As I wrote on Christopher’s Facebook page, some things just need to be repeated. The following is one of those things.
From Christopher Neiswonger:
Be careful about someone creeping into the pulpit today and giving you a big, fat dose of moralism.
Morality is great. The law is good. You should check your behavior. But, it is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The preaching of the Gospel of Jesus is not an ethics class. It is not an estimation or analysis of your performance. It is not even an encouragement toward your better performance in the future.
It is grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
Grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
That is all the church really has for you.
That is all the Bible has for you.
That is all God has given you.
The question is, is it enough for you.
Or do you need something more; a righteousness of your own, a show of morality, a plague of external niceties?
An external holiness is a mask that anyone can wear. It is worn most effectively by the enemies of the Gospel. But hell will be densely populated with outwardly moral fellows with a light interest in Christ.
So instead of being good today, be crucified with Christ. Instead of looking down on your fellows, pray earnestly for their salvation. Instead of dressing the part of the Christian, cry out, and weep and wail.
And then be happy, and sing full of the joy of the Holy Spirit, because Jesus has overcome the world, even you, even your sins. Even your good works.
He has saved us, from ourselves, and we have not come to his aid in the slightest measure.
When contending for the faith, it is important to understand that there are various ways people interpret Scripture. The correct method, called the grammatical-historical approach, seeks to use the grammar of the text to indicate what the original author intended for us to know. In other words, the author used actual words with meaning to indicate a message to us. The authors didn’t write the words of Scripture simply to put ideas on paper, but they were trying to tell us about God.
My wife discovered that Dr. Jason Lisle was participating in street preaching at the Denton County Courthouse this past Friday. We both enjoy hearing him speak about creation, given that he is a real scientist and zealous for the gospel. Since I had never experienced street preaching, we wanted to go and listen.
I was sitting down to write and noticed the following comment in my “spam” section. The woman posted this on my “About” page so I’m assuming she is responding to the post, Abortion Is Murder. That post is more than 30 days old, therefore it will not take any more comments, so she posted on the only place she could find that would let her. Her comments didn’t make the cut, however, because she put her link in it, and it went to spam. I’m grateful for that. I would give you her link to her page, but I found it quite troubling. She is a member of the Worldwide Church of God, and one who espouses the only true Bible is the King James Version. So I’m not looking to dialogue with her, that would be unfruitful. I do like the challenge of answering her though, and do so on my terms. I hope you don’t think that is unjust or unfair, but save any judgment concerning this until after you have read the post.
In the Reformation, the Reformed Churches appealed to the unrevoked divine promises to Abraham, “I will be a God to you and to your children, which the Apostle Peter reiterated in Acts 2:39 and thus confessed infant baptism as essential to the Reformed faith and practice. In contrast, as Denault observes, the Baptists wanted to know who were the regenerate and to restrict the visible church to them. The two traditions read Jeremiah 31:31–34 quite differently.
R. Scott Clark, The Reformed Churches Confess Infant Baptism.
It is only gross ignorance of the requirements of God’s law which makes people undervalue the Gospel. The man who has the clearest view of the moral law, will always be the man who has the highest sense of the value of Christ’s atoning blood.
J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark, Chapter XII, 28–34.
The Gospel is transcultural and in a sense, hyper-cultural, or above all cultural interpretations, judging them all. The Gospel is identical in every culture into which it comes and has no cultus as a referent which is not subordinate. As such there is no “Chinese Gospel” and a “European Gospel” an American Gospel and an African Gospel. There is exactly one Bible, one Gospel, one Christ and one Church, and these have no shift nor can they be, contextualized. These rather, are the context for every other thing that claims to be, Christianity.
In this, the ordained practice of the Church, prayer and praise, sacraments and worship, preaching and teaching, singing and believing, are identical in every true church. For them to differ does not mean that a church has a different cultural context, it implies that some church has a misunderstanding. Difference in the carpet color and the style of the architecture are the effects of applied human reason; it is hard for them to be “wrong” in the significant sense.
But differences in theology raise the necessity of someone being wrong. In the laws of God, the Gospel and the signs of a true church (the right preaching, right administration of the sacraments and the exercise of church discipline) these are either in accord with the divine mandate, or not. It matters not upon which continent they occur.
Taken from Christopher Neiswonger’s Facebook post, which can be found here.
In other words, on interpreting Scripture:
Is it proper/appropriate to interpret according to our own wishes or standards? No, arbitrary interpretation does not generally extract the meaning of a passage, it merely reflects the reader’s biases, not the author’s intentions. The notion that we are free to interpret a text by our arbitrary wishes is self-contradictory; anyone espousing such a view would have to assume that his statement would itself not be subject to arbitrary interpretation. The “correct interpretation” is defined to be the one that matches the meaning of a passage — the author’s intentions. The one-meaning principle is the fact that a given proposition generally has exactly one primary meaning, and thus exactly one correct interpretation.