Bible Baptist Church

" Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." ...... John 3:3

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AVOIDING EXTREMES


Text: PHILIPPIANS 4:1-5




INTRODUCTION:


1.     I want to speak this evening on the subject of avoiding extremes. 

2.     You will note the word “moderation” in verse 5.   Many Bible teachers, such as AT Robertson, WE Vine, and HA Ironside, quote the English poet and critic Matthew Arnold, who translated the verse this way, “Let your sweet reasonableness be manifested to all men.”

3.     Some Bible scholars tell us the word means “forbearance” or “yieldingness, gentleness, considerateness, agreeableness, pliability, and courtesy” (Lehman Strauss, Philippians).

4.     Ironside cites Oliver Cromwell, who wrote to the warring theologians of his day, “I beseech you, my brethren. Remember that it is possible you may be wrong” (Philippians).

5.     If you know anything about Oliver Cromwell you know he was a man of strong convictions. He was a Puritan military and political leader who spoke out boldly against Romanism and the popish compromises that were creeping into Anglicanism.

6.     He served as the Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland after the execution of King Charles I.

7.     Therefore, “moderation” does not mean weak and compromising (though the word is often used this way). 

8.     “This does not mean that one need be lacking in intensity of conviction or assurance as to the correctness of doctrines, principles or practices which one believes he has learned from the word of God; but it does imply a kindly consideration for the judgment of others, who may be equally sincere, and equally devoted – and, possibly, even more enlightened” (Ironside, Philippians).

9.     The context here is important – two Christian ladies in the church at Philippi had a falling out (Phil. 4:2).

 

I. CALVINISM AND ARMINIANISM

1.     There are two theological extremes in Christianity, and these extremes have influenced and affected Baptists down through the years.

2.     On the one hand there is a system of doctrine known as Calvinism, and on the other hand there is a system that developed in opposition to Calvinism called Arminianism.

3.     We do not need to identify with either group, as both are man-made systems.  They each contain a mixture of truth and error.

4.     Calvinism comes from the teachings of John Calvin (1509 – 1564), a Frenchman who was a leader of the Protest Reformation, a prolific writer, and a pastor in Geneva, Switzerland.

5.     Sometimes Calvinism is referred to as “Reformed Theology.”

6.     Arminianism comes from the teachings of Jacob Arminius (1560– 1609), a Dutch theologian and professor in theology at the University of Leiden.  Arminius was the pastor of a Dutch Reformed Church.

7.     John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, embraced Arminian theology and became its most prominent champion. 

8.     John Wesley was a great preacher and greatly used by God. Oftentimes, Wesleyan doctrine simply means Arminianism.

9.     A number of years ago, Bob Jones Jr wrote a book called, Cornbread and Caviar.  He said this, “It has been my observation that where good, Bible-believing theologians hold to opposite and contradictory positions on the interpretation of Scripture, such as five-point Calvinism on the one hand and Arminianism on the other, the truth usually lies somewhere between” (p. 186).

10. We do not have time tonight to get deep into these theological controversies.  I have said many times that I believe “TULIP” theology to be unscriptural.  On the other hand, I am not an Arminian and I believe in eternal security.

11. Total inability means sinners are unable to come to Christ unless they are first regenerated.  But the Bible teaches that a man is born again when he believes, not before he believes.  “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).

12. Unconditional election means God arbitrarily chose some people for heaven, and others for hell.  But the Bible says that God is, “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9; cf. I Tim. 2:4).

13. Limited atonement means Christ died only for the elect.  But First John 2:2 says, “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

14. Hebrews 2:9 says, “that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (cf. also John 1:29; 3:16).

15. Irresistible grace means that the saving grace of God is effectually applied only to those whom God has determined to save (the elect).  Here we can see the logical connection between “total inability” (or “total depravity”) and “irresistible grace.”  Since total inability means that man is unable of believing God, and man will never come to Christ on his own, God must first change a person’s nature before he is saved. 

16. To the staunch Calvinist, regeneration must precede conversion. But is God’s grace “irresistible”?  We see many examples in the Bible of sinners resisting God’s grace.  Stephen said to the Jewish leaders in Acts 7:51, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.”

17. Calvinists would argue that these stiffnecked sinners were not part of the elect and were therefore predestined for hell.  But this is not what the Bible teaches.

18. The last doctrine in the TULIP system is the “perseverance of the saints.”   This means the elect believer will continue in the state of holiness and righteousness through the work of the Holy Spirit, and the elect believer will continue in this state all the way through till he gets to heaven. 

19. This doctrine has been called “once saved, always saved” and has been associated with the doctrine of eternal security, though there are some differences.

20. I must say that while I tend to agree more with the Arminians on their opposition to the first four points, I break company with them on the fifth (cf. Romans 9:35-39).

21. Eternal life is for eternity.  It is not “temporary eternal life.”

22. Before moving on, let me say we can agree with the Calvinists when they are right – the sovereignty of God, eternal security, etc.

23. And we can agree with the Arminians when they are right – man’s responsibility, unlimited atonement, etc.   However, we should not be forced to take sides in this debate.

 

II. THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST

1.     This is another debate that will never be fully resolved this side of heaven.  Lordship Salvation” proponents (e.g., John MacArthur) insist that one cannot be saved unless he first submits to Christ as Lord of his life.

2.     Let me say that Jesus Christ is Lord irrespective of what you or I believe. Paul and Silas told the Philippian jailer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

3.     Does this mean that the Philippian jailer understood what the Lordship of Christ was all about?  No, he simply knew enough to be saved (cf. I Cor. 15:1-4).

4.     Lordship people are greatly confused and inconsistent.  In Acts 10:14, the apostle Peter said, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.”  Peter was saying “no” to a clear command from God.  And he addressed God as “Lord.” 

5.     Does this mean Peter was not saved?  Of course not.

6.     The Bible teaches that a genuine conversion to Christ will result in a changed life, and this certainly includes submission to Christ’s lordship.  

7.     However, this is the result of regeneration.  An unsaved man is lost and spiritually blind and does not understand all that is involved in making Christ “Lord of your life.”

8.     Even a Christian (like Peter) does not understand it all.

9.     Submitting to Christ’s lordship and a changed life are the result of salvation, not a requirement for salvation.  Lordship people confuse salvation with discipleship, and justification with regeneration.

10. Charles Ryrie has criticized “Lordship Salvation” and has written a book about it entitled, So Great Salvation.  In this book, Dr. Ryrie states, “Every Christian will bear spiritual fruit. Somewhere, sometime, somehow. Otherwise that person is not a believer. Every born-again individual will be fruitful. Not to be fruitful is to be faithless, without faith, and therefore without salvation” (p 45, SGS).

11. By this statement it appears that there really is not all that much difference between the two positions.   “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17).

12. I think the real issue is over the doctrine of repentance.   One hundred years ago, R. A. Torrey warned that repentance was no longer being emphasized in his day.  I am afraid it is much worse today.

13. It was Spurgeon who said, “Repentance is the inseparable companion of faith.  All the while that we walk by faith and not by sight, the tear of repentance glitters in the eye of faith.  That is not true repentance which does not come of faith in Jesus, and that is not true faith in Jesus which is not tinctured with repentance. Faith and repentance, like Siamese twins, are vitally joined together.”

14. A.C. Dixon said, “In repentance you think of the sin you hate; in faith you think of the Christ you love.”  Many other quotes could be given, demonstrating that the old-time preachers stressed repentance.

15. Repentance means a change of mind.  This leads to a change in direction. The sinner was against God – at enmity with God – the wrath of God was abiding on him.  But now he has repented!  Now he has changed sides.  Now he loves God and hates sin.  Now he agrees with God (cf. Acts 20:21; 26:17-20).

16. We must teach that repentance and faith are two sides to the same coin.  But on the other hand we must be careful not to add anything to the Gospel.

 


CONCLUSION:

1.     We started out with Philippians 4:5, “Let your moderation be known unto all men.”

2.     The second part of that verse is: “The Lord is at hand.”   This could be taken two ways: the Lord is here with us (though we do not see Him).  Surely Paul felt the Lord’s presence in that cold, damp prison as he wrote this epistle.

3.     Also, it means the Lord is coming back soon.  Therefore we should be gracious and humble. Our judgment of others should be tempered by the fact that the Lord will soon judge us.   Romans 14:10 says, “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”





Pastor James J. Barker
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