Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Emulating God's Character? Pelagianism Resurrected Evangelical Style

Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" (Isaiah 6:2-5 ESV)

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. (Matthew 15:18-19 ESV)

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV)

It never fails that Pharisees emphasize their own personal holiness, goodness and righteousness rather than their own unworthiness in comparison to Christ and to God's absolute holiness.  The old cliché, "What would Jesus do?", is based on the false assumption that sinful human beings can rival, equal or even excel above God's own holiness.  Pharisees love to emphasize the law of God and you will rarely hear them mention the doctrine of salvation by grace alone.  Why is this?  It is because they have an overly high opinion of themselves as inherently holy rather than inherently sinful and corrupt.  Even regenerated, justified and converted Christians retain the sinful nature and an inward corruption.
An Evangelical minister I know regularly emphasizes our faithfulness, our righteousness, and our emulation of God's character.  But he does so self-righteously since the Bible continually says that there is none righteous (Romans 3:10-12; 3:20-23).  In fact, the word emulation means:
–verb (used with object)
1.  to try to equal or excel; imitate with effort to equal or surpass: to emulate one's father as a concert violinist.
2.  to rival with some degree of success: Some smaller cities now emulate the major capitals in their cultural offerings.
Our efforts to emulate the character of God fall so short that the comparison is similar to a mentally challenged child trying to play Mozart on piano or violin.  The results come so far short as to not even resemble the original composition.  Human beings are totally corrupt to the point that the divine image is hardly recognizable anymore.  Even Christians retain this corruption (Romans 7:22-25).  This is the apostle Paul's personal "testimony" that he struggled with sin.  If you are struggling with sin, do not feel like the lone ranger.  Everyone is a sinner, even the best Christian you know.  All Christians sin in thought, word and deed on a daily basis--even those so deluded as to think they are no longer sinful.
The reason "Evangelical" Pharisees emphasize good works over and above justification by faith alone is that they do not really believe they are guilty of original sin or any actual sins.  They falsely assume a state of sinless perfection in this life.  And the definition of sin is always something along the Wesleyan holiness line that sin is only the violation of a known moral law.  This is especially strange since the 1662 Book of Common Prayer recommends daily Morning and Evening Prayer where we confess our sins twice a day.  And how does the 1662 Prayer Book define sin?  It defines sin as Scripture does; that is, sin is anything that fails to do what God commands, anything that violates God's moral law in thought, word or deed.  The distinction between temptation and sinful thoughts is a false one for sinful human beings.  Only the first Adam and Jesus Christ were tempted without sinning.  You see, even if we do not give in to temptation to sin in actual deeds, simply by contemplating what is sinful sinners have sinned in their thoughts.  Cursing, swearing, hating, lusting, coveting, worshipping the creature rather than the creator are all sinful thoughts as well as sinful deeds.  Jesus said that it is the heart that is wicked and out of the heart proceed all sinful actions.
Repent of your self-righteousness today and trust in the righteousness of Christ alone to save you.  Why?  Because you sin by thinking that your righteousness can equal that of God in your own sinful heart.  Those trusting in their own inherent righteousness to make themselves right with God are inwardly full of dead men's bones.  It is the righteousness that is outside of us that justifies us--the righteousness of Christ.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- (Philippians 3:8-9 ESV)

And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:16 ESV)

Those who count their own works as anything other than trash or rubbish have built their salvation on the false foundation of good works.  (1 Corinthians 3:11).  Unless we build on the foundation of Christ's active obedience and Christ's passive obedience we simply condemn ourselves.  (Romans 10:3; Titus 3:5; Philippians 3:9).
False prophets love to say, "Oh, I agree with you, brother," when confronted with their overly optimistic view of their own personal holiness.  But on closer examination they lead people to hell by teaching them that they are able to do what they are unable to do:  be absolutely sinless and holy.  We fall short of the mark no matter how holy we "think" we are.  That is why even the holiest and best Christians in and of themselves deserve hell.  It is only the sinless life of Christ that can make us holy and that holiness is not our inherent, subjective holiness.  Rather it is the objective holiness of Christ credited to our account.  This is why even the thief on the cross could be saved at the last instant  (Luke 23:39-43).  If personal holiness were the basis of salvation, then logically criminals and the wicked have no chance to be saved since they can never do enough penance to make themselves right with God.  But the clincher is that would also mean that no Christian at all could be saved since all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  In other words, we are all law breakers, criminals, and sinners in God's eyes and all of us deserve hell as much as any murderer or adulterer.  Only by God's mercy and grace can anyone be made right with God, not by our own righteousness, emulation of Christ or God, or any other righteousness of our own heart.
Are you like the tax collector who went into the temple to pray?  Or are you like the Pharisee?  (Luke 18:10-14).  Choose today whether you will work your way to heaven or if you will trust only in God's mercy to save you, an unworthy, miserable sinner who can never repay the debt you owe to God.  (Matthew 18:24-34).  Pharisees exalt themselves above others who owe less than they themselves owe.  Beware of being overly righteous lest you yourself be lost:

Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? 17 Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time? (Ecclesiastes 7:16-17 ESV)

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12 ESV)


The 1662 Book of Common Prayer puts it like this:

DEARLY beloved brethren, the Scripture moveth us, in sundry places, to acknowledge and confess our manifold sins and wickedness; and that we should not dissemble nor cloak them before the face of Almighty God our heavenly Father; but confess them with an humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient heart; to the end that we may obtain forgiveness of the same, by his infinite goodness and mercy. And although we ought, at all times, humbly to acknowledge our sins before God; yet ought we chiefly so to do, when we assemble and meet together to render thanks for the great benefits that we have received at his hands, to set forth his most worthy praise, to hear his most holy Word, and to ask those things which are requisite and necessary, as well for the body as the soul. Wherefore I pray and beseech you, as many as are here present, to accompany me with a pure heart, and humble voice, unto the throne of the heavenly grace, saying after me;

A general Confession to be said of the whole Congregation after the Minister, all kneeling.
ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou them, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou them that are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesu our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

The Absolution, or Remission of sins, to be pronounced by the Priest alone, standing; the people still kneeling.
ALMIGHTY God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who desireth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he may turn from his wickedness, and live; and hath given power, and commandment, to his Ministers, to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent, the Absolution and Remission of their sins : He pardoneth and absolveth all them that truly repent, and unfeignedly believe his holy Gospel. Wherefore let us beseech him to grant us true repentance, and his Holy Spirit, that those things may please him, which we do at this present; and that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure, and holy; so that at the last we may come to his eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
If Evangelicals do not sin daily, then why would the English Reformers call for this confession to be said "daily throughout the year"?  (See The Order for Morning and Evening Prayer).  All the glory goes to God alone for our salvation.  We get none of the credit, none of the glory, and none of the worship due to God alone.  Our righteousness is before God as filthy rags, no matter how deluded we might be into thinking that we are "faithful" with the same "faithfulness" that Christ possessed.  (Isaiah 64:6).  Only as we humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord (James 4:10) and trust in the alien righteousness of Christ imputed to us can we be saved.  Otherwise, we are as lost as any other false religion which attempts to reach heaven by self effort, self righteousness, and good works.  (Romans 5:1-10).
  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost;

    Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen.


Lighthouse Prayer Line said...

Hi Brother Charlie,

I appreciate all of your posts. You are truly being used as one of God's servants in equipping many of His children with love, knowledge and the Truth of His Word.

I do have a question that possibly you can best explain to me. My question centers around the following remark from this article, "Only the first Adam and Jesus Christ were tempted without sinning".

I have always understood the first Adam as sinning by eating from the Tree he was instructed not to eat from (original sin).

Could you help clear this up for me? Or should it have read: "Only the first Adam and Jesus Christ were capable of being tempted without sinning"?

You see, I serve as a religious volunteer for the Greenville Detention Center. And just last week, a 22-yr old sex offender challenged me quited giftedly with much scripture whereby his interpretation was that man could live without sinning after coming to a full-knowledge of his salvation.

This article has equipped me immensely. It is never really about who is right or who is wrong. It is always about getting God's Truth implanted within us. So although I felt ill-equipped, I prayed silently for the Holy Spirit to empower me with love and wisdom. He never fails! I have no doubt that God will guide me in these areas through the Truth of His Word and by my asking.

Sanctification is a most blessed & renewing experience for us!! God bless you brother for your service in His vineyard!!

He is Risen!

Mark Seay

Charlie J. Ray said...

Hi, Mark...

I only meant that Adam did not sin until after he disobeyed God's command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of good and evil. After that, man's thoughts were only continually evil all the time:

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5 ESV)

as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." 13 "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." 14 "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." 15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known." (Romans 3:10-17 ESV)

The worst sex offender can still receive forgiveness and be saved, although I would not recommend turning them lose on the streets afterwards.

We all struggle with sin daily and those who deny this are simply fooling themselves. One man's sin might be anger, which can be the same as the sin of murder in the thoughts. Another man's sin might be covetousness.

Anyway, that's why the 1662 Book of Common Prayer says that we should repent daily at morning and at evening prayers. We have sinned during the day and we need to confess and repent on a regular basis.

Salvation is all of grace.


Charlie J. Ray said...

May the peace of God be with you always, Mark.

Christ is risen indeed. Alleleuia, Alleleuia.

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