Thursday, 18 February 2016

Road Users – A Parable

Road Users – A Parable

In the U.K. we drive on the left on our roads. This is not simply a matter of custom or social convention, but it is enshrined in law and written in our Highway Code, the booklet studied by every driver as a guide for all road users.

Nevertheless, a group of Liberal Motorists have decided that this rule is an infringement of their personal freedom and a dictatorial restriction on their right to choose.  “We should be free”, they argue, “to drive on the right or left, or even on both sides at different times. Some of us are by nature right hand drivers, and it would be unloving to force us to drive on any other side.”

Some of the Liberal Motorists have argued that although the Highway Code does speak of driving on the left, we should interpret this contextually.  Some passages, although mentioning the left obviously do not mean us to take this instruction literally - by “left” it actually means “right”. Others have argued that this practice of driving on the left is historically conditioned and now, in a more enlightened age, we realise that it is better to drive on the right.  The fact that British cars have the steering wheel on the right, (for left side driving), is no counter argument - we can simply mechanically adjust the layout of the controls and move the steering wheel to the left.  Indeed it is every Motorists right to have this done at State expense.

Some Liberal Motorists are more radical.  They acknowledge that the Highway Code consistently and universally requires motorists to drive on the left. They do not seek, by subtle arguments, to reinterpret this fact; they rather assert that as modern drivers we are no longer under the authority of the Highway Code and can simply reject its rules and thereby allow driving on the right.  They claim that they have great respect for the Highway Code, but that this respect is shown not by slavishly following its directions, but by following the underlying “spirit” of the Highway Code which obviously encompasses driving on the right. Besides, it is argued, certain more enlightened countries have already moved to driving on the right.  We must go with the flow and follow the spirit of the age. They also argue that this issue is not a matter of fundamental importance and surely liberty of opinion and practice should be extended to all Motorists on this issue.

Thus some Liberal Motorists simply ignore the Highway Code, others have tried to have the Highway Code amended, others have convinced some left side drivers that we can accommodate both views within the Motorist fraternity, and still others have simply taken a unilateral decision and have started driving on the right. It has even been argued that in the progress and development characteristic of the new age of enlightenment that anyone who refuses to recognise the right to drive on the right should themselves not be given a driving licence; they should be denied the opportunity to become Motorists because of their narrow, backwards and discriminatory attitude.

Meanwhile, some traditional Motorists, having grown tired of the constant debate, and the chaos, confusion and carnage on the roads, have decided that in future they will take the train!

Matthew 11:15, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Monday, 15 February 2016

The Pharisee within Us

The Pharisee within Us

We heard an excellent sermon last night on the Pharisee and the Publican from the Rev Paul Gibson of Perth.  I read this later in the evening from John Brown’s outstanding commentary on Galatians. It speaks of the continuing temptation to Phariseeism, even in the evangelical church.

Galatians 3:21, 22
“For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe."

The statement contained in these words has lost none of its truth or of its importance in the lapse of ages, and is just as closely connected with our duties and interests as with those of the Galatians to whom it was originally made. We are indeed in no danger of reposing our hope of an interest in the Divine favour on our enjoyment of the privileges, or our performing the ritual observances, of the Mosaic economy. But we all are in imminent danger of building our expectations of final happiness on a foundation equally insecure.

Are there not thousands and tens of thousands among us who are flattering themselves that they are Christians, merely because they were born in a Christian land and baptised in the name of Jesus? Are there not countless multitudes who, without any reference whatever to the Saviour's atonement, on the ground of their comparative innocence or excellence, or of their repentance and reformation, or of their alms and their prayers, are expecting to obtain a share in the felicities of heaven? And are there not countless multitudes more who, while they profess to depend on what the Saviour has done and suffered, look on his merits merely as an ample store out of which is to be supplied the deficiency in their own deserts — relying a little on the Saviour, but principally on themselves? 

Indeed, are not by far the greater part of those who name the name of Jesus obviously ignorant and unbelieving respecting the very elementary principle of his religion, that “eternal life is the gift of God," and that men are justified freely by God's grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus"? Are not the great majority even of those who appear to be religious, going about to establish their own method of justification, and obstinately refusing to submit to this Divine method of justification. They will do anything and everything rather than credit God's testimony concerning his Son, rely entirely on his finished work, and humbly and heartily accept of a full and free salvation.

To such persons we proclaim with the apostle, “If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law," But no such law has been given. No such law could be given. You may indeed imagine remedial and reduced laws, and you may depend on your obedience to these laws, and cherish lively hopes of thus obtaining the Divine favour and everlasting happiness. But remember, God will acknowledge no law as his but that which He himself has promulgated, and He will gratify no hopes but those which He himself has awakened.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Why I am no longer in the Church of Scotland (9)

Why I am no longer in the Church of Scotland (9)

In 1995 I produced a small booklet on biblical separation. This is the ninth extract from that booklet:

2 Peter 2:1 -3

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

Peter, like both Jesus and Paul, warns against false prophets and teachers.  Their heresies are “destructive”, leading to the condemnation of those who embrace them. Such teachers bring the truth into disrepute, especially if they are openly accepted or tolerated within the church. Such false teachers may gain for themselves many followers, but it does not mean their teaching is approved by God.

Is it conceivable that Peter warns against such false teachers, but expects the church to take no action against them?  Does he expect the church to grant formal recognition to such teachers, refusing to discipline them and willing to fellowship with them in the name of diversity and toleration? Of course not!  Peter warns Christians  in order that the church might recognise and remove such purveyors of error.

1 John 4:1

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
The church is not to be gullible in accepting the claims of false teachers to status and office. False teachers must be identified and excluded from the church. False teaching represents the spirit of antichrist.  One test to evaluate the claims of teachers, by no means the only one, is their doctrine of Christ. Those who reject orthodox christology, who deny his deity, who reject his virgin birth, who ridicule his body resurrection and ascension, represent the spirit of antichrist.

2 John 10, 11

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

The “house” here represents the church. It is not so much domestic hospitality as ecclesiastical recognition and welcome within the church that John is discussing. If someone does not receive and recognise apostolic teaching they are simply not to be received. If they do not hold to the fundamental truths of evangelical Christianity, but reject essential biblical truths, they are not to be welcomed by the church. 

John says that if we welcome such teachers, we in some measure share in their wicked work of undermining apostolic teaching. Guilt by association and acceptance is clearly indicated.

When any liberal preacher is welcomed in an evangelical church, even if his sermon on that occasion is outwardly orthodox, the very act of welcoming and receiving him is sinful – he is to be judged on the totality of what he believes and teaches, not on his deceptive dissimulation in a particular sermon. It is an unacceptable evasion to say that this text only refers to receiving, for example, a Mormon or a Jehovah Witness – it refers to those within the visible church who deny apostolic teaching and who do not abide in the teaching of Christ.

[To be continued.]