|The Truth Which Sets Free - Destiner Press|
For free online reading simply click on the Chapters listed below.
An exposure of the false teaching of Christianity concerning the reason for evil and suffering. This is one of the most challenging and deepest areas in the Word of God.
The following four booklets are now also included in the Addendum of The Truth Which Sets Free.
Chapter 19. Church Assurance
"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." (Proverbs 14:12) "There are those pure in their own eyes who are not cleansed of their dirt." (Proverbs 30:12) "They speak visions of their own minds and not from the mouth of the Lord. They continually say to those who despise the word of the Lord, It shall be well with you; and to every one who follows his own heart, they say, No evil shall come upon you." (Jeremiah 23:16:17; Matthew 7:15,21-23) What a perfect description of Christianity! Here we have the textbook picture of churchmen assuring their flock of goats to be guided by their own inner conscience, that they can repeat their pagan festivals and sacraments, spread their do-it-yourself gospel, and somehow survive the wrath to come. They will tell you "lovingly" in the name of the Lord that you can ignore the Word and still get away with it. This is not scriptural assurance, it is the doctrine of church assurance, and it takes much more subtle forms than this. The chapter on Sheep & Goats has already examined one exceedingly sly version, the gospel of the benefit of the doubt, the opinion that those who call themselves "believers" or "born again" or "Christian" should be assumed to be saved until otherwise proven. This innocent-until-proven guilty ploy is another gospel of make-believe; it does not apply in the spiritual world, in the eyes of the all-seeing God. Man is far from innocent. From his very conception he is born in sin, imputed with the fall of Adam, not only a "slave to sin" but also "dead in trespasses," captive to the dark lord. (Romans 6:17, Ephesians 2:1) Every individual must therefore be considered still in that original state of death until otherwise proven, by word, deed and fruit. That is how the apostles went out with the Word, and if the sheep ever forget it their ekklesia will instantly be flooded with goats and yet another church will appear.
Perhaps the most crafty form of this gospel, and all time favorite of the clergy, is the doctrine that there are people who believe but do not trust, who belong to God but are not sure if they are really saved. This may well be the trump card of all pew fillers. A church elder once said to me, "We have lots of people in our congregation like that." Of course. That is no surprise. This is the classic goat herd, mutually bonded with hireling shepherds, the clergy depending on them to keep the business going, and they in turn depending on the clergy to tell them everything is fine. No such person should be given the benefit of uncertainty. If they call themselves Christians the only near certainty is that they are herding straight to the wrong gate. Being mercifully saved from the house made with hands and regenerated outside its walls, I had never heard of this deadly doctrine until I first saw its results inside a church, pews full of goats. I was fascinated by the immense success of this gospel and wanted to know its origin, so I acquired various church booklets on the subject of assurance. In almost all cases the scripture references used for concocting this "doctrine" said exactly the opposite. The most astonishing was an explanation of Ephesians 1:13, stating that "being sealed" was assurance, and not all believers had such sureness, some having only faith or trust. I say astonishing because it was written by none other than Charles Spurgeon. The other church assurance booklets were much worse, but I highlight this one because it illustrates that even the sheep can absorb such ideas if they spend too much time amongst goats. This is not typical of his writing at all, indeed it reads as though he was regurgitating some church doctrine taught by others, in all likelihood that of English Puritans to be examined shortly.
Although Spurgeon was directly taught of God and correctly by-passed theological college he did accept a church ordination. That compromise may be at the root of this error. His congregations were sometimes huge, and must have contained many goats who wanted to be comforted in their unbelief. His tract, which suited them, was wrong. Nevertheless, just as the elect may find and accept truth in the midst of the most wayward sects, so too they may find and reject error in the brightest of earthly lights. Integrity is not perfection. No one is without flaw except Christ. I readily admit that such men are my heroes, but not my Rock. Luther tried to reform the church instead of getting out of it and Tyndale inserted Easter for Passover, copying a mistake of previous church translators. Arthur Pink, despite all his insightful writing, did not recognize the Antichrist and so desired a pulpit in the wrong house; the one made with hands. Bunyan accepted a church position after he was released from prison and his writing weakened dramatically. In his sequel to Pilgrims Progress, those following him to the celestial city were all saved, a more customary message for goats. And Spurgeon fell for the doctrine of church assurance. I do not question the beloved Rock of Offense, the Cornerstone, or the base layer of prophets and apostles. After that level of infallibility I question all. Masons building the cathedrals of old often had no set drawing to follow, they watched each other as they worked their blocks, constantly correcting error to meet at the peak of an arch or vault. If the totally misled, lost in that darkness, can perform such a feat then elect can do much better. We forgive Luthers consubstantiation, Tyndales Easter, Spurgeons slip with assurance, and go on with the conviction of the light received. All sheep have their blemishes, and will most certainly have significant scars if they herd with goats who relentlessly nip at their backs. And this is a blotch on Spurgeon, a bad mistake. Church assurance is a subtle and deadly evasion of truth. There is such a thing as weak faith, but no such thing as an unbelieving faith. If you are feeble in faith then cry out for fortification from the One who can grant it. (Mark 9:24) Testing Thomas desired his faith to be reinforced before being absolutely convinced that Jesus was "Lord and God." (John 20:25-28) He was eminently practical, requiring the substance of what the others were so excited about. Religious scams abound, and the mind without healthy skepticism is prey for every trap imaginable. Churchmen derogatorily and incorrectly call him Doubting Thomas, while they themselves enthusiastically swallow the entire cup of the harlot church without testing anything. No wonder they imagine that those who are "not sure" are safe. This is as ludicrous as the Pentecostal gospel of a second blessing, or the gospel of having Jesus as Savior but not as Lord, both closely related and hugely effective pew fillers. (This topic is covered more fully in Spirit of the Living God in the Addendum). Jesus said that those who obey and keep his word are his true disciples. (John 14:15,21,23; 15:10) If a person does not have Christ as Master then neither does he have a Savior. God is One. There is no such thing as a disciple who believes and yet is unsealed or unsure. Here is the context of that scripture, the apostle Paul writing to the Ephesians.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will, we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory. In him, you also, who have heard the word of truth, the evangel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:3-14) Does this sound anything like doubt? Not a bit. The sheep, whose names are written in the Book of Life, and who are regenerated at their appointed time are in no way unsure of their status. They know they have ears to hear. They are taught directly by God who makes known His will to them. They know exactly what His predestining election and sovereign seal mean, and they are anything but uncertain. Yet Christians by the millions will say, "Im not really sure if I am going to heaven." That is the bleating of a goat, no better than the faith of Satan, who also believes in Jesus and is going to the wrong place. There is no such thing as saving faith that does not believe in the words of Christ. Jesus promised eternal life to his sheep. A faith which does not believe in Christs words does not believe in Christ.
"I know my own and my own know me, even as the Father knows me and I know the Father my sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me, and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater then all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Fathers hand. I and the Father are One." (John 10:14,15,27-29) "Father, the hour has come you have given him authority over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to all whom you have given him. This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent...I have revealed your name to the men whom you have given me out of the world. They were yours. You gave them to me. And they have kept your word I have given them the words which you have given me, and they have received them, and know surely that I came forth from you; and they have believed that you sent me." (John 17:3) "By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us his own Spirit." (1 John 4:13) "He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. He who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne to his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son has not life. I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life." (1 John 5:10-13) This is the language of certainty, the knowledge of the saved. People who do not know where they came from or where they are going are quite simply the lost, either sheep-in-waiting or, more likely, goats. "You do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep." (John 10:26) They are no better than those who are confident that their road is the right way because they saved themselves with a do-it-yourself prayer. Churches are full of both these crossed breeds, one in doubt and the other enthusiastically optimistic, and the hirelings will encourage them all, whether in false faith or non-faith, just as long as they can keep them in their precious pews. This is worldly hope, which is useless hope, human faith, devoid of saving power.
Between about 1570 and 1650 leading English Puritans polished the doctrine of church assurance like a precious stone, passing it around for each to improve upon. First William Perkins and Paul Bayne, building on the sand of Calvins Institutes, made a distinction between "believers" who were "sealed in the Spirit" yet unconscious of it and those who were "aware" of that sealing. Then Richard Sibbes put in that the sealing of the Spirit was a "super-added work" or "super-added confirmation." John Preston went one step further teaching that this sealing was "a second work given exclusively to those who overcome," inferring that there were believers who did not share in this triumph. Finally, Thomas Goodwin, the so-called cream of these Puritan writers, went the whole way and declared the sealing to be "a light beyond the light of ordinary faith." (Thomas Goodwin, The Readable Puritan, from the preface by Joel Beeke, Grand Rapids, Tanski edition, 1996) Darkness! Hogwash! These men would make a liar of the Lord who says He is mindful of his own and they are certainly aware of Him. Where does Christ say, "I know my own but they dont know me?" Nowhere. No wonder Protestants (like J.I. Packer, a noted student of Puritan works) have no stand against Pentecostalism and are on their way to the Vaticans embrace. This is exactly the two-faced and two-fold Christianity espoused by Rome which has filled their house with the "unsure," countless millions in unbelief, promising them heaven as long as they pay their dues, come to church and fill that money box or attend their cloisters and colleges.
Biblical faith is not wishful thinking, it is sure knowledge. Read the verses given above again and note how many times the word "know" is used. Scriptural hope is not vague expectation, it is certainty. "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1) By splitting assurance from saving faith (electing, justifying, God-sealed faith) the hireling shepherds continue in the footsteps of the Mother Church of Rome, leading their flock all the way to the wide gate. These same thieves will also try to get in through the back door to any sheepfold, the goats not being enough of a prize for them. Resist them. The Reformed and Protestant boats are filled with this shipwreck faith, this doomed harlot religion, as are countless other cults and sects. There is no such thing as a person born of the Holy Spirit of the Living God who does not know it, who is not sure who his Father is. There is no such thing as an elect believer who does not have the Spirit (for more detailed reference see Spirit of the Living God at the end of this book). "Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him." (Romans 8:9) Those born from above receive the gift of a faith and a kingdom not made with hands that cannot be shaken or taken away. They do not have to line up for weekly baptisms or run to priestly confessions for assurance. That is for the goat herd. The teaching that assurance is a "later privilege" granted to those who previously had "mere faith" has all the classic marks of the Early Church, the two-tier Catholic sainthood, and modern "second blessing" or "carnal Christian" theology. This is what fills the pews with unbelieving churchmen so treasured by the clergy, those portrayed in Pilgrims Progress as Formalist and Hypocrite, the goats who came to false faith through a side door
Walk away from them if you want to live. Do not be conformed to the church. Hold fast to the Word and repel this evil pretense which excuses unbelief in Jesus name. The first fruit of the Spirit, which any sheep experiences, is the gift of saving faith. Without it there is no assurance whatsoever. Without it there can be no ears to hear, no digesting the word of truth, no seeing the true light, no recognizing the Father, no striving for the holiness that God requires, no conforming to Christ. True faith is not merely belief or assent, it is a sureness of hope, confidence and courage of conviction, a stand-alone faith that the church cannot assail. Crave the mettle of witnesses gone before. Ask for more of this faith, like Elishas dose of the departing Elijah. (2 Kings 2:9,15) That is assurance. Church assurance is no assurance, only feel-good make-believe for goats. They will vex you with their popular and easy life, bid you enter their earthly houses, and may well turn nasty and pursue you if you escape. That is not the Way.
Do not "practise cunning" or "distort Gods word" mixing it with their gospels. The word of truth is hidden from the goats, "veiled to those who are perishing," so do not let them bring you down in their mire. (2 Corinthians 4:1-4) Jesus even spoke in parables, not to illuminate the goats but to hide the truth from them. (Luke 8:10) If you have ears to hear, the Truth and Light are not in a house of brick or wood but in another dwelling altogether, not made by men. "Let light shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. We have this treasure in earthen vessels afflicted but not crushed persecuted but not destroyed Do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed daily we look not to things that are seen but things that are unseen for we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens He who prepared us for this thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee." (2 Corinthians 4:6-16)