"Consider your ways ..." - Micah 1:7
Vol. 4 No. 2 Saturday, September 27, 1998
Midway Bible Baptist Church Fishersville, Virginia
IN THIS ISSUE:
Identifying Easy-Believism Legalism
Contend for The Faith
The Carnal Christian
It is not uncommon these days to hear about what has come to be called Easy-Believism. When it is mentioned it is usually referring to a system of theology, that has become really widespread in our day, that teaches that all a person has to do to go to heaven is believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Only believe is their theme and sums up their doctrine pretty well. It leaves out true repentance, as it has been understood for the past 2000 years by our spiritual forefathers, and if repentance is mentioned at all, it is reduced to a simple change of mind that does not necessarily effect the persons actions or lifestyle at all. It is such a mess and mixture of false doctrine that any person who studies the Bible, even a little, can quickly begin to see the problems with it. Still, the Independent Baptists have been the leaders in forming colleges and Bible Institutes to train countless men in this heresy and sent them out all over the land to spread the poison that has just about killed the church and spoiled the harvest beyond repair.
It is not simply a slight difference of opinion, or a different method to achieve the same purpose. Easy-believism borders on being an occult! It has all the major characteristics. Its teachings on salvation, which is the door, are terribly confused and are leading countless souls into deception and eternal doom. If a person is really saved by a simple sinners prayer without the conviction of the Holy Ghost and real condemnation for his sin, then the Catholics have it right after all. It really is just a ritual and that is all God requires. It matters not how we live afterward, because that isnt what Jesus came to deal with. He only came to change our destiny, but did nothing for our present miserable state. Anyone who knows anything about the Bible at all knows that is not the case. Jesus was manifested to take away the sin of the world, not simply to pay a sin debt or deal with the penalty of sin. Therefore, being wrong (and we should say, TERRIBLY wrong) on the first order of business, the teaching of easy-believism cannot do anything but lead people wrong on the teachings of sanctification and the Christian walk.
There are many people who refuse to identify with easy-believism in salvation, but the
problem is that they embrace its teachings on sanctification, repentance, faith, and many
other doctrines. One reason is that many have started out in the easy-believism
crowds camp and have been influenced by its heretical teachings, but have read
the Bible and been delivered by the grace of God and their own common sense. Thanks be to
God that they have seen the damage and the awful results of preaching a salvation message
that isnt real, and isnt Biblical. But many have not shaken the influence of
easy-believism enough to throw off all of its teachings. As a result they continue to bear
the same rotten fruit and their message and its effects are no different in any real way
from the purebred easy-believism crowd.
The purpose of this article and those that will follow is to identify easy-believism. We believe that there are many who say they are not easy-believism but bear many marks of that line of teachings. It is our sincere hope that some will be helped to see the error of their way and moved to correct it. Souls are at stake and as we said at the beginning, this is not a simple difference of opinion, or a slightly different way of explaining the Gospel IT IS ANOTHER GOSPEL! It is a Gospel that doesnt change lives, or deliver men from their sin. It is a Gospel that has not the power even to get its converts to the church house, let alone to Heaven when they die. It is a Gospel that leaves men glorying in the fact that they are still practicing sinners even AFTER they are supposed to be saved. It is a Gospel that puts the emphasis on a persons destiny instead of their sin. The Bible teaches none of these things. The true Gospel puts the emphasis on sin and the fact that God sent his Son to deliver his people from their sin. The true Gospel delivers men from sin and makes them new creatures. The problem was not that men were going to hell as much as the fact that they were sinning against their Creator. He came to change their behavior and make it right NOT JUST TO GIVE THEM A HOME IN HEAVEN BY AND BY. Jesus NEVER asked anyone if they knew they would go to heaven when they died that is a man-made idea and invention. It is ANOTHER GOSPEL. Jesus always dealt with men and women about their sin NOT ABOUT THEIR DESTINY. If a man will preach the true Gospel, he will deal with men in the same manner.
We intend to deal with the identifying marks of easy-believism in salvation, sanctification, repentance, faith, sin (what it is and where it comes from), separation, holiness, righteousness, its fruit, its prophets, its emphasis, its effects (on the church and on society as a whole), so stick with us for the next few issues.
This has become the cry of the compromiser. When you have no other defense you simply attack the one whose words or life is condemning you. Maybe our President learned his ways in church, you reckon? This defense of loose living is a DOCTRINE OF DEVILS. The fact that so many are using this pitiful excuse to drop any standards of behavior, and defend their worldliness and carnality shouldnt surprise us. It is the natural fruit of the permissive, weak doctrine that has been taught in the Independent Baptist Churches for years now. In their zeal for numbers and a name for themselves they kept lowering the standards for salvation and turned the Gospel into a little ritualistic profession of faith.
So it is no wonder that the churches are now filled with people who see no need or have any desire for holy living. After all, they got in without it, didnt they? Who is going to tell them they have to live by any standards now? What do they have to lose by not having any standards? They are going to heaven when they die just like the person who believes and preaches standards. Things have gotten so turned around now that many think the ones who maintain any standard of holiness are the ones who are most likely the imposters, and headed for hell. It is an example of Isaiah 3:5 where the base behaves himself proudly against the honorable.
Those who cry legalism at those who preach practical holiness are ignorant concerning the Bible. I would go further and say they are WILLFULLY ignorant of the Bible. It is simply a smokescreen to try to hide their lack of holiness and their hidden desire to conform to the world more than to Christ. It reveals their rebellious, humanistic mind for all to see. The humanist doesnt believe in absolutes and that is the essence of the cry legalism. When someone cries, legalism! they are simply saying, You have no right to tell me how to live, and neither does God. Every man should do what is right in his own eyes. They are saying, What is wrong for one person may not be wrong for someone else. They proclaim that nothing is wrong unless you are convicted about it. The fact is, there is no such word in the Bible as legalism. It is an invention out of the mind of the devil that is intended to destroy the testimony of Gods people and the effectiveness of the work of God. It has done a pretty good job of it, too. One cant help but notice that in the Independent Baptist Churches it almost always starts with womens issues, such as modest apparel and cutting their hair like men. God says for a woman to wear anything that pertains to a man is an abomination, and He gives clear directions about a womans hair and a mans hair. Those who love God should stand with God on these and other issues. But all it takes is one worldly-minded wolf to cry YOURE A LEGALIST! and most preachers wilt and eventually back up and quit preaching what they know to be the truth.
Legalism is an attempt to obtain salvation by works. It is the idea that God will forgive your sin on the basis of your strict adherence to the written law. That is a far cry from saying that a Christian should look right, dress right, and behave himself right in order to maintain a good testimony before the lost. So many people cannot understand the difference between the Atonement for sin and the holy life that results when it is applied to a persons heart and life. They dont seem to understand that the Atonement for sin was finished with the work of Christ, but that the effect of the Atonement, upon our repentance and faith in the work of Christ, is deliverance from sin and a holy walk with God. The Bible gives us plain instructions for every area of our life. Where there are not specific commands, there are principals that are taught throughout the Bible. The person who has to have thou shalt not written down is the person who is the real legalist. There IS a right and wrong! There is STILL a good and an evil way! It is the duty of Gods preachers to proclaim it! They are not to just pass out some easy-believism Gospel like the Catholic priest passes out cookies! They are to be preparing a people for the Lord, and not turn to jelly every time some painted-up, out-of-control feminist, (or her husband) with a lesbian haircut comes at him with her claws out.
There ARE some conditions for pleasing God. He will not accept any old sloppy lifestyle you want to live before him. He commands you to be SEPARATE from the world and to CONFORM to his image. He will NOT accept you otherwise. Have you ever read that friendship with the world is enmity with God? You may shut the mouths of some weak-kneed preachers with your cry of legalism, but you wont change the mind of God or his Word.
Its time to stop being nice to these imposters who have come into the church crying legalism! It is time to uncover them and show everyone their poisonous teaching and its results. For someone to come into the people of God and convince them that there is no right and wrong, or that it doesnt matter to God, is almost unbelievable, but it has happened before our eyes. You can go to MANY churches now that used to have standards of living and maintained a good testimony, but now youll see their women coming in with pants on, and their young people look like punks, or heathen out of the jungle with their earrings and tattoos. They are the laughing stock of the community because they changed their stand, and this is the work that was accomplished through some devil that cried, legalism!
Many good churches have been ruined by this deception out of hell. One woman wrote to us recently objecting to the Church Covenant on the grounds of legalism. She felt that the part about abstaining from alcohol should not be in there and that the whole covenant was legalism. She represents this crowd pretty well. They dont think there should be any standard for right and wrong. They think that God doesnt even have a right and a wrong. It is all up to each person to decide for himself and God will just accept whatever standard you come up with. What wicked nonsense! What a mess is a church that operates on such a basis! A covenant is an agreement, or a promise, between two or more people, with responsibilities on both sides. We agree on some standards of behavior in order to maintain a consistent testimony before the lost, to please God, and to raise our children to honor and serve God.
Of course, the argument against any standards is presented with the pretense of being super-spiritual and magnifying the grace of God over these awful works that we legalists preach. It magnifies the do-nothing Gospel, where you just sit there and wait and God saves you without your repentance, or coming to Him or anything. They have misrepresented what the grace of God is and they have produced a whole crop of un-regenerated people who live like the world, after their own lusts, yet think they are partakers of the grace of God. These are the people who have turned the grace of God into lasciviousness.
Grace TEACHES us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. (Titus 2:12) Those who cry legalism would teach us otherwise. It is very obvious which way their path leads, and therefore very easy for any child of God to discern who the author of their teaching is. For those who are unable to figure it out, I will tell you: IT ISNT GOD! He will never lead you AWAY from clean living and holiness! Right and wrong do not change with the times. The only things that change are the jellyfish preachers and Christians who dont study their Bibles enough to defend holiness, and are easy prey for DOCTRINES OF DEVILS, such as this one.
Contend for the Faith
In Jude 3 & 4 the Bible tells us of a problem they had in the early
church, an on-going problem, and one that continues to this day. Jude said certain men
would creep in unawares, that is, they will be able to slip in without being identified
for who they are. They come in appearing to be right without actually being right. After
they gain acceptance in our churches they will begin to try and change us from what is
right to what is wrong. They have been sent in among us to do one thing (guess who is the
one who sent them in?), to turn the grace of God into lasciviousness. In other words, they
dont hold to, or believe in a biblical concept of grace. They dont want to
hear about the strictness of grace. They dont want to hear about the high and holy
standard of living that grace requires and makes possible. They dont want to hear
how grace teaches a person to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly,
righteously, and godly in this present world. As a matter of fact, they would teach just
the opposite. They would take the strictness of grace and loosen it up, they would take
the high standard of living grace demands and lower it to allow for all kinds of loose,
sinful, and worldly behavior. They would preach a lowering of the standards, a relaxing of
the standards to the point that people could live any way they wanted without any
condemnation and sense of wrong doing, and call it grace. They want their lasciviousness
but they dont want the true grace of God.
Now Jude uses some strong language in describing these men. He calls them ungodly men, those who have never been changed and made new creatures in the Lord Jesus Christ. He says they have been ordained unto condemnation meaning God has rejected them and they are strangers to the grace of God they so passionately talk about. He said they will turn grace into lasciviousness, that is, they will want to live in a loose, lustful, worldly, sensual way without anybody telling them that it is wrong. And he says they will deny the Lord, that is, they refuse to live under His rule, His authority, in obedience to His Word and commands. Instead of obeying the Lord they will deny Him. So to sum it all up, Jude is basically telling us that these men will come on the scene telling us they are living in the grace of God when actually they are living in ungodliness, lasciviousness, condemnation and rebellion to the Lord Jesus Christ. Now if what these men tell us is grace, is really the true grace of God, then we would have o conclude that there is no difference between living in grace and living in ungodliness, condemnation, lasciviousness, and rebellion. Such a thing is too absurd to even consider. How should we respond to such ungodly men and their teachings of grace? Answer: earnestly contend for the Faith! To do so will raise the wrath of these men against you. Expect to be called a legalist, a bondage maker, one who is trying to put people back under the law and a host of other names and titles some not nearly as flattering as these. Now when this happens, just remember Id rather be called these things than what God calls them. Keep fighting on! The victory is ours! Pastor Jeff Plemons
The Carnal Christian
Many who regularly occupy church pews, fill church rolls, and are intellectually acquainted with the facts of the gospel never strike one blow for Christ. They seem to be at peace with his enemies. They have no quarrel with sin and, apart from a few sentimental expressions about Christ, there is no biblical evidence that they have experienced anything of the power of the gospel in their lives. Yet in spite of the evidence against them, they consider themselves to be just what their teachers teach them -- that they are Carnal Christians. And as carnal Christians they believe they will go to heaven, though perhaps not first-class, and with few rewards.
That something is seriously wrong in lives which reveal such features will readily be admitted by most readers of these pages; no argument is needed to prove it. But the most serious aspect of this situation is too often not recognized at all. The chief mistake is not the carelessness of these church-goers, it is the error of their teachers who, by preaching the theory of the carnal Christian, have led them to believe that there are three groups of men, -- the unconverted man, the carnal Christian and the spiritual Christian.
In Romans 8:1-9 there is a division stated, but it is not between carnal and spiritual Christians. It is a division between those who walk after the flesh (the unregenerate) and those who walk after the Spirit (they that are Christs). There is no third category.
Again, in Galatians 5:17-24 we have only two classes or categories -- those that do the works of the flesh and those that are led by the Spirit. There is no third or fourth class or group.
This is the essence of the carnal Christian teaching. One reason why it is so widespread is that it has been popularized for many years in the notes of the Scofield Reference Bible. (Scofield Reference Bible, pp. 1213, 1214.)
This carnal Christian doctrine depends upon a wrong interpretation and application of 1 Corinthians 3:1-4. Certainly these Christians at Corinth were imperfectly sanctified, as indeed are all Christians to a greater or lesser degree. But Paul is not saying that they were characterized by carnality in every area of their lives. He is not expounding a general doctrine of carnality but reproving a specific out-cropping of carnality in one certain respect. When Paul does state a foundational truth respecting the position of all Christians it is in such words as, If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, and for all who are in Christ it is also true that, old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Cor. 5:17). There is no place for two classes of Christians in Pauls letter to the church at Corinth, and indeed no place for it anywhere in the teaching of Scripture. To interpret 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 in such a way as to divide men into three classes is to violate a cardinal rule for the interpretation of Scripture, namely, that each single passage must be interpreted in the light of the whole. It was a wise saying of one of the church fathers, If you have one Scripture only on which to base an important doctrine or teaching you are most likely to find, on close examination, that you have none.
Another flaw in the carnal Christian teaching lies in its virtual exclusion of repentance from the conversion experience. This is implied by the suggestion that the carnal Christian has not changed in practice but lives and acts just like the natural man.
The three-class theory is prone to give assurance to those who were never really converted. When a person professes to belong to Christ and yet lives like the world, how do we know that his profession is genuine? The Bible certainly teaches that to make men consider they are Christians when in reality they are not is a great evil. Nothing could be more dangerous. Lost, self-deceived souls who should be crying out to God are often found hiding comfortably behind this very theory. As long as they believe it they will never seek a real salvation. The carnal Christian teaching gives assurance to those who are at home in the realm of sin. They are classed as Christians, and there is no biblical reason to believe that they are Christians at all.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid... By implication, the answer of the three-category teaching to Pauls question is, Yes, you can continue in sin and be a carnal Christian.
The carnal Christian teaching is also the mother of one of the most soul-destroying teachings of our day. It suggests that you can take Jesus as your Saviour and yet treat obedience to his lordship as optional. But such teaching is foreign to the New Testament.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon warned his students: If the professed convert distinctly and deliberately declares that he knows the Lords will but does not mean to attend to it, you are not to pamper his presumption, but it is your duty to assure him that he is not saved. Do not suppose that the Gospel is magnified or God glorified by going to the worldlings and telling them that they may be saved at this moment by simply accepting Christ as their Saviour, while they are wedded to their idols, and their hearts are still in love with sin. If I do so I tell them a lie, pervert the Gospel, insult Christ, and turn the grace of God into lasciviousness.
The carnal Christian teaching is, after all, the consequence
of a shallow, man-centered evangelism in which decisions are sought at any price and with
any methods. When those pronounced to be converts do not act like Christians, do not love
what Christians love, and hate what Christians hate, and do not willingly serve Christ in
his church, some explanation must be found other than calling upon them to
decide for Christ. They have already done that and have already been
pronounced by the preacher or personal worker to be Christians. But when they
dont act like Christians something is wrong. What is it? The teaching I have sought
to answer says that the trouble is that they are just carnal Christians.
by Ernest C Reisinger
Itīs hard to keep your mind open after itīs been educated. Joseph Sobran
Provoking Thoughts is a publication of Midway Bible Baptist Church, P.O. Box 419, Fishersville, VA 22939.
Pastor Owen OR Bro. Mike Miller
Midway Bible Baptist Church
P.O. Box 419
Fishersville, Virginia 22939
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