Friday, September 22, 2006

Hardening Unbelief: Backsliding Part 2 of 7

Acts 19:8-9
8And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.

2 Thessalonians 2:13
13But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits[a] to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.

     The Matthew Henry Commentary has this to say, "When we hear of the apostasy of many, it is a great comfort and joy, that there is a remnant according to the election of grace, which does and shall persevere; especially we should rejoice, if we have reason to hope that we are of that number. The preservation of the saints is because God loved them with an everlasting love, from the beginning of the world. The end and the means must not be separated. Faith and holiness must be joined together as well as holiness and happiness. The outward call of God is by the gospel; and this is rendered effectual by the inward working of the Spirit. The belief of the truth brings the sinner to rely on Christ, and so to love and obey him; it is sealed by the Holy Spirit upon his heart. We have no certain proof of any thing having been delivered by the apostles, more than what we find contained in the Holy Scriptures. Let us then stand fast in the doctrines taught by the apostles, and reject all additions, and vain traditions."

We cannot be more sure of anything than the TRUTH contained in the Holy Scriptures.

         2. Worldliness bends the church towards further backsliding and into a hardening condition of unbelief. Jesus Himself complained of His generation. “But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented” (Matt 11:16-17).

         Is this not a picture of the church today? If the funeral tune of the Law is preached, how many sinners are mourning? If the wedding tune of the Gospel is proclaimed, how many mourning sinners are brought to rejoicing? In general, we can say that the Law no longer seems to cause trembling, and the Gospel no longer seems to provoke jealousy….Could we confess, “I have become hardened to the Law and to the Gospel – I fear even to hell itself”?

         Even the preaching of hellish damnation is making less and less impression. And heaven? By nature, we do not what that either. An atheist once said, “You can keep your heaven and your hell. Only give me this earth.” We may not dare to voice that, but do we live it with our lives? Unbelief makes us practical atheist. Hell is no longer hell, heaven is no longer heaven, grace is no longer grace, sin is no longer sin, Christ is no longer Christ, God is no longer God, an the Bible is no longer the everlasting Word of God.

         Unbelief also makes us hardened to the truth. We may know the truth in our minds, but it will burn us eternally if it does not become engrafted into our hearts…

"Unbelief" at this stage starts out rather subtlety, but almost always begins by discounting the truth of the scriptures or by denying truth itself. To be a scriptural Christian, how can we deny that there is truth or deny that it can be known, if we are called to and responsible for knowing and believing it? Especially the truth of the scripture... It seems that part of our salvation, the consequences of election, is belief in the truth.

The Emergent Church very clearly stepped upon a slippery slope at worldliness and quickly and predictably "backslid" down the slippery slope to unbelief. After all, belief in uncertainty is really just unbelief all dressed up. It is just a "smile on a dog."

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