Brother Thomas J. McNearny
Within the heart of man there is an eternal cry for truth. The hand of God is in the lives of men leading and guiding, slowly but surely taking men that have faith in God to the greater light of truth. I remember when I was a student and during some free time I happened to be looking through some of the writings of various philosophers. As I was skimming through this material I happened to come across a section written be St. Augustine. St. Augustine was a theologian who lived back in the 4th century A.D. He has been called the father of biblical theology and his theories have shaped modern christianity, especially basic protestant theology, perhaps more than any other theologian.
Most people arrive at basic beliefs and attitudes about life in general in the formative years, let us say up to about 15 years of age. After that there really isn't much deviation from those beliefs and attitudes over the long run. This can be good or it can be not so good- if a life is following a pre-set course determined primarily by the guide of the early, youthful years then it only follows that any error put into that young life will only lead to greater error and departure from truth in later years. That is why Proverbs 22:6 says-
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
The Word of God is the only real source of truth we have. If we build our lives on anything but the Word of God and deviate from it we build our lives on shifting sand. That is why it is so important that we let the Word of God be a guide to us during our entire life. The wisdom of man is not able to beat the test of time. We find that things once considered sure and firm suddenly become unstable and change. That is the characteristic of mans wisdom and devices. But there is something that is sure. There is something that won't be reliable one day and unreliable the next- the Word of God. Jesus said:
Heaven and earth shall pass away but my words shall not pass away. Matthew 24:35
As I read these statements about the nature of God I realized that in these statements there were principles which were not in agreement with the Word of God and to be honest with myself I had to admit that what I had been taught in my church might not be complete truth. As I realized the fact that one error can lead to more error of an even more subtle form. I began to realize that error can be developed and put into codified church doctrine which can ultimately lead millions into the final destination of all error- the fires of Hell.
The first of this development of false doctrine I would like to examine is the doctrine of the Total Depravity of Man. This doctrine states that man is incapable of initiating a move toward God. Man cannot initiate or even desire an action that would result in his salvation. Now there is no question that man in his fallen state, which he received in the garden of Eden, is separated from God and will die and be lost forever if he doesnt reach out to Jesus Christ. But this school of thought teaches that man has no choice, and cannot even want salvation. In other words God must inject any thought of salvation into a believers mind before he can even desire salvation. It is true that man is hopelessly wicked and out of his heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, blasphemies; as Matthew 15:19 tells us. But I believe that despite all of this that in most people today there is a deep seated desire to know God and live for him. Within the heart of every man there is a void, an emptiness, and a longing that only God can satisfy.
Many doctrines have sprung up from this theory called the Total Depravity of Man. One of these doctrines that is a by product of Total Depravity is the doctrine that states that since man is totally depraved and does not even have a free will with the capability or capacity of wanting what is good or right; that therefore a christian man cannot help but sin and God understands and is not overly concerned about the sin of a christian. This is one of the worst lies that Satan has ever managed to perpetrate upon the christian world.
I would like to show you a few other by product notions that have come from Total Depravity: If a christian sins his sins are not real ones; A born again man cannot sin; God automatically forgives sin the moment the christian commits it-even if the christian doesnt ask forgiveness; God does not see the sins of the christian; The sins of the christian are not actually accounted to him; Not only are past sins forgiven, but present and even future one are automatically forgiven. Everyone of these statements are totally false. It is important to remember that these are doctrines that regularly ring across the pulpit service after service, Sunday after Sunday, in many churches throughout America today. A mans mind is a receiver and he recieves input from one of two sources: God or the Devil. I pray today that we will let God speak to our hearts.
It is amazing how one verse of holy scripture can cause beliefs not based on the Word of God to begin toppleing like a row of dominoes hitting the table. The Bible makes it very clear that God doesnt automatically forgive sin. Listen to 1st John chapter 1 and verse 9:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Our sin is not automatically forgiven- we must first confess those sins to Jesus Christ. God does see those sins because until we confess those sins we have not been cleansed of them. A christian is held just as accountable for his sin as anyone else and anybody that thinks it is possible to sin with impunity is making a tragic mistake!
A doctrine that John Calvin refined and began teaching in the 1500s is that of Unconditional Election. John Calvin said Gods foreknowledge is based on predestination, and Gods will is the cause of all moral evil. How it is possible for a man which supposedly adheres to the Word of God to believe that God is perfectly just and righteous on the one hand and then say God is the cause of all evil on the other is beyond me. An even more shocking precept of Unconditional Election is the belief that God in his foreknowledge looks throughout the ages of the world and arbitrarily assigns people to heaven or hell. We are led to believe from this doctrine of Unconditional Election that we are predestinated to end up in either heaven or in hell and nothing we do in the meantime will effect the final outcome.
If we feel that there isnt anything we can do about our final outcome then we wont be overly concerned about the kind of life we lead. However, I am glad that I have more than mans philosophy. I am glad that I have more than a belief system which will cause me to go back into sin, and sow to the flesh, reaping the corruption of the flesh- broken homes, drug overdose, venereal disease, violence, emptiness inside, misery; all of this is caused when men are led to believe that they dont have anything better to do than to sin!
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Colossians 2:8
There is another thing that I find curious about Unconditional Election and that is- what is the Great Commission for? If all men are irreversably fated to an eternal destination than why did Jesus say in Mark 16:15-
Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
It appears from what Jesus said that a man can choose to arrive at the eternal destination of his choice by either accepting or rejecting the gospel of Jesus Christ. Any belief that tends to exclude or make of none effect any portion of scripture must be held in high suspicion and doubt.
We have a God that loves us much more than what mans philosophy would have us believe. Listen to what 1st Timothy chapter 2 and verses 3 and 4 have to say:
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth
Any departure from truth will always lead to an even greater departure from the truth. If we begin by saying that man has no choice on whether he will be saved or not (the doctrine of Total Depravity) and then go on to say that certain people are irreversably destined for heaven or hell (the doctrine of Unconditional Election); it then becomes necessary that we construct an additional doctrine to cover up the error of the first two. If men cannot choose whether they will be saved or not and are headed for one of two different destinations then something has got to be done about the universal sacrifice that Jesus gave on calvary.
Gods word says that Jesus died on the cross for every man and this contradicts the doctrines of Total Depravity and Uncondional Election. It then becomes necessary to construct the doctrine of the Limited Atonement of Jesus Christ. If one starts with a doctrine that is not founded upon the Word of God, it then becomes necessary to come up with more doctrines that plug the loopholes created by the original departure from truth. This is the case with the doctrine of Limited Atonement. This doctrine states that the cross of calvary was not for the entire world, but only for those that are unconditionally elected! In other words Jesus did not die on the cross for every person but only for a select few and the blood of Jesus Christ will not save every sinner.
Again the questions come to mind- What is the Great commission for? Why did Jesus tell his apostles to Go preach the gospel to every creature? Why did Peter say on the day of Pentecost that salvation is available to your children and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call? I think that if there is one thing the Bible is clear about is the fact that God offers his great salvation to anyone that is sincere and wants to obey his word. Listen to what Revelation chapter 22 and verse 17 has to say:
And the Spirit and bride say, come. And let him that heareth say, come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will let him take the water of life freely.
The next in line in this progression of convoluted logic is the doctrine of Irresistible Grace. This doctrine states that he will accept and obey that call no matter what. If a man does not accept Gods offer of salvation then this doctrine states that God never made an offer of salvation to that individual.
The Bible teaches that man has been made a free moral agent with a certain amout of power to discern between good and evil. He can decide to follow God and his plan or he can decide to live for his own selfish desires and fall into the snare of Satan. Irresistible Grace would have us believe that we are nothing more than a cog in a machine with no power of free choice, that we are totally at the mercy of forces over which we have no control. This belief also leaves the impression that God is some kind of indifferent chessplayer, letting many people live out their entire life without ever giving them a chance to avoid the unspeakable horrors of a fiery hell!
I am glad that the Bible paints a different picture! I am glad that I can choose to obey his wonderful plan of salvation. One of the most beautiful verses that points to the fact that man has been given the ability to decide for himself is John 3:16:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
We can believe in him or choose not to believe in him. Man is not a pawn on some colossal spiritual chessboard. Man is Gods highest creation and is given the power to choose his own destiny. If we choose to follow him we will reap what we sow but it will be our own choice not something that has been forced on us. Thank God for that.
It is by grace that God offers us salvation. The word grace means unmerited favor or undeserved blessing. But grace is no longer grace if it is forced upon someone. Something forced on us against our own will stops being grace and suddenly becomes bondage. But God gives his salvation out of pure love and mercy. But he never violates mans free moral agency.
I am sure that as you look at this long line of intertwined falsehood derived from misinterpretation of Gods word you can see the trail of the serpent, as he tries to lock man into beliefs that will cause him to lose hope. A man that believes he is destined to make it to heaven can sin as much as he wants to now because eventually God will accept him. What a tragic mistake! On the other side of the coin is the man that believes that there is nothing he can do to reach God. He will simply stop seeking salvation and give up. I am so very glad that Jesus said in Matthew 11 and verse 28:
Come unto me, all ye that are labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
The keystone that completes the arch in this theology is the doctrine that is commonly called-Unconditional Eternal Security. A very strange thing is the fact that many churches which reject the sister doctrines previously mentioned will cling to Unconditional Eternal Security. This doctrine is one of the most devilish doctrines ever perpetrated on christendom. This erroneous doctrine is undeniably linked to the Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, and Irresistible Grace doctrines. Unconditional Eternal Security states that once a person becomes saved that he will always be saved no matter what. Consequently in many circles it is called: Once saved, always saved. Basically, here is what Unconditional Eternal Security teaches:
1. If a person is unconditionally elected, he can never fall from grace.
2. Nothing he might do can cause him to be lost.
3. Election caused him to get in, and election will keep him in.
The Doctrine of Unconditional Eternal Security is a lie straight from the pits of hell and has caused untold millions to be lost. The danger with this doctrine is that it sets up a false sense of security in the believers mind causing him to think that he can play around with certain kinds of sin and remain safe from eternal punishment. But nothing could be farther from the truth.
Proponents of this theory claim that since man is saved by grace and not by works that he is not required to maintain a personal relationship with God or conform to any of his requirements in order to keep his salvation. Their rationale is that any attempt or effort towards a continuing condition of salvation would be by works and not by grace. The recklessness of this kind of shallow reasoning is exposed by the words of Jesus himself in John 6:29:
Jesus answered and said unto them, this is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hate sent.
Using their definition, even the act of belief is a work and would make the Word of God of no effect. This is ofcourse a logical absurdity since even believing would be by works and not grace making it impossible for anyone to be saved. A look at the Word of God with an honest heart will show us that what the Bible means when it says saved by grace and not by works simply means that a persons initial entrance into Gods salvation is by grace and not by works. No good we do can purchase for us what Jesus did for us at calvary. It is a free gift from God, not of works, lest any man should boast. But after we initially obey the plan of salvation a constant striving by the believer against sin in his life is necessary to keep that salvation.
The apostle James made that clear in his epistle when he said faith without works is dead. After we obey the gospel we must lead a holy, separated life in order to keep our salvation. But God has made provision for us to enable us to lead this life without sin by the mighty power of the baptism of Holy Ghost. God gives a Spirit filled christian the power to live a life above sin. What a blessing this is! Praise the Lord!
The New Testament is filled full of admonishments of love telling us that we must depart from sin and stay away from sin in order to avoid the agony of a fiery hell. Surprizing though it may be, we find the apostle Paul making a frank and honest admission in the last verse of 1st Corinthians chapter 9:
But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
If there ever was a man that was full of the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ it was the apostle Paul and if he needs to keep the fleshly carnal lusts of his sinful nature under control. How much more do we need to stay away from sin?
In the very next chapter, chapter 10, we see Paul making the same admonition:
Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
Clearly from these passages it is obvious that a christian can lose his salvation if he gives in and goes back into sin. Jesus was quick to point this out in the parable of the five foolish and the five wise virgins. All ten virgins had the promises of the bridegroom. But they had to be ready at the hour in which he returned. The wise virgins were ready when the bridegroom came and they entered into the wedding but the foolish virgins were out of oil and not ready. The foolish virgins were subsequently excluded from the wedding because they failed to live up to their side of the bargain. Let us not be in the foolish group. Let us turn away from all sin in our life and ask the Lord Jesus to cleanse us and sanctify us. Listen to 2nd Peter chapter 2 verses 20 through 22:
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them, but it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, the dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
Salvation is not a one time acceptance of the Lord as your saviour; it is a day by day walk with the Lord in the beauty of holiness. We are not saved in our sin but we are saved from our sin. Jesus said:
But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. (Matthew 24:13)
The only way to endure is to begin developing as a christian. The apostle Peter told of a way that would make sure we never fall from grace: (II Peter 1:4-10)
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue: and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.
I would like to bring one more passage of scripture to your attention. I usually use the King James version when I quote scripture but this particular passage is so relevant to this teaching that I feel it would be better to use a modern language translation called the Living Bible. In the third and fourth verses of the book of Jude we find a stark warning only 37 years after the beginning of the church on the day of Pentecost:
Dearly loved friends, I had been planning to write you some thoughts about the salvation God has given us, but now I find I must write something else instead, urging you to stoutly defend the truth which God gave, once for all, to his people to keep without change through the years. I say this because some godless teachers have wormed their way in among you, saying that after we become christians we can do just as we like without fear of Gods punishment. The fate of such people was written long ago, for they have turned against our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Any man that would try to read a message of Unconditional Eternal Security into a passage like that is not being intellectually or spiritually honest with himself or with you. But I thank God that there is a way to escape the tradgedy of sin! When you repent of your sin and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost you will have the power you need to live a victorious, overcoming christian life! Praise God!
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
If you are interested in more information, we have booklets that may be of help to you. The titles are: One Faith and Seven Dispensations, The Ministry of Laying on of Hands, The Glory of Holiness, The Pure Oneness of God, Gods Plan of Salvation for Today, and Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and You Shall Be Saved?-True or False
Also, if you are interested in receiving a deeper experience in God or would like to sit with Pastor McNearny and discuss the scriptures, please call us at 619-222-1224. Thursday nights are usually available for this purpose at the church.
Come and worship with usNew Life Christian Chapel