirit. It proposes that the church is composed of ordinary ("carnal") Christians and Spirit-filled Christians – as if the church were like one of those passenger ships with first- and second-class berths. But the church is a one-class ship. There is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Eph. 4:5).


            "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." 1 Cor. 12:13.


          Jesus commanded His disciples:


            "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost..." Matt. 28:19.


          "Ordinary" Christian baptism is therefore the baptism of the Father, it is the baptism of Christ, and it is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In proposing another baptism and another experience, Pentecostalism goes beyond the gospel of Christ and confesses that neither Christ nor His justification is a complete gift of the Father.


– This article was written by the former editor and appears in Present Truth Vol. 1, #5.






Questionnaire:

The Great Issues of the Reformation


          Before you read the next section of the seminar presentation, you are invited to test yourself by answering three short questions:



       1. Do you believe that the grace of God in your heart is able to make you acceptable in the sight of God?

 

       Yes        o

       No         o



       2. Do you believe that Christ as a divine Person can dwell in your heart?

 

       Yes        o

       No         o



       3. Do you believe that the indwelling of Christ can make the good works of a Christian entirely acceptable to God?

 

       Yes        o

       No         o



          Read the following article then check your answers at the end.






The Great Issues of the Reformation



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          The New Testament presents two aspects of God's work:

 

Number 1 – God's work for us in Christ.

Number 2 – God's work in us by the Holy Spirit.


          Number 1 is what God did outside of us in the person of Jesus. This is the gospel – God's act of redemption in Jesus. Number 2 is what God does within our hearts by the Holy Spirit. This is the fruit of the gospel, for faith in Number 1 brings the Holy Spirit to the believer.

          Number 2 must not be confused with Number 1; neither must it be divorced from Number 1. While faith must rest on the objective work of God in Christ, faith always brings the Holy Spirit with His renewing and sanctifying work in the hearts of men.

          If you take a long pole, you can balance it in an upright position on your finger if you keep your eye focused on the top of the pole. The movement of your finger will follow naturally, almost unconsciously. But if you start watching what your finger is doing, the pole will become unbalanced and fall.

          As the believer looks away from self to Christ and rejoices in what He has done for him and what He is to him, the Spirit of God will live in his heart and continue to transform his life. But if the believer begins to make his experience the center of his concern, the true balance of Christian faith is lost.

          The tendency of human nature is to make the subjective aspect of Christianity the focal point of concern. This is what happened in the early church. It lost sight of the great Pauline message of justification by God's work outside of man. Even in the teachings of the fathers of the post-apostolic church, the objective truth of justification by faith held no prominent place. More and more the church began to focus on the experience of sanctification. Indeed, justification came to be looked upon only as an initiating step at the beginning of the Christian's life; the mighty Pauline truth about justification was subordinated to what was thought to be the higher blessing of sanctification. The focus of attention was away from the gospel to the fruit of the gospel, away from Christ's experience to Christian experience, away from the objective to the subjective.

          We do not depreciate Christian experience when we say it is not the most important thing. Indeed, true Christian experience is attained when men make God's work outside of themselves the foundation of their hope, the focus of their attention and the object of their glorying.






          As the church continued to lose the objective truth of the gospel, it became more and more centered in religious experientialism. The pursuit of an extraordinary religious experience became the great passion of the medieval church. Men began to do all sorts of weird and wonderful things in order to attain what they thought was a successful religious experience. Society was so drowned in its religious subjectivism that mankind made no scientific or sociological progress. Rather, civilization went backwards under the influence of so-called Christian teaching. Men carried crosses around Europe or sat on poles looking for some rare vision of God and truth. People went on useless pilgrimages, venerated "holy" relics and indulged in the most incredible superstitions. Christendom became a great cesspool of fantastic ignorance and stagnation.

          At the heart of all this corruption was the medieval church's doctrine of justification. Amazingly enough, the church did not abandon such Biblical expressions as justification and salvation by grace. The words of Paul were still used freely by the theologians (as they are today), but the great Pauline words (justification, grace, etc.) had evolved a new meaning altogether. Justification had lost its objective, forensic meaning. Instead of meaning what God did outside of man in pronouncing him righteous, it came to mean God's renewing, sanctifying act in man's own heart. (Thus Number 1 and Number 2 were utterly confounded.) Instead of justifying grace meaning the disposition of mercy and favor in God's heart, grace had come to mean a God-given quality that adorned the human soul. The classical doctrine of the church declared that men were justified by God's work in their own hearts and experiences. That is to say, it taught justification by Number 2 instead of by Number 1.



The Reformation Rediscovers Paul


          Martin Luther has been called the clearest teacher of the righteousness which is of faith since the days of the apostle Paul. He utterly rejected the church's teaching that God's work within a man qualifies him to be accepted in the sight of a righteous God. He saw that no man could find enough righteousness or grace in his heart to confront God with an easy conscience, and that no one could have any certainty of salvation if it were to be based on his own experience. Justifying grace, Luther discovered, is not some quality that God infuses into the soul, but is God's favor given to those who are sinful, lost and undeserving. God's grace in the believer's heart is not the foundation of a Christian, proclaimed the Reformer, but God's grace in Christ. Christ's objective work of doing and dying for us, rather than His work within us, is the sole basis of our acceptance with God; for the moment justification becomes based on a subjective experience, confidence toward God and assurance of justification flee.

          The contrast between the medieval church and the Reformation may be summarized as follows:



Medieval

Reformation

Justified by God's work of grace in the heart.

Justified by God's work of grace in Christ.

Justified by Christ's work in our hearts.

Justified by Christ's work outside of our hearts, i.e., on the cross.



          The medieval thought was man-centered, experience-centered, subjective. The Reformation thought was Christ-centered, cross-centered and objective.

          The Reformers did not deny the Spirit's work of renewal and sanctification within the hearts of God's people. But they saw clearly that we must first be justified by faith alone in a work completely outside of us. Then will the conscience be cleansed, the heart will find peace with God, and a life of good works will flow from the certain conviction of being accepted of God.



The Nature of a Christian Man


          Is the believer in Christ a sinner or a saint? Does grace make him more and more righteous, less and less sinful? Are the good works of a Spirit-filled man still defiled with human imperfection and sin?

          Rome and the Reformers were agreed that man was born with a corrupt, sinful nature, although the Reformation did have a much clearer view of the radical nature of human corruption.

          The medieval church thought of grace as being infused to change and transform the sinful nature of man. By this transforming change within him, the believer was said to be made just in God's sight. Then, as he received more and more grace, the believer was said to become less and less sinful and at the same time more and more just in the sight of God. Good works were done in the believer by the indwelling of Christ and, because of this, were thought to be entirely pleasing and acceptable to God. Rome held out to men the possibility of becoming pure and sinless saints (ontological perfection), and those who attained this perfection reached sainthood and were qualified to enter heaven at the hour of death. Those who did not become perfect and absolutely sinless in the flesh, would need to go to purgatory after death and thus be made completely just and qualified to enter heaven.

          On the other hand, the Reformers said that God justifies the ungodly who believe on Christ (Rom. 4: 5), and that God covers the sinner with the mantle of Christ's righteousness. Therefore the believer is accepted as just and righteous, not because of grace or righteousness poured into him, but because of the righteousness credited to him by the imputation of Christ's sinless life. There is no such thing as the believer becoming more and more just, said the Reformers, for he is fully just before God. There are no degrees of righteousness with God. Either a man is fully righteous with Him or not righteous at all. Man is either accepted fully or not at all. Thus the relative stance of Romanism was utterly rejected.



          Furthermore, said the Protestants, grace does not change the sinful nature of the believer. The sinful nature is so desperately wicked that it cannot be reformed by all efforts with or without grace. This nature will always be sinful as long as life shall last, and whether a man is a Christian or not makes no change in the "sinful flesh." But, said the Reformers, the Holy Spirit brings to the justified sinner a new nature, even a new man which is created in righteousness and true holiness (Eph. 4:24). A Christian therefore has two natures. The old nature is called "flesh" because it is born of the flesh; the new nature is called "spirit" because it is born of the Spirit (John 3:6). Furthermore, these two natures are contrary one to the other. Says the apostle Paul, "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." Gal. 5:17. And in a parallel passage he describes the reality of two natures within a justified saint:


            "For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." Rom. 7:15-:25. Footnote


          To the Reformers there was no such thing as the believer becoming more and more just; neither did the believer's old nature become less and less sinful. Luther coined a Latin expression to describe the nature of a Christian man: simul justus et pecator (at the same time righteous and sinful).

          A Christian does not live by trying to reform the flesh, much less by purifying the flesh from its corruption; but he gets above it and walks in a new state in Christ. This is the theme of Paul's thought in Romans 8. The believer does not live "in the flesh" but "in the Spirit." That is, he follows the desires, promptings and dictates of the Spirit; and by His indwelling power he denies, fights and puts to death the desires and inclinations of the flesh. In this way the Christian is called to a life of suffering (Rom. 8:10-18; 1 Peter 4:1, 2), to constant warfare against the sinful nature. The Spirit is not given to release him from painful conflict but to sustain him in successful conflict until the end.


            ". . . ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." Rom. 8:23-25.


          Thus, the believer is always a saint, always a sinner. In Christ he is fully righteous; in himself, by reason of the sinful nature, he is fully sinful. He has peace, but it is in the midst of war; he has rest, but it is with tribulations.

          Then too, the Reformers had a very different view from the medieval church on the matter of a Christian's good works. God must first accept our persons, they said, quite apart from any of our works (Rom. 3:28; 4:4-6). Whereas the medieval church taught that God accepts men's persons because of their works (done with God's help of course!), the Reformers declared that God accepts our works because He has accepted our persons through faith in the Substitute. No good work of the saints is entirely without sin, said Luther and Calvin many times. True, God's Spirit causes Christians to do good works, but the sinful nature of man corrupts all these works with the taint of human imperfection, said they. Good works are accepted only by mercy and by the intercession of Christ's merit at the right hand of God. Neither our persons nor our works are ever perfect, declared the Reformers, but our perfection, righteousness and entire satisfaction to the law reside only in and with our Head.

          There is no fulfillment in human experience in this life. Our righteousness with God is only by faith and not by the reality of our own experience. Christ is our righteousness, and His person is not here on earth but in heaven. Now we are righteous by faith; but hope looks to the coming of Christ when we shall be altogether righteous by nature as the angels. Faith pertains to the "now," hope to the "not yet." Faith looks to the cross and what has been done for us; hope looks to the glorious future that will be ushered in at Christ's return. Hope refreshes faith in this waiting period between the first and second coming of Christ. Faith restrains hope from trying to bring the "not yet" into the "now." By faith the Christian knows that sin, the sinful nature, death and Satan are already vanquished; but he still feels sin within, the devil without, and sees death on every hand. If this were not so, there would be no need to fight the good fight of faith. But by the Spirit he waits and groans for the day when sin, death and the devil will be abolished as threatening, visible foes.




ANSWER KEY TO QUESTIONNAIRE Footnote


Question 1. Rome says "Yes" and the Reformation says "No."

            Note: To make us acceptable to God, it requires infinitely more grace than we could ever contain in our hearts. We are justified by the grace of God in Christ.


Question 2. Rome says "Yes" and the Reformation says "No."

            Note: Christ as a Person dwells in heaven at the right hand of God. While we are home in the body, we are absent from the Lord (see 2 Cor. 5:6; Eccl. 5:2). He is present in His Word and by His Spirit, and this is how He dwells in our hearts by faith. We do not worship Christ within us but the Christ without us. Furthermore, our righteousness with God is in the person of Christ (Isa. 45:24, 25); and this justifying righteousness is not within us but outside of us in the person of Christ, who is in heaven.


Question 3. Rome says "Yes" and the Reformation says "No."

            Note: God is pleased with the good works of His children for what they signify - that they love Him and serve Him out of thankful hearts. Yet these works are not a part of the righteousness by which they are justified with God. Not merely the indwelling of Christ, but His intercession of merit before the Father, makes good works acceptable to God (see Heb.13:21; 1 Peter 2:5). Faith must extend beyond what Christ can do within us; it must be based on what He does for us by His intercession.


– This article was written by the former editor and appears in Present Truth Vol. 1, #5.







Protestant Revivalism, Pentecostalism

and the

Drift Back to Rome



5-5.gif



          The sixteenth century rediscovery of Paul's objective message of justification by faith invaded the consciousness of men with a tempestuous fury and changed the course of history. The Protestant movement was founded upon a restoration of the primacy, supremacy and all-sufficiency of justification by faith.   No one would want to contend that the Protestant Reformation completely recovered the purity of faith which existed in the apostolic church. The Reformers did not always agree among themselves. They were not always consistent in every area. And it was inevitable that the church did not all at once abandon every error of the Dark Ages. But in spite of differences and inconsistencies, the Reformers were absolutely united on justification by faith – its objective meaning and its absolute centrality in the Christian faith.

          We have already observed that there is a tendency in human nature to gravitate from the objective stance of the gospel to religious subjectivism, to shift the central focus from Christ's experience to Christian experience. This is what happened in the great "falling away" in the early church. And the same evolution has taken place within the Protestant movement.


 

The Error of the Sects


          Even before the Reformers had passed off the stage, different sects began to grow up within the Protestant movement and to break from the founding churches. The sects said that Luther made a good start in reviving the doctrine of justification by faith, but they had the feeling that Luther stood only half way and that they must go on, higher. These sects were generally not without some truth. Often they emphasized something that was neglected by the founding churches of the Reformation. But Luther discerned that they erred on the great charter of Protestantism – justification by faith – and, as far as he was concerned, if this was wrong everything was wrong. "Whoever departs from the article of justification does not know God and is an idolater," wrote Luther. "For when this article has been taken away, nothing remains but error, hypocrisy, godlessness, and idolatry, although it may seem to be the height of truth, worship of God, holiness, etc." – What Luther Says (St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia Publishing House, 1959), Vol. II, pp. 702-704.

          These sectarian teachers did not deny justification as an initiating step in the Christian life. Their error was the old one of relegating justification to something whereby the believer can make a start and then go on to higher things. With them, justification by faith was no longer the center. Their focus was away from Christ's experience to their own, from the objective to the subjective. Luther understood their mentality when he said:


            "For people say, Why, this man can preach about nothing but baptism, the ten commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and faith – matters which even the children know nowadays. Why is it that he is forever dinning the same sermon into our ears. Who cannot do this? One must not surely stay forever with the same matter but continue and progress (say the sects). Dear people, you have now heard the self same stuff for so long a time; you must rise higher." – Ibid., Vol. III, p. 1268.


          In the time of the Reformers, the Munzerites and radical Anabaptists gave great prominence to the work and gifts of the Spirit. Their cry was, "The Spirit! the Spirit!" but Luther replied, "I will not follow where their spirit leads." They were the sixteenth century charismatics.

          Then there was Osiander. At first a disciple and colaborer with Luther, he broke from the Reformation teaching on justification by an imputed (outside) righteousness and began to teach that the believer is justified by the indwelling of Christ and His essential righteousness. Both Luther and Calvin recognized that Osiander's teaching was a return, in principle, to the Roman Catholic idea of justification. Some of the sects erred from the gospel in that they tried to go beyond righteousness by faith to seeking a state of absolute sinlessness in this mortal life on earth. The Reformers also recognized that this was actually Roman Catholic perfectionism in new garments.

          After the time of the Reformers, the Protestant movement went through the period known as Protestant orthodoxy. Heresies were resisted by careful definition and redefinition of the Protestant faith. Faith tended to become intellectualized; and although some good theology was produced in this period, orthodoxy produced a sterile faith and a dead church.

          In Germany, Pietism arose as a reaction against the dead orthodoxy of the Lutheran Church. It cannot be denied that many of the Pietist leaders were earnest, godly men; and their witness did accomplish some good. But the definite tendency of Pietism was to distort the objective gospel with an exaggerated emphasis on experience. Much of the German Pietism recaptured the spirit of the great Catholic mystics and resembled it in its sentimental (even effeminate) Christian devotions.



Wesleyanism


          Eighteenth century England witnessed a remarkable movement which was also a reaction to the dead formalism of the Church of England. The truth of justification by faith had been largely lost from the church. These were the days of the fox-hunting parsons who loved their dogs more than the flock. Moreover, there was a growing working class, unchurched and untouched by an indifferent church. John Wesley was probably the most outstanding man of the eighteenth century in any country in the world. He was one of the most successful itinerant evangelists since Paul. His effect on the whole national life of England (especially on the working class) was so remarkable that some credit his ministry with saving England from a revolution similar to that which engulfed France.



          John Wesley believed in justification by faith and taught it with power. His "long suit," however, was sanctification. He had been deeply influenced by Moravian Pietism and certain of the great Catholic mystics. Wesley's emphasis on sanctification was both the strength and weakness of the Methodist movement. It was the strength of Methodism because such an emphasis was sorely needed. Among many, the doctrine of imputed righteousness had become perverted with antinomianism. Many were making the Reformation concept of imputed righteousness an excuse for all sorts of ungodliness. Like a John the Baptist, Wesley laid the ax at the root of the tree and called for fruit that was meet for repentance. Along with justification by the blood of Christ, Wesley emphasized the renewing power of the Holy Spirit in conforming lives to true obedience to the law of God. Apart from sanctified obedience to the law of God, Wesley declared that no soul would retain the blessing of justification.

          Wesley's emphasis on sanctification was also the weakness of Methodism. As Niebuhr has pointed out:


            "...[Wesley's] thought is rooted in the New Testament doctrine of forgiveness and justification. However, he regards justification in essentially Augustinian terms, as forgiveness for sins that are past; and he thinks of sanctification as the higher stage of redemption." – Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1949), Vol. II, p. 180.


          Wesley developed a doctrine of entire sanctification, known also as the "second blessing" or "Methodist perfection." He proposed that after justification and a process of sanctification, the believer could receive by faith a sudden second blessing which would completely purge the soul from inbred sin enabling the fully sanctified to feel nothing but perfect love. He called this experience ''a still higher salvation," "immensely greater than that wrought when he was justified" (Plain Account, p. 7). Wesley and his preachers urged their hearers to seek this second blessing of perfection with all diligence. They did, and gave proof of it in lives of earnest (and sometimes frantic) piety.

          With Paul and Luther, justification by faith was the whole truth of the gospel. But in Wesleyanism, the centrality and all-sufficiency of justification tended to be lost by being subordinated to sanctification.

          However, it must be said to the everlasting credit of John Wesley that, although he preached it to others, till his dying day he frankly confessed he had not attained his famous "second blessing." He always sought it but only attained to the hope of it. He was too humble and honest to confess anything but that he still felt sin strong within him – although few men exhibited the mastery over inbred sin as well as he did.

          Unfortunately, not all of Wesley's followers were as prudent or as humble as the great evangelist. The trouble began when some of them did profess that they had attained the second blessing of entire sanctification. A few were preachers, and some of these soon fell to the temptation of imagining that they were superior to Wesley. The great Methodist revival was therefore plagued and embarrassed by some fanaticism. The problem did not come to the surface as long as all the Methodists were seeking perfection. It boiled over when some claimed to have attained it.

          This also must be said in Wesley's favor: Most of his labors were directed in preaching the gospel to the unsaved. Hence he was obliged to spend most of his time and energy preaching justification by faith to sinners. This was a great providential blessing, for it kept the evangelist in better balance. The same thing cannot be said of all Wesley's spiritual children.



American Revivalism and the Holiness Movement


          Eighteenth and early nineteenth century American Protestantism became heir of much of Methodism's religious fervor. America developed its own style and brand of revivalism. It suited the national temper and was unconsciously molded by the frontier spirit.




          Frontier life was rude, raw and exciting. Some of the frontier people saw very little of churches or preachers except once a year at a big tent revival meeting. As the growing calves were rounded up once a year for branding, so the growing youth needed to be gathered in and "saved," while the older people felt their need for a good "clean-up" in the yearly revival time. As Vinson Synan has well said:


            "Those who attended such camp meetings... generally expected their religious experiences to be as vivid as the frontier life around them. Accustomed to 'braining bears and battling Indians,' they received their religion with great color and excitement." – Vinson Synan, The Holiness-Pentecostal Movement in the United States (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans' Publishing Co., 1971), p. 25.


          Sometimes the religious fervor was accompanied by great emotional excesses such as "godly hysteria," falling, jerking, "the holy laugh," barking like dogs and "such wild dances as David performed before the Ark of the Lord."

          In the nineteenth century, Charles Finney was such a successful evangelist that, by 1850, revivalism – Charles Finney style – became like the national religion of America. Finney's Systematic Theology (still one of the most popular manuals on theology in the Pentecostal churches today) is very critical of Luther and Calvin with respect to their teaching of justification by faith through an imputed righteousness. Finney's predominant emphasis is on sanctification and God's work within human experience – an emphasis which is neither Pauline nor Reformation. His preaching led people into a very emotional, crisis experience, and a seeking after a holiness of experience that would be acceptable to God.

          In all these revival influences, the predominant emphasis was to find God in a very dramatic, emotional, empirical, inward experience of the heart. There was very little focus on being acceptable to God by faith in an experience and a righteousness not our own but outside of us in the person of Christ. American revivalism was far more subjective than objective, far more experience-centered than gospel-centered.

          About the middle of the last century, the Methodist Church (which was then the largest church in the U.S.A.) experienced a remarkable resurgence of interest in the doctrine of the "second blessing." As Synan writes, "The optimistic idea that one could find perfection seemed to match the general optimism that prevailed throughout American society." – Ibid., p. 22. "It was a kind of evangelical transcendentalism which thrived in the idealism of a young and growing America." – Ibid., p. 30. "The decade of the 1840's, therefore, witnessed a veritable flood of perfectionistic teaching in the Methodist Church. Leading pastors, bishops, and theologians led the movement, giving it institutional and intellectual respectability." – Ibid., p. 28.

          This development spilled over into other Protestant bodies, and by 1869 it became known as the "holiness movement." Independent "holiness" publications sprang up all over the country. The movement spread to England and found expression in the renowned Keswick Convention.

          The emphasis that was popularized in the holiness movement was concerning the victorious, Spirit-filled life. Its focal point was not on justification or conversion but on the attainment of an empirical experience of holiness and entire sanctification subsequent to conversion. Boardman, Inskip, A.B. Simpson, Torrey and Andrew Murray were some of the best-known writers and leaders of the movement. Hannah W. Smith's The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life (still circulated today) expressed very well the aspirations of the holiness people. Holiness-type books can generally be detected by titles that major on experience rather than on the gospel (The Victorious Life, Keys to Victorious Living, The Spirit-Filled Life, etc.). The punch line of these books is generally on Romans 7 and Romans 8: "Get out of Romans 7 into Romans 8" (which, incidentally, is decidedly contrary to what the Reformers all taught).



          One could not disparage the holiness contribution as all bad. But the objective nature and value of justification and forgiveness cease to be the center of its thrust. They are undervalued, even demeaned in the overwhelming preoccupation with religious experience and perfectionism. The holiness movement goes aground on the rocks of subjectivism, and because of this, it is basically more in harmony with Roman Catholicism than with Protestantism.

          In the 1890's the Methodist Church finally took an administrative stand against the holiness movement. Consequently, between the years 1890 and 1900, twenty-three holiness denominations were founded.



The Pentecostal Movement


          Toward the end of the nineteenth century, many within the holiness movement began to speak about and seek for the "baptism of fire. " One branch of the holiness movement was called the "Fire-Baptized Holiness Church" (originating in Iowa in 1895 and led by Benjamin Irwin). Those receiving "the fire" would often shout, scream, fall in trances or speak in other tongues. This "baptism of fire" was regarded as a miraculous visitation of the Spirit that followed entire sanctification. The more conservative teachers of the holiness movement rejected this "third" blessing of fire, for they regarded the second blessing and the special baptism of the Spirit as synonymous.

          But the radical "fire" advocates continued to make an impact within the movement with fiery preaching and publications like Live Coals of Fire (first published in October, 1899). This paper spoke of "the blood that cleans up, the Holy Ghost that fills up, the fire that burns up, and the dynamite that blows up." It is not hard to imagine the eccentric and mind-bending manifestations that accompanied the blowing-up stage of this religious high. The logical outcome of this religious trend was the appearance of the twentieth-century Pentecostal movement, which generally traces its beginnings to the ministry of Charles Parham at Topeka, Kansas in 1900. Says Synan:

 

            "The Pentecostal movement arose as a split in the holiness movement and can be viewed as the logical outcome of the holiness crusade which had vexed American Protestantism for forty years..." – Synan, op. cit., p. 115.


Dr. Frederick Dale Bruner also says:


            "Out of the world-wide holiness movements the Pentecostal movement was born. The Pentecostal historian, Charles Conn, notes 'that the Pentecostal movement is an extension of the holiness revival that occurred during the last half of the nineteenth century.'" – Frederick Dale Bruner, A Theology of the Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans’ Publishing Co., 1970), p. 44.


Says noted Catholic author and contemporary ecumenist, Kilian McDonnell:


            "John Wesley was father to much of the 19th century American religious fervor; one of his children was the Holiness Movement which gave rise to the Pentecostalism of the 20th century." – Kilian McDonnell, "The Classical Pentecostal Movement," New Covenant, Vol. I, No.11 (May, 1972), p. 1. (New Covenant is a monthly publication serving the Catholic charismatic renewal.)


          The Pentecostal movement came into being directly on the issue of insisting that the physical sign of speaking in tongues was the evidence of the baptism of the Spirit. This issue of tongues caused a split between the holiness and Pentecostal movements; yet the basic emphasis of the two movements remains the same.

          Pentecostalism is the inevitable end of subjective revivalism. It is American revivalism in its final form of development. The kind of revivals that operate in the United States may not be overtly Pentecostal or charismatic, but they tend in that direction because they are supremely orientated toward religious experientialism.



The Trend Toward Rome


          For more than 400 years, influences have been at work within the Protestant movement to erode the objective emphasis of the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith. It has been a drift back to Romanism. A few years ago, noted Roman Catholic author, Louis Bouyer, made these stunning observations:


            "The Protestant Revival... recalls the best and most authentic elements of the Catholic tradition... – Louis Bouyer, The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism (Cleveland, Ohio: World Publishing Co., 1964), p. 186.


            "We see in every Protestant country, Christians who owed their religion to the movement we have called, in general, Revivalism, attain a more or less complete rediscovery of Catholicism." – Ibid., p. 188.


            "The contemporary revivals most valuable and lasting in their results all present a striking analogy with this process of rediscovery of Catholicism..." – Ibid., p. 189.


            "...the instinctive orientation of the revivals toward the Catholic... would bring in that way a reconciliation between the Protestant Movement and the Church..." – Ibid., p. 197.


          Bouyer closes with an appeal to his fellow Catholics to prepare for the inevitable return of the "separated brethren" under the influence of contemporary revivals. The fact that many revivalists regard themselves as anti-Catholic makes no difference, for as Bouyer points out, they are simply in the dark about how the heart of their emphasis is in profound harmony with Catholicism. If the reader wants to know what Rome thinks about the most popular U.S. revivalists today, he would be well advised to secure the July, 1972 issue of The Catholic Digest.

          Also a few years ago, Protestant scholar Paul Tillich Footnote observed that we have reached "the end of the Protestant era."

 

            "For the kind of Protestantism which has developed in America is not so much an expression of the Reformation, but has more to do with the so-called Evangelical Radicals. There are the Lutheran and Calvinistic groups, and they are strong, but they have adapted themselves to an astonishing degree to the climate of American Protestantism. This climate has not been made by them, but by the sectarian movements. Thus when I came to America twenty years ago, the theology of the Reformation was almost unknown in Union Theological Seminary [New York] because of the different traditions, and the reduction of the Protestant tradition nearer to the non-Reformation traditions." – Paul Tillich, A History of Christian Thought (London: S.C.M. Press, Ltd., 1968), pp. 225, 226. (From lectures first given in 1953.)


            "Luther's conflict with the evangelical radicals is especially important for American Protestants because the prevailing type of Christianity in America was not produced by the Reformation directly, but by the indirect effect of the Reformation through the movement of evangelical radicalism." – Ibid., p. 239.



          The last decade has more than justified the observations of Bouyer and Tillich. The drift toward Rome has become like that place in the Niagara River where the boatsman reaches the point of no return as the water rushes on toward the falls. We must now consider this development.



The Neo-Pentecostal, or Charismatic, Movement


          From 1900 to 1960, the Pentecostal movement continued to grow outside the mainstream of Protestantism. Yet by 1960 it had attained a world-wide membership of about eight million. At that time, men like Dr. Henry Van Dusen began to call the movement the "third force" in Christendom.

          Then about 1960 a remarkable change took place. Pentecostalism began to jump the denominational boundary lines and to penetrate the mainline Protestant churches. As John Sherrill says in his book, They Speak With Other Tongues, "the walls came tumbling down." Soon there were thousands, and then millions, of Episcopalian, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, Congregationalist and other Protestant Pentecostals. This interdenominational phase of the movement became known as the neo-Pentecostal, or charismatic, movement. It was no longer a separate denomination but an experience that transcended all denominational boundary lines. Those sharing the experience in different denominations saw themselves as having more in common with each other than with non-charismatics of the same church. Many confidently predicted that this was the beginning of the greatest revival the world had ever known.

          Toward the end of the decade, the neo-Pentecostal movement made two further astounding strides. It entered the new youth culture and became known as the Jesus movement. (It is estimated that ninety per cent of the Jesus People, as they are called, have some form of Pentecostal experience.) Many from the drug culture became "high" on Jesus instead of drugs. Then, to crown its success, the neo-Pentecostal movement entered the Catholic Church in 1967. After a modest beginning in its great centers of learning (Duquesne and Notre Dame), it is now spreading rapidly in the Catholic Church, attracting the support of cardinals, bishops and thousands of priests and nuns. Since Roman Catholics are now receiving the identical Pentecostal experience as Protestants, the old-line Pentecostals are having to re-evaluate their attitude to Roman Catholicism. Traditionally anti-papal, the classical Pentecostal churches are changing their stance since "Pentecost" has come to Rome.

          Although Pentecostalism was introduced to the Catholic Church initially by Protestant Pentecostals, it is meeting even less resistance in Catholic circles than in Protestant circles. In fact, as many Catholic authors are pointing out, Pentecostalism is more at home in the ancient church. It is more at home there because the overwhelming Pentecostal emphasis on the subjective experience is in essential harmony with the tradition of the Roman Church. Says Benedictine monk, Father Edward O'Connor of Notre Dame:


            "Although they derive from Protestant backgrounds, the Pentecostal churches are not typically Protestant in their beliefs, attitudes or practices." – Edward O'Connor, The Pentecostal Movement in the Catholic Church (Notre Dame, Ind.: Ave Maria Press, 1971), p. 23.


            "...it cannot be assumed that the Pentecostal movement represents an incursion of Protestant influence." – Ibid., p.32.


            "...Catholics who have accepted Pentecostal spirituality have found it to be fully in harmony with their traditional faith and life. They experience it, not as a borrowing from an alien religion, but as a connatural development of their own." – Ibid., p. 28.


            ". . . the spiritual experience of those who have been touched by the grace of the Holy Spirit in the Pentecostal movement is in profound harmony with the classical spiritual theology of the Church." – Ibid., p. 183.


            "...the experience of the Pentecostal movement tends to confirm the validity and relevance of our authentic spiritual traditions." – Ibid., p. 191.


            "Moreover, the doctrine that is developing in the Pentecostal churches today seems to be going through stages very similar to those which occurred in the early Middle Ages when the classical doctrine was taking shape." – Ibid., pp. 193, 194.


          Moreover, neo-Pentecostalism certainly does nothing to unsettle the faith of Catholics in their church and traditions. Says Father O'Connor:


            "Similarly, the traditional devotions of the Church have taken on more meaning. Some people have been brought back to a frequent use of the sacrament of Penance through the experience of the baptism in the Spirit. Others have discovered a place for devotion to Mary in their lives, whereas previously they had been indifferent or even antipathetic toward her. One of the most striking effects of the Holy Spirit's action has been to stir up devotion to the Real Presence in the Eucharist." – Edward O'Connor, Pentecost in the Catholic Church (Pecos, N.M.: Dove Publications, 1970), pp.14, 15.



The Ecumenical Phase of Pentecostalism


          The 1970's have brought us to a great ecumenical phase of revivalism and the charismatic movement. Says Christianity Today of February 1, 1972:


            "The force that appears to be making the greatest contribution to the current Christian revival around the globe is Pentecostalism. This movement, which began several decades ago, and which in its early years was very sectarian in character, is now becoming ecumenical in the deepest sense. A neo-Pentecostalism has lately appeared that includes many thousands of Roman Catholics... A new era of the Spirit has begun. The charismatic experience moves Christians far beyond glossalalia... There is light on the horizon. An evangelical renaissance is becoming visible along the Christian highway from the frontiers of the sects to the high places of the Roman Catholic communion. This appears to be one of the most strategic moments in the Church's history."


          The May, 1972 issue of New Covenant (Catholic charismatic publication) features Catholics and Protestants uniting in a great charismatic fellowship. It proclaims that the charismatic movement holds the hope of healing the wound of the sixteenth century. Dr. Henry Pitney Van Dusen (Union Theological Seminary) is featured as saying:


            "The presence of the charismatic (Pentecostal) movement among us is said to make a new era in the development of Christianity. This new Pentecost will appear to future historians as a 'true reformation' (compared to that of the 16th century) from which will spring a third force in the Christian world (Protestant-Catholic-Pentecostal )." – Henry Pitney Van Dusen, New Covenant, op. cit., p. 19.




          This union is not based on objective truth but on subjective experience. American Christianity is drowning in a sea of religious subjectivism. Charismatic literature (and with it we include all this subjective revivalism) is infesting the land like the frogs of Egypt (see Rev. 16:13, 14). Never has such a mass of literature been so devoid of the gospel of Christ. There is scarcely one extrinsic, objective thought in it. It is all "in and in and in," a return to sentimental, effeminate, medieval mysticism. No wonder one of the points of dialogue between Pentecostal leaders and the Roman Catholic Church (a dialogue which is now in progress in Rome) is the remarkable similarity between Pentecostalism and Catholic mysticism. The startling fact of the crumbling of Protestant resistance to Pentecostalism illustrates the decadence of the Protestant churches. Even the word Protestant is becoming a dirty word.



A Fulfillment of Prophecy


          Multitudes are exulting that the church is being stirred by the fires of revivalism. This is not a passing fad but a remarkable fulfillment of Bible prophecy. If the Protestant movement had not cast away the historical system of prophetic interpretation (which was espoused by the Reformers) in favor of futurism (developed by the Jesuits), Footnote it might have escaped the delusion of these last days.

          Protestants once generally accepted the fact that the leopard-like beast of Revelation 13 was a symbol of the papacy, which dominated European civilization for about 1,000 years. Armed with the objective truth of justification by faith, the Reformation gave the "man of sin" a "deadly wound." In breaking the stranglehold of papal thought, it set the nations free from papal domination (see Rev. 13:3). But the prophecy of Revelation clearly foretells a restoration of the power of the ancient church to dominate the minds and enslave the consciences of men. The prophet declares:


            "And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live." Rev. 13:13, 14.


          "Fire... from heaven... in the sight of men" is an astoundingly accurate picture of American Protestantism caught up in the fires of false revivalism and Pentecostal ism. Fire is the favorite symbol of the charismatic movement – and it is the symbol God uses to describe that movement because it is a counterfeit outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It is not really fire from heaven, but it appears to be fire from heaven. It is "fire... from heaven... in the sight of men." But by its influence it will cause "the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed" (Rev. 13:12).

          The last days are to be marked by great religious deceptions. Working in the guise of "fire... from heaven" (the baptism of the Holy Spirit), "the spirits of devils" will "go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of the great day of God Almighty" (Rev. 16:14; see also 2 Thess. 2:8-12).

          Already it is considered as blasphemy to speak against the supernatural workings within the new Pentecostal movement. A spirit of boastful certainty and arrogant intolerance has often been manifested by those who "have the Spirit." The preoccupation with inward experience is leading multitudes back to the religious philosophy of the medieval church. Rome knows the score. She reads what is to be. Some well-meaning men seem to be as paralyzed as Melanchthon was when he did not know whether or not to speak out against the spiritualistic enthusiasts who came to Wittenberg while Luther was hidden in the Wartburg Castle. It was this issue that led the great Reformer to come out of hiding and to risk his life. Cried the Spirit-filled leaders on being granted an interview with Luther, "The Spirit! the Spirit!" The Reformer was decidedly unimpressed, "I slap your spirit on the snout," he thundered. He saw that the great truth of justification by faith was diametrically opposed to these "German prophets," as he styled them.

          We have now come to the time when the great issues of the sixteenth century have to be fought out again. This time the conflict will be more severe, and it will be final. Roll up the old denominational boundary lines. There is going to be a regrouping of the religious world. On the one side there will be a grand union of Catholics, pseudo-Protestants and Pentecostals in what appears to be a movement for the conversion of the whole world. This movement is described in Revelation 13. On the other side there will be a movement to restore the everlasting gospel in its pristine purity and power. This movement is described in Revelation 14. In our concluding study we must consider the features of God's final message.


– This article was written by the former editor and appears in Present Truth Vol. 1, #5.






By Blood and by Water


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          The Word of God is a sharp, two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12). The two cutting edges are the law and the gospel. As Melanchthon points out in his Apology of the Augsburg Confession, "All Scripture ought to be distributed into these two principal topics" (see Book of Concord [St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia Publishing House, 1957], p. 32).

          And the Formula of Concord Footnote declares:


            "These two doctrines belong together and should always be urged by the side of each other, but in a definite order and with a proper distinction, and the Antinomians or assailants of the law are justly condemned, who abolish the preaching of the law from the church, and wish sins to be reproved, and repentance and sorrow to be taught, not from the law, but from the gospel... These two doctrines, we believe and confess, should ever and ever be diligently inculcated in the Church of God even to the end of the world." – Ibid., pp. 260, 261.


          Such clear statements are not confined to the Lutheran confessions, but similar statements are also found in the founding articles of the Reformed and Anglican Churches.

          We agree with Edmund Schlink, who says, "As the law cannot be preached without Christ, so Christ's work cannot be preached without the law." – Edmund Schlink, Theology of the Lutheran Confessions (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1961), p. 86. The gospel is no great glory to those who have never stood before Mount Sinai, so to speak, and trembled before the awesome majesty of God's law. Those who have never felt the strength of sin (which is by the law) can never appreciate the joy and sweetness of the gospel. See how the apostle Paul uses the law in Romans (chs. 1-3) to prepare our hearts for the hearing of the gospel. It is certain that those who do not hear the law cannot hear the gospel. Neither can Christ's work for us be understood or appreciated apart from the law.



The Law of Love


          Law is the basis of all good government. No government can exist without law. God has a law which is the basis of the divine government. One word may be used to summarize that law: love (Rom. 13:8-10).

          Love is not a feeling of ecstatic pleasure. It is not a high religious rapture. It is an eternal principle, or law, of life. God has not left sinful mortals to work out their own interpretation of love but has carefully shown what is involved so that only the most obstinate need remain in ignorance.



          If you pass light through a spectrum or glass prism, it breaks down into the colors of the rainbow. We then realize that light is the combination of the colors of the rainbow. When love is placed under the prism of God's Word, we may see that it is a combination, or blending, of ten eternal principles. These ten aspects of love are verbalized in the Ten Commandments:


          1. Loyalty. "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." God is our Creator and Redeemer. Therefore we should love Him before everything else. He is to be first and last and best in everything. Love is loyal.


          2. Faithfulness. In forbidding us from worshiping a god of our own making, the Lord says, "I the Lord thy God am a jealous God." He is the Husband of His people. Love requires faithfulness in our covenant to love Him with the kind of devotion that belongs to no other. The Bible uses the marriage covenant and relationship to illustrate the kind of faithfulness that love to God requires. The prophets likened Israel's unfaithfulness to the covenant-keeping Yahweh as harlotry and whoredom. Apostasy is spiritual adultery.


          3. Reverence. God's name is holy and is to be held in awe and reverence. Reverence is the foundation of all true worship. God cannot do anything with an irreverent man. Popular revivals often try to make God into a popular somebody. The irreverence of much within the "Jesus movement" is blasphemy. As Luther said about the charismatics of his day, "They talk to God as if He were a shoemaker's apprentice." Love is reverent.


          4. Holiness. The fourth precept of the Decalogue was given to inculcate and illustrate holiness – wholeness for God, sanctification, separation and dedication to His service. Holiness is not rapture or the exercise of a high degree of religious feelings under extraordinary circumstances. It is doing the will of God, obeying His Word with unquestioning confidence. Love is holy.


          5. Respect for Authority. The fifth commandment enjoins respect, not only for parents, but for all legitimate authority. Love is not lawless or disorderly. It does not disrespect those over us in positions of authority. Paul warned Timothy, "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy..." 2 Tim. 3:1, 2.


          6. Respect for Life. "Thou shalt not kill," like the other commandments, is exceedingly broad. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus showed that He did not come to weaken, much less do away with, the Decalogue, but to show its far-reaching claims. To be angry with a brother without cause or to rail on him is to be in danger of judgment and hell-fire. Love will seek to preserve and promote life, not destroy and kill, even as Christ said, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:10. Paul also said, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" 1 Cor. 6:19. "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." 1 Cor. 3:17. Multitudes of professed Christians live intemperately, abuse their health and indulge themselves in debilitating habits, not knowing that for all these things God shall bring them into judgment.


          7. Purity. Love is pure. Jesus warned us that the last days would be marked by the kind of widespread immorality which existed in the time of Noah and Lot. We scarcely need to be reminded that we are living in the midst of an immoral revolution. The church is supposed to be the salt which preserves society from utter corruption, but what can we expect when professed churches of Christ become a cage of every unclean and hateful bird? The San Francisco Chronicle of January 5, 1972 reported:


            "Homosexuals were blessed as psychologically fit for the ministry by a narrow vote of the First Congregationalist church yesterday. (Resolution to ban them was defeated by 68 votes to 63)."


          If the minority 63 delegates did not get up and get out of a church like that, they too have lost all sense of the abominable condition of such a church.


          8. Honesty. Love is honest, and it always gives good measure, pressed down and running over.


          9. Truthfulness. Jehovah is a God of truth, and His Spirit is called the Spirit of truth. We are commanded to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).

 

          10. Contentment. The selfish heart will always covet; but where love is, there will be "godliness with contentment."


          Here is love. Love is loyal, faithful, reverent and holy. It respects authority and life. It is pure, honest, truthful and contented. The Ten Commandments describe the kind of people God will have in His kingdom. Everything contrary and rebellious to these eternal principles of a righteous character will be shut out. Sin needs to be clearly defined, and in the Ten Commandments it is so clearly defined that both learned and ignorant may understand. Sin is the transgression of this law (1 John 3:4), and the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).

          To transgress the Decalogue is an affront to the awesome majesty of a sin-hating God. That Israel might know something of the terrible majesty and sacred character of His law, God brought them to Mount Sinai. As God spoke the Ten Words in the hearing of the people, the whole mountain was enveloped in fire and smoke, and the earth shook at the voice of the Eternal. The people were in fearful terror, and even Moses declared, "I exceedingly fear and quake." The people cried, "Let not God speak with us, lest we die." Sinful mortals were not even able to hear the law, much less do it!

          When God invited the people at Sinai to enter into covenant with Him, they confidently declared, "All that the Lord hath spoken we will do." Ex. 19:8. The Lord said to Moses, "They have well said all that they have spoken. O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it might be well with them.... "Deut. 5:28, 29. God knew that the sinful heart of man would not keep its best resolutions. Within a few days Israel forgot God and entered into the wildest religious orgy. And as long as anyone has nothing better to trust in than his promises to God, he will be under the law without hope of justification or pardon.



The New Covenant


          The new covenant is based on better promises (Heb. 8:6) – not a better law or a better government or even better conditions, but a promise based on an oath (Heb. 6:16-18). A covenant has two parties. The old covenant was between God and the people. The new covenant was between God and Christ (Zech. 6:12, 13). It was an everlasting covenant, a plan which existed from times eternal (see Rom 16:25, R.S.V.).

          In the new covenant, Christ stands in the place of the people. He becomes the Substitute and Surety for them. In their name and on their behalf, He makes an oath to God: "All that the Lord hath said I will do." Thus, "when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Gal. 4:4, 5).

          Righteousness is obedience to the law. This the sinner owes to the law, but he is incapable of rendering it (Rom. 8:3). With infinite pity, the Son of God looked upon the lost race, but He could not indulgently save them. If He was to save them, He must save them in a way consistent with the perfect justice of a righteous law. He chose to undertake for them, to step down, to stand in their place and to render to the law all that it required. He did it because His love called Him that way. For Him heaven was not a place to be desired while we were without God and without hope in the world.

          In the person of His Son, the eternal God came to this planet. He humbled Himself to take the form of man, as a man He humbled Himself to become a servant, and as a servant He humbled Himself to death, even the death of the cross (Phil. 2:5-8).

          The second Person of the Godhead partook of the substance and essence of human nature as it was affected by sin but not infected by sin. As true man – indeed, as the representative Man – He lived the law of God. He was the law, the Word, the Ten Words made flesh; "...(and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). In our name, He gave to the law a life that equaled its broadest claims. The obedience of Jesus was the obedience that the law required of us. He was always loyal ("I must be about My Father's business"), faithful, reverent, holy, respectful, pure, honest, truthful and contented.

          The righteous demands of the law could not be met alone by the holy living of our Substitute. We have sinned, and justice demands that the death penalty be executed. Here again, Christ took our place to make entire satisfaction to the law on our behalf.



          As Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal, His soul was overwhelmed with a superhuman sorrow. He said to His disciples, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." Leaving them at the entrance of the garden, He staggered on alone. The sins of the whole world rolled like a mountain on His divine soul until He began to sweat drops of blood. It was in a garden that the first Adam sold the race to Satan. It was in a very different garden that Jesus made the final decision to redeem the race.

          Behold now! The Judge of all becomes the Judged of all. Adam in Eden blamed God for his sin. So has every sinner. God says, "Very well, I will take the blame!" The Judge steps down and invites sinners to judge Him. And judge Him they did. He was arrested at midnight as if He were a wild animal. He was arraigned before corrupt courts, abused, spat upon, derided, lashed, crowned with thorns. When Pilate invited men to choose between Jesus, the Son of God, and Barabbas, the murderous robber, they overwhelmingly called for Barabbas; as if to say, "Barabbas is a very saint compared to Jesus." He was judged as if He were a snake, a venomous, poisonous snake, unfit to live on this planet. "Away with Him I" they cried. "Let Him be crucified!" And so He was led forth before the rage of an infuriated mob to die a most cruel and shameful death.

          The mystery of human sin is that they hated Him "without a cause" (John 15:25). But greater yet is the mystery of love, that He could love them without a cause. The blacker the night, the more brilliant the stars. His love for sinners became stronger and stronger as they hated Him more and more.




          He was lifted up from earth on the cross because earth had refused her King. And not only earth but Heaven too, for He was now the sinner in the awful reckoning of God. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up . . . " John 3:14. "For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Cor. 5:21.


          "Transgressors cannot dwell with God,

          They have no ray of light;

          So Christ saw not the Father's face,

          Only eternal night."


          As the darkness and despair of eternal separation from God gathered about the soul of Christ, He suffered anguish so great that His physical pain was hardly felt. This was infinite suffering that would make the suffering of all the holy martyrs combined appear as nothing. This was infinite humiliation, for there was no lower place for the King of glory to go.

          The awful sense of being separated from God forced from His parched lips the awful cry, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" The answer is in Romans 3: "Because there is none righteous, no, not one. No one understands, no one seeks after God." But we may now cry, "My God, my God, why hast Thou accepted me?" And the gospel answers: "Because there is One righteous, yes, just One." God promised Jeremiah that He would spare Jerusalem from the Babylonians if he could find one righteous man in it (Jer. 5:1). But more amazingly, God covenanted to save the world for one righteous Man. Christ chose to be that One. Said Luther:


            "Our most merciful Father, seeing us to be oppressed and overwhelmed with the curse of the law, and so to be holden under the same that we could never be delivered from it by our own power, sent his only Son into the world and laid upon him all the sins of all men, saying: Be thou Peter that denier; Paul that persecutor, blasphemer and cruel oppressor; David that adulterer; that sinner which did eat the apple in Paradise; that thief which hanged upon the cross; and briefly, be thou the person which hath committed the sins of all men; see therefore that thou pay and satisfy for them. Here now cometh the law and saith: I find him a sinner, and that such a one as hath taken upon him the sins of all men, and I see no sins else but in him; therefore let him die upon the cross. And so he setteth upon him and killeth him. By this means the whole world is purged and cleansed from all sins, and so delivered from death and all evils. Now sin and death being abolished by this one man, God would see nothing else in the whole world, especially if it did believe, but a mere cleansing and righteousness." – Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans' Publishing Co., 1930), p. 272.


          On the cross, Christ exhausted the penalty of the law and provided a pardon. He reconciled the prerogatives of justice and mercy. Two things were accomplished: the integrity of God's law was upheld, and salvation was provided for sinners. The object of the atonement was not only redemption for the fallen race, but that the divine law and government might be maintained and vindicated. As Flavell, that great Puritan author, said, "Never was the law of God more honored as when the Son of God stood before its bar of justice to make reparations for the sins of men." The cross enables God to justify sinners without detracting from the dignity or claims of His righteous law.

          Having given to the law all it required of the fallen race, Christ cried, "It is finished!" On the cross He destroyed sin, abolished death, defeated Satan, opened Paradise and shut the gates of hell. It was for us He did it. His victory is ours. It was secured in our name. The incarnation means that we were in Him when He lived and died. Therefore we have fulfilled the law in Him. If the football fan can cry, "We have won!" when his team wins, how much more should we cry, "We have won!" as we identify ourselves with the life and death of Jesus. This is the gospel. We have won – by Him and in Him. We have been redeemed by perfect obedience to the law of God – not ours but His. (And yet, what is His is ours.) This is an eternal victory. Genuine Christian experience comes by glorying in His.



By Blood and Water


            "But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bear record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe." John 19:34, 35.


          The Blood. "Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." Rom. 5:9. Sinners are justified by Christ's perfect obedience and satisfaction which He gave to the divine law on our behalf. The gospel takes the law seriously. "...the doers of the law shall be justified." Rom. 2:13. When we believe on Jesus, His doing and dying are credited to us, and thus we are justified by perfect obedience to the law. Justification and faith have no meaning apart from the law of God.

 

          The Water. "He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive...)" John 7:38, 39. The benefits of the new covenant are renewal by the Holy Spirit as well as forgiveness. Writes the apostle, "...This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." Heb. 10:16, 17.

          Let those who want to major on experience and the Holy Spirit, measure up to the great office work of the Spirit. True experience is important. It is not rapture and ecstatic feelings, but it is having the law which Christ died to vindicate written in our hearts and carried out in our lives. This is worth more than all the noise of the charismatic movement. The "normal" Christian life of faithfulness and obedience must not be undervalued. It may not be as spectacular as some other things that people tend to run after, but it is of great price in the sight of God. Let those who value miracles consider that the greatest miracle is a life that is loyal, faithful, reverent, holy, respectful, pure, honest, truthful and contented.

          Says Melanchthon in his Apology:


            "It is written in the prophet Jer. 31, 33: 'I will put My law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts.' And in Rom. 3, 31, Paul says, 'Do we, then, make void the Law through faith? God forbid! Yea, we establish the law.' And Christ says, Matt. 19, 17: 'If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.' Likewise, 1 Cor. 13, 3: 'If I have not charity it profiteth me nothing.' These and similar sentences testify that the Law ought to be begun in us, and be kept by us more and more [that we are to keep the Law when we have been justified by faith, and thus increase more and more in the Spirit]. Moreover we speak not of ceremonies, but of that Law which gives commandment concerning the movements of the heart, namely the Decalogue. Because, indeed, faith brings the Holy Ghost, and produces in hearts a new life, it is necessary that it should produce spiritual movement in hearts. And what these movements are, the prophet Jer. 31, 33 shows, when he says: 'I will put My Law into their inward parts, and write it in their hearts.' Therefore, when we have been justified by faith and regenerated, we begin to fear and love God, to pray to Him, to expect from Him aid, to give thanks and praise Him, and to obey Him in afflictions. We begin also to love our neighbors, because our hearts have spiritual and holy movements [there is now, through the Spirit of Christ a new heart, mind, and spirit within]." – Book of Concord, p. 42.


The Formula of Concord well says:


            "For the Law says indeed that it is God's will and command that we should walk in a new life, but it does not give the power and ability to begin and do it; but the Holy Ghost, who is given and received, not through the Law, but through the preaching of the gospel, Gal. 3:14, renews the heart. Thereafter the Holy Ghost employs the Law so to teach the regenerate from it, and to point out and show them in the Ten Commandments what is the [good and] acceptable will of God, Rom. 12:2, in what good works God hath before ordained that they should walk, Eph. 2, 10." – Ibid., p. 262.


And yet we must always remember that mortal man can never reach a point in the Spirit-filled life where his fellowship with God does not rest entirely on justification by the blood of Christ.

          John the apostle says, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." 1 John 4:1. How shall we try the spirits? Isaiah declares, "To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Isa. 8:20; cf. v. 16. That is to say, we must try them by the law and the gospel.

          As the "fire... from heaven" deceives multitudes with sensational wonders (Rev. 13:13), God will have a people whose faith and experience meet the two-fold test of the law and the gospel. Says the revelator:


            "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters... Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."

            "And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud One sat like unto the Son of man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in Thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for Thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe." Rev. 14:6, 7, 12, 14, 15.


– This article was written by the former editor and appears in Present Truth Vol. 1, #5.






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