H/T: The Contemporary Calvinist
The first of Bill Bright’s “4 Spiritual Laws” doesn’t always meet expectations. Bad news for Joel Osteen and other disciples of Robert Schuller.
THE UNCHANGING MESSENGE OF THE CROSS
J. A. Matteson
“Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.” Galatians 6:12
Grace is antithetical to works. Justification by faith has been and will remain a stumbling block to human pride.
The essence of justification in Christ is right being, a new creation, while the Adamic nature insists on external
works. Let not a man consider his baptism as a means to gaining divine approval unto salvation. Let not a man be
persuaded that his tithe and offerings will win him a place at the wedding feast of the Lamb. And lest he be selfdeceived let him soberly reckon that even his loftiest thoughts of God remain polluted by sin and are an abomination before the eyes of him with whom he must give an account. Only by grace is a man accepted by the
Lord. The Adamic nature craves the approval of men (those who desire)—at the expense of being pleasing to the Lord—and the Lord’s bond-servant finds himself engaged in a daily struggle against the old nature. In order to be
of use to his master the man of God is continually tested and passed through the fire in order that the object of his
loyalty may be revealed. And once he is convinced in his own mind as to his loyalty to the cross, he is given opportunity to declare it, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). So powerful is the inner
urge for approval of men that, left unchecked, the old man will carry away the Lord’s bond-servant, striving against any and all who threaten the attainment of its passions; viz., the exaltation of self in the eyes of men. The message of the cross is not of this world which is why it is hated by the world, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you“( John 15:19). Any gospel that is loved by the world is a false gospel. Herein lies the damning temptation by ambassadors of Christ: to alter the message of the cross so as to try to win the approval of men.
What folly and arrogance is this? What misguided attempt is this, striving to perform the work of the Spirit? The old serpent whispers, “If you can get them to like you they will want to become as you are” (i.e., Christians). The Spirit and the flesh are opposed to each other; the nature of the Spirit is to convict, while the nature of the flesh is to console and appease. There is no comfort in death to the sons of Adam. But the fragrance of death at the foot of the cross is delightful to the nostrils of God. The Law slays the sons of Adam, delivering a fatal piercing through the heart of self-righteousness in order that they may forsake their vain striving of works and plead for a pardon by the Savior. The Law precedes the Good News and is integral to it. Apart from the Law the Gospel is neutered of power, becoming meaningless in the ears of the sons of Adam. For this reason the Apostle states, “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). It is the Law that drives the sinner to Christ in desperation as the horror of his standing before a holy and just God penetrates his heart. The Law is held in contempt by sinners as it demolishes pride and self-righteousness. The enemies of the cross desire to “make a good showing in the flesh” (i.e., win the approval of men) by deleting the Law when presenting the gospel, which is no Gospel at all. The demand of the cross is repentance, and the Lord delineates the requirement of it, “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). Let God’s messenger faithfully deliver the Law in conjunction with he Gospel and he will witness the power of God unto genuine salvation in the hearts of men. And they will bear much fruit and their fruit will remain.
Father, my desire is to remain faithful to your Word regardless of the cost to me personally. Empower me this day to be a worthy ambassador of the cross which finds its meaning and power in Your Law.
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