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Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Power To Tax = The Power To Destroy

The secret is out. There is no denying it. Congress uses the tax code to punish wage earners. Taxation is a punitive tool in the hands of a government that punishes the successful.

I have not followed the news very closely this past week being out of town, but I have caught bits and pieces of the AIG fiasco. The uproar occasioned by the bonuses received by AIG officials is unnecessary. The government should have never bailed them out with taxpayer money and then there would not be a scandal. If they want to run their business into the ground let them have at it.

With the infusion of taxpayer money the people are outraged.

Actually two thing about this.

1. It would be nice if people were as outraged concerning the incompetence at all levels of government particularly the federal level. Congress just gave themselves a raise even though their approval rating stays abysmally low.

2. The House rushed to pass legislation to tax the bonuses at I believe the rate of 92%. For ever dollar of bonus the federal government gets $.92! If what AIG is doing is unthinkable what Congress is attempting to do is despicable. The tax code is not to be used for the purpose of punishing or controlling behaviour but it is used for just those purposes and this is a glaring example of it. It also proves my point that with the introduction of an Income Tax with the adoption of the 16th amendment to the Constitution our entire income belongs to the federal government. The tax code does not determine what they collect it determines what they let us keep.

They are attempting to confiscate almost all of the bonuses of these AIG officials. They have been so successful in creating class envy and manipulated the people so effectively that most are delighted at this punitive tax failing to realize that they are sanctioning the confiscation of income by the federal government. If they can take 92% of their bonus they can take 92% of your income. So, all us poor folks refuse to defend the the AIG officials against this abuse of power and when they come after your income there will be no one left to raise objection because all of the rich and powerful folks that they have conditioned us to hate will be poor like the rest of us, and finally all power will be in the hands of politicians. Only then will some people realize what they have invited upon themselves and their children. Tyranny is an ugly thing.

I know you say the folks at AIG don't deserve the money. Does the federal government? Personally I would rather these individuals have it than Washington.

It was the Supreme Court in 1819 in McCulloch v. Maryland that wrote "The power to tax involves the power to destroy."

In the words of the late Paul Harvey, "Good Day."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Love Vs. Laxity

The following was preached by Arthur Pink in a message entitled Love Reproving in 1943.

"Few words have been used more inaccurately and loosely in recent years, than has "love." With a great many people--it is but a synonym for moral laxity, weakness of character, a taking the line of least resistance, a quiet tolerating of what is felt to be wrong.

Multitudes of parents have supposed they were treating their children "lovingly" when they overlooked their folly, made excuses for their wildness, and refused to discipline them for disobedience. They have prided themselves on being "kinder" toward their children than the "stern measures" which were meted out to themselves in their own youth. But it is laxity--and not love--which allows a child to have its own way. "He who spares his rod--hates his son; but he who loves him--chastens him early" (Proverbs 13:14). Let those of our readers who have young children ponder:

Proverbs 19:18 - Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
Proverbs 22:15 -Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
Proverbs 23:13,14 - Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.
Proverbs 29:15,17 - The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.

and remember, that those are the words of Him who is Love!

This same evil has held sway in the churches. Leniency and weakness have overridden righteousness and faithfulness. Instead of maintaining and enforcing the discipline which God's Word enjoins--the great majority of the churches have winked at even glaring sins, refusing to deal with those who walk disorderly. This reprehensible laxity, is misnamed "love". A mushy sentimentality which shrank from "hurting the feelings" of others--has ousted all concern for the glory of Christ and the honor of His house.

This is one of the inevitable effects of the lopsided preaching of the pulpit, where the 'love' and 'grace' of God were constantly proclaimed--while His 'justice' and 'wrath' were studiously ignored. God is 'light' (1 John 1:5) as well as 'love' (1 John 4:8); 'holy' as well as 'merciful'; 'severe' as well as 'good' (Romans 11:22). Unless the balance is preserved between those two sides of the Divine character, not only will He be grievously misrepresented--but the most serious results will follow!"

I could not agree with Pink more. If he was appalled in 1943 if he were alive today he would find that the problem only continued to grow. We live in a day where most are only interested in a "love" that appeases failing to realize that true, Biblical love does not fall prey to such a practice. Appeasement often sets the stage for apostasy. The Bible does say that charity does not rejoice in iniquity.

People want to hear about God's favor but few want to hear about his flood.
People want to hear about God's salvation but few want to hear about Sodom.
People want to hear about Peter, James, and John but few want to hear about Judas.
People want to hear about God's benevolence but few want to hear about the first couple's banishment.

It would be refreshing for people to love God's truth as much at they loved the favor of man!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mississippi Grandkids

Pictures here!

Proverbs 17:6 - Children‘s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.

Children's children are the crown of middle aged men also!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Baptismal Regeneration - Salvation Is Through Faith

In my previous posts I have argued that salvation is by grace and not of works. These statements proclaim a single truth presented in a negative and positive statement. The single truth is that we cannot save ourselves. There is nothing we can do that is meritorious. Justification can never be achieved through any righteous act by those who have violated the law and are thus condemned. A thousand righteous acts do not erase one unrighteous act! The cold fact that we cannot save ourselves does not of necessity mean that we cannot be saved. It simply means that someone else will have to save us. Negatively, this truth is expressed in the words that salvation is not of works. Positively, this truth is expressed in the words that salvation is by grace.

We can be saved by grace and not by our works. The question becomes do I understand what this means and do I believe it? It is faith that forges the golden chain that binds my soul to the promises of God, and thereby experiencing the cleansing of atoning blood.

In this post I want to simply address the role of faith in the saving of the soul. Once again I know that this will not settle all questions and will even potentially raise objections. I have reason to believe that once again all who claim "Christianity" would admit the role of faith. To deny this would place one in the unfavorable position of denying what the Bible so clearly declares. It will not answer all the questions, because faith itself does not save anyone. Jesus saves. It is not enough to believe, one must believe the right thing. Even the Jews were reprimanded by the Apostle Paul for having, "a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge".

While we must believe the right thing today let us focus on the fact that we must believe.

To begin with it is important to understand why faith is the channel by which we are made partakers of God's promise of righteousness.

First, let us remind ourselves of how thoroughly grace and works are incompatible.

The principle is clearly set forth in Romans chapter eleven where Paul is discussing the choosing of the Jewish people by God to fulfill his redemptive purposes. In the context of that discussion Paul lays down a principle concerning the relationship between grace and works.

Romans 11:6 - And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Grace and works do not mix! They are like light and darkness, good and evil, truth and error. Even the slightest introduction of the simplest of works and the entire concept of grace is marred. The easiest, most inconsequential work forbids us to say that a thing is of grace. If the salvation of the soul is by grace then this truth of necessity forbids the introduction of even the most mundane, or religious of acts.

If we can do nothing, how then can we be saved? The remedy is not in what you do but in what you believe. In God's economy believing, not doing, is what saves.

In Romans chapter four in discussing this very truth God presents Abraham as the example. We are told that "Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness". We are told in verse 5,

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

The pertinent statement here should not be missed, "his faith is counted for righteousness".

In verse 9 we are informed that "faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteouness".

Faith is not a righteous work, but it is reckoned for righteousness. If it were a righteous act it would not have to be reckoned so.

Many who embrace a covenant theology equate O. T. circumcision with N. T. baptism and from this connection embrace some form of baptismal regeneration.

This chapter raises some serious questions about their logic.

Romans 4:10 - How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.

Abraham had righteousness reckoned to him before circumcision! In fact verse eleven relates that he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had being yet uncircumcised.

Why? "That he might be the father of all them that believed" not the father of all them that are baptized.

Then in verse sixteen the principle of faith in relation to salvation is clearly spelled out. "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace;".

Faith is not a work. Faith has no merit. Faith does not make us worthy. It is of faith that it might be by grace. And remember, "And if by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace."

Righteousness is not imputed to us because of something we do, but because of what we believe. And it is provided based upon what we believe that it might be by grace and not of works, lest any man should boast. Again, those who believe in baptismal regeneration speak of what they did, while we speak of what we believe.

In fact in Romans four Paul goes on and discusses the nature of Abraham's faith. And once again we are reminded in verses twenty-one and twenty-two;

"And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness."

It was nothing that Abraham did that made him righteous but what he believed.

Then lest we have any doubts about the application of this discussion to ourselves Paul goes on in verses twenty-three through twenty-five and explains the meaning of these things to us;

Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

These things about Abraham having righteousness imputed to him was written for us. For we too can have righteousness imputed to us, if?????????? If what??????? If we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. We are accounted righteous not if we do the right thing but if we believe the right thing that it might be by grace, lest any man should boast.

So chapter five begins, "Therefore being justified by faith, . . . ." Justified not by what we do but by what we believe.

I can almost here my Church of Christ friend saying, "Exactly, I couldn't agree more. I am saved because of what I believe God does for me through baptism." Hold on a second! I don't understand. You are saved by what you believe?? You can't be. Because you believe you have to be baptized to be saved. Being baptized requires effort, it requires activity, it is something you do, something you participate in! I can hear him saying, "It is not what I do in baptism but what God does in baptism that effects the washing away of sins." Well, can God effect that washing away if you do not participate in the procedure? I think that consistency would demand that he answer no, for he has made baptism a requirement for salvation. If sins are washed away in baptism then they are not washed away unless I get into the baptismal waters and participate in the act. When you do that you have worked! It may not be much. It may be inconsequential. It may be mundane. It may be very religious. But it is work. And remember, "But if it be of works, then it is no more grace; otherwise work is no more work." And salvation we are told is by grace and not of works.

I could multiply verses showing that in order to be saved we must believe. Having already written more than I intended, I will leave off here for now. There might possibly be opportunity in the future for referencing some of the many verses that talk about believing for salvation. Here again, as I have illustrated at the end of this post, it is not enough to believe you have to believe the right thing. If you do not believe the true gospel then you are lost, possibly religious but lost and without hope.

In our next post we will likely direct our attention to what it is that washes away sin, what must we believe to be saved?

Acts 2:41 - Then they that gladly received his word were baptized:

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Speak Plainly

I am occasionally reading a few pages in a book entitled The Saint's Everlasting Rest by Richard Baxter. I had seen the book recommended in several places and found a copy that was published in Philadelphia in 1870. I came across this copy in an antique store in Hutchinson, Kansas a few years ago.

I was reading a few pages this morning and wanted to share with you a portion of what I read. This excerpt is from a chapter entitled, The Duty Of The People Of God To Excite Others To Seek This Rest. Baxter's second point in this chapter is, "We must take every opportunity that we possibly can to instruct them how to attain salvation."

The following is under this heading;

"Do it with all possible plainness and faithfulness. Do not make their sins less than they are, nor encourage them in a false hope. If you see the case is dangerous, speak plainly. 'Neighbor, I am afraid God has not yet renewed your soul; I fear you are not yet recovered from the power of Satan to God; I fear you have not chosen Christ above all, nor unfeignedly taken him for your sovereign Lord. If you had, surely you durst not so easily disobey him, nor neglect his worship in your family and in public; you could not so eagerly follow the world, and talk of nothing but the things of the world. If you were 'in Christ' you would be 'a new creature; old things' would be 'passed away, and all things' would ' become new.' You would have new thoughts, new conversation, new company, new endeavours, and a new life. Certainly without these you can never be saved; your may think otherwise, and hope otherwise as long as you will but your hopes will all deceive you, and perish with you.' Thus must you deal faithfully with men, if ever you intend to do them good."

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Sin Is More Hateful To God Than The Devil

The following is from a message by Samuel Clark entitled The Saint's Bouquet from 1641.

Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge. Proverbs 22:17

"Sin is the spawn of the old Serpent, the source of hell, and the vomit of the Devil.

Sin is more hateful to God than the Devil; for God hates the Devil for sin's sake--and not sin for the Devil's sake.

Sin is like a serpent in our bosoms, which cannot live--but by sucking out our life blood.

The conflict of the godly--is with the defilement of sin. But the conflict of the wicked--is only with the guilt and punishment of sin. The godly hate sin--because it has filth in it to pollute the soul. The ungodly fear sin--because it has fire in it to burn the soul.

The deluge of waters which overflowed all the world, washed away many sinners--but not one sin! The world shall one day be all on fire--yet all that fire, and those flames in hell which follow--shall not purge one sin!

All the evils in the world, serve to give names to sin.
Sin is called poison--and sinners, serpents.
Sin is called vomit--and sinners, dogs.
Sin is called mire--and sinners, sows.
Sin is called darkness, blindness, shame, nakedness, folly, madness, death and whatever is filthy, vile, infective, or painful.

A glutton may fill his belly--but he can never fill his lust. A covetous man may have his house full of money--but he can never have his heart full of money. An ambitious man may have titles enough to overload his memory--but never to fill his pride.

The Devil's last stratagem is, if he cannot beat us down to sin--to blow us up with pride.

Nothing will make God's children so pure, as to wash themselves every morning in their tears of repentance.

Without sound repentance, sin is not accounted as the greatest evil--nor Christ as the greatest good."

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Baptismal Regeneration - Salvation Is Not Of Works

In my last post on this subject I argued for the truth that salvation is by grace. I also acknowledged that even those who embrace a theology that proposes baptismal regeneration would likewise argue that it is by grace. It is not enough to say that it is by grace for that does not readily address the fundamental differences. The Church of Christ preacher that I spoke with recently said we really are not that far apart. I beg to differ. We are an eternity apart. His position is that if you were not baptized you would not go to heaven. My position is that baptism is not essential for salvation. That difference makes all the difference. I cannot accept the fact that he has embraced the true gospel, but another gospel, “which is not another, but there be some that would trouble you and pervert the gospel of Christ.” I do not believe he can see heaven while trusting in his baptism. I presume he would argue that he does not trust his baptism, yet at the same time he does not believe he can go to heaven without being baptized. But………I get ahead of myself.

In this post I want to address the correlating truth to salvation being by grace. If it is by grace then it is not of works. Here again, the discussion of this aspect of the issue will not settle the issue. I presume that most who embrace some form of baptismal regeneration would agree that salvation is not of works. Thus we have a basic difference concerning the nature of baptism. My understanding of Scripture leads me to believe that baptism is a work, a good work but a work nonetheless. Those who accept baptismal regeneration, I presume, conclude it is not a work. They would classify baptism as a sacrament while it seems clear to me that the New Testament gives baptism to us as an ordinance. But again, I get ahead of myself. My purpose here is to show that salvation is not of works.

Titus 3:5 - Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Salvation is not by works of righteousness. Salvation is not because of what we have done. Baptism clearly seems to be something we do??

Romans 4:5 - But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

It is not working, doing that justifies us. Rather it is faith. Having believed our faith is counted for righteousness. Having believed we are given the gift of righteousness. We are given this because of what we believe, not because of what we do.

Galatians 2:16 - Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

This verse tells us what does not justify and what does. It is not the law that justifies, that is what we do. It is faith in Jesus Christ that justifies. We believe in Jesus Christ that as the Scripture says we might be justified by faith. He then comes full circle and reminds us that no flesh shall be justified by the works of the law.

Ephesians 2:8,9 - For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

I referenced verse eight in my last post, verse nine says, “Not of works”. What is not of works? Salvation is not of works. In this verse we have the reason it is not of works, “lest any man should boast”. I find this to be a marked difference between those who hold my position and those who hold to baptismal regeneration. I am amazed how when I ask people about their relationship with God the vast majority of people tell me about when they were baptized. They tell me about something they did. If someone were to ask me about my relationship with God, I don’t recall this ever happening, I would tell them what I believed! They point to an external event, I point to an internal heart change.

2 Timothy 1:9 - Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

While I referenced this verse in the last post I thought it merited attention in this post as well. Because not only does it speak of salvation being by grace but also instructs us that salvation is not according to our works. And possibly more important it establishes a clear distinction between works and grace.

Romans 3:26,27 - To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

What is declared? Not our righteousness but his righteousness, which is provided as a gift. It is the declaration of his righteousness and not our own that enables him to be both just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. This issue is not what we do but what we believe. Here again the issue of boasting is addressed like in Ephesians 2:9. He tells us that boasting is excluded. But how? By the law of works? No! But by the law of faith. If we do something it provides a format for boasting. If we simply believe what he did then boasting is excluded.

Romans 4:2 - For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.

This verse causes us to realize that the whole concept of works involves more than just the Old Testament law. Abraham lived several hundred years before the law. Abraham was not justified because of what he did otherwise he would have had opportunity to glory. He was not justified because of what he did but because of what he believed. This point would seem to be beyond dispute.

Romans 4:3 - For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Galatians 3:6 - Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
James 2:23 - And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

I will conclude here. This premise is so closely tied to the one in the previous post that an argument for one premise naturally serves as an argument for the other. If salvation is by grace it cannot be of works. I don’t think that there are many who would dispute the main premise I am seeking to set forth; salvation is not of works. Of course there is plenty of disagreement concerning the application of this truth to baptism. There are obviously many who do not consider baptism to be a work and many others who believe that it is. Some of what I have touched on here will be expanded in future posts. I don’t think anyone could claim to be a Bible believer and argue that salvation is by works. The challenge for some then becomes taking what is obviously something we do and arguing that it is not a work.
In our next post we will spend some time thinking about the issue of faith in relation to salvation.

Acts 2:41 - Then they that gladly received his word were baptized