A CHRISTIAN'S SINS
H. B. SANDINE, D.D.
That the Word of God, over and over again warns professing Christians of the truth that sin will and does separate them from God is of little value or interest to those fundamental preachers who have built their ministerial popularity and success around entertaining, frivolous and shallow "preaching". They have forgotten, or at least lost sight of the fact, that apostolic warning given to Timothy (2 Timothy 4) urges (nay charges) them with the responsibility of reproving, rebuking and exhorting "with all longsuffering and doctrine" of their audience.
Where is the reproving of Christians in our present-day pulpits? Where do we find any rebuking of Christians along Biblical lines? Where can we find any doctrinal and Scriptural exhortation along the lines of which Paul speaks here in 2 Timothy 4 - exhortation, warning against [wilful] sin, selfishness, shallowness and worldliness - a condition which characterises the everyday living of a great mass of professing Christians, even in our fundamental and conservative Churches?
Indeed, when we read verse 3 of this chapter, we are given the reason for this type of entertaining and shallow ministry. The apostle Paul says:- "And the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears , and they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables." Let me give this to you in literal form from the Greek : "For there will be a time when they will not endure the healthful teaching, but having itching ears (itching as to hearing) they will for themselves heap up teachers according to their own desires (fastidious tastes): and will turn away their ears (the hearing of their ears) from the truth, and will turn aside to the fables (stories, myths)." This statement does not have reference to those who prefer liberalism or modernism or other false teaching alone. It includes also all Christians who are determined to have their own way, living shamefully in sin, shallowness, worldliness and for self alone. It includes all Christians - preachers and church members alike - who are determined to disobey any part or portion of the whole truth of God's Word. It makes no difference how fundamental, how orthodox, how evangelical they may think they are - if they cannot endure healthful teaching from God's Word - then this Pauline statement applies to them.
The Scriptural teaching in this Pauline statement is so strong that it shows us all too plainly what too many of our "fundamental" preachers fail to see - that men do not "fall away" into liberalism and modernism in one single step. There is a long process to this "falling away" which begins when Christians fall into sin that is not only permitted and tolerated, but remains un-confessed and un-forsaken. Then follows a conscious or unconscious denial of the reality of punishment, and a hearty acceptance of the age-old lie of the ever ready deceiver, the Devil's words, "Ye shall not surely die." And, together as pastor and flock, many of our evangelical and fundamental churches are echoing to the sinning Christians, "Yes, ye shall surely not die. You will lose your reward, but you will still be caught up to meet Christ in the air." What distortion of the Scriptures! The Word of God plainly teaches that the "soul that sinneth shall surely die!" There are no "if's or and's" about it. God never excuses sin - never in the unregenerate sinner, and never in the regenerate Christian sinner. Of course, there is the provision of 1 John 1: 9, - "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." But that forgiveness of sin requires confession of sin as a prerequisite. And confession of sin implies and involves repentance - godly sorrow because of their commission. And there can be no true confession and repentance of sin without a willing forsaking of sin. This is very clear and plain, for it is understandable that there can be no cleansing from sin by God until there has been first a willing forsaking of sin by the Christian sinner. Oh, how patiently God has warned His people about this great and solemn truth over and over again! How clear and plain are the statements in His Word!
But in times of apostasy, men with "itching ears" heap unto themselves teachers who tickle their "itching ears" with the assurance that God does not punish as severely today as Christians in former generations believed that the Bible taught, and so we have our fundamental, conservative and "Bible-believing" churches (so-called) filled today with multitudes with "Itching ears" who turn away from sound doctrine (healthful teaching) - to entertaining, shallow "preaching" in the pulpit which helps them to forget that God will surely punish them for their sins, their selfishness, their worldliness, and their disobedience to His Word.
More than this, is the fact, that the preachers who would and do "preach the Word," and are "urgent in season, out of season"; and who do reprove, rebuke and exhort with all long suffering and doctrine - are not only unpopular but being crowded out of our so-called fundamental, conservative and evangelical churches. Moreover, Bible teachers and evangelists who expound the word of God and thunder out the warnings of God against sin are given little or no place in these churches today.
Again, there are pastors in some of these churches, who would reprove and rebuke members in these churches for sin, and who would exercise Scriptural discipline in cases of unrepentant and un-confessed sin; but who dare not because it would mean the loss of their job. They dare not - because leaders in the local church would not tolerate or support them in the exercise of that Scriptural discipline; and they dare not, because of the unsympathetic attitude which ecclesiastical leaders in the denominational machinery hold toward all pastors who would dare to "clean house" - and which unsympathetic attitude would close all doors in that denomination to these pastors for further service. And so, we [now] have ever-increasing apostasy - apostasy that you cannot blame entirely upon the modernists and liberals.
And with the increasing apostasy there is an ever increasing deadness, spiritual deadness, in our churches. Many earnest Christians have been praying for a revival. But we are being told today that "the days of revivals are past." But this is only a "smoke-screen" - to cover up the fact that many preachers and churches are unwilling to pay the cost of a heaven-sent revival. The days of revival are not past, so far as God is concerned! He is an unchanging God! God is not willing that any should perish. "For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed" (Mal. 3: 6). And again and again, He calls in love and mercy, - "Come now, let us reason together ... if ye be willing and obedient" (Isa. 1: 10-20). "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened that He cannot save, neither His ear heavy, that He cannot hear: But your sins have separated you from your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear" (Isa. 59:1,2). "Return unto Me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts" (MaL 3: 7).
No, God's day of revivals is not past! But a heaven-sent revival costs, and costs very dearly! If you want a revival, you will have to pay the price: there is no other way. What is God's way for a revival? What is the price He has placed upon a heaven-sent revival? You will find the blueprint of it in 2 Chronicles 7: 14.
PREPARATION FOR THE KINGDOM
W. F. BATT
WE Christians "shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ" [Rom. 14: 10, 12] and give account of ourselves to God. That is the day in which He will reward every man according to his works. It is the time when our Lord takes account of how we have used the gifts and talents He has given us. One will say, "Lord, Thy pound hath gained ten pounds," and his Lord will say, "Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities." [Luke 19: 16-27]. Likewise the servant who had gained five talents. This is the time when the Lord shall cause His good and faithful servants to sit down to meat and will gird Himself and will come forth and serve them. [Luke 12: 37]. Today we rejoice in Christian fellowship; we gather in faith round the Lord's Table: but what a glorious prospect we have to look forward to when we shall sit down with all those who throughout the ages have been faithful,* and when the Lord Himself shall minister to us, when we shall see Him as He is.
[* There is no division here, between Old Testament saints and New Testament saints of God! Here we have the teaching of the unity of the redeemed. It will not just be Old Testament saints, in the earthly sphere of the coming millennial kingdom, and New Testament saints in its heavenly sphere: saints “throughout the ages” will be capable of ruling in both spheres of the kingdom. “They that are accounted worthy to attain to that age, and the resurrection out from the dead” … “For they are equal unto the angels” (Luke 20: 35): That is, able to rule in both spheres of the kingdom under Christ/Messiah Jesus.]
But this is not for all Christians. There was a servant with one talent who kept his talent in a napkin: the standard was too high - "I feared Thee, because Thou art an austere Man" [Matt. 25: 26, 28, 30]; he had preserved his talent instead of trading with it. "Thou wicked and slothful servant," the Lord will say, "Take therefore the talent from him ... and cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." [Luke 19: 24]
Now is the time the Lord chooses the team with which He will rule the world. Our position on that Day will depend on the faithfulness of our Christian life in this Day. The Christian who has willingly given his life to hard-working and faithful Christian work will be chosen for a place of honour on that Day. Likewise the escapist Christian, the lazy Christian, the backward and useless Christian in this life will be useless to Him in that Day. Our position in the [millennial] Kingdom depends entirely on the quality of our Christian life today. Today God is training us for that Day. If He has put us into a task where we need courage, resource, endurance, sound judgment, where we must take responsibility, it is because He is training us for that great Day. On our performance in this age will depend our place and duties in the Kingdom [in ‘the inhabited earth to come’ (Heb. 2: 5, R.V.)].
It shall be said in that day, "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation." [Isa. 25: 9] What joy and vindication of God's glory! What glory! What a prospect we have if we are faithful, if only, we are holy.
"Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." [Luke 21: 36]
- Practical Christianity.