En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Posts Tagged ‘warren’

True Salvation Is Through Jesus Christ Alone!

Posted by Scott on June 5, 2008

Easy believism taught by many mainstream churches today is not the true salvation taught in scripture.  This “gospel” being taught that God loves you just as you are and he wants to bless your life now…that you can have “your best life now” is a false gospel.  Until a person comes to terms with the fact that they are a sinner condemned to hell apart from a work of God in their life and that repentance is required they will not be truly saved.  You cannot just believe in Christ and not deal with the sin.  This is why so many churches today are racking up great numbers of so called “converts to Christ”…just believe and you are saved, but without repentance.  Anyone will come that kind of Jesus…just believe in Him and you have a ticket to heaven and yet you do not really have to change your life at all….this is wrong and heretical.  Jesus says we must deny ourselves and follow Him.  Was His life on earth easy?  No!  To follow the Jesus Christ of the Bible, to follow the God of the Bible, will not make you the most popular person on the street.  As a matter of fact it will most likely divide your street with most people being on the opposite side from you.  To believe, have faith in and follow the Jesus of the Bible, the true Christ, will require you to turn from the way you are going right now and go the way of Christ.  Our best life is in the future with Christ in the New Heaven for all eternity…it is not right now!  I encourage you to watch John MacCarthur speak on this very subject.  It is a great video.  Enjoy and search your heart today!



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Just Wait on God!

Posted by Scott on April 7, 2008

by A.W. Tozer

But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him. –Habakkuk 2:20

I think we are the busiest bunch of eager beavers ever seen in the religious world. The idea seems to be that if we are not running in a circle, breathing down the back of our own neck, we are not pleasing God!

When Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15 KJV), Peter probably leaped to his feet and, no doubt, scooped up his hat on the way out. He was going to go right then!

But the Lord said, “Peter, come back, and ‘stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high’ (Luke 24:49).”

I heard a Christian leader warn recently that we are suffering from a rash of amateurism in Christian circles. Christianity has leveled down and down and down. We are as light as butterflies– though we flit, flit, flit around in the sunshine and imagine that we are eagles flapping our broad wings.

Sometimes I think the Church would be better off if we would call a moratorium on activity for about six weeks and just wait on God to see what He is waiting to do for us. That’s what they did before Pentecost. The Counselor, 95.

“Lord, this morning I’ll stop for a while at least to ‘just wait on God.’ I know You’re wanting to work, and I for one am willing to wait this morning to hear Your voice and discover what You want to do for me today. Amen.”

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Meditate on God’s Word!

Posted by Scott on April 7, 2008

Just Meditate for a Month

by A.W. Tozer

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. –Psalm 1:2

Let the old saints be our example. They came to the Word of God and meditated. They laid the Bible on the old-fashioned, handmade chair, got down on the old, scrubbed, board floor and meditated on the Word. As they waited, faith mounted. The Spirit and faith illuminated. They had only a Bible with fine print, narrow margins and poor paper, but they knew their Bible better than some of us do with all of our helps.

Let’s practice the art of Bible meditation…. Let us open our Bibles, spread them out on a chair and meditate on the Word of God. It will open itself to us, and the Spirit of God will come and brood over it.

I do challenge you to meditate, quietly, reverently, prayerfully, for a month. Put away questions and answers and the filling in of the blank lines in the portions you haven’t been able to understand. Put all of the cheap trash away and take the Bible, get on your knees, and in faith, say, “Father, here I am. Begin to teach me!” The Counselor, 136-137.

“Guide me, Lord, as I take time throughout this whole year to meditate on You. Tozer is stimulating me, but my real desire is to hear from You. I’ll get on my knees this morning, Lord, in quiet expectation. Amen.”

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The Calling For Men of God to Preach the Word!

Posted by Scott on March 21, 2008

A. W. Tozer
Read about A. W. Tozer

A.W. Tozer 

Pastoral Ministry: A New Type of Preacher

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. –Acts 20:24

If Christianity is to receive a rejuvenation, it must be by other means than any now being used. If the Church in the second half of this century is to recover from the injuries she suffered in the first half, there must appear a new type of preacher. The proper, ruler-of-the-synagogue type will never do. Neither will the priestly type of man who carries out his duties, takes his pay and asks no questions, nor the smooth-talking pastoral type who knows how to make the Christian religion acceptable to everyone. All these have been tried and found wanting.

Another kind of religious leader must arise among us. He must be of the old prophet type, a man who has seen visions of God and has heard a voice from the Throne. When he comes (and I pray God there will be not one but many), he will stand in flat contradiction to everything our smirking, smooth civilization holds dear. He will contradict, denounce and protest in the name of God and will earn the hatred and opposition of a large segment of Christendom. Such a man is likely to be lean, rugged, blunt- spoken and a little bit angry with the world. He will love Christ and the souls of men to the point of willingness to die for the glory of the One and the salvation of the other. But he will fear nothing that breathes with mortal breath. The Size of the Soul, 128-129.

“Lord, in the first half of this current century this need is even greater. Send to Your church today many who have ‘seen visions of God and…heard a voice from the Throne.’ Amen.”

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Sparkling preachers sometimes loose their sparkle quickly!

Posted by Scott on March 8, 2008

A. W. Tozer
Read about A. W. Tozer

A.W. Tozer 

A Shaky Foundation

“Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me….” –Jeremiah 9:23-24

It is true that much church activity is thrown back upon a shaky foundation of psychology and natural talents. It is sad but true that many a mother-in-law is actually praying that her handsome son-in-law may be called to preach because “he would have such a marvelous pulpit presence.”

We live in a day when charm is supposed to cover almost the entire multitude of sins. Charm has taken a great place in religious expression. I am convinced that our Lord expects us to be tough enough and cynical enough to recognize all of this that pleases the unthinking in our churches: the charm stuff, the stage presence in the pulpit, the golden qualities of voice….

I feel sorry for the church that decides to call a pastor because “his personality simply sparkles!” I have watched quite a few of those sparklers through the years. In reality, as every kid knows at Fourth of July time, sparklers can be an excitement in the neighborhood–but only for about one minute! Then you are left holding a hot stick that quickly cools off in your hand. Tragedy in the Church: The Missing Gifts, 32-33.

“Lord, confirm for each of us as pastors our divine call, that we might indeed build on a strong foundation. Then bring conviction and repentance to any in our congregations who are judging us with the wrong criteria. Amen.”

Today’s “Insight for Leaders” is taken by permission from the book, Tozer on Christian Leadership, published by WingSpread Publishers

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-From A Dad: Devoted to Christ!

Posted by Scott on November 5, 2007

Years ago a reformation started in the church.  For those of us that hold to the fact that the bible is the inspired infallible word of God, that God is sovereign over all things, and we must take God seriously see the reformation as a great blessing.  This may not be the view of others, but it happens to be my belief.

In my growing devotion to Christ I have found the reading of the messages by many of the great theologians of the past refreshing and challenging.  Especially in light of the fact that many of today’s churches receive no such theology or doctrine from their pulpits.  I have enjoyed getting to know B.B. Warfield, Charles Spurgeon, John Owen, Thomas Bouston, Thomas Watson, Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones, Hugh Binning, Martin Luther, A.W. Tozer, Warren Weirsbe, John Calvin, and Ray Stedman.  I have also enjoyed setting under the education and ministry of Dr. Charles Swindoll and Dr. Steve Farrar.  That enjoyment has not stopped there, but has expanded to several other men that are keeping the torch of the true church alive such as R.C. Sproul, John Piper, John MacArthur, the late Dr. D. James Kennedy, and John Stott.   These men have had a huge impact on my self-education (God directed) in the scriptures. 

Never have I experienced in the course my Christian life a love and devotion for Christ as I do now.  I am experiencing the hymns of old like I have never before.  Many of these hymns make sense to me now after digging deeply into God’s word and I can recognize the theology that is written there for our singing praise to God.   This may be one of the many issues that Christians and church goers that have fallen into the emerging church movement so ardently.  The scriptures and the love of the scriptures is where you development the interest in the things of God.  The hymns are dripping rich with the theology of God to the point that truly amazing worship can take place each time they are presented when the words are read and understood.  I understand it is difficult to know the meaning of these hymns if you cannot understand their meaning.  The challenge is to get involved in the study of God’s word to help you grasp the rich theology and doctrine that is presented as inspiration by God in these hymns. 

Many of the old hymns are personal testimonies that are presented to us in song.  One such hymn is by Martin Rinkart written in the 1600’s:

“Now thank we all our God,

with heart and hands and voices,

Who wondrous things hath done,

in Whom this world rejoices;

Who from our mother’s arms

hath blessed us on our way

with countless gifts of love,

and still is ours today.”

Martin Rinkart had lived out a rough period in his life when in the end this particular trial the Lord inspired within him this hymn.  Much of the hymn writers experiences are of suffering.  Amazingly they all have nothing but praise for our God.  His mercies new each morning and His grace abounds forever more.  Many of the hymns are a far cry from the prosperity and good feeling worship services seen today.  Christians will experience suffering if they are living for the Lord.  Charles Spurgeon gave a wonderful little bit of advice for each day:

“Wash your face every morning in a bath of praise.”  -C.H. Spurgeon

Each day we are breathing here on this earth is worthy of praise.  Yes, I know heaven would be far better, but God has an appointed time for each us in regard to death, so for now we are to enjoy living here to be to the praise of God’s glory.

Another great hymn written in our historical past was by William Cowper:

“God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform;

He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.

You fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds you so much dread

Are big with mercy and shall break in blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace,

Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.

Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan His work is vain;

God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain.”

-William Cowper 1774

You understand that God in His providential power pulls us into each crisis we find ourselves in.  The order of the day is to follow Him into the canyon and as He lead you in He will certainly lead you out.  As Psalm 34:19 tells us that “Many are the afflictions of the righteous; But the Lord delivers them out of them all.”  We can prepare our hearts that afflictions are coming, but can also set our hearts on the fact that God made a promise her to deliver us from them all.  The deliverance may not be as we would have chosen, but it will work directly into the plan God has for us.  

In my devotion to Christ I take it very seriously.  After years of playing the part of a Christian…playing at church I found my Lord patiently preparing me for a love of Him that I never knew could be found.  “He is the first and the last and we are gathered up between, as in great arms of eternal loving-kindness” by Amy Carmichael.  This devotion has increased over time and with the daily help of my wife and kids who challenge me to grow and grow deeply.  As our ministry to husbands and wives grow this devotion to Christ grows as well. 

Would you like to be devoted beyond your current level?  I challenge you to go beyond the norm in your relationship to Christ Jesus.  This does not come easy or over night.  Reading the bible daily, meditating on it, and prayer are the major keys to this growing devotion.  Challenge anyone that preaches a different message other than what the bible tells us.  Read about the past theologians, their messages, and be encouraged…these guys have gone on before us and have traveled down the same paths we are now experiencing.  God’s sovereign will is already ahead of us and He knows what this heart really needs. 

Challenge yourself to study more heart-felt, pray God’s word, listen to God’s word, sing the hymns prayerfully, read the hymns, study the testimony of the hymns, read and study the great theologians of the past, and be obedient to the calling no matter where that takes you.

-Scott Bailey (c) 2007

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What Mean These Stones?

Posted by Scott on November 5, 2007

‘What mean these stones?’

(Joshua 4.21)


Words spoken at the dedication of a church building. I would like to call your attention, on this occasion, to the words that are to be found in the book of Joshua, in chapter 4, beginning to read at verse 21 and going on to the end of the chapter. ‘And he spoke to the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then you shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until you were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up from before us, until we were gone over. That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you might fear the Lord your God for ever.’

Now these words come in this chapter which, of course, is a very important and vital chapter in the history of the children of Israel. You remember how the children of Israel had had to go down to Egypt because of a famine that had arisen in their land and they had dwelt there. For a while they had been very prosperous. But times had changed and they had become slaves in the land of Egypt and were completely helpless.

But God had raised a man called Moses and he had led them out of the bondage and the captivity. It was a very precarious enterprise because they were soon face to face with the Red Sea. They had to cross it and they could not do so. There was the Red Sea before them and the armies of Pharaoh behind them, and the situation seemed not only desperate but impossible. And God worked a miracle. He divided the Red Sea, as we are reminded here, and the children of Israel crossed on dry land. But the moment that Pharaoh, his hosts and chariots and horses, tried to do the same, the waters closed in again and they were all drowned and finally discomfited.

Then God had led these people for forty years through a wilderness, and had fed them in a miraculous manner, by giving them the manna. And now here comes in many ways the climactic point. They are on the verge of entering Canaan, the chosen land, but they have got to cross the river of Jordan and it seems to have been in flood at this particular time. But God again worked a miracle. He divided the river Jordan exactly as he had divided the Red Sea and the people were able to cross over on dry land and enter into the Promised Land.

But God did a very interesting thing here. He commanded Joshua to call out twelve leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel. He was to command these men, each one of them, to pick up a stone from the middle of the bed of the river Jordan, and each man was to carry this stone on his shoulder into the new land, Canaan. Then they were to set up these stones as pillars outside a place called Gilgal. And this was done.

In the verses I am going to consider with you we are given the reason why this was to be done. The reason why these men were to take up a stone each and why these twelve stones were to be set up outside Gilgal. The reason is this. It was to be done because ‘when your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then you shall let your children know, saying, Israel come over this Jordan’ (which was quite near there) ‘on dry land. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until you were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up from before us, until we were gone over.’ Why? ‘That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you might fear the Lord your God for ever.’

Well now I feel that this is an appropriate incident in the life and the story of the children of Israel for us to consider on this interesting occasion. Here is a new building, and people will be walking round here and passing by and in a few days probably and in the years to come people will stand outside and look at the building and at the notice board and they will say, ‘What is this? What is this building? What does it mean? What is it about?’ There are many buildings in Emgland, and there are many new buildings that have been put up in England in these last years. And people pass by and they look and they say ‘Well, what is this for?’ One is called a Masonic Lodge, another is called an Institute, and so on. But here is this building, this new building, and they will ask the question, ‘What mean these stones? What is the message of this building?’ If any of you who are members here should be asked by somebody passing by ‘What mean these stones?’, what is to be the answer?

Well I suggest that the answers are these, and they are all here. I am not going to import any. I am simply going to expound what we are told in these verses. For I believe that what we are told here is exactly what we should be saying in reply to the same question that is put to us at this present time. What does this building represent?

Well, the first answer is exactly like those stones outside Gilgal, they point to history, to certain historical events and happenings. And this, I sometimes think, is perhaps one of the most important things of which we need to remind ourselves at the present time. Our Christian faith is based entirely upon history. This is where the Christian faith differs from everything else that is being offered to men and women in the midst of our modern troubles.

Let me put it to you like this. Christianity is not a philosophy. What is a philosophy? Well, a philosophy is made up of ideas put forward by men, in an attempt to try to understand life and our problems and how to deal with them and how to solve them. It is a matter of ideas, of thoughts and of teachings. My point is that while there is obviously a teaching and a doctrine which is a vital part of Christianity, that is not the first thing. What differentiates this is that it is first and foremost a record of historical events and historical facts.

What mean these stones outside Gilgal? All that they mean is that certain things happened to these people – history. Let us be clear about this. There are so many people today who talk about the Christian attitude towards war and peace, a Christian attitude towards education, a Christian attitude towards art, drama and literature. Now all that tends to turn it into a philosophy, into a teaching, into a theory, into a point of view. But that is really not to be true to our position. So Christianity, we must remember, is not one of a number of theories and ideas and philosophies with respect to life. It is quite unique because it is teaching which is based on history.

I can go further and I can say this. That this is the thing that differentiates the Christian faith from religion, from any kind of religion. You take these religions that people, some of them, are turning to at the present time. Buddhism or Confucianism or Hinduism, or any one of these ‘isms’. What are they? Well, they are all something invented by men. They are all teachings. They involve a kind of worship, but they are not based upon facts and upon events. They are all based upon ideas – and they are ideas that are supposed to lead you and to help you to arrive at the particular deity that you want to worship.

Now here again, you see, our Christian faith is entirely different. It calls attention to facts. And that is why this building in a sense is going to do exactly the same as the bread and the wine do in a communion service. They again are calling attention to facts. So, we must start with this all important matter, this principle, and realise that it is vital to our whole situation. The uniqueness of the Christian faith depends upon a series of historical facts and events and the teaching which results from them.

But let me hurry to the second point, which is this. These facts, these events, on which our whole position is based, are not the result of man’s action but God’s action. You see, the stones outside Gilgal are not to call attention to anything the children of Israel did. They are to call attention to what God did with the children of Israel. They are memorials – pointing people, reminding people, of actions, events, historical happenings, which have been produced by Almighty God. The whole emphasis is upon that.

And so, you see, we need to be reminded of this and we need to remind others of this. People still persist in thinking that you can make yourself a Christian, and that it is as the result of certain good actions and deeds that you have done that you become a Christian. That if a man is going to arrive in Heaven, well, it is going to be the result of the life he has lived and what he has done.

This, of course, is the great characteristic of the age in which we live. It not only forgets and does not believe in God – it does not believe in the supernatural at all. The whole emphasis is upon man and the achievements of man. We are glorying in what man does scientifically. Putting people on the moon, these wonderful discoveries. Man, great man!-and what man has done!

That is the whole trouble with the world today, is it not? That it is only interested in man and interested in what man has done and what man is doing and what man can do and what man, we hope, is going to do. The whole emphasis is upon man and his actions. The uniqueness of our position, the unique message of this building, is this, that though men have erected this building, what it is pointing to is what God has done, what the Almighty has done, not man. It is a record of the activities of God. So the Bible, you see, starts by saying ‘In the beginning, God’. Not ‘In the beginning, man’ but ‘In the beginning, God’. And the Bible is really nothing but a great record of what God has done. So this building is to point to that.

And you see this building can be a very powerful evangelistic force, therefore, if we only give the right answer to the questions. When the man or the boy asks outside, ‘What is the meaning of this building? What mean these stones?’ ‘Ah’, you say, ‘this is a monument to what God has done!’ The activity of God, in the midst of this evil present world, as in the past!

But let us go further. Let us go on, let us analyse what we are told in our statement. It is a record in particular of God’s redemptive acts. Not only His acts in general. It does, as I have just quoted, it does tell you about creation, but you know the real theme of the Bible is not creation, it is redemption! You have the preliminary account, of course, of creation and the Fall, as I am going to show you, in order, in a sense, that you might know why redemption has ever become necessary. The glory of the message in this book, and what this building is going to proclaim, is God’s acts of redemption, deliverance and of salvation.

That is what we are told here. ‘Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan as the Lord your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over.’

What does it mean? Well, as I told you in my brief synopsis at the beginning, it is the story of the deliverance and the redemption of the children of Israel from the bondage of the captivity of Egypt. It is customary, and rightly so, for us to regard that story as a kind of picture and a fore-shadowing of the great redemption in Christ Jesus. You remember the essence of that story. Here, as I say, were these children of Israel. They had become slaves. They were suffering under a cruel bondage. The cruel taskmasters with their whips were whipping them, getting them to produce more and more bricks without providing the straw that was necessary. It was a sad, it was a sorry condition. They were helpless and they were hopeless, they could do nothing at all.

They were under a very powerful monarch, the Pharaoh, with all his chariots and his horses and his military men and all their great culture. Here were these poor people, the children of Israel, completely helpless, absolutely hopeless. But the story is that God intervened. God did something. What He did was to deliver them and to bring them out of that and to take them through the Red Sea and the Jordan and to put them in the land of promise, the land flowing with milk and honey.

Now then, that is what these stones are saying outside Gilgal, and you and I must make clear that people understand that that is what this building is announcing. This building is a proclamation of the fact that God has acted and intervened in this world in the salvation of men and women.

But we do not merely make a statement. We have got to start by saying why has God done this? Why was it ever necessary that it should be done at all? It is no use just going to people and saying ‘Jesus loves you. Jesus saves you.’ They do not know that they need to be saved. The Bible is very careful to tell us this. You know how the children of Israel had got into their miserable condition of bondage and of captivity, and it is our business to tell the modern man why he is in such grievous trouble. Why his world is tormented this afternoon. Why we are in a state of great crisis. What is it due to?

Well, our answer is that all this is due to the fact that men and women are the slaves of the Devil, that they are being governed and controlled by ‘the god of this world’, ‘the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.’

How have they ever got into this condition? For this is their condition. Men and women are not free. They talk about freedom. Never have they been such slaves! Slaves to the newspapers. Slaves to the television. Slaves to the radio. Slaves to the thing to do. Slaves to advertising. Like sheep all doing the same thing. That is sheer slavery!

Well how did they ever get into that condition? The history gives us the answer. It was because man, whom God had created in His own image and likeness, in his folly, in his arrogance and pride, rebelled against God and wanted to be equal with God, and thereby fell and put himself in bondage to Satan. He listened to the suggestion and the temptation of Satan and so he became the slave of Satan. The whole of humanity is born in sin and shapen in iniquity. This has been the sad story of the human race, conscious of some strange bondage, anxious to get out of it but never able to do so. The whole world is in slavery to the Devil and sin. The world, the flesh and the Devil!

We must tell them further that we, by nature, are all as helpless as the children of Israel were in their physical bondage in Egypt. No man can conquer the Devil. Our Lord describes him as ‘the strong man armed who keepes his goods at peace’! Men have tried to liberate themselves from the Devil. Men try to put an end to bad habits and practises. You can make your New Year resolutions but you cannot keep them. We are weak. None of us can do this. The law was given to the children of Israel but they could not keep it. The law could not do what it should because it was weak in the flesh. Try as it will mankind cannot emancipate itself. Oh the tragedy of the last hundred years when people in their folly thought that education would set us free, that emancipation was to be found in greater knowledge and greater travel facilities and so on. But it has all proved to be useless. The slavery and the bondage are as great this afternoon as they have ever been!

Well, now, here is a world in an apparently hopeless condition. Governed by what? Greed and envy and jealousy. We are seeing it today! It is true of everybody. It is not true of one class of society only. There are politicians who would have us believe that it is only the working man and woman who are greedy and want more money. The others at the other end are equally guilty! They all love money. The millionaire loves money. The man who would like to be a millionaire loves money also! And the whole trouble is that we are in bondage to sin and to Satan. We are slaves to the lusts and the passions of the flesh and of the mind and we cannot set ourselves free!

What is this building for, what is it announcing? The message of this building is this, that God has done something about this bondage of ours, exactly as he did with the physical bondage of the children of Israel of old. This is Christianity. God’s acts of redemption. God’s eruptions into time. God coming in and delivering us there amongst the fleshpots of Egypt and in the utter hopelessness of our spiritual despair. And this is the great message, of course, and the great record of the Bible, as I have said.

Let me just note to you some of these great acts of God. What mean these stones? Oh, what these stones mean is this, that God brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry land. He has brought them through this Jordan on dry land. God has done it. The facts!

What are the facts of God’s redemption in a spiritual sense? Well, the first of course, happened in the garden of Eden itself. The woman and the man have listened to the subtle temptation of the devil and they have acted and they have rebelled, and at once they know that they are wrong. Then they suddenly hear the voice of the Lord God in the garden in the cool of the day. And He called out to them ‘Adam, where are you?’ God has come down to man in his folly, his shame, his misery, his bondage. God has come down. He did not leave it there. He did not say ‘Very well, carry on. Let things go on as they are!’ They would have festered to putrefaction! God came down!

Why did He come down? Well He came down, not only to tell them the punishment He was going to mete out upon their sin and their folly. He came down to tell them that He had got a plan of redemption for the whole race. There was not only going to be warfare and strife between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. The great promise, the Protevangel, the first intimation of God’s salvation, ‘the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.’ God came down. He came into history to make the declaration. Now that is the first one. I am only going to pick out some of the most striking ones.

Do you remember the history of the flood? That is fact. That is history. The ancient world had got into such a state that God said there is nothing to be done but to judge it. And the whole world was condemned and destroyed apart from eight souls, one family. God condemned, destroyed. Then God gave a new start, a new beginning in this great story. And on it goes. Think then of what happened at the Tower of Babel. When men thought again they were going to be equal with God and they could arrive in heaven, God shattered it all and confused their languages, and the whole world was in a state of confusion.

But God again did an amazing thing. He acted, He intervened. He took hold of a man whose name was Abram, who lived in Ur of the Chaldees and who was a pagan. He took hold of this man and He said ‘I am going to turn you into a nation. I am going to make my own people out of you and you are going to represent Me. You are going to bear a message and ultimately through you and your seed, all the nations of the world are going to be blessed!’ God intervening! This is salvation. This is Christianity. God is now going to form a nation, so that through this nation He can teach all other nations, and condemn them, and eventually offer them His great salvation. So it is again, you see, an act and an action of God. This is Christianity, not some vague philosophy or some ideas or some attitude, but God coming down and coming in. I am simply picking out the salient features.

The children of Israel came into being – God’s people. They were different from every other nation. But as I have reminded you, in their folly they did not appreciate that. They wanted to be like the others, and they became like the others. The result of that was that God not only abandoned them, but He raised an enemy to conquer them and they were carried away as captives to Babylon. There they are again in utter and complete helplessness and hopelessness and bondage-slaves in Babylon. You would have thought that that was the end of them, and it would have been, were it not that God acts. God delivered them. He brought back a remnant. It is the action of God once more. Then He raised those great prophets to encourage them and to tell them that a great Deliverer was going to come.

God sent them. These men did not have a sudden idea. The prophets were not philosophers. They did not suddenly have a brilliant theory. God gave them a message, ‘the burden of the LORD came to me.’ This is what they all say. It is God acting, and it leads up, of course, to that amazing man, John the Baptist. Do you remember the way in which the Bible introduces John the Baptist, emphasising the point I made at the beginning, that we are dealing with history, my friends? This is how John the Baptist is introduced: ‘In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar…’

This is not a theory, this is not a story, this is not a fairy-tale or a romance. It is something that happened in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, ‘…Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea…,’ and you get all these other men, tetrarchs in Galilee, Ituræa and Trachonitis, ‘…the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.’ God spoke. It is God acting. He gave that man that message. He was the great fore-runner.

But that is entirely eclipsed by something else. ‘When the fullness of the time was come, God…’ -it is always God – ‘God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.’ We are not here to say what man has arrived at in his thinking and theorising, as to how we can serve God and please Him. It is the exact opposite. It is God seeking lost men. It is God bringing and putting into operation His plan of redemption and of salvation. And here is the supreme act. He sends His own Son into the world ‘in the fullness of the time.’ It was all predetermined, but it has arrived. God so loved the world that He gave – He sent into it – His only begotten Son. I must not keep you, my friends, but I am so anxious that we should realise that our whole position depends on these facts. It is not a teaching. It is facts, primarily, historical events, which inevitably have their teaching.

So you must go through all the facts about our Lord. When a man asks what is the meaning of this building, what is the meaning of the word ‘Evangelical’? Ah, you say this is the only hope of the world today! It is all about that man called Jesus of Nazareth. Do you know who He was? This was the only begotten Son of God. This was the perfect likeness and image of God, the eternal Father. This was God’s own Son. This is the most amazing thing that has ever happened in the whole course of human history, that God has been manifest in the flesh and has dwelt among us. This is fact. That is why you call this 1979. It is a fact. And the facts of His perfect life, His miracles, His teaching. Yes, but above all the fact of the Cross. The event that took place on a hill called Calvary. What is that?

‘Ah,’ says the world, ‘that was the death of a pacifist, wasn’t it? He was a pure man and He didn’t believe in war, or in force, or in strife. The world did not understand Him, as they had not understood Socrates, as they never understand their own greatest men. And they put Him to death. The death of a great pacifist or a great teacher. ‘

No, no! ‘God has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.’ What was happening? ‘God has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.’ It was God acting on Calvary. It was men with their hands who actually nailed Him, but He did not die because of that! It was God. He was ‘the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world’. It was God smiting Him instead of us. It was God reconciling the world to Himself. It is God acting on Calvary – as He acts everywhere. Ah, but He died and they took down His body and they buried it in a grave. And it would have been the end of the story, but for one thing. God raised Him from the dead! God raised Him! Then He ascended into Heaven and took His seat at the right hand in the Glory everlasting.

Well, now, these you see are the facts to which this building is to bear witness. That is its purpose – to tell men and women that this has happened, and why it has happened. It is a part of God’s way of delivering us and of saving us and of giving us a new life. But you know, it did not stop even there.

There was a great event on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem. And we must not forget this. The Christian Church in a sense was inaugurated on the day of Pentecost. What happened then? Well, here were these men. They had got the message, and they knew who He was. God sent the Spirit on them! They had met together to pray; that was what they could do. But, you know, we are here this afternoon because of this. While these men were praying and were waiting, suddenly, there was the sound of a mighty, rushing wind! What is this? Oh, it is God! It is the Spirit coming. God has shed forth His Spirit, sent forth His mighty power. He had promised to do so and He does so. And so the Spirit came down on the Church and these simple ignorant men were enabled to preach with authority and power. Three thousand converted in one day, on the day of Pentecost, and added to the church. The joyful story of the early Christian Church!

It did not stop at that. They got into difficulties. God came in, intervened, and the miracles follow – the miraculous escapes from prisons and various other places. And the whole thing is alive with the activity of God. ‘The Acts of the Apostles’, we say. In a sense it is right, but I agree with the man who suggested that that book should be called ‘The Acts of the Holy Spirit’! The Spirit came on Peter and he spoke, and with authority. The Spirit came on Paul and he healed a man. It is the action of God.

We do not stop even at the end of the New Testament canon. Do you know why we are here this afternoon? I can tell you. It is entirely due to the activity of God. The church, like the children of Israel of old, constantly goes astray. They forget their origin; they forget their message. They even deny it! They want to become like the world and we have known that in this century. Churches having whist drives and dances and wanting to be like clubs and institutions. And the church would long ago have ceased to exist were it not for one thing. What is that? The interventions of God in history in what we call revivals.

Look at it! The Protestant Reformation! Suddenly into the midst of the chaos and deadness God comes, raises up a Martin Luther, and many others. This is how the cause has been kept going and I say that is why we are here this afternoon. It is this series of interventions of God. He has come in and He has carried on these great acts of redemption. And so we find ourselves here this afternoon. That is what these stones are saying. That is the message of this building.

But let me say just a word about the character of these acts of God. It is emphasised here. They are the acts of God. ‘The wonderful works of God’ that the Apostles were speaking about on the day of Pentecost. And the people could hear them in their various languages. But think of the character of the acts, – and here this is emphasised, – miraculous, supernatural.

What mean these stones? The answer is ‘Israel came over this Jordan on dry land’. What? Can you come over a river on dry land? Israel, came through the Red Sea on dry land? Impossible! Yes, with men. But it happened! Why? Because it was a miracle. The acts of God are supernatural and they are miraculous acts. These were phenomena and we are to tell people that our faith is based upon phenomena and it is a phenomenon in and of itself.

What does this mean? Well, we have got to tell people this quite plainly. Our position as Christians differs from that of everybody else. Your politician, he addresses a company of people, and he puts his programme before them and he appeals to their reason and asks them to vote for it. He has demonstrated it. He has shown it to them and they are capable of understanding and following the argument, and they vote for him.

We have got to start by telling people that our message is such that they cannot understand it! It is entirely different from everything that is confronting mankind this afternoon. It is a spiritual message, a supernatural message. We say to them, Look here, you won’t understand this. A great man called Nicodemus thought he could understand it and he went to see our Lord to have an explanation of it. The Lord answered him at once, and said, ‘ Verily, verily, I say to you’ – though you are a great teacher of Israel. ‘Verily, verily, I say to you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ All you have got is useless. ‘…That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I say unto you, You must be born again.’

Do not be surprised at this! Why? Well here is the answer, ‘The wind blows where it wills, and you hear its sound, but cannot tell whence it comes, and whither it goes. So is every one that is born of the Spirit.’ The whole thing is miraculous. It is supernatural. It is God intervening. It is not man striving, it is God coming down. It is not human ingenuity, it is divine wisdom. And ‘the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.’ We have got to tell people this. It is a supernatural, it is a miraculous message. It is God acting, above nature, not contradicting it, acting above it and showing His lordship over it.

And this is true of the whole story of the church. You see the people of Israel, the nation of Israel, it was a miracle nation. Israel was unlike every other nation. It had been created out of one man. That was not true of any other nation. Their whole history is miraculous and supernatural. So is the life of our Lord. So is the origin of the Church. So is the continuation of the church, as I have been showing you, and so is the case with everyone of us who is truly Christian.

You can take up religion. You cannot take up Christianity. It takes you up. It apprehends us, as Paul tells the Philippians. He was apprehended, arrested. God, in Christ, intervened in his life on the road to Damascus. He would never have understood it. He was opposed to it. But something was done to him. He was made a new man. He was a miracle. Every Christian is a miracle.

And so that is what this building is to proclaim. Not only the acts and the works of God, but their character – that they are miraculous and supernatural. And this comes out again in those revivals to which I have been referring. Every Christian is a phenomenon. And every revival is a great phenomenon. You cannot explain it. You cannot understand it. People have tried to do so, but they cannot do so. William Sargeant thought he could do it, but he could not – he completely failed. He does not understand this. He says it is a sort of conditioned reflex. You do this and that will happen. It is not so.

I have known many men who acting on that principle thought they could produce revival, by having all nights of prayer or something else. Poor fellows, they have died exhausted and the revival has not come! No, it is God alone who can do it, and it is miraculous and it is supernatural. It is a phenomenon. It is something that amazes men and causes them to cry out as those people did on the day of Pentecost – ‘What is this? What is this?’ They asked that question there as these people ask the questions about the stones outside Gilgal – and as they should ask about this building.

Very well, this brings me to my last point, which is this. What then is all this to convey to people? What is the message that this building is to convey, the answer that we give to them to the question , ‘What mean these stones’? And do you know it is all summarised here in a very terrifying manner – ‘that all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord that it is mighty.’ And that you children of Israel, Christian people, ‘might fear the Lord your God for ever’.

What is this building proclaiming here? Well, I think we have got to put it first – it is proclaiming judgment. It is to remind this godless generation that God still is and that this world is His, not ours. And to tell them that it is under judgment. Well, you say, where is that in your text? Oh, I can tell you. Go back to the incident at the Red Sea which is emphasised here. Pharaoh and his people had been maltreating the children of Israel and they had all power. And who were these people, these nobodies? But suddenly these nobodies are led out by this man Moses. Here they are at Pi-hahiroth and Baal-zephon, one each side of them – the hosts of Pharaoh behind them, the Red sea in front of them. God divides the Red sea and in they go and through. And Pharaoh in his confidence said to himself, ‘What they can do, I can do.’ He thought he was only dealing with men, and he did not listen to their warnings, the warnings of Moses about this Almighty God. They went boldly into the sea. And what happened to them! They were all destroyed. The judgment of God!

The deliverance of the children of Israel miraculously through the Red Sea is not only indicative of God’s power to save. It is equally indicative of God’s power to judge and to condemn. And the whole world is under His judgment at this moment. We are here to tell the people to ‘flee from the wrath to come’. We are here to tell them that judgment is abroad in the land. That is why everything is breaking down and is failing, approximating to the condition before the Flood, when God intervened in the Flood and in destruction. Judgment! God is again saying this.

‘You are going to be asked’, said Joshua, ‘what mean these stones?’ Well, tell them, tell those children that God manifested the glory of His power on Pharaoh and his hosts. And he will do the same to any who are opposed to His people, and opposed to Him – the evil of simply waiting for the day of destruction. There are many reserved in chains of darkness waiting for the great day when the Son of God will come again and judge the whole world in righteousness. The hand of the Lord – and it is a mighty hand, and nobody can withstand it. Nobody can avoid death. Nobody can avoid the judgment that is to follow. Tell people when they ask ‘What is the meaning of this?’, say, ‘This is announcing the judgment that is about to come on the whole world’. Judgment.

But, thank God, there is another element here. ‘That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty.’ Thank God it is, and because salvation depends on God, there is power sufficient to save anybody. ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ’, says Paul. Why? ‘It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.’ You see before you can be a philosopher, you must have some brains, because before you can derive benefit from Plato, Socrates etc., you have got to have the capacity to follow them. The glory of this salvation is this, it depends upon the power of God. Not on our power, not on our understanding, not on our goodness. Not on anything in us. It is the power of God.

So what if a poor fellow, drunk, stands outside this building, and asks one of you members of this church, ‘What is the meaning of this building? What does it mean?’ You can say to him, ‘My friend, it means this, that there is a power that can deliver you from the slavery of drink. There is a power that can make you not only a new man, a sober man. It can turn you into a saint.’ That is the message! That it is the power of God! That when education and culture and all medicine and everything else fail to deal with your alcoholics and your drug addicts and things which are even worse, God can do it! He has been doing it through the centuries. He is still doing it. So you tell them ‘Believe in this God! Come to Him!’

The power of God! This is what it is proclaiming! ‘The hand of the Lord, that it is mighty!’ So we have got a gospel that we can offer to all and sundry. It is not a place for respectable, nice people only. The vilest sinner can come in. We can say to him:

‘E’er since by faith, I saw the stream, Your flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme, And shall be till I die.
The dying thief rejoiced to see, That fountain in his day,
And there may I, though vile as he, Wash all my sins away.’We preach a hope to all, in a hopeless world, as it is this afternoon.

And the last note is this. The certainty of the completeness of God’s plan and purpose. All these actions and activities of God, of course, have been the carrying out of a great plan and purpose which He determined before He had even created the world. And this is but the record of how He has been carrying it out in parts and portions throughout the centuries. But He is going to finish it. It is going to be complete.

But you say is there any hope for Christianity, with militant communism and atheism and the materialism and the humanism, and all the learning of today. And all these things that keep people from churches today. Is there any future? Are these people here mad to put up this building? The answer is – if it were their activities it would be sheer madness and a tragic waste of money. But they are here because it is God’s work, and God’s work no-one can frustrate, no-one can spoil. God is Almighty. ‘The hand of the Lord it is mighty!’ The moment He arises He will blow upon men’s aristocracy, humanism, every ‘ism’, and they will just vanish out of sight. They will pass away. There will be nothing left with God. The God who has acted, as the history tells us, and has worked miracles, and has done the impossible, and has destroyed the Pharaohs and every other enemy, He will destroy every enemy. As certain as we are here this afternoon, the day is coming when:

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore, Till moons shall wax and wane no more.Christian people lift up your heads, lift up your hearts, lift up your voices. Rejoice in the Lord God Almighty, and in His mighty, almighty hand. That is the message of this building.

So that whenever anybody asks you, ‘What is this? What does it mean?’ That is what you will say. It is God – what He has done – what He is doing – and what He is going to do.

Do you know Him? Have you submitted and fallen under His almighty hand, to escape judgment and to receive His great salvation?

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones

-Scott Bailey 2007

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Only One Way!

Posted by Scott on November 4, 2007

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones


Ephesians 6:10, 11 “Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

We come now to the detailed consideration and analysis of this most important statement: ‘Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.’ The Apostle is exhorting these Ephesians to realize something of the nature of the battle in which we are all inevitably engaged as the result of being Christians. Indeed this battle exists whether we are Christians or not. The teaching of the Bible throughout is that this world in which we live is a battle-ground, is a place in which we literally have to fight for our souls, to fight for our eternal welfare.

The Apostle gives these Ephesians some very specific instruction with regard to the nature of that battle, and as to the only way in which it can be waged successfully. Clearly the exhortation is primarily for Christian people; his whole argument is based upon that consideration. At the same time, however, it has a message for everyone; for it is true to say that this is a conflict which affects all persons whether they realize it or not. Those who are not Christian do not understand their own world at this present time; they cannot understand why it is as it is, and why various things are happening. So while we are looking at the Apostle’s instruction with regard to the way to fight this great battle, we shall, incidentally, be seeing the exposure of the complete failure of all who are not Christian even to understand their problem, and still more their failure to deal with it in an adequate and successful manner. In other words, we are confronted here with the Apostle’s teaching as to the way in which we can fight successfully the forces that are arrayed against our souls and their highest and best interests.

Perhaps the best way to approach this subject, and to put it into its modern setting in order that we may realize the relevance of all this to life as it is today, would be for me to quote some words which I read in a newspaper recently. A certain senior lecturer in education in a college in Great Britain said this: ‘The Church should take a firmer lead in moral matters; woolly generalizations must go. The Church must give answers to real modern problems, including sex. While the religious basis offers the best prospect of success it should never be regarded as the only way to teach morality, otherwise we would become narrow-minded.’ This is a very typical statement of the attitude of so many in the world at the present time to the problem which is dealt with here by the Apostle Paul. I refrain from making certain obvious comments upon it, for I am interested in it simply because I think it will help us to understand the Apostle’s teaching. Setting detailed considerations aside for the moment, we shall consider the Apostle’s teaching in general as it gives an answer to this kind of statement. The lecturer uses the word ‘woolly’ – he does not want ‘woolly generalizations’. Yet, poor man, his own statement is nothing but a woolly generalization! However, let us ignore that. It is one of the typical modern clichés – ‘The Church must do this and not do that; it is about time the Church . . .’ We are all familiar with such remarks.

Statements of this type are invariably based on an ignorance of what the Church is, and what is the nature of her teaching. In the Ephesian passage before us, the Apostle is really saying that what he is teaching is the only way to deal with the problem of conflict. The lecturer says that ‘while religion offers the best prospect of success, it should never be regarded as the only way to teach morality, otherwise we would become narrow-minded’. The Apostle, on the other hand, specifically and openly says that the way he propounds is the only way to victory. That is why there is such a note of urgency in his teaching, and why, as I have said, it is a kind of trumpet-call: ‘Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God.’ If you fail to do this you are defeated, you are already finished before you start. The Apostle’s is the only way. We make no apology for saying so. We are not at all afraid of this charge of ‘narrow-mindedness’. When you know that to take a certain course is the only cure for a disease, that it is specific, that it cures it to a certainty, and that nothing else can do so, you do not regard it as being narrow-minded to use that remedy and to refuse to waste time with other remedies. That is not being narrow-minded, it is just being sensible and sane and rational.

Every kind of specialization is in this sense narrow. We are living in an age of specialization; but I have never heard anyone suggesting that an atomic scientist is narrow-minded because he gives the whole of his time to the science of the atom. Of course not! That is just common sense, that is wisdom; it is to concentrate on what matters, what is powerful, what really does yield results.

But let me state my thesis positively. The claim of the Christian faith quite openly and specifically is that it – and it alone – can deal with this problem. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not one of a number of theories and teachings and philosophies confronting the world. It is unique, it stands absolutely alone. The Bible is not one book among many books. It is God’s Book, it is a unique Book, it is the Book, standing apart from all the others. We must emphasize this because it is the whole basis of the Christian faith. The Church is not one of a number of institutions; she claims to be quite unique as an institution; she says she is the body of Christ. We speak because we have a revelation. The Bible does not provide us with a theory, a speculation, an attempt to arrive at truth. The position of all the men who wrote the books of the Bible is akin to what the Apostle says about himself in the third chapter of this Epistle to the Ephesians: ‘For this cause, I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery’.

The Apostle does not address the Ephesians saying: ‘Listen, many people have been offering you advice and teaching; well, I have studied a great deal also, and I have come to this conclusion; so this is what I suggest.’ That is not the case at all! He says, ‘a revelation was given to me’. It is not a message devised by Paul; it was given to him by the Lord Himself, the Lord of Glory, on the road to Damascus. He apprehended him and arrested him and said, ‘I am going to send you as a minister and a witness to the people and to the Gentiles’ (Acts 26:16-18). Divine communication is the whole basis of the Christian faith. It is therefore foolish to regard that faith as one amongst many. No, as the Apostle Peter stated it once and for ever at the very beginning of the Church when he and John had been arrested and were arraigned before the authorities in Jerusalem, ‘There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12). None other! There is not even a second! He is the only One, and He is enough; you do not need any addition. This and this alone! And that note is found in everything the Apostle says. That is why he is so urgent, so insistent as he presses his message upon them. This is the only hope. Were it not for this there would be nothing at all. It is a dogmatic pronouncement; and anyone who apologizes for his Christianity, or tries to accommodate it, or to say that it is the best amongst a number, is virtually denying the most essential point in the Christian position.

We must not stop, however, at a mere dogmatic assertion, but must proceed to demonstrate it. I suggest that if you take the evidence of history you will be driven to the conclusion that it is the only way. Go back, review the history of the centuries as far as it is known, look at secular history-books, take history as it is recorded in the pages of the Old Testament, and you will find beyond any doubt or question that the asseveration of the Apostle is fully and completely substantiated.

You find it in miniature, as it were, in the story of the children of Israel themselves. Their story is that whenever they were true to God, and worshipped Him, and obeyed His commandments, all went well with them; they were a pattern and an example to the nations, and highly successful; but every time they turned away from God and looked at the idols of other nations, or took up their religion or their philosophies, everything went wrong with them. It is the principle that emerges as you read through the pages of the Old Testament.

But the most impressive statement of all, the perfect summary of this entire argument, is provided by the Apostle Paul in the Epistle to the Romans, beginning at verse eighteen and going on to the end of the first chapter. He says that as nations and peoples in supposed ‘wisdom’ have turned their backs upon God the Creator, they have always become fools – ‘Imagining themselves to be wise, they became fools’. Then he proceeds to give an account of their terrible moral degradation, the perversions and obscenities into which they fell. ‘Ah,’ says our modern lecturer, ‘the Church must speak specifically about sex . . .’ Very well, the Church does so! If you want to know what she has to say, read the second half of the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and you will find an account of all the modern perversions, all the foulnesses that are disgracing life at the present time. They have occurred many times before. But when has that happened? It is always when man in his supposed wisdom has turned from the Creator and has given his worship to the creature. The whole history of the human race substantiates what the Apostle claims. Before Christ ever came into the world everything else had had its opportunity. The Greek philosophers had flourished, the greatest of them had already taught their beliefs. But they could not deal with the problem of sin; their teaching was not adequate and had already failed. There was also the great Roman Empire with its system of law; but there was a canker at the very heart of the Empire; and it finally collapsed, not because of the superior prowess of the Goths and the Vandals and the Barbarians, but because of the moral rot at its very heart. That was the cause of the ‘Decline and Fall’ of the great Roman Empire, as is admitted by all. In other words, history substantiates the Apostle’s teaching.

But, unfortunately, modern history, contemporary history, proves my thesis also. This is where we see the relevance of this teaching. And how up-to-date it is! how it speaks to us at this present time! We have read in our newspapers during the last week statements such as that of the Medical Officer of Health for the City of Edinburgh, and of various other Medical Officers of Health who have been giving their annual reports. ‘The Church,’ says the lecturer I have quoted, ‘must supply an answer to the problem of sex.’ What the Medical Officers of Health are reporting is that there is an appalling increase in venereal diseases and especially amongst adolescents and juveniles. Such is the problem confronting us. This moral problem has become the most acute and the most urgent – there is a serious breakdown of morality.

They tell us that we are confronted by an amoral generation, by people who do not seem to have a moral sense at all! But let us not forget that this situation must be considered in the light of the exceptional educational facilities and opportunities and advantages which have been available since 1870. This man who tells us that religion is not the only solution is a lecturer on education, and there has been an abundance of such lecturers and lectures since 1870. And yet here is our great problem – immorality and vice and evil! The world has multiplied its institutions for dealing with the moral and social problems in this present century more than ever before. Clubs, institutions, cultural agencies, have been multiplying one on top of another. Never has the government of any country spent so much in an attempt to deal with moral and social problems as has been done in this country in the present century. And yet here are these men saying one after another that moral standards are deteriorating almost hourly, week by week, and that the problem is becoming appallingly difficult of solution. They are asking what can be done? The lecturer in question says that things have come to such a pass that the Church must do something, the Church must begin to speak. But then he spoils it all by telling the Church what she is to say; and what he says, as I shall show, is completely wrong!

What then is the position? It is as religion has declined in this century that the moral problem has become more acute. Let us remember that we have two lots of statistics. There are the statistics of the Medical Officers of Health, proving that all these terrible problems and diseases are on the increase. But there are other statistics, church statistics. The number of church members is going down year by year; the number of adherents is declining; the number of Sunday School scholars grows less and less. The two things go together. As religion has gone down all these other things have gone up. I am simply saying all this to justify the assertion of the New Testament that its teaching is the only way, and that there is none other. The modern situation is proving it before our eyes, and yet our education lecturer says that Bible teaching must not be the only teaching. He says that ‘perhaps it will give the best hope of success’, but would be ‘narrow-minded’ if we said that this is the only answer and solution. Well, let him mention the others! What has he got to mention? Education? We have tried it. Let him mention various clubs. We have tried them also, and cultural agencies. We are still trying them all. How foolish, how ridiculous, to utter these general clichés and not face the facts!

But there is a further reason why this is inevitably the truth; it is because of the nature of the fight in which we are engaged. The whole of past history proves it, the modern position proves it. But apart from that the nature of the fight itself makes this proposition inevitably true. How? Man’s own nature makes a warfare absolutely certain. The fatal mistake made constantly about man is to regard him only as a mind and an intellect; and therefore, the whole basis of secular teaching is that all you need do is to tell men about the evil nature of certain things, and the evil consequences of doing them, and then they will stop doing them. Conversely, if you tell them to do certain things because they are right and good and true and noble, they will jump at them and do them. What ignorance of human nature!

I am not alone in speaking thus. I was interested recently to read a review of part of the autobiography of a well-known sceptical, irreligious, modern writer, Leonard Woolf. The review was written by another literary sceptic, Kingsley Martin. But the reviewer, at any rate, had reached the conclusion that the trouble with this whole school to which Leonard Woolf belongs is just this, that they will not see that man in the main is irrational. He used what seemed to me to be a very good illustration. ‘What Leonard Woolf and all his companions, such as Bertrand Russell and others, have always failed to grasp is this,’ he said, ‘that man is a kind of iceberg.’ Standing up above the water is a certain amount, about a third perhaps, which may look very white, but underneath are two-thirds out of sight in the depth, in the darkness. Writers like Leonard Woolf, says Kingsley Martin, do not realize that man is mainly irrational. What he means, of course, is that man is not governed by his mind, his intellect; his understanding, but by desires, impulses, and instincts, by what the psychologists call ‘drives’. These are the things that control and master a man; and the problem which is confronting the world in the present era is that of these instinctive ‘drives’.

All this can be seen on the national and international plane as well as in the case of the individual; and that is what makes all optimistic statements about some world organization that is going to banish war so childishly ridiculous. Nations, like individuals, are not governed by common sense. If the world were governed by common sense there would never be a war. War is sheer madness, from every standpoint. It is a waste of money, it is a waste of life, it is a childish way of settling a dispute and a problem. How can you settle a problem of government or any other problem by just killing one another? I repeat, war is sheer madness; there is nothing to be said for it. Why then do the nations fight and prepare for war ? The answer is that they are not governed by their minds and intellects but by the two-thirds that is underneath the surface, the part of the iceberg that you do not see – greed, avarice, national pride, the desire to possess and to become greater than others. These are the things that ever cause wars. ‘Whence come wars among you?’ asks James. ‘Come they not hence, even of your lusts, that war within your members ?’ (James 4:1). That is true of the individual as well as of nations; and because it is true it follows that nothing but that which can deal with this hidden powerful two-thirds can really provide a remedy for the situation. It is the claim of the Gospel that it, and it alone, can do so. Nothing else can.

In the next place consider the enemy that stands against us. ‘We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’ ‘Take unto you the whole armour of God,’ says Paul, ‘that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.’ Put up all your moral schemes and teachings against the wiles of the devil and he smiles at you in contempt. Of course! How utterly inadequate it all is! We shall elaborate that later.

Furthermore, consider the standard to which we are asked to attain. Christianity not merely tells us to be nice and good and clean and moral. A Christian is not simply a nice respectable person. It is because so many have thought that mere respectability is Christianity that they have left the Church. They say that. such a result can be achieved outside the Church, and point to the nice, good, moral people who are not Christians. And that is a perfectly fair argument. But the answer to it is that that is not Christianity. A Christian is not merely a person who does not do this, that, or the other. A Christian is positive. He is called to ‘hunger and thirst after righteousness’; to be ‘pure in heart’; to be ‘perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect’. That is Christianity! To be like Christ, to live as He lived! And the moment you consider the standard you see how utterly impossible and inadequate are all these other suggestions that are being put forward. We can, therefore, sum it all up by asserting openly, frankly, avowedly, and unashamedly, as the Apostle does here by implication, that this, and this alone, is the only way of victory and of triumph. It was because this is so that the Son of God came into the world. If anything else could have sufficed He would never have come. There would never have been an Incarnation, still less a death upon the Cross, were it not that this is true. ‘The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.’ This is the beginning and foundation and basis of the Christian position. Christ came because, in a sense, He had to come if there was to be any salvation at all. He came because man had completely failed.

O loving wisdom of our God,
When all was sin and shame,
A second Adam to the fight
And to the rescue came.

It was and is the only way, there is no other. Let the world in its supposed wisdom call it ‘narrow-minded’. As long as it does so it will continue to degenerate morally and ethically, and fester in its own iniquity. The Christian way is the only way.

But let us consider a second general point. It is obvious from the statement of the lecturer which we have been considering that Christianity is capable of being misunderstood and this, unfortunately, is something that has kept recurring throughout the centuries. There has been nothing so tragic as the misunderstanding of Christianity and the Christian message. There are people like this lecturer in education who are very ready to say, ‘The Church must make her contribution. Christianity, perhaps, is the best hope we have got. It is not our only hope, but perhaps it is one that is most likely to lead to results, so the Church must play her part.’ Governments are very ready to say this in times of crises. When the problem gets out of hand they ask, ‘Well now, what has the Church to say?’ And they expect the Church to make some general statements which will improve the moral tone of society. The Church must play its part! Yes, but this attitude betrays, as I say, a complete ignorance as to what the message of the Church really is.

There have been two main misunderstandings in this particular context. The first is that Christianity and its message is nothing but a teaching that we ourselves have to apply. This lies at the root of the misunderstanding of the lecturer whose statement we are examining. It is a very old fallacy. It was the real trouble at the beginning of the eighteenth century before the great Evangelical Awakening took place. It was the over-all fallacy of the men who were called Deists, and others. They said that God had created the world like a watchmaker winding-up a watch and then had no further concern with it, except that He had given it a certain moral teaching. So they merely equated Christianity with a teaching and morality which tell people to live a good life. Thomas Arnold, headmaster of Rugby in the nineteenth century, was guilty of exactly the same fallacy: that was his teaching also. It is sometimes known as ‘Public School religion’ and teaches that Christianity is that which makes you ‘a good little gentleman’. You refrain from certain things and you do certain other things. It is just moral, ethical teaching.

Now this is a tragic misunderstanding of the whole position, for it regarded Christianity merely as one teaching among a number of other teachings, for example, those of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Seneca, and others who supplied high, idealistic, moral teaching. Christianity is but another, and perhaps the best of them all; so let us give great attention to it. And do not forget that the late Mr Gandhi of recent date held a very exalted and noble teaching; and there are various others. They add to their list of great teachers the name of ‘Jesus’, as they call Him, and He generally comes somewhere about the centre. Some rise superior to Him, others are esteemed His inferiors. But such thinking and talking simply reduces Christianity to nothing but a moral, ethical teaching – just a variant of the theme of ‘Goodness, Beauty and Truth’ to which we are to aspire. It is because such multitudes of people, especially in the present century, regard that as Christianity that the Church is as she is.

Such was the teaching of the theological school called Modernism or Liberalism which came in about the middle of the last century in this country. Its theme was ‘the Jesus of history’. They took out miracles, indeed the entire supernatural element, and the substitutionary atonement. What is Jesus? ‘Ah,’ they said, ‘Jesus is the greatest religious teacher the world has ever known. Listen to His teaching, emulate His example, follow Him; and if you do so you will be a good Christian. Do not bother about doctrines, they are not important; it is Jesus’ teaching that matters.’

So Christianity has been reduced to a moral and an ethical code and teaching. That leads inevitably to failure and to disaster, for it leaves the whole business to us as individuals. I have got to admire the teaching, next I am required to accept it, and then I have to proceed to put it into practice. It is left entirely to me. ‘Ah but,’ they say, ‘look to the example of Jesus.’ Example of Jesus? I know of nothing that is so discouraging as the example of Jesus! As I look at His moral stature, at His absolute perfection, as I see Him walking through this world without sin, I feel that I am already condemned and hopeless. Imitation of Christ? It is the greatest nonsense that has ever been uttered! Imitation of Christ? I who cannot satisfy myself and my own demands, and other people still less – am I to imitate Christ? The saints make me feel ashamed of myself. I read of men like George Whitefield and others, and I feel that I have not yet started. And yet I am told to take this ethical teaching of the Sermon on the Mount, this idealistic social teaching, and to put this into practice! ‘It is so marvellous,’ they say, ‘it will stimulate you; look at Him and follow Him!’

It is not surprising that failure has resulted, and that people have left the Christian Church; it is not surprising that we are faced with a moral collapse in this country, and in all the countries, at the present time; for the non-Christian ethical teaching leaves it all to me, strengthless and powerless though I am. I am like the Apostle Paul by nature and I say, ‘Alas, with my mind I see what is right, but I find another law in my members dragging me down. With my mind I receive and accept and admire the law of God, but there is this other law, this other thing, working within me, and making me captive to the law of sin and death which is within me’ (cf. Romans 7:14-25). There is this third of the iceberg, as it were, above water and it is looking at the sun; but I am aware of the other two-thirds that is dragging me down to the depths and the darkness. ‘O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me ?’ That is the inevitable position. If Christianity is but a moral ethical teaching it is as useless as all the others. The ‘Christian’ way has always been proved to be useless when it is reduced to such a level.

But Christianity is no mere code of ethics. Our educationalists cannot just turn to us and say, ‘Well now, come along, you representatives of the Christian Church. Do not be narrow-minded, but give us your help, give us your teaching, we want to know what you think about sex, and many other factors in life.’ I answer that what is needed is not what I think about sex, but a power that will deliver a man from being mastered and controlled by it. There is ample knowledge about sex. Alas, people today know far too much about sex; they know much more than their forefathers knew. They are reading books about it – novels, text-books, and so on – and the more they read the worse they get. Their reading only serves to aggravate the problem. It is not knowledge we need; it is power. And that is where your moral ethical systems break down and fail completely. They have no power to offer, none at all. We must beware, therefore, of reducing Christianity to a mere moral, ethical teaching. God forbid that anybody should still be held in that ignorance and blindness! All that teaching has been tried very thoroughly for a hundred years and more, and it has failed completely, both in the case of the individual, and also in the national and international realms.

But I must say a word about the other misunderstanding. Here, again, is an interesting and fascinating story. There have been those who have said, ‘No, it is not just enough to hold this teaching before men and to tell them to get on with it, because the forces against us are too great. We are up against the world and the flesh and the devil. There is all that I am conscious of within myself, and then as I walk about the streets and see the hoardings and the placards and read newspapers, sin is insinuating itself and tempting me. I see it everywhere around me, in advertisements, in dress, and in all that characterizes the life of a great city like London. How can I fight against all this? ‘No,’ they say, ‘there is only one thing to do. If a man is to save his soul and to live a good and pure life he has got to get away from all this, he has got to segregate himself.’

In other words, the second great misunderstanding of the Christian teaching is that which we can sum up under the whole notion of monasticism. Here is a wonderful story. There is something about the people who started the monastic idea which calls forth one’s admiration. At any rate they were men who were serious and concerned about their souls and their lives and their daily living. This was the biggest thing in life to them; so much so that they would give up a profession, they would give up home, they would give up all that had been dear to them and retire into a monastery, there to live what they called the ‘religious’ life. The idea was that the only way in which you could fight this battle was to get away from the enemy as much as possible. Now in that principle, as I shall explain, there is something which is right and true. The Apostle Paul, addressing the Romans in chapter 13 of his Epistle, says, ‘Make no provision for the flesh’. It would be good for all of us if we spent less time reading our newspapers, kept our eyes straight ahead as we walked the streets of London, did not look at certain things, and did not go to certain places. So far, so good! But certain people carried that further; they said that you must get right out of the world. You must concentrate on this alone, you must give up ordinary life and living, and isolate yourself; you must go into a monastery, or become a hermit on top of a mountain, or get away into some cell somewhere; that being the only way of escape. And they did not stop even at that. They said that you have to keep down the body; so you have to fast twice, perhaps three times a week. You have to do other things also, perhaps put on a camel-hair shirt, and in various ways knock down this body of yours and insult it as much as you can. They indulged in what were called ‘flagellations’; they would beat their bodies, scarify their flesh, all in an attempt to overcome these powers that are against us in this great fight of which Paul is speaking. The best description of all this that I have ever read is to be found in a book called The Vision of God, the Bampton Lectures delivered about 1928 by Kenneth E. Kirk. There you will find an account of how this idea came in, and at a very early period in the history of the church. And that same school of thought has persisted ever since.

But that is not Christianity, and for the following reasons. Though you leave the world and all its prospects, and go and live as a monk or a hermit in a cell; though you have left the world, you have not left yourself – the two-thirds submerged part of the iceberg is still with you! You do not leave your sinful nature outside the monastery. Evil imaginations and thoughts are with you still; you cannot get rid of them. Wherever you go they go; yourself, your nature, this part that drags you down will be with you in the cell exactly as it was on the streets of London. Not only so, the evil powers are also there as much as they were when you were living your life amongst other people. ‘We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’ Stone walls do not keep them out, iron bars do not keep them out, locked doors do not keep them out; wherever you are they will be there. They are spiritual, they are unseen, they can penetrate everywhere, and they are with you in your cell. You cannot get rid of them. And for these reasons the great system of monasticism finally broke down completely.

The whole matter can be summed up in the story of one person, Martin Luther. What exactly did Luther discover? He was a monk there in his cell, fasting, sweating, praying, trying to get rid of the body, trying to get rid of this problem, trying to conquer these spiritual enemies. But the more he tried the nearer he seemed to be to complete failure and utter hopelessness. And at last he saw it! His monastic ideas were a travesty of Christianity; they were not Christianity at all. Christianity was something essentially different. He saw that you could be a Christian in the midst of the world, you could be a Christian ‘sweeping a floor’, as he puts it. You need not be a coenobite, you need not take vows of chastity and remain unmarried, in order to be a preacher. No, as a married man you are as eligible as a man who renounces sex. He suddenly saw that the monastic way was not God’s way, and that was the beginning of the great Protestant Reformation. Thank God that that which Luther had to unlearn is not the Christian teaching, for the logical end of the monastic argument is that you cannot be a true Christian and still live in the world. Of course the Roman Church did not teach that, but divided Christians into ‘religious’ and ‘laity’, and taught that the latter could be helped by borrowing from the over-plus of righteousness of the former – the utterly unscriptural doctrine of supererogation. You see how essentially different that is from the New Testament teaching. Here were ordinary people, servants, slaves, husbands, wives, parents, children. The Apostle does not say to them, ‘Off, all of you, into a monastery; get away somewhere from the world.’ Not at all! Thank God it is not that! That would be a gospel for wealthy people alone. And not only so; there would be no Christian witness and testimony in the world.

What a denial it is, ultimately, of the glory of the Christian faith! What is the Christian method? I end with a text. It is not, ‘Set about imitating Christ, adopt His moral ethical teaching, and try to put it into practice’. It is not, ‘Get away and become a monk or a hermit’. But just where you are in the midst of the world, with evil and sin rampant round and about you, and everybody and everything doing all they can to discourage you and to drag you down, just as and where you are, ‘Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Take unto you the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand the wiles of the devil.’ It is not retreat, it is not escape, it is not attempting something that is impossible. No, it is this supernatural, miraculous Gospel that enables us to be ‘more than conquerors’ over everything that is set against us.

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones 

-Scott Bailey 2007


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Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones: Are You Preaching the Gospel?

Posted by Scott on November 4, 2007



It is true that where sin abounded grace has much more abounded; well then, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound yet further?” The true preaching of the gospel of salvation by grace alone always leads to the possibility of this charge being brought against it. There is no better test as to whether a man is really preaching the New Testament gospel than this, that some people might misunderstand it and mis-interpret it that it really amounts to this: that because you are saved by grace alone, it does not really matter at all WHAT you do, you can go on sinning all you like because it will redound all the more to the glory of grace. That is a very good test of gospel preaching. If my preaching of the gospel does not expose it to that misunderstanding, then it is not the gospel. Let me show you what I mean. If a man preaches justification by works, no one would ever raise the question. If he says, “If you want to go to heaven, you must stop committing sins, live a life filled with good works, and keep this up regularly and constantly until the end, then you will be a Christian and go to heaven when you die.” Obviously, no one will accuse a man who preached like this of saying, “Let us continue in sin that grace may abound.” But every preacher who preached the gospel has been accused of this! They have all been accused of “antinomianism.” I would say to all preachers: IF YOUR PREACHING OF SALVATION HAS NOT BEEN MISUNDERSTOOD IN THAT WAY, THEN YOU HAD BETTER EXAMINE YOUR SERMONS AGAIN, and you had better make sure that you really ARE preaching the salvation that is proclaimed in the New Testament to the ungodly, the sinner, to those who are dead in trespasses and sins, to those who are the enemies of God. There is a kind of dangerous element about the true presentation of the doctrine of salvation.

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones

-Scott Bailey 2007

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Knowledge: False and True-A Warning Against Dead Orthodoxy!

Posted by Scott on November 4, 2007

by Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones

A Study of 1 Corinthians 8:1-3

The dangers confronting Christian people are not uniform and always the same. There are different types of personality and different emphases in the life of the Christian church and in the gospel. We who gather here are very well aware of the particular dangers that confront the actvist—that type of person who is so common amongst us in evangelical circles—the man who lives on his energy and on what he does, who is always busy, organizing meetings and attending them etc. and who says that you must always be doing something. We have realized very clearly the terrible danger that is inherent in that kind of activism, and we are never tired of protesting against it and of showing the danger of an almost exclusive emphasis on life, living and activity at the expense of doctrine, understanding and growth in knowledge. But while we see that so clearly, there is a real possibility of our being unaware of the entirely different type of danger that confronts us, and which is something that applies to a different kind of individual. The first thing we always have to do is to know ourselves, to note the particular group to which we belong, and to realize that there are dangers inherent in every type and in every group. To come immediately to the point, there can be no question at all, it seems to me, that the peculiar danger that threatens those of us who meet anually in this Conference, is the danger of pride of intellect and pride of knowledge…

I propose, therefore, to consider this whole subject with you, and I do so in terms of what we find in 1 Corinthians 8:1-3:

‘Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he kn wet anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God the same is known of him.’

I want to consider this with you, in order that we may apply it to ourselves. We need take no time in dealing with the particular context and the state of affairs in the church at Corinth. The Apostle is dealing here with the question of the meats offered to idols because it was a cause of division in the church. There were the more enlightened, the stronger brethren, and there were the weak brethren. They did not see alike on this matter. The strong brother said that there was no such thing as another God, that there was but one God. Everybody should know that, any man who knows anything at all knows that; therefore the idea that you should not eat meat offered to idol s was just nonsense, and was virtually going back to idolatry. A Christian was free to eat any meat he liked. Some them went so far as to say that, if asked, they could even go to the heathen festivals. ‘Why not,’ they asked, ‘as “these gods” are really non–existent?’ So they went. And thus they were becoming a stumbling–block to the weaker brethren, whom they despised, of their weakness of intellect and grasp and understanding. There was grievous trouble in the church of Corinth because of this conflict between the enlightened men of knowledge, and those who were weaker and lacking in knowledge.

The exact context is most interesting. But we are concerned with the way, the most interesting way, in which the apostle deals with it. As is his custom he does not deal with the thing just in and of itself and directly; he lifts it up; he finds a great principle. And the principle he finds is this whole question of knowledge. The real trouble in Corinth, in a sense, was not at all the question of meats offered to idols, but simply men’s view of their own knowledge. So he discusses the matter primarily in terms of their attitude towards knowledge. Our theme therefore, and the principle which we extract from our text, is the danger of a false view of knowledge.

To be accurate in our exegesis let me indicate that the ‘knowledge’ Paul speaks of here is not the same as that referred to in 1 Timothy 6:20, where he talks about some who have gone astray and made shipwreck of the faith because of—as it is translated there—‘science falsely so-called’. ‘Science’ there means knowledge, ‘Knowledge falsely so-called’. But that is not the same ‘knowledge’ as we have here in 1 Corinthians 8. There, the problem has reference to a kind of mystical knowledge, and to people claiming that they were receiving some direct knowledge by inspiration; it was the danger of a false mysticism. But here, it is ‘knowledge’ in the sense in which we normally use the term and in which, certainly, it applies to us who are members of this Conference.

There is no need, of course to emphasize the fact that knowledge is all important. We can never know too much. Knowledge is essential, doctrine is vital. The Bible is full of doctrine, and the New Testament particularly so. The epistles are mighty, glorious expositions of doctrine and of truth. The Apostles not only preached the truth but they emphasized the all–importance of a knowledge of the truth. Ultimately most of the troubles in the church, according to the teaching of the epistles, stem somewhere or another from a lack of knowledge and of understanding. Knowledge, therefore, is in and of itself absolutely essential; indeed we must give it priority and see to it that it always comes first. We were reminded of that in the paper which gave an exposition of Dr. John Owen’s teaching on the question of apostasy. Truth came first, you remember, then godliness, and then worship. We are all agreed about that. It is no problem to us. But and this is where our theme comes in—it is possible for us to develop a false notion of knowledge. It is possible for this gift of knowIedge and understanding, which is in many ways God’s most precious gift to us next to the gift of his Son and our salvation, to become a snare to us and a very real danger in our spiritual life. Such was the position in Corinth. It is good for us therefore at the end of this Conference, in which we have been spending so many hours in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding—it is good for us that we should face this possible danger which may be confronting us. I suggest the following treatment of the subject.

The Causes of a False View of Knowledge

First, we must consider the causes of this false view of knowledge. We cannot go into these in detail, but we may divide them into general and particular. Obviously at the back of everything is the adversary. The devil having failed to keep us out of the faith and in a state of ignorance and darkness of the mind, and having seen that we have discovered the danger of a busy activism that may be nothing but a man revolving round himself, suddenly completely changes his tactics. Transforming himself into an angel of light, he drives us to such an extreme in this matter of knowledge as eventually to ensnare us quite as successfully as he ensnares the activist. In other words we are back to a phenomenon with which we are all so familiar—the danger of going violently from one extreme to the other, the danger of over–correction. It seems to be the besetting sin of mankind and one of the most terrible results of the Fall, that there is no thing so difficult as to maintain a balance. In correcting one thing we go to such an extreme as to find ourselves in an equally dangerous position. We are always confronted by the devil, who is ever ready to take the best things and turn them into his own instruments of unrighteousness and to produce the shipwreck of our souls.

A second general cause is, as a well–known proverb reminds us, ‘a little learning’. ‘A little learning is a dangerous thing’. That does not mean, of course, that there is no danger in much knowledge. There is. But I am not sure that in this respect there is not a greater danger in a little, because it always means that the element of the tyro or novice who imagines that his litt1e knowledge is all knowledge comes in. Is it not notorious that first–year students always know much more than final–year students? I leave it at that—the danger that arises from a little learning. But we must give more attention to the third cause which may be a little more controversial. To me, there is a very special danger at this point and in this matter which we are discussing, in reading as against preaching. Perhaps in the age in which we live this is one of the greatest dangers of all. I am asserting that reading is much more dangerous than listening to preaching, and I suggest that a very real danger arises in this connection if a man just spends his time reading and does not come under the power of preaching. What do I mean? I mean something like this. While a man is reading a book there is a sense in which he is in entire control. It depends partly on the book, I know, and if it is beginning to make him feel uncomfortable he can shut it up and go for a walk and—he can do many things. But you cannot do all that when listening to preaching. Of course, you may be rude enough to get up and go out, and some people do so, but on the whole that is not the custom.

Preaching in a sense, therefore, safeguards us from these peculiar dangers that arise from reading only, provided of course that it is true preaching. For when a man is listening to true preaching he comes under the ‘power’ of the truth in a way that he does not when he is only reading. You may or may not like Phillips Brooks’ definition of preaching as ‘truth mediated through personality’, but there is a great deal to be said for it; and the Scriptures give us many illustrations of that. God does use the human personality. Not only that, a preacher not only expounds but also applies the Scriptures, and thereby makes sure that application takes place. When a man reads a book, however, he may never come to application. He can decide to shut the book and stop whenever he likes; there is no insistence on the application. I fear that in this present age, when people are tending to listen less and less to preaching, and preaching becomes shorter and shorter, and our reliance upon reading becomes correspondingly greater, we are therefore more exposed to the danger than our forefathers were. I am not of course denouncing reading, and saying that there should be a ban on all publications! Of course not! I am simply trying to show the dangerous tendency that arises, and asserting the priority and primacy, and the superiority of preaching. We need to be brought under the power of the truth. We do not like that, but it is the business of the preacher to do that, and if he fails to do so, he is a very poor preacher. We always try to evade these conclusions and applications, but the preacher brings them home. He holds us, and makes us face them, and therefore he safeguards us against certain dangers. An age which attaches greater importance to reading than to the preaching of the Word is already in a dangerous position.

But let us pass to particular causes. One is, to take a purely theoretical and academic interest in truth and knowledge, to make knowledge an end in and of itself—the purely theoretical and accademic approach. This is an obvious and well–known danger. I therefore take the general principle for granted, and mention only certain particular illustrations of it here.

I have always felt that it is wrong to hold examinations on Scriptural knowledge, for the reason that it tends to develop this theoretical interest in it. It makes a subject of it, something which you have to learn in order to pass your examination or to get a certain number of marks. It may not happen, I grant, but I am suggesting that the moment you have an examination you have already started this tendency to regard biblical knowledge as a subject in and of itself, like any other subject. I remember lecturing at a certain conference in America in 1932. The conference had been started by a saintly bishop in 1874 for religious people, but it had degenerated, not so much in numbers but in its theology and approach to truth. I found there that the great claim for this conference (and this is how it was advertised) was that it taught any subject in which anybody could be conceivably interested. I also found that item number sixteen on the list of advertised subjects was ‘Religion’. There is an example of this purely academic and theoretical interest in truth you take it up as a subject: chemistry, history, art, religion, theology—knowledge about these matters. And if you have an examination in addition, the whole thing is greatly aggravated.

It is also, and I say this with very real regret, one of the dangers inherent in a study of religious history. I have known three men who have been expert historians on the history of Christianity, the history of the church, and the history of its great men and movements. They have given their whole lives to this, and all three were particularly interested in the 18th century. But what has always amazed me is that though they spent their lives in reading about those glorious revivals of religion and those mighty men of God, it had not touched them at all. To them it was just a subject, a matter of academic and historical interest. They knew all the details, but as for the spirit of the thing, it was as if they had never read about it at all. That, I suggest, is a danger that is always inherent in the historical approach, and is an illustration of this purely theoretical approach.

The same thing can apply also even in the process of studying theology. It can become just a subject set for an examination, or a subject essential to obtaining a certain degree or diploma. And the very fact that this is the system may result in a man viewing the knowledge of God entirely in this way. But even without examinations this is still a possibility. A man can take a purely academic and theoretical interest in theology. I have known many such men. They happen to have had that as their hobby, whereas others turned to crossword puzzles. It was essentially the same approach—there was no question about that at all. It was purely theoretical, and thus it had become this false type of ‘knowledge’. Are we entirely free from this danger?

The second particular cause is that we approach truth purely in terms of intellect—intellect only. There is nothing so dangerous as to isolate the intellect. We are all agreed about the priority of intellect. But there is all the difference in the world between our asserting its priority and talking only about intellect and regarding man as if he were nothing but an intellect. There is nothing that is so calculated to lead a man directly to this ‘false knowledge’, about which the Apostle is speaking, as a purely intellectual interest in truth, in which the heart is never engaged at all and the power of the truth is not felt, indeed in which feeling does not enter at all. The man is merely concerned to absorb knowledge with his mind. And it is precisely the same when the will is not engaged. If the interest does not lead to any action, or move the ill, it is equally bad. We need not stay with this. The text for all this is, of course, Romans 6:17: ‘But God be thanked’, says the Apostle, ‘that ye have obeyed’—will!—‘from the heart’—heart!—‘the form of (sound) doctrine delivered to you’— to the mind. There you have them together. If you isolate the intellect and leave out the heart and the will, it is certain that you will end in this position of having a false view of knowledge, and indeed as I want to show, with false ‘knowledge’ also. To vary the expression, this danger is one of knowing ‘about’ a subject rather than knowing it! What a vital distinction this is. What a difference there is between preaching about the gospel and preaching the gospel! It is possible to preach round the gospel and say things about it without ever presenting it. That is quite useless—indeed it can be very dangerous. It may be true of us that we know ‘about’ these things, but do not really know them. And this, of course, becomes all–important when we realize that the whole end and object of theology is to know God! A Person! Not a collection of abstract truths, nor a number of philosophical propositions, but God! A Person! To knowHim!—‘the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent!’ There we have what I would regard as the main causes of this trouble…

The Signs and Indications of the Condition of False Knowledge

We come now to the second general heading, the signs and indicaions of this condition. There are certain general signs of this possession of a false knowledge and a false view of knowledge. For instance in such cases, there is always a lack of balance. it is the bit of knowledge that the man happens to have that he is always interested in, and he knows nothing else. So there is lack of balance at once. He has been suddenly attracted by a type or aspect of knowledge, and goes after it. He acquaints himself with this; but he knows nothing else and is lop–sided and lacking in balance. That in turn expresses itself in the use of slogans, cliches, tabloid expressions and phrases which always characterizes this condition. These phrases keep tripping off the tongue; the same catch phrases and slogans always. That is unfailingly indicative of a little knowledge, a lack of true knowledge, and above all of this lack of balance of knowledge.

The Apostle uses the term ‘puffed up’—’Knowledge puffeth up’. What an expression! What does he mean? he is describing a proud man, is he not? Here is a man who thinks he really ‘knows it all’; he is not like those other people, he knows; he is a man of knowledge and understanding. He knows it all! He is not like those others who never read; he is a great reader. And, of course, as a result of this he has arrived, and he is proud of it. ‘Puffed up!’ How do we know that he is proud of his knowledge? Well, he is always parading it. The heavy, important, Puritan gate! The way of speaking and so on! That is a part of the parading that is inevitably one of the manifestations of being ‘puffed up’. How difficult it is to stand erect with all this great weight of knowledge!

It manifests itself also in an impatience of any restraint and any correction; and still more in an impatience with any opposing view. It is intolerant of anything else. It ‘knows’, and nothing else must even be suggested. No opposing view has a right to exist, and must not even be considered. In other words it is a part of this bein g ‘puffed up’. It means ‘arrogance’. The Apostle James knew certain people of th is type, and so he says says, ‘Be not many masters, my brethren’ (James 3: 1). What a terrible thing it must be to have a church with nothing but masters in it. All are authorities, all know everything and ‘all about it’. ‘Be not many masters, my brethren’. But there is always this tendency to feel that you do know, and understand, and, of course, to let it be known. So men arrogate unto themselves positions—and thereby betray themselves.

But still more serious is the way in which this-manifests itself in its attitude to others. That was the trouble in the church at Corinth where these men who were enlightened said, ‘We have knowledge, we know’. The Apostle’s reply was, ‘We know that we all have knowledge’. Now he was there, according to some of the commentators, repeating their own phrase, ‘We have knowledge’. The result was that their attitude to others was one of superiority. They tended to despise others, they were like the Pharisees. They did not boast so much of the good works they did as of their knowledge and their understanding. These others who did not understand, who were not clear about idols—why, they were almost beneath contempt. So they looked down upon them, were inconsiderate towards them and said they were hardly worthy to be considered at all. It may show itself like that. Or it may show itself by just ignoring these others altogether. You ignore them to such an extent that you do not even feel contemptuous toward them, because in a sense they are not there at all! You are so much up in the air and in the clouds yourself that you do not even see them. It is as if they were not there. Then another way in which it manifests itself is in feeling that these other people who are so slow to learn are a hindrance to us. Why should the preacher still be dealing with such simple matters? These men who know so much would like to go on to the great things, but the preacher is always staying there with some preliminaries. There he is, preaching evangelistic sermons every Sunday night, and on Sunday mornings he seems to be thinking that he has many people in his congregation to whom everything has to be explained in great detail. Because of that they are being held back and cannot go on to the great heights. They have long scaled the Alps, why does the preacher not take them to Mount Everest? These other people are just a nuisance and a hindrance with their slowness. Now that was the case in Corinth, and it is the case in many churches today. These men of knowledge want to go on, but they are being held back by these others whom they therefore despise. There it is, displayed in the attitude towards others.

The last sign that I am going to mention, in order that I may pass on to something else, is that in some cases this wrong view of knowledge, and this possession of what is not true knowledge, manifests itself by it’s victim just doing nothing at all; he simply enjoys his ‘knowledge’. He does not seem to be aware of the fact that there is a lost soul anywhere in the world. He spends the whole of his time in reading and if he meets people, in letting them know what he has been reading and in having discussions about Truth. There are sections of the church today, with the world as it is, which never have any contact with the world at all. You never hear of them having a single convert, they do not seem to be aware of the existence of the problems of mankind and the ravages of sin. Why not? Becausethey spend the whole of their time within that circle of theirs, dotting their i’s and crossing the t’s, arguing about their great knowledge, and displaying it to one another. They are thus completely useless and entirely cut off from any kind of activity. We may not know this in it’s extreme form; but I would ask everyone present to examine himself or herself. Have you not found that it is a very easy thing indeed to spend the whole of your time in just reading and adding to your knowledge and building up your understanding, and forgetting all about the sinful world in which you live? It is the peculiar temptation that comes to people of intellect and ability who have realized the importance of knowledge. You can spend the whole of your life in merely adding to your own knowledge or in comparing notes with others who are like yourself.

The Uselessness of False Knowledge

But let us come to the third section which is the uselessness of such supposed knowledge. Look at the way in which the Apostle puts it in the second verse: ‘if any man think that he knoweth anything.’ Well, he says, there is only one thing to say about him—’he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know’; which means pattly, that this man, who is proud of the knowledge that he thinks is his, has not really got any knowledge at all. Is this not obvious? The argument is that if this man has a true knowledge of God he simply could not be like that. So the apostle says, this man who thinks he knows, in fact ‘knows nothing yet as he ought to know’, because if he did know as he ought to know he could not possibly be behaving as he is. This does not need any demonstration; it is a sheer impossibility; he has no true knowledge. He thinks that he has a knowledge of God, but all he has is some kind of knowledge ‘about’ God; it is not a knowledge of God, otherwise he could not possibly be what he is.

Let me put it in the words of the great George Whitefield. He is talking about the Bible:

‘This is my rock, this is my foundation. It is now about thirty–five years since I have begun to read the Bible upon my pillow. I love to read this Book, but the Book is nothing but an account of the promises which it contains, and almost every word from the beginning to the end of it speaks of a spiritual dispensation, and the Holy Ghost that unites our souls to God and helps a believer to say, “My Lord and my God.” If you content you content yourselves with that—[now he means by that, the Bible itself, remember]—if you content yourselves with that, the devil will let you talk of doctrines enough. You shall turn from Arminianism to Calvinism; you shall be orthodox enough, if you will be content to live without Christ living in you (Sermon on Isaiah 60:19, ‘God a Believer’s Glory’).

Note what Whitefield says. If you just go in for that sort of theoretical intellectual knowledge, the devil will let you talk of doctrine enough; you will turn from Arminianism to Calvinism, you shall be orthodox enough, if you will be content to live without Christ living in you. Th e devil does not care at all whether you change from being an Arminian to being a Calvinist if you do not know Christ and if you do not know God. One is as bad as the other. A theoretical Calvinism is of no more value than a theoretical Arminianism—not the slightest. That is what Whitefield is saying. He therefore warns against this because he is concerned about our having the Spirit. And he goes on to say, ‘Now when yo u have got the Spirit, then you may say “God is mine”.’ His point is that any knowledge which falls short of that does not interest the devil at all, because it is not really true knowledge which is going to make a difference to y ou. That is how Whitefield puts it, who was himself a Calvinist and one of the greatest evangelists the world has ever known.

But let me adduce another reason. Why is this such a ridiculous position to be in—this feeling that we really do know and that we have knowledge, this pride in ourselves and this despising of those activities, those busy people who do not know any theology or doctrine, those people of whom we speak in a derogatory manner and whom we more or less dismiss? Why is this so utterly ridiculous? And why is it not areal knowledge at all? The answer is—because of the vastness of the knowledge! What do I mean? The knowledge about which we are speaking is a knowledge of God! All these doctrines are about God! The moment you realize that, you see how impossible it is that a man should be proud of his knowledge. The moment he realizes the endlessness, the vastness of the knowledge, he is bound to realize that he is but a pigmy, a mere beginner, a little child paddling at the edge of the ocean. He thought he was out in the great depths. Great depths! He knows nothing about them, he has been thinking in purely theoretical terms. But when you realize that all this knowledge, everything in the Bible, is meant to bring us to know God, the Everlasting and the Eternal in the Glory and the Majesty of His Being—how can a man be proud of his knowledge when he realizes that that is knowledge about which we are speaking? 0r take the way the Apostle puts it in writing to the Ephesians. He is praying for these Ephesians and he ‘bows his knees unto God the Father.’ What for? Well this, he says: ‘That they, together with all other saints, may come to know the breadth, and the length, and the depth, and the height; and to know the love of God, which passeth knowledge’ (Eph, 3: 18, 19). Think of a little man strutting about because he khows so much, because he has read the Puritans and has read theology and is not like these other people who are ignorant. ‘Puffed up!’ Poor fool, who is not aware of his ignorance—‘heknoweth nothing yet as he ought to know’. If he really had a true knowledge of God he could not be like that. The thing is a sheer impossibility. The endlessness, the vastness of it all!…

In order to emphasize this great truth I felt I could do nothing better than remind you of the experiences of certain men who knew just a little about this knowledge of which I am speaking…Charles Haddon Spurgeon…puts it like this:

All ye that think that you know and have a knowledge of the truth, may the Holy Spirit grant that we may not say a word which is not strictly verified by our experience. But I hope we can say we have had converse with the Divine Father. We have not seen Him at any time, nor have we beheld His shape. It has not been given to us, like Moses, to be put in the cleft of the rock, and to see the back parts, or the train of the invisible Jehovah. But yet we have spoken to Him, we have said to Him, “Abba, Father”. We have saluted Him in that title which came from our very heart, “Our Father, which art in Heaven”. We have had access to Him in such a way that we cannot have been deceived. We have found Him, and through the precious blood of Christ we have come even to His feet. We have ordered our cause before Him, and we have filled our mouth with arguments. Nor has the speaking been all on our side, for He has been pleased to shed abroad by His Spirit His love in our hearts. While we have felt the Spirit of adoption He, on the other hand, has showed us the lovingkindness of a tender Father. We have felt though no sound was ever heard; we have known, though no angelic messenger gave us witness, that His Spirit did bear witness with our spirit that we were born of God. We were embraced of Him—no more at a distance. We were brought nigh by the blood of Christ.” That is real true knowledge of God!….That is what we should understand by knowledge (Sermon on 1 John 1:13, September 15, 1861).

The Tests of True Knowledge

My argument is this, that when we realize that that is the knowledge to which the Bible is meant to bring us and that that is the whole end of theology and the whole purpose of all teaching concerning these matters—when we realize that that is ‘knowledge’, can we possibly feel that we have knowledge and be ‘puffed up’ and boast of ‘our knowledge’ and ‘our learning’ in these matters? The thing is a sheer impossibility.

But let us consider the tests which show whether we have this true knowledge. First and foremost, obviously, is love of God. As the Apostle puts it in verse 3 (1 Cor. 8:3): ‘If any man love God’. That, he says in effect, ‘is knowledge’. In other words, here is the argument. To know God, of necessity, is to love Him. You cannot know God wiithout loving Him’. It is impossible. Why? Because God is love, because of the glory of His Being, because God is who and what He is. If any man really knows God he will be ‘lost in wonder, love and praise’; he will love God. True knowledge always leads to a love of God. If therefore we cannot say that we love God, have we any right to claim any knowledge of God? We can have a great deal of knowledge about Him and concerning Him, we can even apprehend with our minds the full scheme of salvation, but we still may be ignorant of ‘knowledge of God’. ‘This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.’…

Secondly, another way to test knowledge is by the character it produces. ‘Knowledge puffeth up’ says the Apostle,’but charity edifieth’,—builds up? What kind of character does it build up? It is described perfectly in 1 Corinthians 13: ‘Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not, charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.’ That is the character! What are its characteristics? First and foremost, humility. Look at those men in the Bible who have had a glimpse of God. They fall down as ‘dead’. They say with Isaiah, ‘Woe is me, for I am undone!’ Proud of their knowledge and their learning and their superiority? No!—they feel they are unclean and not fit to be there at all, that they are not in a position to criticize anybody because they are so aware of their utter unworthiness. True knowledge invariably leads to humility, and also to holiness and godliness.

What about the attitude to the neighbour? It has been stated perfectly there in 1 Corinthians 13—we will love our neighbour. Our Lord Himself said that it is the second great commandment: ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself.’ And, of course, especially so if he is weak and ignorant. What if he is an Arminian? What if he does not understand doctrines of grace? How are we to treat him? Are we to despise him, are we to dismiss him as a fool, or as a nonentity or as a man who knows nothing—is that to be the attitude? Let me again quote Whfitefield to you: ‘Believers consider Christ’s property in them. He says “My sheep”. Oh, blessed be God for that little, dear, great word ”My!” We are His by eternal election, “the sheep which Thou hast given Me” says Christ. They were given by God theFather, to Christ Jesus in the covenant made between the Father and the Son from all eternity.’ What a noble, wonderful statement of the great doctrine of election, one of the doctrines of grace! But Whitefield goes on: ‘They that are not led to see this, I wish them better heads, though. I believe numbers that are against it have got better hearts. The Lord help us to bear with one another where there is an honest heart!’ There is nothing to be added to that. It is the righ t way to look at it…Oh yes, when a man has this true knowledge he must love his neighbour as himself.’

In other words, to sum it up, what is the result of true knowledge? First: it is that we rejoice in the Lord. My friends, we do not only believe in the Lord “when we know Him, we rejoice in Him. ‘Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, rejoice.’ The happiest people in the church ought to be those who know the doctrines of grace. They should not be ‘puffed up’ with their little knowledge, they should be men filled with joy because they know God and something about His love.

Likewise they should have a holy zeal for God’s Name, and resulting from that they should be filled with compassion for the lost. The greatest evangelists the world has ever known have been men who have held the doctrines of grace. Why? Because they have had the greatest knowledge of God. Did you know that this was a fact, that every single person who was involved in the beginning of the great missionary enterprise in the 1790s was what is called a Calvinist? I dislike the use of these labels and extra–biblical terms, but that is a simple fact of history. There is a notion abroad today that a man who holds these doctrines of grace is a man who does nothing, and that he does not believe in evangelism. Why is that notion abroad? Why have people got that notion? Is there something in it? If there is, it means this, that the knowledge we think we have is no knowledge at all. We have got this theoretical, useless knowledge, and it is not a knowledge of God. If a man knows God he will above all others have a zeal for the glory of God and the Name of God. He will want the whole world to come to God, he will be the most active preacher and evangelist of all. He must because his knowledge of God is greater and his compassion for the lost is greater. And, as we know, there was no man in the eighteenth century who was so active, none who laboured so indefatigably as that great George Whitefield from whom I have been quoting.

The man who has true knowledge will be full of compassion for the lost and of zeal for the glory of God. There is no need to prove this, the thing demonstrates itself. lf only we knew Him! That is why the Son came from heaven, to let the world know something about the glory of the Father. He even came into the world and died to do this. And we should know Them—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And as we do so we shall in our little measure produce our Lord’s life and shall be patient as He was patient: ‘A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench.’ God have mercy upon us for the intolerance that often results from our false knowledge, and for the arrogance which is so often displayed. ‘Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.’ The 1owly Jesus! Let us show that we know God by not only loving God but by loving our neighbour, and especially the lost and those who are weak and feeble and who have fallen by the way, the children in the faith, the beginners, and those who are slow to learn. Let us be patient with them, even as He has been patient with us.

My last word—how are we to get this knowledge? I give you but the bare headings. Bible study! Obviously you start there. But in addition, self–examination. How vital that is! Reading the Bible is not enough. Self examination! How do you examine yourself? If you read your Bible correctly, you will soon discover. Ask yourself questions, apply what you are reading to yourself. Say: ‘This was spoken to a Pharisee, is it true of me?’ and so on. But if you want further help as regards self–examination, read the diaries of men who have truly known God. Jonathan Edwards drew up a list of questions for people to ask themselves. John Fletcher of Madeley did exactly the same thing. You can use them if you like. But however you do it, be sure that you do it. Examine yourself!

Then another thing—and I want to emphasize this—balanced reading! I am concerned about this. I know of nothing that has such a tenndency to produce false knowledge and to make men victims of this false knowledge, as reading which lacks balance. If a man reads nothing but theology, he is exposing himself to this danger. I would therefore advise that we should always balance our reading as we balance our material diet. You should not eat only one kind of food. if you eat nothing but proteins you will soon be ill. You should always have a balanced diet. That principle is equally essential here. ‘What do you mean?’ asks someone. Well, if I may say so with humility, the thing that has been of the greatest help to me has been to balance theological reading with the reading of biographies. That is the best advice I can give. I have always done this: I have always done it on holiday and I have tried to do it day by day. But on holiday in particular I used always to give my mornings to reading some theological work, but I was also careful to read some biography at night. It worked like this. Having read for three or four hours in the morning I felt before lunch that I was quite a considerable man, and that I had a great deal of knowledge which I would be able to display to others. There I was! But I remember very well when I first ‘stumbled’—and I am speaking the truth literally—when I first stumbled across Jonathan Edwards in 1918. 1 had never heard of him before but I began to read him and I soon discovered that you cannot read a page of Jonathan Edwards without feeling very small indeed. It completely corrected what had been happening in the morning. The best antidote to the poison of false knowledge is to read a biography like that of Jonathan Edwards or Whitefield or Fletcher of Madeley…How monstrous, how ridiculous how foolish it is to think that we know these things, that we have a knowledge of God simply because we have garnered a certain amount of intellectual and theoretical and academic information! ‘Grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord.’ Can we say with Spurgeon that we know what it is to be ‘embraced’ by Him? Have we ever really been there in His presence in a ‘sensible’ way—using the term ‘sensible’ as the Puritans used it? To ‘know and feel’ that God is near!

What is the value of all the knowledge we may have if we are ignorant of that! ‘Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.’ (I Cor. 13: 2). May God preserve us from this ‘false knowledge’ which is not knowledge but a counterfeit, and which is finally useless!

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones

This article is an excerpt from an article appearing in the book The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors published by Banner of Truth. This volume brings together the addresses given by Dr. Lloyd–Jones at the Puritan Studies and Westminster Conferences held in London, England between 1959 and 1978.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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