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06 January 2008

Genuine or Not?

For whatever reason, I’m not a big fan of directly quoting large chunks of literature here (other than the Bible), but avid reader and Christ-follower Leroy sent me a bit of a John MacArthur study that mirrors my post yesterday. Actually, MacArthur said it before (and probably better than) I did, but that’s okay. Thought it was a great follow-up to yesterday’s post:

Character of a Genuine Saving Faith

1. Evidences that neither prove nor disprove one’s faith:

- Visible Morality (Matthew 19:16-21; 23:27)
- Intellectual Knowledge (Romans 1:21; 2:17)
- Religious Involvement (Matthew 25:1-10)
- Active Ministry (Matthew 7:21-24)
- Understanding* of Sin (Acts 24:25)
- Assurance [self-confidence] (Matthew 23)
- Time of Decision (Luke 8:13-14)

2. The fruit/proofs of authentic/true Christianity

- Love for God (Psalm 42:1; 73:25; Luke 10:27, Romans 8:7)
- Repentance from Sin (Psalm 32:5; Proverbs 28:13, Romans 7:14; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 1 John 1:8-10)
- Genuine Humility (Psalm 51:17; Matthew 5:1-12; James 4:6,9)
- Devotion to God’s Glory (Psalm 105:3, 115:1; Isaiah 43:7, 48:10; Jeremiah 9:23,24; 1 Corinthians 10:31)
- Continual Prayer (Luke 18:1; Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:1-4; James 5:16-18)
- Selfless Love (1 John 2:9, 3:14, 4:7)
- Separation from the World (1 Corinthians 2:12; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17, 5:5)
- Spiritual Growth (Luke 8:15; John 15:1-6; Ephesians 4:12-16)
- Obedient Living (Matthew 7:21; John 15:14; Romans 16:26; 1 Peter 1:2,22; 1 John 2:3-5)

If List 1 is true of a person and List 2 is false, there is cause to question the validity of one’s profession of faith. Yet if List 2 is true, then List 1 will be also.

(From Dr John MacArthur Study Bible Index Notes, © 1997 World Bible Publishing

*Here Leroy and I agree to depart from MacArthur’s original wording, “Conviction of sin.” I will go into more detail on this in tomorrow’s post.


Leroy said...

BEST post ever!!!

Leroy :)

Preston N said...

While I agree with everything MacArthur’s states regarding fruits
of an authentic Christian, MacArthur’s statements here are veiled in his underlining theology that needs to clarified. I would like to use Macarthur to make my point regarding the subject at hand. (I realize this is a long comment, but I am using this to make my point – so accept my apologies for using your comment section as a post of my own)

MacArthur’s theology (as well as most modern day churches) adheres to a theology that it is totally impossible for man to truly "Love God" and "Repent from Sin" on his own accord. This is theology known as moral inability, or Total Depravity. This theology simply negates man’s freewill ability or moral obligation to choose right from wrong (an unbiblical one at that if I might add). If you don’t believe me then I would suggest you read what Macarthur’s says in his own words. MacArthur defines this theology on his website as:

"The doctrine of total depravity....everyone is utterly unable to do anything to change their sinful condition (including repentance – my emphasis). Nobody is going to come and make a decision for Christ unless God draws them. That's essential. Man can't make a move toward Christ until God moves him in that direction, in line with His eternal purpose....our salvation security not on what we've decided or will decide in the future, but on what God decided long ago in the past before the world began."

So we see here that MacArthur believes in neither man’s moral obligation or freewill, as man is utterly IMPOSSIBLE to love God and since he is unable to love God this means he also can not repent either - unless God literally moves his will for him (aka Irresistible Grace & Unconditional Election). So this being said all of the remaining items in List #2 are impossible for man to do unless God "elects" him and literally moves his will from Depravity to Love for him or should I say “forces” him, as man is just too “depraved” to choose right from wrong.

So according to MacArthur he has seemingly answered your question "are we in the church really taking positive, active steps that show that we mean what we say?". According to MacArthur the problem is not at all the church or man, but really it’s God who is the problem. For you see when men and women do not repent and choose to love God it’s because God has not directed (or forced) their "will" to do so. Man is too depraved to repent on his own accord, so God therefore must intervene and “move” or force his will for him. (Note: there is a difference between being persuaded by the Holy Spirit who “leads” us in repentance, but MacArthur is proclaiming something all together different in saying God “moves” your will for you)

I say all of this to make my point. My point is this “IDEAS HAVE CONSEQUENCES”! If what I just stated above seems to make God sound rather arbitrary or even unloving, it’s because it does! And yet we wonder why the lost are not coming to Christ – it’s because of the very message we are preaching to the lost! Will this theology convict a sinner’s heart or will this theology allow him to blame God for his failure to repent and love God! This is why the church is failing miserably to recover the sinner’s heart, because we have a theology that provides them with excuse after excuse not to repent. It allows the sinner to blame God and misrepresent the benevolent character of God. Is this the theology of our Savior? When God commands Israel and Jesus commands us to “LOVE THE LORD THY GOD WITH ALL OF THY HEART AND ALL OF THY SOUL AND ALL OF THY MIGHT” did he make a disclaimer at the end and say “Until I give you the will to do so?” How ridiculous! Man is guilty of his sin because he can choose right from wrong and he chooses self! Why do we experience guilt or have a conscience, because we know we have sinned and shouldn’t have! Do we really think God will send countless sinners to Hell because He had not “willed” them to repent? No he will send people to hell because they could have chosen to love God but willingly chose to love themselves.

In my opinion this IS what's wrong with the church Dean - it’s this type of theology being promoted by the likes of John MacArthur and most of our churches that's killing the church. If my comments seem rather harsh its because I am passionately broken hearted over the lost and I see time and time again churches promote theology of men like MacArthur, but yet when we follow their theology to their logical conclusions it will end up not helping the sinner but actually hindering them. It provides sinners with a safe haven of excuses and allows them to hide in the sanctuaries of our churches. I left the church over a year ago, because of this very theology. I was tired of hearing “believers” say “I sin in word thought and deed everyday and that’s OK because I am just Totally Depraved, but I am under grace”. How horrifically sad! What your really saying is God has made you in such a way that allows you to continue in your sins, but yet he gives you a wink and allows you into his kingdom, but yet sends billions of others to hell for the same exact sins! They have emptied the cross of its power. Again, ideas have consequences!

Dean Lusk said...

I don't want to believe that I always need to offer the caveat, "I don't endorse everything that this person believes." This is one good reason not to refer to literature other than the Bible. But please take that caveat along with this original post.

I am generally so leery of the predominant mainstream authors and teachers of the day (including MacArthur and many of those with whom you and I both take known issue) that I intentionally do not give them much weight on their overall theologies, and as such, I have not been aware of each of MacArthur's.

I'm not sure if that sort of intentional ignorance is a good thing, particularly when I realize that many people take the views of certain teachers as gospel simply because of the popularity of the teacher or author.

However, I also don't see the need to get up to speed on everyone and his brother's teaching. (Like Osteen, for instance... I can tell you right off the bat that his teaching is pretty much not Godly, although I couldn't tell you each of his specific views.)

Speaking for myself, I don't see your comments as harsh. Rather, I believe you've hit a nail squarely on the head.

Though Southern Baptists as an organization officially espouse the concept of total depravity, I've thankfully not heard it preached or alluded to from our pulpit.

To finish off with a little story that I can't forget now that I've mentioned Joel Osteen (and saw the post at your blog), a while back my wife and I were in the car and I tuned in to a preacher. My wife said, "Is that Joel Osteen?" I listened for a moment and said, "Nope, it isn't him. This guy's quoting Scripture."

Dean Lusk said...

By the way, I should state for the record that I will never knowingly use material or quotes from someone who takes up doctrines which I find to be in opposition to the Scripture.

Preston N said...

Dean - your a blessing friend! It encourages my heart to see men (and women) who are seekers of God's Truth!

Leroy said...

While I don't agree completely with MacArthur, it might help to consider his entire concept. Which is basically summed up in 5-point Calvinism. And no, that (5pt vs. 3 pt, etc) can NOT be solved here. It hasn't been solved by many smart man over many years, I'm sure we could do no better (no disrespect to ANYONE here).

Dean, on the contrary, Pastor Lee did preach on total depravity this past Sunday morning. But it wasn't from a complete Calvinistic view. Ask him to be sure, but I'm almost 100% positive that's what I heard.

Which is ok. To consider the Calvinistic view, you pretty much have to consider all five points together and not just one or two.

My $0.02.

Leroy said...

Also, my basic understanding is that by man being depraved is to say that we cannot do anything of ourselves to warrant salvation. We are led by the Holy Spirit.

And no, I'm not a 5 point Calvinist. I truly believe it's one of those deep theological debates that won't be settled this side of heaven.

I do want to say that I agree with Preston that this theology (Calvinism) can lead to being "passive" (or sending the wrong message) when it comes to spreading the gospel. Because if God is only going to 'elect' certain people, why should we try to win people to Christ? And I believe that's wrong. We should tell everyone we can what Christ has done for us and can do for them.

I really think I'm not making much, if any, sense at all. Typically happens to me when I try to get my brain around this really deep stuff.

Dean Lusk said...

Just in case the temptation arises, I do ask that debate about Calvinism/Arminianism/Open Theism/other be refrained from here.

There are far, far better forums for those topics than this site. I suggest Preston's blog (see "Links of Interest" in the sidebar), if anyone is really ready to talk on a deep level about those things (I'm not suggesting they should be argued about).

Regarding the sermon we heard Sunday, a couple of elements that are a part of the doctrine of total depravity were touched on. Not the doctrine as presented in these comments. For clarification, for those who were not there, the sermon about which we speak was about having the grace to forgive people and to realize that they, nor us, are not immune to falling.

And that is a really, really brief summary. :)

Leroy said...

You are correct. I didn't mean to sound like (say) he was preaching on total depravity and Calvinism. I don't think I said/implied that, but just to be clear.

Told you, my mind gets (more) warped when this subject comes up. And that's all I got to say about that.

Preston N said...

I agree with Leroy when he says " to consider the Calvinistic view, you pretty much have to consider all five points together and not just one or two."

This seems to be a present phenomenon in more churches these days whereby a pastor will preach on say totally depravity, but yet denies the other parts of the system. I call this "Illusion Theology". Whereby parts of another theological systems have either crept into the church or the church use to believe in that system years ago, and decided to only abort certain parts of the system. In the end you get a theological framework that makes very little sense or is not very coherent. I am in no way saying this is the case at WHBC, but I think we as Christians constantly need to try and understand what it is we believe in and not makes excuses for ourselves by saying "we will know that when we get to heaven" or "its just a mystery" or "We are unable to understand these things of God". God has given us his Spirit and his word and it is up to us to put forth the effort to search and understand - not only for ourselves, but more importantly to save the lost. Because trust me they do have questions and it hurts when we are neither prepared or studied up to answer them. as Paul says always be prepared to give an answer on the Lords account.

Leroy said...

Illusion Theory...but what if part of the theory has no scriptural basis whereas other parts of the theory do? General thought there.

There are mysteries of the Bible whether we like it or not. I agree we should make an effort to understand them and be able to defend our belief, but some things are just beyond comprehension.

For example: can anyone explain God's grace to me? Nope, you can explain what grace is, what it has done for you, and how it makes you feel, but I don't think our explanation begins to approach a level of understanding of God.

Preston N said...

That's just the problem. Its sort of like that Seasame Street game they use to play "Which one doesn't belong with the other". In order for sound theology to be logical or reasonable, it must be both systematic and it must be consistent with the known character of God. Calvinism is very systematic, however it impugns the character of God. The issue you have with "Illusion Theology" is it is not systematic (and therefore unreasonable) as you have bits and peices that are strewn together that do not make coherent sense. Another way to gauge this is if a doctrine viloates the Law of Non-Contridiction then more than likely it is "Illusion Theology".

I agree there are mysteries in scripture - such as God being uncreated. As for Grace I view it more as an outward working of God's infinite benevolence or his charcater.

Anonymous said...

Christy says: I think we try to make things harder than God intended. After all He said that we are to come to Him with the heart and faith of a child. I don't know any child who would sit down and write out five steps for any thing. They only see, want and take. I'm sure that my explanation here is way too simple, but then again, that's my point. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that some of you are probably tired of my paraphrasing Scripture and not using the references that I, well, refer to. So here is the passage of Scripture I was thinking of when I spoke of our child-like faith:
Matthew 18:2-4. Unfortunately I don't have every scripture and it's location memorized. But thankfully I do recall God's word on a regular basis and know pretty much where to look when I need to know the specifics.

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