Gospel & Culture

The Danger of Depending on the Wisdom of the Masses

The second test with respect to the wrong way of testing the false prophets is the fallacy of always assuming that if the teaching is popular it must be right. ‘Many shall follow their pernicious ways,’ says Peter. False teachers are going to arise amongst you, he says, and they will attract a crowd…Surely this fallacy hardly merits any prolonged attention, but I have to refer to it because one still hears the glib phrases, “Everybody believes it’, or to put it negatively, ‘No one any longer believes the Bible; no cultured, educated person believers; look at the masses outside the church.’…What is the lesson of the New Testament and of the Bible on this matter? Go back to the Flood for an answer – you will find the whole world was wrong and only eight people right. The many were against God at the time of the flood; only eight people were saved. Is a thing true because everybody says and believes it? Then go on to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah – what do you find? Exactly the same thing; the many, the mass, were all on the wrong side. Lot and his family alone were rescued. That is the teaching of the Bible. It has always taught the doctrine of the remnant – the many, the popular, the crowd all going in the wrong direction and just the small remnant remaining true. To me one of the saddest features , even of modern religious life, is the tendency to estimate truth in terms of results, popularity, crowds, movements. It is an utter denial of the biblical teaching. You cannot estimate spiritual truth by polls; the counting of heads is not a biblical way of discovering whether teaching is right or wrong. You do not take a census and ask people to fill in certain details. ‘To the law and the testimony’! Popularity and numbers are a very false test of truth.

– Lloyd-Jones, Expository Sermons on 2 Peter, pp. 127-128 (emphasis added).

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Concerning the New Testament’s Worldview

This New Testament picture of life is that it is the scene of a mighty, terrible, spiritual struggle and conflict. Read anywhere in this Book, read the words of our Lord as recorded, read the sermons of the first preachers as you find them in the Acts of the Apostles, read any one of these Epistles you may choose, staring with the Epistle to the Romans, and going right on through to the Book of Revelation; everywhere you are given a sense of crisis, a sense of judgment. Life in this world, according to this Book (and the same thing is equally true of the Old Testament) is the scene of a mighty, terrible conflict between two vast powers. And they are both spiritual powers – God and all His forces on the one hand, and Satan, the Devil, and all his forces on the other. And, according to this Book, what happens in this life and in this world is that these two mighty powers and forces are both engaged in trying to win the suffrage of man, trying to attract man, trying to win man to their respective sides. This terrible, mighty conflict is going on. The result is that there is never any easy optimism to be found in the New Testament; there is no vague general superficiality. All along, its message is one of preparing us for this conflict, of enabling us to realize the nature of the conflict. It will not allow us to escape; indeed, its great theme is that the one great danger is that we allow the world in various ways to make us forget it.

– Martin Lloyd-Jones, Expository Sermons on 2 Peter, p. 124.

QOTD – John Piper

I think we should spend most of our creative energies on constructing in our minds and in our hearts and in our families great and beautiful and glorious alternative visions of reality than the ones we are being offered by the world. If we give most of our time to bemoaning and criticizing the world for acting like the world, our vision of God and his glorious future for his people will become smaller and smaller, and that could be a greater tragedy than the one we are living in.

– John Piper, “Will You Use Target’s Transgender Bathrooms?”

Abusus Non Tollit Usum

A very important rule of thumb from Derek Rishmawy:

“This is why one of the most important rules I’ve had to learn in my theological studies is abusus non tollit usum, or “abuse does not take away use.” The basic point is that just because fire can destroy, that doesn’t mean it isn’t good for cooking or keeping your home warm; an oxygen mask can still save your life, even if someone choked you with one; scalpels can still cut out cancer, even if someone was injured with one. In the same way, doctrines can still be good, true, beautiful, and helpful despite the ways they’ve been abused or misconstrued in the past.”

Read entire article.

The Church’s Fundamental Problem

The fundamental problem in the evangelical world today is not inadequate technique, insufficient organization, or antiquated music and those who want to squander the church’s resources bandaging these scratches will do nothing to staunch the flow of blood that is spilling from its wounds. The fundamental problem in the evangelical world today is that God rests too inconsequentially upon the church. His truth is too distant, his grace too ordinary, his judgment too benign, his gospel too easy, and his Christ is too common.

– David Wells, God in the Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams, p. 30.

A Prayer for Paris

paris

From Scotty Smith at The Gospel Coalition Blog:

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. Psalm 37:7-11 (ESV)

   Dear heavenly Father, another day of terror-making darkness, evil-doing madness, and life-taking sadness. How long, O Lord, how Lord before you send Jesus back to eradicate all evil? How long before the wicked will be no more? How much longer is “just a little while”?

     It’s hard not to fret. It’s hard not to feel fearful and angry when women and children, the young and old are mercilessly slaughtered in the city of Paris; when restaurants, concert halls, and sports areas become the venue for the perversion of religion and the murder of your image bearers.

     Father, we offer our prayer, not in self-righteous judgment, but as your weary children—longing for the Day when the knowledge of your glory will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14)—when perfect peace will replace every expression of evil.

     Until that Day, free us from all bitterness and a lust for revenge. Vengeance belongs to you, not to us. Make us warriors of peace and agents of hope. Our labors in the Lord are never in vain. The gospel of the kingdom will prevail. Defeated evil will be eradicated evil. The devil is filled with fury for he knows his time is short (Rev. 12:12). Make it much shorter, Father, much shorter.

     Grant us wisdom to know what loving mercy, doing justice, and walking humbly with you looks like in Paris, and in our own communities. Replace our frets and fears with faith and trust, and our rage and wrath with patience and courage. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ triumphant and grace-full name.