A friend wrote me this past week and asked me to listen to a recent sermon by her pastor. I typically only go to one place to listen to sermons, SermonAudio.com* because most sermons today are more inspirational chats from a qualified life coach and rarely resemble the preaching of God’s word. (Just the fact that pastors are referred to as life coaches and team members at all, shows us the desperate state of the church).
The reason my friend wanted me to listen is because at about minute 43, the man complained about suffering from making the Bible an idol. I know what he meant, but it really disturbed my friend. There are some times when we revere the Bible so much that we exalt it above the God it exalts. I have no reason to believe that this is a major sin in the church, given that most don’t even open their Bibles. But that is another post.
The real problem I had with this pastor is that he spent a great deal of time bashing “the rules” as he put it and then told us what we were to actually do if we wanted to grow spiritually. In other words, he bashed Calvin and Calvin’s list of things not to do on the LORD’s day, and all the rules we all grew up with, and then replaced those rules with his very own rule.
The problem with this is that it is the typical DTS grad sermon: heavy on moralism, absent of the gospel and ignorant of anything that Calvin actually wrote. DTS grads do this frequently. It is as if there is some unwritten rule that you haven’t really preached unless you have ripped into Calvin on some level. It’s considered really cutting edge to do so, because we all know that NO ONE has EVER ripped into Calvin before from the pulpit.
But if they would actually take the time to read Calvin’s Institutes of Christian Religion, they would find a man who truly understood the Scripture, understood God’s sovereignty, understood salvation, understood God’s grace.
If this Yea hoot** actually would read Calvin’s Institutes he might have a better understanding of the gospel itself and quit giving his congregations rules to live by, when they cannot live to the rules that God gave us. What hubris this bozo has. He thinks because some try to honor the Laws given to us by God, that they are grossly mistaken and then replaces God’s Law with his own law. He pulls his new law from Matthew 9:13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.
What was his new law to live by? “Be a mercy giver, not a rule keeper!” Wow. How deep. How profound. How legalistic.
The problem with DTS grads is that they fail to see that there are no rules we can keep. This is why we preach Christ crucified. He is the rule keeper. We are not. The Law’s purpose is to condemn us and send us to the cross to find the One who kept the Law perfectly and trust in Him for salvation. Then once we have trusted in Him and received the grace we need, then we respond out of a heart of gratitude to keep God’s Law. Keeping God’s Law is not a standard of righteousness for us, but does show us how we are to live as believers. It is the model. Yet, instead of the Law condemning us, it causes us to rejoice in Christ because of what He did to save us. We can rejoice in the Law just as Christ did:
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
The Yea hoot, instead of meditating on God’s Law, meditates on his own law, “be a mercy giver, not a rule keeper!” and weighs down his people with just another law that they cannot keep. Again, this is why we preach Christ and not ourselves. This is why we exalt Him in our sermons and not our rules of engagement. But this pastor fails to see this. He might actually grasp this reality if he actually took the time to read Calvin’s Institutes of Christian Religion instead of bashing him all the time.
If he actually took the time to read… well, should I continue?
My dear friend has languished under this man’s ministry for years and has felt that she needs to leave. I hope she can actually find a church where the gospel is preached faithfully. It certainly isn’t in this DTS lead church. DTS grads are far too busy condemning those of us who actually see a usefulness to God’s Law, while coming up with their own brand of law. So very sad.
Alas, and before those of you condemn me mentioning Calvin in a positive light, saying that I follow Calvin, I do not. I follow Christ and His word. If you spend any time around a true Calvinist, you will find that Calvinist rarely quote Calvin. We are too busy quoting Scripture, just as Calvin did. In fact, anti-Calvinist tend to misquote Calvin more than Calvinist quote Calvin. That is because the source of Calvinism is not really Calvin, it is the Bible. As the other great Calvinist Charles Spurgeon once proclaimed: “Calvinism is the gospel.”
That they quote Spurgeon so much, again shows the irony of it all. They quote one of the leading Calvinists of the 19th Century, but bash the one who gave us the model of theology that so captures God’s grace.
*My link actually will take you to Grace Family Baptist Church. I know, me, a presbyterian, sending you to a baptist church. But Voddie Baucham and Stephen Bratton are two of the best preachers on SermonAudio, along with Alistair Begg, Paul Washer, Paul Tripp and Sinclair Ferguson.
**I call this pastor a Yea hoot because when he preaches, he sounds like a Yea hoot. He is so busy trying to be relevant that he doesn’t take his calling to the pulpit seriously. He reminds me of what it would sound like if someone like Beavis or Butthead became a preacher. My heart aches for that congregation. We don’t need men who are trying to be relevant or “liked” but who will proclaim God’s word seriously. (My friend said she approached him once about all this, and he said he wanted people to like him, and if he preached seriously, they wouldn’t like him. We are not called to be liked, but called to be faithful and obedient.)
Finally, I did email this man with my concerns. I don’t expect to hear from him. He is too busy being liked. But I will let you know if he does respond.
From Spurgeon’s sermon where he proclaimed “Calvinism is the gospel.”
I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.