Tuesday, November 08, 2011
New To Those Who Will Not Have It
A couple of weekends ago I was speaking with a man who brought up an objection to the gospel that is very, very common. The conversation reaches a point that goes something like this:
“God commands that all men everywhere repent,” I say.“But, God forgives and is merciful and gracious,” comes the reply
“Yes, He is, to those who repent,” I respond.“Are you reading ‘The Holy Bible’? Show me your Bible! Is it ‘The Holy Bible’? You are not reading from the New Testament. You are reading from the Old Testament. The God of the New Testament is a God of grace, not like the wrathful God of the Old Testament,” one objects.
“Regardless of where I am reading, you will find the grace of God in the Old Testament as much as you find the wrath of God in the New Testament. Here, let me show you . . .” and I open the scripture.“You are twisting the Bible around . . .” and the person usually walks off.
I am amazed (and not surprised) that those who seek to justify themselves before God rely so heavily on their own understanding of scripture without having studied it. This is nothing new. John Calvin writes back in the 1500’s in his Preface to his “Institutes” that “our adversaries, indeed, clamorously maintain that our appeal to the word of God is a mere pretext—that we are, in fact, its worst corruptors.” He writes further, “The true religion which is delivered in the Scriptures and which all ought to hold, they readily permit both themselves and others to be ignorant of, to neglect and despise . . . . the object on which all to a man are bent, is to keep their kingdom safe or their belly filled; not one gives the smallest sign of sincere zeal.”The man to whom I was speaking made it a point to inform me that he follows his heart in making spiritual decisions—he does not need the scriptures. I asked him how he knew his heart was trustworthy and he could not answer. I asked him if God sees his heart the same way he does and he said he felt God understood his heart. I then held the Law to his heart so he could see that, by his own admission, God saw a heart of sin: lying, stealing, adultery and disobedience. He accused me of scripture twisting and stormed off. I taught him from scripture that God must punish sin and he should repent, turn from his sin and put his faith and trust in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He left, leaving me to talk to the hand.Calvin writes, “They call [our doctrine] new, and of recent birth; they carp it as doubtful and uncertain; they bid tell us by what miracles it has been confirmed . . . . they may sport with its uncertainty, had they to seal their own doctrine with their blood, and at the expense of life, it would be seen what value they put upon it.”
The ancient gospel is new to them that will not have it, that Christ “died for our sins and rose again for our justification” (Rom 4:25).