Monday, October 23, 2017

“Salvation and the Sacred Writings”

Sunday, May 1, 2016, 23:00
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By David C. Brand

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Bind up the testimony, seal the teaching among my disciples.. . . .

To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word,

it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:16, 20 KJV)

Not in this Church!

Soon after the young man had been elected an elder in the church, he became acutely troubled about his own spiritual need.  He recalled his experience in the Navy when stationed at Pearl Harbor; he shook for three days after the bombing even though his ship was out to sea.  Now years later an issue needed to be resolved between himself and his Maker.  When he asked for help, a senior elder in the church replied, “You can’t get saved in this church!  You have to listen to Dr. Barnhouse!” [1]  How could this be? 

Wisdom for the Pastor

Young Timothy, with the following counsel from the apostle Paul, had been better prepared than the sailor’s pastor and fellow elders:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.  For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into silly myths.  As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. [2]

Two Kinds of Justification?

When churches were adrift, Martin Luther sparked the Protestant Reformation by proclaiming the truth of Romans 1:17: “The just shall live by faith,” i.e., God justifies the sinner, not on the basis of good works, but by faith alone whereby the righteousness of Christ is credited to the undeserving sinner.  Five hundred years later, the established denominational churches which trace their roots to the Reformation have introduced a justification of a different kind.  By ecclesiastical pronouncement, but without biblical authority, they rationalized the justification of same-sex marriage in violation of the creation order of Genesis 1:26-28.

God’s Creation Order

Without exception, every biblical covenant is predicated upon the truth of Genesis 1:27:

So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.

God does not condone, nor has he ever condoned, human disregard of this creation order, further defined in Genesis 2:18-25.  God is not the author of disorder whether in the assembled church, at the marriage altar, or the public restroom! [3]  Male-female distinctions are reflected in such New Testament passages as 1 Corinthians 11:3; 14:33b-37; and 1 Timothy 3:2, 14-15 expressing God’s prescribed order within the church.  With respect to salvation, Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” [4]  While salvation transcends sexual, racial, and societal differentiation, Peter sets forth specific instructions for wives and others specific to husbands. [5]  Similarly, Paul’s paradigm relating the institution of marriage to Christ and the church [6] makes it abundantly clear that male-female distinctions are to be dutifully honored. Consistent with the creation order, therefore, the whole New Testament is applicable for all time, for the whole church, and definitive for every marriage, every congregation, and every Christian. [7]  The Creator God himself, not pop culture, determines order.

Message in the Millstone

The Lord of the Church issued his severest indictment, not against those who struggle with, or even who are caught up in, biblically outlawed practices currently justified by mainline ecclesiastical councils, but against that religious leader who, by approving such unlawful practices, causes “one of these little ones who believe in me to sin.”  “. . . it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” [8] 

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. [9]

The Rest of the Story

The upside of this story is that there are Christ-honoring churches and consecrated Christians who are fulfilling their primary purpose “to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” [10]  The former sailor who narrowly escaped the bombing of Pearl Harbor did listen to Barnhouse, did surrender his life to the Lord Jesus Christ, and made his impact with a joyful servant’s heart.  Painting skills honed on the deck of a ship were applied in preparation for the opening of a Christian school.  With courageous Christian loyalty he served his church and stood by his pastor.  Godly wisdom was evident in his humor as he defended the redirecting of a church downspout before a town official who insisted that such a redirection could only be permitted in the event of an “act of God.”  The former sailor responded that it was an “act of God to get all these men together to work” on that downspout project!  That ended the matter.

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Endnotes

[1]. Donald Grey Barnhouse (1895-1960) served as Pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1927 until his death in 1960, was founder of Eternity magazine, and was radio teacher of the Bible Study Hour beginning in 1949. http://www.wheaton.edu/ISAE/Hall-of-Biography/ Donald-Grey-Barnhouse

[2]. 2 Tim. 3:14-4:5

[3]. 1 Cor. 14:33

[4]. Gal. 3:28

[5]. 1 Peter 3:1-8

[6].Ephesians 5:22-33

[7]. 2 Cor. 6:9-11, 18-20

[8]. Matt. 18:6

[9]. Hebrews 13:4

[10]. Douglas Kelly and Philip Rollinson, The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English, p. 5

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Sources

Holy Bible, The (ESV). 2001. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Bibles

http://www.wheaton.edu/ISAE/Hall-of-Biography/Donald-Grey-Barnhouse

Kelly, Douglas and Philip Rollinson. 1986. The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English.  With Frederick T. Marsh, Thomas I. Rice III, A. Jerry Sheldon, Luder G. Whitlock, Jr., William K. Wymond.  Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company. Contained in The Book of Order of The Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

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About the Writer

David Clark Brand is a retired pastor and educator with missionary experience in Korea and Arizona. He and his wife reside in Ohio. They have four grown children and seven grandchildren. With a B.A. in the Liberal Arts, an M. Div., and a Th.M. in Church History, Dave continues to enjoy study and writing. One of his books, a contextual study of the life and thought of Jonathan Edwards, was published by the American Academy of Religion via Scholars Press in Atlanta.

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