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Re: Legalism [Re: AC.] #34231
Wed Oct 25, 2006 8:06 AM
Wed Oct 25, 2006 8:06 AM
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I have always enjoyed this analogy to define legalism:

Sanctification is like a dance. And a legalist is a dancer who is always looking at her own feet, trying like crazy to make sure she gets every step exactly right.

The legalist is missing the whole point of dancing, which is enjoy your partner and become more intimate with Him. Our eyes should be on His face, not our own feet!

Or worse, on other dancers' feet!

-Robin

Re: Legalism [Re: William] #34232
Wed Oct 25, 2006 12:45 PM
Wed Oct 25, 2006 12:45 PM
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Hey Will,

What's the name of the church in Wyckoff?

AJC


The mercy of God is necessary not only when a person repents, but even to lead him to repent, Augustine

Re: Legalism [Re: Robin] #34233
Wed Oct 25, 2006 9:53 PM
Wed Oct 25, 2006 9:53 PM
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Robin,

That's a beautiful analogy. I've never heard that before.

It reminds me that love fulfills the law.


Wes


When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride. - Isaac Watts
Re: Legalism [Re: Pilgrim] #34234
Thu Oct 26, 2006 3:46 AM
Thu Oct 26, 2006 3:46 AM
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Pilgrim,

I reluctantly post my minister's response to my concerns regarding assurance and the NRC based on our exchange - the 2nd to last paragraph touches on your concerns regarding the NRC. I am only posting this to give equal representation to both sides of the argument, I hope you don't mind-


Quote

It is very good to hear from you. I hope I may still be of some assistance to you with the questions you have concerning the need of your soul.



First, I would like to ask you what you really desire. Do you desire to merely speak about deliverance and a Savior and assurance, or do you desire to experience the reality of it? These are two different things. I would love to hear you speak of it, but not in the same way that many speak of it today, namely, out of a head knowledge. This knowledge is not saving and gives no real, lasting, true comfort. But if you could speak out of the experience of salvation, that would be so good to hear.



Secondly, it seems to me that you are beginning to put the cart before the horse. How can we speak of “assurance” of salvation, when we have never experienced anything of salvation in the first place? If someone tries to assure you of possession of something that you do not in reality have, be sure they deceive you. This is an absolute false comfort upon which many rest today.



Thirdly, you mention that our church does such a good job of making the congregation feel human depravity. Oh, if only we could do so, but it is out of our power. I would like to ask you a question. Let’s imagine that you were in a room full of cancerous people, who had no idea that they had cancer. Naturally, you introduce them to the physician, and invite them in, as sick people. What would you do if no one entered? Would you not ask them why? And what would be their response? “I don’t need the physician, because I feel fine.” What is your obvious task? Yes, you want to bring them to the physician, but how can you (humanly speaking) get them there? Is it not necessary to convince them of their sickness first? You can invite them all you want (and of course you need to), but you will not get anywhere unless you first convince them of their NEED for a physician. Once this is accomplished, the rest (humanly speaking) follows quite of itself. Once a person is really convinced that he is sick, he will begin himself to ask after a physician, a cure. You don’t need to urge him so much anymore, because he himself is asking fervently if he may be the next one into the doctor’s office. But one of the hardest things to do is to convince a person that “feels fine” that he is actually not fine at all.



This is just a little natural example, but it is not outside of the example of Scripture, since the Lord Jesus portrays Himself as the great Physician. Sadly, many today are urged upon Christ who (reverently speaking) do not know what do with Him when they come there. They have no need. They do not know what sin is, they do not feel anything of their separation from God and therefore know nothing of a need for a Mediator. I do not say that person can ever come “too early” to Christ – no – never! But I do say that many supposedly “come” to Him who have never really come at all, but are completely deceived. I hope this may never be so with you, Anthony.



Fourthly, it is not possible to make it more difficult than the Bible does, since the Bible says that from our side it is IMPOSSIBLE. We cannot make it more difficult than that. If anyone says it is easier than that, they speak directly against the Word of God. The Lord Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to be saved. This was evidently an impossibility, since the disciples answered, “Who then can be saved,” to which the Lord Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men, is possible with God.” It is this impossibility that we need to know in an experimental way, otherwise we will never truly experience the need for a Savior. If it is never impossible, we will still keep trying to do it in our own strength. But when it becomes impossible, we are then ready to receive help, as a humbled beggar. Just consider all the examples in the Word of God, wherein we see the Savior’s work. People say today, God helps those that help themselves, but In every miracle the Lord Jesus performed, I read just the opposite, He always helped those who COULD NOT HELP THEMSELVES. Think of: the lepers, the blind, the lame, the deaf, the dumb, the dead, etc. These were all helped in their impossibility from their own side, and in this way the honor went to the Lord alone, and not to anyone else. Think further of the centurian whose servant was sick, the ruler of the synagogue, whose daughter was sick, the Canaanitish woman, whose daughter was vexed with a devil, the woman with the issue of blood, the multitudes who had nothing to eat and nowhere to buy it, the disciples in the storm, the debtors of 50 and 500 pence who had nothing to pay, etc, etc, etc. The Lord Jesus is the SAVIOR of those who are LOST. For the lost, it is an impossibility. What did they do in their misery? They cried unto God, unto the Lord Jesus. Is this also your recourse?



Many of these had to experience that they were not heard immediately. Think of Bartimaeus, the Canaanitish woman, the Ruler of the Synagogue, the man whose son had a devil and who cast himself into the fire and water, etc, etc. When the Lord Jesus heard that Lazarus had died, he purposely remained two days in the place where He was. The Lord tried them. He deepened their cry. Thus, He made them WAIT. Oh, this is not what we like. No, we are in a hurry, but most of the time the Lord is not in a hurry. He wants to be glorified. He has so much to teach His people and most of it is learned in the way of waiting and afflictions. I would challenge you to find in the Psalms the many places the psalmists speak about a “waiting” people. This is not strange to the true Church, but it is strange to those who are able to help themselves. They don’t need to wait, they don’t want to wait, and they will not wait. But the Lord Jesus spake a parable expressely to this end, that men ought always to pray and not to faint (see Luke 18:1-8.) And David tells of the blessedness he experienced after he waited on the Lord. Psalm 40:1-4 “I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.” Oh, Anthony, I hope with all my heart that you also may not turn aside to lies, and that you also may experience the same as David. The doctrine of the Scriptures is not a complex doctrine, it is simple, but it is a HATED doctrine for our flesh, for yours and mine. We have to go lost. It has to come into the impossibility. It is as simple as that. This is the place the Lord comes to His people. This is the place that He receives all the honor and all the glory. I know you don’t want to come there, because none of us do, but may the Lord keep you from running ahead of Him, so that He may receive the honor and your soul may receive the comfort and salvation. Then there will be an assurance that you have never experienced in your life. It is the assurance that is IN faith. And then you will also seek that assurance OF faith, which our fathers speak of.



Cry to God, Anthony. Cry to the Lord Jesus. Don’t run ahead of Him, but seek to come behind Him. If He has not yet answered, perhaps He still yet says, “Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.” (Ezek. 8:6.) In His Own time He will come, but I can assure you that it will not be before it has come to an end from the side of Anthony. “He hears the needy when they cry, He saves their souls when death draws nigh.” (Psalter 420:5) May this be your heartfelt experience and song, and may I live to hear it, is my wish and prayer for you.



Anthony, one other thing. The person who you conversed with about “external” things accuses us of things which are not at all true. We do not say that things “indifferent in themselves” are wrong. When we say, for example, that we do not belong at the beach, I hope that it is clear to you that we do not mean that we may not go to the beach at all. Our preaching is against going to the beach when there are people there who are improperly dressed, and this is the ONLY reason. He says that being in such a place “may lead most men” to lustful thoughts. I’m glad he has admitted this much, but the Scriptures say that we ALL have evil hearts and that even Job, who feared God and eschewed evil had to make a covenant with his eyes. Anyone who knows a little of his own heart will confess that there is nothing in it but evil by nature, and after grace received the old man of evil still remains and is a great burden. Similarly, when we speak against card playing, we do not speak about every game in which there may be some form of a “card” but we are speaking about what we all understand to be “playing cards,” which is in itself very evil. If he thinks that we reject dancing altogether, I wonder how he thinks we would condone the “dancing” of David before the ark. He is being extremely simplistic in his false accusations of our denomination and is simply mocking with our warning against that which is truly evil. When he says that “the worst discourage sinners from coming to Christ,” this is an outright lie, which I certainly hope you do not believe.



Anthony, I hope this makes things a little clearer for you. May I suggest Thomas Shepard’s books, “The Sincere Convert & The Sound Believer” and “The Parable of the Ten Virgins.” They are not so easy to read, but he is very heart searching and it seems to me that you would be able to profit from them. I think that they are available in your church library, and if not, they would be able to order them for you.




The mercy of God is necessary not only when a person repents, but even to lead him to repent, Augustine

Re: Legalism [Re: AC.] #34235
Thu Oct 26, 2006 8:38 AM
Thu Oct 26, 2006 8:38 AM
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Pilgrim

Again we have to worry about simplifying the matter.

We live in a spiritually dead world - the devil is the prince of this world, so the more we embrace the world the futher we are from Jesus. The spiritually dead are by nature attracted to this world and it's trappings - and need constant warnings - unfortunately there are few churches in this day that teach human depravity, so most Christians want to have both - the world and God, while I believe GOd wants total submission (we have to be brought pretty low to get to that point, no?) We can't serve two masters!

Now I don't recommend living in a cave or fleaing to the mountains to get away from the world! We have to live and function in this world and we should witness to those ignorant of the true way to eternal life but we should also seperate ourselves to some degree, no? Aren't true Christians in reality a peculiar people who are strangers walking the earth as they wait in hopeful anticipation of going to their true home to be with the Lord.


The mercy of God is necessary not only when a person repents, but even to lead him to repent, Augustine

Re: Legalism [Re: AC.] #34236
Thu Oct 26, 2006 12:03 PM
Thu Oct 26, 2006 12:03 PM
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AJC,

I am not going to get into a "you say, he says" foolishness, especially via this medium. So, I'll finish off with the following brief remarks in regard to your pastor's defense of his own views which he apparently says represent those of the NRC.

1. What he wrote concerning the impossibility of a sinner coming to Christ on his/her own is 100% correct, which the Lord Christ poignantly says in Jh 6:44, et al. And faith only comes by hearing [reading implied as well] of the Gospel. Now, here comes the rub which I have with the NRC, and again this comes from my own personal experience as it NOT meant to be a blanket statement concerning each individual church within the denomination. What I heard, both from the pulpit and even more so in the tragic lives of many of it's members was an over abundant emphasis upon one's depravity and even more on the necessity of "feeling/experiencing" that depravity before one CAN COME to Christ. Thus, many spend their entire lives praying to God that he would give them that "experience" rather than believing upon Christ as the Scripture commands them to. The problem is for many was .... "Is my experience genuine? Do I feel convicted enough?" etc. One of the most pitiful examples I had the extreme displeasure dealing with was a 78 year old woman who lamented that for 60 odd years she said she had begged God in prayer that He would give her a new heart so that SHE COULD BELIEVE on Christ and be saved. [Linked Image] There is nothing to be found in Scripture that requires that a sinner pray for a new heart BEFORE believing on Christ. And if you re-read your pastor's comments, you will see that he too counsels you with the same:

Quote
Cry to God, Anthony. Cry to the Lord Jesus. Don’t run ahead of Him, but seek to come behind Him. If He has not yet answered, perhaps He still yet says, “Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.” (Ezek. 8:6.) In His Own time He will come, but I can assure you that it will not be before it has come to an end from the side of Anthony. “He hears the needy when they cry, He saves their souls when death draws nigh.” (Psalter 420:5) May this be your heartfelt experience and song, and may I live to hear it, is my wish and prayer for you.

I might recommend that you do a little reading about an important church schism that happened in Scotland called, "The Marrow Controversy". Briefly, on the one side there were those who said that it was absolutely necessary that a sinner repent before he CAN COME to Christ. On the other side there were those who disagreed and said that indeed repentance was one of the two prerequisites to coming to Christ. But repentance was so inseparably conjoined to faith that to make repentance a LEGAL REQUIREMENT for faith was to preach "synergism"; a "works+faith=salvation".

He speaks of his (the Church's) need to convince people of their need, to which I can agree in part. For it is the Church's responsibility to preach the truth about men's natural aversion and hatred of God due to their natural depravity of the soul and thus their inability to even desire God unless the Holy Spirit performs the radical transformation of regeneration. BUT.... and this is the point... that is only HALF of the Gospel. The other half which is inseparable is that Christ will receive ALL who come to Him by faith. True faith is a repentant faith and true repentance is a believing turning from sin. If one has a desire to be reconciled to God, to be cleansed from their sin, to live a life that is pleasing to God, they are to go directly to the Lord Christ, believing that He will do exactly that which He promises to ALL sinners.... salvation; freely given without cost. One of the main issues from which this flowed was the relationship between saving faith and assurance. For the "Marrow men, assurance was of the essence of faith", to which I hold to be true as did Calvin and the Reformers, and which is also the view of the framers of the Westminster Confession of Faith, et al. For a more thorough exposition of these truths see here:

1) The Great Physician by yours truly.
2) Justification by Faith Alone, by Joel Beeke.
3) The Marrow Controversy
4) The Marrow of Modern Divinity by Edward Fisher.
5) Audio series on the "Marrow Controversy" by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson [MP3]:
- The Marrow Controversy: Historical Details
- The Marrow Controversy: Dangers of Legalism
- The Marrow Controversy: Dangers of Antinomianism
- All 3 lectures in a .zip file

2) And lastly, from my reading of your pastor's comments in regard to "Adiaphora", I perceive contradictions. On the one hand he says that there is nothing inherently evil about going to the beach, to which I heartily agree. And he says essentially the same about card playing:

Quote
Similarly, when we speak against card playing, we do not speak about every game in which there may be some form of a “card” . . .

But then he turns around and says:

Quote
. . . but we are speaking about what we all understand to be “playing cards,” which is in itself very evil.

So, which is it? Is it permissible to play with cards or is it an inherent evil to participate in playing cards?" We as believers have the privilege of having been given a true desire to please God by keeping His commandments (1Jh 2:3; 3:22; 5:2, 3) which is true happiness. And it should be duly noted that it is in the keeping of HIS commandments that we find this true joy. There are those who would add to God's commandments and require of men, either explicitly or implicitly, that which they deem necessary for righteousness and holiness. As it has been pointed out before, this is the essence of "Pharisaism", (cf. Matt 23:1-12) which requires of men to conform to additions to God's law, whether they be traditions, ecclesiastical rules, observances, etc., regardless of whether they are good or bad. Is one more "holy/sanctified" who abstains from playing "Old Maid" with his grand daughter than one who does? Is one more pleasing to God who doesn't own a television than one who does? Is a pastor to be more esteemed as a godly man because he wears a black suit behind the pulpit over a pastor who wears a gray suit? I trust you get the point. grin

Thanks for the exchange! BigThumbUp

In His grace,

Last edited by Pilgrim; Thu Aug 15, 2013 8:13 AM. Reason: Updated links

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simul iustus et peccator

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Re: Legalism [Re: Pilgrim] #34237
Thu Oct 26, 2006 1:01 PM
Thu Oct 26, 2006 1:01 PM
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Thanks for the exchange,

I'm not really too concerned about the "Adiaphora" issue. What the minister was trying to convey is that a game of old maid is not a big deal but something about the 52 deck of cards (origin/design & gambling/chance aspects) are the concern - I'm not sure the history of the concern. AS for tv my minister will said the mediam itself is not the problem but the content. If a church takes a position that you are better off staying away from those type of things I don't see a problem but if they say it is a condition of salvation (which they absolutely do not) I could see the concern!

It's the issue of assurance that is a sensitive one - I share your concern on that point - which is the more vital issue!

But we should end here - thanks for the exchange Pilgrim, you know your stuff!!!

Sincerely,

AJC


The mercy of God is necessary not only when a person repents, but even to lead him to repent, Augustine

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