by Mike Ratliff
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NASB)
In yesterday’s post, The Justification Controversy: A Guide for the Perplexed, we looked at an essay written a few years ago by John W. Robbins which dealt with the growing apostasy within the Reformed churches in the USA. He traced the root of that apostasy which he narrowed down to one controversy:
The justification controversy actually began 30 years ago in 1975, when students of Professor Norman Shepherd of Westminster Theological Seminary gave the wrong answers to questions posed by presbyteries examining them for ordination. When asked how a sinner is justified, the Westminster Seminary students answered: by faith and works.
Of course, this is not what true Reformed Theology teaches. This is not what we read in Ephesians 2:8-10 (above) either. Therefore, to hold to a theology of justification by faith and works those who do so are ignoring the clear teaching of scripture. What’s going on?
Later in his essay Robbins stated:
When the Christian Reformers of the 16th century declared theological war on a corrupt and apostate church, they fought on two major fronts: the doctrines of revelation and salvation. Their battle cries were Scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone, and Christ alone. The Reformers understood clearly that the Roman Church-State could defend a corrupt Gospel only because it had perverted the doctrine of divine propositional revelation.
Divine propositional revelation is the indispensable axiom, the starting point, the first principle of Christianity. If that first principle is perverted or twisted, then all theorems – doctrines such as election, salvation, covenant, and church – derived from it will be perverted or twisted as well.
When I first read the essay I had to stop and reread that section a few times. What is Robbins talking about? The RCC had claimed authority over the Word of God. The Reformers main objective was to take that authority away, saying that God had revealed Himself and His truth to His people in His Word. That includes the Gospel. The rest of Robbins essay gives us the results of denying the doctrine of revelation, which is unleashing Hell on earth.
11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; (Ephesians 4:11-14 NASB)
14 ἵνα μηκέτι ὦμεν νήπιοι, κλυδωνιζόμενοι καὶ περιφερόμενοι παντὶ ἀνέμῳ τῆς διδασκαλίας ἐν τῇ κυβείᾳ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ἐν πανουργίᾳ πρὸς τὴν μεθοδείαν τῆς πλάνης, (Ephesians 4:14 NA28)
In the NASB translation above the words “deceitful scheming” translate μεθοδείαν τῆς πλάνης, which could literally be translated as “lie in wait to deceive.” The desire of the false teacher is to deceive, however, in the last days there will be multitudes of people willing to be deceived. (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11).
Sometimes I get so discouraged when I try to get my brethren to understand that certain “doctrines” they love are heretical or some of their favorite “teachers and preachers” are heretics or even apostates and get such a massive push back that they make it look like I am the guilty party and the one causing division, etc. when actually it is the heretics who are the ones doing that.
If you haven’t read Robbin’s article in last night’s post I suggest that you do and understand that what he is talking about is not isolated to just Reformed churches, but is everywhere.
Therefore, those of us who know the truth, what are we to do? First, we cannot be partakers of the darkness being preached and taught in the visible church. We have to get out. We have to find a way to serve God and be fruitful even if it means starting a church in one’s own home. Yes, there, I said it. Second, learn the Gospel inside and out and how to share your faith. Third, Learn doctrine. Yes, you need to do that. The only way to defeat bad teachers is with the truth right from God’s Word. That was Jesus’ own example and it does work. Fourth, and last, do not be surprised when persecution comes. Go joyfully into the circumstances God has allowed for you.
20 Λέγει ὁ μαρτυρῶν ταῦτα· ναί, ἔρχομαι ταχύ. Ἀμήν, ἔρχου κύριε Ἰησοῦ . (Reveleation 22:20 NA28)
20 Says the one testifying these things, “Yes I Am coming quickly.” Amen come Lord Jesus!”
Soli Deo Gloria!