The Gospel (X)
GOSPEL REPENTANCE AND JUDGMENT
(from a transcript of a sermon preached on 11/5/00 at Sovereign Redeemer Assembly)
Let's turn to Philippians 3. Let's read the entire chapter:
Philippians 3: (1) For the rest, my brothers, rejoice in [the] Lord. To write the same things to you truly [is] not tiresome to me, but safe for you. (2) Look out [for] the dogs, look out [for] the evil workers, look out [for] the concision [party]. (3) For we are the circumcision, the ones who worship by the Spirit of God, and who glory in Christ Jesus, and who do not trust in flesh. (4) Even though I [might] have trust in flesh; if any other thinks to trust in flesh, I more; (5) in circumcision, [the] eighth day, of [the] race of Israel, [the] tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; according to Law, a Pharisee; (6) according to zeal, persecuting the assembly; according to righteousness in Law, being blameless. (7) But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss because of Christ. (8) But, no, rather I also count all things to be loss because of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count [them to be] trash, that I might gain Christ (9) and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness of Law, but through the faith of Christ, [having] the righteousness of God on faith, (10) to know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, having been conformed to His death, (11) if somehow I may attain to a resurrection out of the dead. (12) Not that I already received or already have been perfected, but I press on, if I also may lay hold, inasmuch as I also was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. (13) Brothers, I do not count myself to have laid hold, but one [thing I do], forgetting the things behind, and stretching forward to those things before, (14) I press on after a mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (15) Then as many as [are] perfect, let us be of this mind; and if you think anything differently, God will also reveal this to you. (16) Yet [as] to where we have arrived, walk by the same rule, [being] of the same mind. (17) Be fellow-imitators of me, brothers, and consider those walking this way, even as you have us [for] a pattern. (18) For many walk [as] hostile [to] the cross of Christ, of whom I often told you, and now even weeping I say it, (19) whose end [is] destruction, whose god [is] the belly, and who glory in their shame, the [ones] thinking earthly things. (20) For our citizenship is in Heaven, from where we also wait for a Savior, [the] Lord Jesus Christ, (21) who will transform our body of humiliation, for it to be conformed to His body of glory, according to the working [of] Him to be able even to subject all things under Himself.
Over the past seven weeks, we've gone point-by-point through the definition of the gospel. Some of the things we saw were that God exists, that God is sovereign, that God predestinated everything before the foundation of the world, that God is all-powerful to keep His promises, that man by nature is dead in sins and at enmity with God and can do nothing to please God, that Adam's sin is imputed to all whom He represented, that sin deserves everlasting punishment in hell, that God's saving power is irresistible, that there is a change of state and a change of heart upon regeneration, that God preserves everyone He regenerates so that they will not perish and will not believe or confess a false gospel, that God chose to save a people before the foundation of the world, that Jesus Christ died for those people and those people alone, that all of the sins of His people were imputed to Christ, that Jesus Christ was punished by God and paid the penalty in full for all of His people by shedding His precious blood, that Jesus Christ lived a perfectly sinless life, that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to His people, that God saves His people in a way that is consistent with His law and justice, that Jesus is fully God and fully man, that the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ demands and ensures all of salvation, from regeneration to final glory, for all whom He represented, and that salvation is by the work of Christ alone without any contribution from the sinner.
These are all precious truths. We who are believers confess that they are true. We hold to these truths and will never let them go.
But there's a group of people out there who will say they agree with us on every one of the points I just mentioned, yet they are children of the devil. They will even say that the doctrines that oppose these truths are false doctrines, such as the doctrines that God did not predestinate everything before the foundation of the world, that God chose to save people based on what He knew they would do, that God's saving power is resistible, that fallen man can choose to be saved, that regenerate man can lose his salvation, and that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception. They will call these things false doctrines. They will say that these doctrines oppose the glory of God. Yet they are children of the devil.
How can this be? How can it be that these people who say they agree with us on so many things are still children of the devil? How can it be that these people, who say that they exalt the glory of God in salvation, are actually enemies of the God they claim to exalt?
The answer is this: Even though they claim to believe this gospel, they do not VALUE it. They do not value it to the point of seeing that it is a life-and-death matter. They do not value it to the point that they consider everything opposed to it as dung. They do not value it to the point that they make judgments based on it. They say they love it, they say that it is precious to them, they say they hate what is opposed to it, yet they do not really VALUE it.
At the beginning of this message, I read Philippians chapter 3. Paul said that all of his religious deeds before he was saved were nothing but wickedness. In verse 6, he said that before he was saved, he was BLAMELESS according to righteousness in Law! Yet he counted himself LOST when he was in this religion. Why did he count himself lost? Because of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. When God saved him, God gave him the KNOWLEDGE that his salvation was conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone, his works totally excluded. And when God gave him that KNOWLEDGE, he counted his former religion as nothing but self-righteous dung, because he realized that in his former religion, he believed in salvation conditioned on the sinner. This is called REPENTANCE. This repentance is a change of heart, wherein one turns FROM believing in, worshiping, and serving a false god and a false christ TO believing in, worshiping, and serving the true God and the true Christ. The person turns FROM believing in the false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner TO believing in the true gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone. And in order for the person to TRULY turn from one to the other, he must RECOGNIZE that the gospel he USED to believe was a FALSE GOSPEL, the god he used to worship was a FALSE GOD, and the christ he used to trust was a FALSE CHRIST. He must RECOGNIZE that these sins are indicative of LOSTNESS. He must RECOGNIZE that when he believed in a false gospel and a false god and a false christ, he was an open idolater, bringing forth dead works and fruit unto death. Without this RECOGNITION, there is no repentance. Paul RECOGNIZED that in his former religion, he was bringing forth fruit unto death. Let's turn to Romans 7:4-5:
Romans 7: (4) So that, my brothers, you also were made dead to the Law through the body of Christ, for you to become Another's, to [the One] raised from [the] dead, so that we may bear fruit to God. (5) For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sin were working in our members through the Law for the bearing of fruit unto death.
Paul RECOGNIZED that when he was lost, he was IN THE FLESH, and he was BRINGING FORTH FRUIT UNTO DEATH. Now was Paul talking about his old party days where he engaged in all kinds of immorality? NO! When he was lost, he was BLAMELESS according to righteousness in Law. Paul was talking about his life of RELIGION, DEDICATION, and MORALITY! He counted it as bringing forth fruit unto death. He RECOGNIZED it to be so.
Now I'd like to give you a scenario to illustrate this point.
Here's the scenario: A man claims to believe the doctrines of grace. He claims to agree with the definition of the gospel. He says that salvation is by the sovereign grace of God alone, based on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone, without any contribution from the sinner. He says that the work of Christ demands and ensures the salvation of all Christ represented, that Christ only died for His people, and that universal atonement is heretical. So far, so good. But then he says that when he was unregenerate, he was an irreligious drug dealer, until God saved him and changed his life. He says that when he first became a believer, he believed that Christ died for everyone without exception in the whole world, based on his misunderstanding of some Scripture passages that seemed to teach universal atonement. He says that it wasn't until a few years after his conversion that he encountered a Reformed book that explained particular redemption, and then he saw the precious truth of particular atonement and the heresy of universal atonement. He now considers his spiritual life to be much more enriched now that he has come to know the truth of particular atonement.
What is this man's current spiritual state? This man is still as lost as when he was an irreligious drug dealer. He was lost as an irreligious drug dealer, he was lost as a religionist who believed in universal atonement, and he continues to be lost as a religionist who has now "come into" the doctrines of grace. How do we know this? It has to do with his REPENTANCE, which shows how much he VALUES the gospel. When this man saw the truth of particular redemption, what did he think of his former religion in which he believed universal atonement? Did he count it as dung? Did he say that he was in the flesh and bringing forth fruit unto death? Did he say that he was worshiping and serving a false god and a false christ? Did he say that he believed a false gospel? No. He believes that he was regenerate while he believed in universal atonement. And remember - universal atonement is equal to salvation conditioned on the sinner, because those who believe in universal atonement DO NOT believe that the work of Jesus Christ ALONE demands and ensures the salvation of all whom He represented. They DO NOT believe that the work of Jesus Christ ALONE is what makes the difference between heaven and hell. They believe that it is the work of the SINNER that ultimately makes the difference between heaven and hell. So, since this man believes that he was regenerate while he believed in universal atonement, it is clear that HE HAS NOT REPENTED. He does not consider belief in universal atonement to be belief in a false gospel. Instead, he believes that one can believe the gospel and believe universal atonement at the same time. So not only has he not repented, he does not really believe the gospel. Do we all understand this? Okay.
Now I'd like to show you how REPENTANCE is directly connected to how one judges the spiritual state of OTHERS. I'm not going to go into the fact that Christians are commanded to judge the spiritual state of others and the objections raised to this by false religionists. For this sermon, it's a given that Christians judge the spiritual state of others.
Think of the man in the scenario I just presented. This man believes that he was regenerate while he believed in universal atonement. Now what if another man comes along who professes to be a Christian and says that he believes in universal atonement? Is the first man going to judge him lost? Of course not. If he judged THIS MAN lost, he'd have to say that HE was lost when HE believed in universal atonement. In fact, this is what we hear a lot from those who speak peace to such people. They do not reason from the Bible; instead, they go back to their own so-called "salvation experience." They'll say, "All Arminians aren't lost, because I was an Arminian for a period of time after I was regenerated." Again, this peace-speaking is a sure sign that he does not VALUE the gospel to the point of JUDGING by it. They'll say that they agree with the gospel doctrine, but they will not consider it ESSENTIAL gospel doctrine. They will not consider it VITAL gospel doctrine. Instead, they will consider it to be merely a MORE CONSISTENT version of the gospel than the Arminian version. And they MUST say that the Arminian version of the gospel is STILL the gospel, even though it is less consistent. Thus, they believe that the Arminian gospel is the BEGINNING POINT of their own faith. They are just as lost as the Arminians.
Let's turn to a passage of Scripture that irrefutably shows that those who speak peace to those who confess a false gospel are just as lost as those who confess a false gospel. That passage is 2 John 11. Let's start reading in verse 9 and go to verse 11:
2 John (9) Everyone transgressing and not abiding in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. The [one] abiding in the doctrine of Christ, this one has the Father and the Son. (10) If anyone comes to you and does not bear this doctrine, do not receive him into the house, and do not speak a greeting to him. (11) For the [one] speaking a greeting shares in his evil works.
First, we see that everyone who does not remain in the doctrine of Christ is lost. What is the doctrine of Christ? It is the GOSPEL. It's what we've been going over in the past seven weeks. The GOSPEL includes all the doctrine that I've gone over. THIS is the doctrine of Christ. If anyone does not remain in this doctrine, he is lost. Mark 16:16 says that those who do not believe the gospel are lost. Romans 10:3 says that those who are ignorant of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel are lost.
Second, we see the command not to receive a person who brings a false gospel into your house. This is talking about having religious fellowship with him. The last part of verse 10 says, "and do not speak a greeting to him." Does that mean that you are not to say "hello" to such a person? No -- this is a specific kind of greeting. The Greek word translated "greeting" is usually translated "rejoice." I'm going to give some examples of how the New Testament uses this Greek word:
John 4: (36) And the one reaping receives reward, and gathers fruit to everlasting life, so that both the [one] sowing and the [one] reaping may REJOICE together.
Romans 16: (19) For your obedience reached to all; therefore, I REJOICE over you. But I desire you to be truly wise [as] to good, but simple toward evil.
Philippians 2: (17) But if indeed I am poured out on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I REJOICE; yea, I REJOICE with you all. (18) And you also REJOICE [in] the same and REJOICE with me.
Philippians 4: (4) REJOICE in [the] Lord always. Again I say, REJOICE!
Did you notice the intimate meaning of the word "rejoice" in these passages? It is obviously talking about speaking peace to a person -- calling that person a brother in Christ. So when 2 John 10 says, "do not speak a greeting to him," it's saying, "do not speak peace to him"; "do not call him a brother in Christ."
Now in verse 11, we see a VERY grave, weighty statement:
2 John (11) For the [one] speaking a greeting shares in his evil works.
The one who speaks peace to a person who does not abide in the doctrine of Christ actually SHARES in the evil works of that person. What does it mean to "to share in" these evil works? The Greek word used here is koinonei. I'm sure that many of you recognize the root; koinos (Koy-nos) means "common" or "communal," koinonia (Koy-no-nia) means "partnership" or "fellowship," and koinonos means "partner" or "sharer." Let's go into some verses that give some examples of how this word is used in the New Testament. Notice again the intimate nature of sharing:
1 Corinthians 1:9:
1 Corinthians 1: (9) God [is] faithful, through whom you were called into [the] FELLOWSHIP of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Hebrews 2: (14) Since, then, the children have partaken of flesh and blood, in like manner He Himself also SHARED the same things, that through death He might cause to cease the [one] having the power of death, that is, the devil;
1 Peter 4:13:
1 Peter 4: (13) but according as you SHARE the sufferings of Christ, rejoice; so that you may rejoice exultingly at the revelation of His glory.
Titus 1: (4) to Titus, a true child according to [our] COMMON faith: Grace, mercy, peace from God [the] Father and [the] Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.
1 Corinthians 10:16:
1 Corinthians 10: (16) The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a PARTAKING of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a PARTAKING of the body of Christ?
Jude (3) Having made all haste to write to you about the COMMON salvation, beloved, I had need to write to you to exhort you to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.
Philippians 1: (5) over your FELLOWSHIP in the gospel, from [the] first day until now,
Philippians 2: (1) [So] then, if [there is] any comfort in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any FELLOWSHIP of [the] Spirit, if any tendernesses and compassions
Philippians 3: (10) to know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the FELLOWSHIP of His sufferings, having been conformed to His death,
1 John 1:3:
1 John 1: (3) We announce to you what we have seen, and [what] we have heard, that you also may have FELLOWSHIP with us. And truly our FELLOWSHIP [is] with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.
Matthew 23: (30) And you say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been PARTAKERS with them in the blood of the prophets
2 Corinthians 1:7:
2 Corinthians 1: (7) and our hope for you [is] certain, knowing that even as you are SHARERS of the sufferings, so also of the comfort.
Hebrews 10: (33) indeed being exposed both to reproaches and to afflictions; and having become PARTNERS of those so living.
1 Peter 5:1:
1 Peter 5: (1) I, a fellow elder, exhort the elders among you, I being also witness of the sufferings of Christ, and [being] SHARER of the glory about to be revealed:
2 Peter 1:4:
2 Peter 1: (4) by which means He has given to us the very great and precious promises, so that through these you might be PARTAKERS of [the] divine nature, escaping from the corruption in [the] world by lust.
Do you see what sharing means?
So 2 John 11 is saying that the person who speaks peace to one who brings a false gospel is actually SHARING in the evil deeds of that person. What are the evil deeds of that person? It is the evil of not abiding in the gospel -- the evil of abiding in a false gospel. Verse 9 says that the one who performs these evil deeds (who does not abide in the gospel) "does not have God." One who "does not have God" is lost. So the one who speaks peace to that person is SHARING IN the false gospel of that person. And we can see how this happens. If Mr. Smith believes in universal atonement, and Mr. Jones claims to believe the true gospel of grace but calls Mr. Smith a brother, Mr. Jones SHARES IN the false gospel of Mr. Smith, because Mr. Jones believes that he SHARES the same gospel as Mr. Smith. And, in fact, Mr. Jones DOES share the same gospel as Mr. Smith. They both share the false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner. They are both bringing forth evil deeds and fruit unto death.
My hearers - do you believe the true gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone? If you say you do, do you VALUE it to the point of considering all your former religion as dung? Do you VALUE it to the point of believing that you were lost when you were in such a religion? Do you VALUE it to the point of believing that ALL OTHERS who are in such a religion are lost? If you do not VALUE it so as to judge yourself and others by it, then you remain dead in your sins, no matter if you call yourself Reformed or a Calvinist or a believer in the doctrines of grace. God commands you today to repent - to TRULY repent - and to TRULY believe the gospel.
Are you one who believes that Jesus Christ died for everyone in the world without exception? Then you don't believe the gospel. You don't believe that it is the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ ALONE that demands and ensures the salvation of ALL for whom He lived and died. You believe that it is the work of the SINNER that makes the ultimate difference between heaven and hell. God commands you today to repent - to consider all of your religion and all of your life as wickedness and idolatry, to turn from that wickedness, and to believe in the TRUE God who promises to save EVERY one of His people based on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ ALONE.
And to those of you who believe the true gospel, have repented of dead works and former idolatry, and who judge based on the truth of the gospel: REJOICE in this precious gospel! WORSHIP King Jesus! LOVE your brothers in Christ! EVANGELIZE to the irreligious and unconcerned! EVANGELIZE to those in false religion! PRAY for the salvation of the lost! DO GOOD WORKS out of a love for the one who first loved us! MEDITATE on the truth!
We'll close with a truth that we should ALWAYS keep in our minds. It's in 2 Corinthians 5:14-21:
2 Corinthians 5: (14) For the love of Christ constrains us, having judged this, that if One died for all, then all died; (15) and He died for all, that the living ones may live no more to themselves, but to the [One] having died for them and having been raised. (16) So as we now know no one according to flesh, but even if we have known Christ according to flesh, yet now we no longer know [Him so]. (17) So that if anyone [is] in Christ, [he] is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new! (18) And all things [are] from God, the [One] having reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and having given to us the ministry of reconciliation, (19) as, that God was in Christ reconciling [the] world to Himself, not charging their deviations to them, and having put the Word of reconciliation in us. (20) Then on behalf of Christ, we are ambassadors, as God [is] exhorting through us, we beseech on behalf of Christ, Be reconciled to God. (21) For He made the [One] who knew no sin [to be] sin for us, that we might become [the] righteousness of God in Him.