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In this Issue

Are Chrsistians Really Safe?
Forgive Us Our Trespasses


In Other News


“Where Oh Where Can We Go”

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Are All Christians Really safe? By Chad Stendal

Up until the time the Eastern Orthodox and Western Catholic churches split, all Christians believed that the physical death of Christ as our sacrifice resulted in forgiveness of sins, based on our identification in Christ's death. Then in 1099 a man called Anselm was instrumental in changing that concept and proposed that each person had to pay a penance for sins. He taught that each sin was an affront to God and had to be individually atoned for by the Christian through prayer, fasting, pilgrimages, and good works. This became the underlying doctrine of Western Roman Catholicism - salvation by self works.

At the time of the reformation, the reformers correctly proclaimed that we are saved by faith and not by self works. However they did not change the basic error underlying penance for each individual sin. They simply assumed that Christ somehow suffered for each sin and according to their theology Christ's physical death reconciled the sinner, provided the sinner identifies in the death of the sacrifice.

The reformers now had problems when they tried to answer the questions of how and when did Jesus suffer for all individual sins? In addition if He paid for everyone's sins in this individual fashion, everyone would have to go free, because God could not demand the penalty a second time if it had already been paid by Jesus. Additionally regardless of whether you believed it or not, the penalty for all sin would have been paid.

This is the basis for the universalism of many churches today who believe that because Christ paid for the sins of the whole world, then ultimately the whole world must be saved. Now Calvin understood this implication and so he set up the doctrine of the “limited atonement” in which he reasoned that Jesus had died for only the sins of the elect, and that God had decreed before the creation of the world that certain ones would be saved and the vast majority lost. This led to the doctrine of “irresistible grace” for the elect. The elect had to be saved, because their sins had been paid for, but the rest of the world was damned because Christ had not suffered for their sins.

The doctrine of double predestination - some to be saved and some to be lost - held sway for about 200 years. The Greek word proorizo - predestination - really means to mark out the way to the destination in advance and Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life”.

Then John Wesley appeared on the scene in England in about 1750 preaching that “whosoever will may come” John 3:16, and God was not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance 2 Peter 3:9. Wesley touched off the longest lasting revival since the days of the Apostles. He had a beautifully simple doctrine that everyone could understand. It had three main points.

1. Anyone could be saved if they would repent and turn to Christ to deliver them from all known sin John 3:16.

2. If you were saved you'd know it.
God's Spirit would witness to your spirit that you were a son of God, Rom.8:16 and "We know we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren" 1 John 3:14.

3. If you were saved you'd show it.
If any man be in Christ he is a new creature. Old things have passed away, and all things have become new 2 Corinthians. 5:17, Gal. 6:15.
The first two of these three points ran contrary to Calvinism doctrines that only those predestined to be the elect could be saved, and that you never know for sure that you were a believer. This was called the “sin of presumption” by Calvinists, and it was presumed if you thought you were one of the elect you would let your guard down, and indeed the theme and preaching under the great awakening was primarily against “carnal security”.

Wesley's third point ran parallel to Calvin's last doctrine of the “perseverance of the saints”.
This meant that if you were one of the elect, you would remain faithful to the end, doing the things that true Christians should, such as “presenting your body a living sacrifice” Romans 12:1 and being “faithful unto death” Rev. 2:10.
This Calvinistic doctrine of persevering unto the end produced some Godly men such as Jonathan Edwards, Timothy Dwight, David Brainard, and Adinairim Judson to name a few. But it was an austere and joyless call to holiness the final outcome of which was never certain.

Today's Calvinism has changed drastically since the days of classical Calvinism. It usually begins with a call to accept Christ as your Saviour, followed by the sinners' prayer. If the decision was from the heart, in response to the call of God, it will start of a work of faith in the heart that should be followed by teaching on repentance and faith, leading to a public testimony of identification in Christ's death and resurrection by water baptism and by receiving the power of the Holy Spirit.

If the decision is only head knowledge, a mental decision, the results won’t last long.
Unfortunately most of today's evangelism is of this type.

The effect of Wesley's preaching touched off a social revolution as well as a spiritual revolution. Methodist Sunday Schools, organized to educate the poor were followed by day schools for uneducated common people. Prison reform was started as well as labour unions. (Of the first l2 martyrs of the labour movement, 11 were Methodists.) Universities and hospitals were started by Methodists as well as orphanages and care for the destitute and infirm. Above all, the Methodist movement was famous for circuit riding preachers who covered the British Isles and sent 5,000 circuit riding preachers across America, moving with the frontier westward.

The great spiritual secret of the Methodists was the class meeting. These meetings were held weekly in addition to the church services. The groups were kept small. If the group grew to more than 12, they split into two groups. The purpose of these meetings was intimate fellowship. You had to admit if you had a pure heart, and if you were walking in victory. You could share your problems, and everyone would pray for you. When you had answers to prayer or spiritual victory, everyone would praise the Lord with you. Lack of intimate fellowship is probably the greatest need of the church in today's world.

Wesley's preaching consisted of his three points of doctrine:

  1. Anyone can be saved
  2. If you're saved you'll know it
  3. If you're saved you'll show it

This had a great impact on the Calvinistic world of the 18th century, and most Calvinists switched over to believing in a general atonement where Christ paid for the sins of the whole world. Most of them also came to believe in the assurance of salvation i.e. you could know you were saved.
Most Calvinists today don't even realize that Calvin and his followers for two hundred years were “I hope-soers” and could never be sure of their salvation until their life was over, and they had persevered until the end.


Forgive Us Our Trespasses

Under Moses the trespass offering was compulsory:
Are Christians just as responsible today for their trespasses? Or did the law of trespass apply only to Israel? Read what Paul had to say regarding those outside the commonwealth of Israel.
Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in “trespasses and sins”, for when Gentiles, who have no law, obey by natural instinct the commands of the Law, they even though they have no law, are a law to themselves.

Romans 2:14-16 “For they show that the work of the Law is written in their hearts, while their conscience bears them witness, as their reasoning accuses, or defends them, in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel. (MNT) We were taught to pray “forgive us our debts (trespasses) as we forgive our debtors; those that trespass against us”.

To keep crime in check and protect the innocent God demanded judgment.

Leviticus 6:2-5 "If a person sins and commits a trespass against the LORD by lying to his neighbour about what was delivered to him for safekeeping, or about a pledge, or about a robbery, or if he has extorted from his neighbour, "or if he has found what was lost and lies concerning it, and swears falsely-in any one of these things that a man may do in which he sins: "then it shall be, because he has sinned and is guilty, that he shall restore what he has stolen, or the thing which he has extorted, or what was delivered to him for safekeeping, or the lost thing which he found, "or all that about which he has sworn falsely. He shall restore its full value, add one-fifth more to it, and give it to whomever it belongs, on the day of his trespass offering. (NKJV)

Trespass is defined as “wrong done against the Lord”: The priest was the mediator between man and man, and God and man. And he shall bring to the priest his guilt offering to the LORD, a ram without blemish out of the flock, at the price estimated for a guilt offering.

Those who are actively engaged in the work of God will surely confess what to some seems quite incredible, that often we have unwittingly trespassed in the work and worship of the Lord. I believe there is not an act of any kind, whether of praise, or prayer, or worship, or ministry, which can through Satan's cunning, prove to be an occasion for the flesh to trespass. I have no doubt that those in His service will recognize instances where that which has been done either for the Lord or in His name has in hindsight been discovered to have been mixed with trespass. The trespass may not have been recognized at the time, but the fact still remains, that a trespass is a trespass recognized or unrecognized. We may be unconscious of the evil, but that it does not alter it.

Leviticus 5:15
If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the LORD; then he shall bring for his trespass unto the LORD a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering: And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest: and the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him. And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he whist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity.

This settled the question of guilt on the part of the one breaking the law whether he was conscious of it or not when the crime was committed. He was as much a lawbreaker before he knew, as he was afterward. Thus ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law or being freed from responsibility after is broken.

How serious is the truth that is set before us here:
That neither our conscience, nor our measure of light, but God’s word alone, is the standard by which both sin and trespass are to be measured and judged. If man's conscience were the standard, every man would have a different rule. And so accordingly, right or wrong, good or evil, would depend, not upon God's Word, but upon each individual’s apprehension of it. At this rate no man could be convicted of his wrongdoing; so long as he could plead he was ignorant of the fact that his behaviour was unacceptable. But we do not judge this way in our Law Courts; nor does God judge by any standards other than His own.
We judge by our perceptions, according to our knowledge and then plead ignorance as our defence when we are caught out, and although God in grace finds means for pardoning it, He still adjudges evil as evil wherever and in whomever it is found.
Our ignorance and blindness does not alter His judgment:
It is our wilful sin of ignorance and that only which causes the blindness.

Let’s go a little deeper:
Isaiah 42:8 “I am the LORD, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another…...”
We who serve the Lord ought to walk circumspectly when recounting the things that we are involved in regarding our labours for Christ. We are guilty of trespassing against the Lord when we exaggerate and take credit (perhaps ignorantly) for what He achieved as though we by our power accomplished the deeds we testify to. We drop names; embellish events; make reckless claims, report victories; and inflate numbers; all which seem to grow next time we relate our exploits. We are often guilty of lifting up the Lord’s servants and extolling their miraculous abilities as though these (super-saints) were the authors of these miracles; and in so doing we can become an instrument in the hands of the enemy to bring about their fall. If pride could turn an archangel into a devil, what could it do to any of us?

It is so easy for any of us to commit a trespass against the Lord and steal His rightful claims by promoting our ministries to impress our hearers. Although I might plead ignorance I am judged guilty nevertheless. I confess I have trespassed as much as any in this until He showed me what I was doing. We may have thought it was glorifying Him, but we need to recognise that the Lord does not need our assistance to reinforce His position in the Universe. All He asks is our obedience in exchange for His companionship. Such is the sin of trespass; and the broad measure of it is something that we need to be fully aware of and shun.

Praise is to God, who not only convinces us of our sins, but also testifies of Him by whose offering our sins are pardoned. He that sees Jesus in the Trespass-offering sees that Christ confessed to it, bore its judgment, and paid its penalty. Not only was “His soul an offering for sin, but He was wounded for our transgressions,” the judgment for our trespasses was laid upon Him. Here He stood, “the just for the unjust,” confessing the sins and trespasses of His people as His. By this He made full atonement and restitution for us and in so doing satisfied the righteous demands of His Heavenly Father. 1 Peter 3:18.

In the case of one’s ignorance of the Lord’s commandments on certain points, when he became aware of his trespass he was to offer a ram without blemish to for atone for his sin. Vs 17-18.
An estimate made by the priest was to be agreed upon by the sinner and the one he had wronged regarding the damage done. This amount had to be repaid with an additional 20% before it could be forgiven and peace restored between the parties.

These particulars, respecting the payment of money in connection with the offering, are not only very definite, but quite remarkable. We need to realise that the trespass offering was a sin against the Lord. And because His name was taken in vain, restitution by confession of guilt had to be made to Him. The cost of the offering was borne by the trespasser.

When Achan at Jericho trespassed against the Lord, he could have come forward and confessed and paid for his sin in the manner of the Trespass offering, but he chose otherwise and was judged accordingly. The devoted thing thus became the accursed thing to Achan. It not only cost him his life, but the lives of those that aided and abetted him paid with their lives also.
Joshua 7:25 And Joshua said, "Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day." So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.

1 Corinthians 11:29-31 for he who eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks condemnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.

 
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Shaun Kearney
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