Friday, September 15, 2006

Being "Kept" vs. "Without Becoming Christian"

"When flattery comes before the heart of a hypocrite, he feeds upon it eagerly;
but when flattery comes before the heart of a child of God,
he often sees under the flattery the cloven foot."
(J.C. Philpot, "The Only Safe Keeping")

Today is the first anniversary of Herescope!

Isn't the above a great quote? How often believers are seduced and lured into new forms of Christianity through flattery and deception! A recent article in the Washington Post about Brian McLaren and the Emergent Church states that:

"McLaren… offers an evangelical vision that emphasizes tolerance and social justice. He contends that people can follow Jesus's way without becoming Christian."… [emphasis added]

"'The modern Christian formula of "I mentally assent to the fact that Jesus died for my sins and therefore I get to live forever in heaven"… is entirely cognitive,' said Ken Archer, 33, a D.C. software entrepreneur who is studying philosophy at Catholic University. 'It's a mathematical formula [that] leaves the rest of our being unfilled.'" (Caryle Murphy, "Evangelical Author Puts Progressive Spin On Traditional Faith," 9/10/06)

Isn't it tragic that the genuine Christian faith is being lost, leaving lost souls to search for some sort of fulfilment through an artificial faith?

In times like these it is good to be reminded of the Gospel of the Bible that used to be preached. Today's post is an excerpt from a sermon from J.C. Philpot entitled, "The Only Safe Keeping," preached at Zoar Chapel, Great Alie Street, London on closing his annual visit to the Metropolis, on Tuesday evening. July 13th 1841. The Bible verse that this sermon is based on is: "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."I Peter 1:5.

This particular sermon continues on the theme of yesterday's post, which examines the difference between two types of "professors" to the Christian faith. Note that the word "professors" in this old sermon means believers who profess Jesus Christ.

"…The children of God and the mere nominal professors of vital godliness hold the same truths, but they believe them in a different way, and they get at them in a different manner. The nominal professor receives the doctrines because he sees them in God's Word; the living soul receives them because they are taken out of God's Word by the Holy Ghost, and are revealed with power to his soul. The nominal professor is quite satisfied with a dim, shadowy hope that he is interested in gospel blessings; but the living soul can never be satisfied with anything short of the witness of the Holy Ghost to his soul, that he is a child of God, and therefore is interested in every blessing with which God has blessed His people in Christ. And as they believe them in a different way, so they get at them in a different manner. The family of God get at truth through trouble, distress, affliction, temptation, and tribulation; they arrive at the banquet through sharp pangs of hunger; they arrive at the clothing through being chilled with cold and nakedness; they arrive at the cross after travelling through the pangs of guilt in their conscience; and they arrive at a knowledge of their adoption into the family of God after being exercised with many poignant doubts and fears whether God is their Father at all. Thus the living family and the nominal professor of religion not merely differ in the way whereby they believe the truth; the one believing it spiritually, the other believing it naturally; the one believing it with his heart, the other believing it with his head; the one feeling it in his conscience, the other having it merely floating in his brain; but also they arrive at the experimental knowledge of the truth of God by a totally different road. Thus, however they may seem to resemble one another in the doctrines that they each profess to believe, yet there is an eternal distinction, which the hand of the Holy Ghost has drawn, between the living and the dead in Jerusalem.

"The nominal professor is quite satisfied with the doctrine of final perseverance as it is revealed in the Scriptures. He knows nothing experimentally of the dangers and difficulties of the way; he is not exercised in his own soul by any temptations, any distressing doubts, any agonizing fears; and therefore, gliding at ease down the smooth stream, he knows nothings of storms, gusts, winds, and waves, and thinks that this smooth stream will land him safe in the harbour of everlasting peace, when it is only like the river St. Lawrence, which glides the more smoothly the nearer it approaches the cataracts; the deeper it is, the calmer it flows, until the hapless navigator, once entangled in the rapids, is carried headlong down the falls of Niagara into the foaming abyss below. But all God's people arrive at the doctrine of final perseverance by feeling how necessary and how suitable the truth is to them. And they do not learn it once, and then for ever retain the knowledge of it; but it is a truth which accompanies them throughout all their pilgrimage here below, as being suited to those extremities in which they often feel themselves, and adapted to those temptations and exercises which they have to pass through continually.

"What read we in our text? That the elect are "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time." The word kept is a very significant one. It means literally, garrisoned – kept as in a fortress, surrounded by bulwarks. And this is the way in which God keeps His people. They are garrisoned around by all the attributes of God; there is "a wall of fire round about" them, and they are surrounded by every attribute which God has in Himself, and which He has been pleased to reveal, that we may know it, and give Him the glory of it.

"Now the very expression, kept, implies that they need keeping. A fortress is provided against an enemy. The very circumstance of a fortification being erected shows that there are enemies, who would fain destroy the lives of those persons whom the walls of the fortress are intended to protect. So when we read that the elect are garrisoned by God – shut up (as it were) in a strong city, of which God has appointed salvation as the walls and bulwarks, we gather that there are enemies ever on the watch, and that the object and aim of these enemies is to sweep them away from the land of the living. Before, then, a man can know anything experimentally of the sweetness of being kept of the almighty power and faithfulness which are exerted in his behalf he must have some personal acquaintance with those enemies, who are ever upon the alert, if it be possible, to destroy him utterly. This fortress is not like a fortified town where the officers can strut upon the parade and never see the smoke of an enemy's camp, and where the cannon are never fired but on gala days. This fortress is not like the Tower just below, where the sentinel walks round the battlements, and never sees an enemy to give an alarm. But this garrison, which contains the redeemed, is one in a state of siege, which the enemies are continually seeking to take. the walls of which they are continually endeavouring to batter down the inmates of which they are continually aiming to wound, and. if possible, to destroy.

"For instance, there is the world. A man knows not what an enemy the world is, who has not in some measure been separated from it. To a professor of religion, who has the doctrines of grace in his head and is devoid of the feeling power of truth in his soul, the world is no enemy, for he is no enemy to the world. He has no tender conscience that feels how liable he is to be entrapped by the baits and allurements which the world scatters in his path; there is no struggling with him to have communion with the Lord, which, the world intercepts; there is no endeavour to withdraw his spirit from being carried away by the business that he is needfully occupied with; and therefore the nominal professor of religion feels not the world to be his enemy, because the world and he are agreed upon matters. His religion is not a religion that offends the world; and his heart has not been touched by the finger of God. so as to feel the world to be his enemy, because it is the enemy of God. It is the child of God who feels what a heart he has, and how this heart is continually being carried away by the temptations set before him; it is he who has some insight into the character of God as a heart-searching Jehovah, and knows that He abhors evil; it is he who desires to be in reality what he professes to be – a follower of Jesus, and to have the image of God stamped upon his soul and to walk as Jesus walked when here below – it is he, and he only, who really knows that the world is his enemy. And a living soul does feel, and most painfully feel too, that unless he is kept by the power of God. through faith, from the baits and allurements of the world, he will surely and inevitably be entangled thereby.

"Again, Satan is another enemy, that is continually on the look out, ever watching to entrap or harass the souls of God's family. Sometimes he comes as an "angel of light," casting his magic delusions over the eyes, so that, under the influences of this wonderful magician, we are prompted to "call evil good, and good evil, put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter, darkness for light, and light for darkness." Sometimes he comes in all the garb of holiness, endeavouring to draw us away from the righteousness and sanctification of Christ, in order to set up some creature holiness of our own. Sometimes he comes to us with base antinomian injections, as though because the doctrine of election is sure, and because we have some evidence that we are the children of God, sin could not damn us, nor harm us, and secretly suggesting that this gratification is innocent, and that pleasure allowable; and thus, by casting these antinomian principles into our mind, he hides that trap which he is secretly preparing for our unwary feet.

"Sometimes he will come upon us "as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour," opening his mouth of blasphemy, raising up everything which is hateful and dreadful in our carnal mind, even tempting us to "curse God and die." Sometimes in a hidden unperceived manner, he stirs up the base lusts and passions of our carnal mind, tempting us to believe that there is no harm in their gratification, and then, perhaps, turning round upon us as hypocrites. Thus does this crafty and powerful enemy seek sometimes to carry the city by storm, sometimes to take the city by mine – sometimes to creep in under the garb of a friend – sometimes by open violence to break through the gates, if he may by assault or stratagem carry off the soldiers that are under the banners of Immanuel.…"

To read the remainder of this encouraging sermon from the Word of God, go to