Thursday, May 28, 2009

Banner of Truth 2009 -- Modern Challenges to Calvinism by Walter Chantry

Modern Challenges to Calvinism – Walt Chantry

2 Timothy 3:1-17
1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom 1 you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God 1 may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Conferences like this a good because we meet so many godly men. One of the thoughts that come to all godly ministers is this trouble in their heart – Am I laying a foundation that will last? Will the gospel be proceeding from this church in this community when our children and grand children have grown?
Many have been greatly effected by the resurgence of the doctrines of grace. In some institutions where these teachings were once found, had turned aside from the truth in the late 18 and early 19 hundreds. Could it be that the same thing could happen in the next 30 years? Could that pattern be repeated? Could those teachings of Calvinism disappear?
There is a danger. We find the truth of that all the way back in Revelation in the seven churches that stood on the brink. There was the treat of their lamp stand being removed. If this happened with the very churches the apostles founded, what about now? That is but one instance. Think of Judges, of Amos, and the other prophets.
In 2 Timothy 3 Paul tells Timothy what he must know about the church, and he points to the time of the last days, that time from the ascension to the second coming. He points out that Timothy should realize this about the last days. It will be perilous times, difficult times, grievous times for the Christian churches. Yes, Jesus will build his church through this same time. The gospel will be preached through all the world to all the nations before the end comes. Yet, with this we have troubles as well. He warns of those things we must steer through in those perilous times.
First, because of human depravity both outside the church, and remaining in those in the church. He does it in a vivid manner. “people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” Lovers of self, like Narcissus, the daffodil, a poisonous plant. Lovers of self, focused on self. Is that not the way of many today. Lovers of money, seen in those who promise money will come to those who follow their way. Hedonists who love pleasure more than god. People who want entertainment and the church moves that way to entertain. In doing so making them part of the church when they are still all these things which are not to be there. This is indeed the direction America is moving.
But there is a second danger here as well. Paul describes false religionists. They are people who have a form of godliness but deny its power. They have the rigors and rituals of religion, but not the reality. They should be avoided. They are the type who capture the weak and take them captive by deception. They deceive others and at the same time are deceived themselves.
With all this Timothy gives several correctives. He tells Timothy that he himself must be different from what he finds around him. He should continue in what he has learned and been assured of. Don't go in the direction they have. Do not tolerate it. This is a call to be confrontational with false religionists. 1 Tim 1:3ff, calls for Timothy to tell them not to teach other doctrines, to avoid idle talk in ignorance. 1 Timothy 4, we find another mention of the latter times. That then people will turn from sound doctrine to the doctrine of demons and Timothy should command and teach and be an example to the congregation through reading, exhortation and doctrine. Then again in chapter 6, when people turn from wholesome words of scripture of Christ, Timothy should withdraw himself from them. This continues in 2 Timothy.
With this Paul reminds Timothy of the reality of suffering for living godly lives in Christ Jesus. That is the reality. Persecution is part of living in Christ. This is just as true in North America. The church needs the preaching that reminds them constantly there will be suffering as part of following Christ. Willingness to suffer for Christ, in Christ, was a mark of the reformers and other. It is the reality of the church that is loyal to Christ.
Notice how Paul points to the time he and Timothy labored together and the example Timothy saw in Paul and his sufferings. It is important that such examples are seen by young pastors as they work with older pastors. Timothy saw that example, and Paul could point to it.
Finally, there must be a biblical system of doctrine that is handed down and preserved int eh chruch. Paul leads into that in verses 16-17. All Scripture is God breathed. Scripture has all you need for the ministry, but you must understand it. This is where confessions and catechisms are helpful. They bring the teachings of scripture into a form that can assist.
Are we prepared to be part of the solution of the problem of churches rising in one generation to the truth and falling in the next. Where are the ways departure is being seen today? Certainly in the area of revelation and scriptural sufficiency. Charismatics saying they are reformed, with few saying the are not. Some call themselves reformed and simply ignore parts of reformed understanding of the scriptures. Even doctrine of covenants who twist it into some sort of dispensational understanding even though they don't call it that. Abandonment of worship and church office. And the list goes on.
We do need to deal with this, or where is the “Thus saith the Lord” for our generation.


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