THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST
by Bill Jackson
(part 4 of 4)
THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST AND EVANGELISM
It is imperative that in the outworking of the Great Commission of the Church, evangelism, we keep the Lordship of Christ in the right perspective. While there are human tendencies that would endanger this, there is ample scriptural truth that should keep us on the right track.
Since we must have a reason for doing anything, we will start by considering our motive for evangelism. Strange to say, this has so
often been mis-stated that many Christians think that the basic motive for evangelism is a burden for souls. While every Christian should feel burdened for those outside of Christ, as valid as this feeling might be, it can never be thought of as our basic motive.
Christ is Lord; Christ told us to evangelize. Our basic motive must be obedience to Him. He said, “If ye love me, keep my
commandments,” and He commanded “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”
If we evangelize when we feel a burden, our evangelistic activity is based upon the depth of our feeling, not on the Lordship of Christ. If we wait to feel led, then we’ll only evangelize when we feel led. Our Lord plainly told us to evangelize.
Neither should our primary motive be to get results. If this is our prime motivation, we will be willing to present a shallow message that doesn’t truly glorify our Lord Jesus Christ in order to get results.
We must also remember that evangelism and winning arguments are not synonymous. The winning of arguments is a totally human endeavor. People can win arguments even when they are wrong. The winning of an argument often alienates the loser so that our audience is lost. Winning an argument proves how smart I am; evangelism displays the perfection of my Savior.
Neither do we evangelize by calling attention to all the things that are wrong with the person’s religion or life. We don’t evangelize Catholics by talking about immoral popes or priest-nunrelationships, or Mormons by ridiculing the teen-aged “prophet” who
continually dug for “buried treasure”. We evangelize by preaching the scriptural perfection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We must never sully the Gospel messages with half-truth, exaggerations, undue sensationalism or undocumented stories. Be
zealous for the truth, as it is the truth that sets men free.
God doesn’t decry our human abilities. He gave them to us, but the preaching of the Gospel is something that demands the operation of the Holy Spirit for success. Our activity must always be empowered by Him. He will not witness to our well-thought-up philosophical arguments or our astute logic. He will bear witness to the truth of God’s Word; therefore we must always use this, His Sword, in our evangelistic efforts.
In this present age, there are a number of religious thoughts that militate against the Lordship of Christ by impugning His Person
and Work. We should understand these, but always remember that the correct way to refute them is to present Christ, for when He is faithfully presented, the error of these will be obvious.
Millions from various denominations embrace some form of sacramental salvation. A sacrament is a religious ceremony performed by one on behalf of another. In this way grace is received as a means toward salvation. Catholics have 7 sacraments; most Protestant groups have two. The number doesn’t matter; the error is in supposing that the actual essence of saving grace is sacramentally administered.
There are four reasons why sacramental salvation is invalid; and all four hinge on the Lordship of Christ and Him being the Infinite Savior.
(1) Sacraments are unscriptural. While Roman Catholics claim that all their sacraments were begun by Christ, you can search the New Testament and you will not find one place where any one of the seven sacraments was used as a means toward salvation. If God had meant them to be His method of salvation, He would have made it crystal-clear in the Bible, for therein are all things pertaining to salvation.
(2) The moment of effectual grace is the moment of application of the sacrament to man; therefore sacraments are subjective in nature. The actual saving work of Christ is Objective and is not lessened or increased by any subjective experience.
(3) In the administration of sacraments, human instrumentality is essential. Even if the saving grace flowing to the sacrament were efficacious, the toughing of this by a human administrator would sully it. This is why true Bible salvation is administered solely by the Holy Spirit, Who imparts no imperfection to the saving grace that He administers.
(4) Sacraments don’t give assurance of salvation. A Catholic could avail himself of every one of the Sacraments during his life-
time and, just before death, commit a mortal sin that would send him to Hell. Even Catholic authors admit that, having done everything possible for salvation and having received the last Sacrament, “one may not go straight to Heaven.” (Rev. G.P. Dwyer, PURGATORY). We must also consider Baptismal Regeneration. This is the first of Roman Catholic sacraments, and one of two in many Protestant churches.
According to C.H. Spurgeon, “baptismal regeneration has sent more people to hell than any other error.” But, not to just take his word for it, let’s see what the Bible says. John 1:13 says the New Birth is not of the will of man. Every baptism, whether Catholic or
Baptist, can only be effected if the will of man is employed. Yet Catholic teaching is very explicit: baptism is being born again,
regenerated. This supposed regenerative act is effected by the proper application of water and the recitation of the proper formula, both of which require the will of man. God said this could not be the New Birth.
There is always a human tendency to want to do something to aid in one’s own salvation. It is not normal to want to completely rule out self-effort. Even some evangelicals talk about one’s being willing to pay the price for salvation. That is utter nonsense; the
price has already been paid.
In St. Peter’s Catechism (1972), it states: “The sin of presumption is believing that you can be saved by God alone… without
your own efforts.” While it is an eye-opener to read this in print, I already mentioned about Rev. Despars, a Roman Catholic priest, publicly stating that Jesus did “about 90%” of the work for our salvation. It is clear to see that such assessments of the work of Christ can immediately be reduced to foolishness when a clear biblical presentation is made of His perfect, substitutionary work of atonement on Calvary. And it is to this complete work of a perfect Savior that the Holy Spirit will witness, thus bringing the person to a place where human response is possible, and actual regeneration and salvation become effective.
In recent years the Roman Catholic Church has been playing down the medieval concept of Purgatory. Regarding this place of cleansing, the Irish used to sing:
“O place of happy pains,
And land of dear desires;
Where love divine detains
Glad souls among sweet fires.”
Today, some theologians are not sure if there really are fires in Purgatory, or if punishment and cleansing after death are accomplished by one great blast of judgment. But the concept of necessary cleansing after death is still present; one Catholic group, specializing in praying for souls in Purgatory, sent out this idea:
“One day, you and I will die.
“Our remains will be laid to rest, to return to the earth that is the mother of our physical man. Within a year, many people will have forgotten our name. Even to those who love us most, our face will become unclear… though the ache to be with us again may only grow greater.
“Our soul goes straight to God. We see our Creator…the Love that brought us into being to know Him and serve Him. It is so clear
to us that we cry out, ‘Oh, my God, why did I ever sin against such Love! If I could only live my life again.’ We cannot stay with such goodness until we ourselves have atoned.
“That is why God, in His mercy, gave us Purgatory…
“Because sins can be forgiven ‘in the world to come’… the world that comes with our death and detention in purgatory – our infallible mother, the Church, sets November aside for us to aid our dear dead on their way to Heaven…” (Marianhill Fathers, Dearborn, Michigan)
According to St. Peter’s Catechism, “Purgatory is a middle state where souls destined for heaven are detained and purified. Those
souls go to Purgatory who die in a state of grace gut are guilty of venial sin or have not fully satisfied for the temporal punishment due to their sins of which the guilt has been forgiven. All souls in purgatory will go to heaven when they have atoned for their sins.” (No. 206,207,212)
While the idea of the necessity of being cleansed from remaining sin is clearly logical to the Catholic mind, it is repulsive to the
Christian. Why? Simply because we have been cleansed by a perfect Savior and have now received the atonement: reconciliation with God through the substitutionary sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. To imply further cleansing is necessary, is an insult to Him.
If you were invited to a friend’s house for a special dinner, you would expect that the housewife had properly washed her dishes and silverware. To sit at the table and clean your silverware with your handkerchief would be grossly insulting to the hostess. So it is with the theory of purgatory. The only sins left to cleanse in purgatory would be the sins that Christ had not cleansed, and the Bible says that His blood cleanses from ALL sin (I John 1:7). Furthermore, we have the precious words of the Roman Catholic Confraternity New Testament (Hebrews 1:3): “Christ has effected man’s purgation from sin.” No thought of Purgatory there!
You could argue about purgatory from the standpoint of logic, or medieval tales or of theological differences among Catholic
theologians. But by far the only scriptural way is to underline the perfect work of Christ; this annihilates any thought of Purgatory.
Doctrinally, the biggest problem is the Roman Catholic Mass. Theologians have stated over and over again that it is the Mass that
matters. With its validity Roman Catholicism stands or falls. We can argue about substance and accidents, transubstantiation, the
Tridentine Mass, the gestures and vestments used. We could win all the arguments and still miss the point.
The Council of Trent said, “The Sacrifice of the Mass is a true, proper and propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of the living and the
dead.” Too out-of-date, you say? St. Peter’s Catechism (1972), page 48, states, “The Mass is a real sacrifice because in it a Victim is
offered for the purpose of reconciling man with God.” What does the Bible say?
Hebrews 10:12 – “But this man (Jesus), after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.”
Hebrews 10:14 – “For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.”
Hebrews 10:17,18 – “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”
Is there a need to argue or debate? Let the Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit, cut deep into the hearts and convince men and
women who are relying on Masses, sacraments, prayers, merits or works – JESUS PAID IT ALL!
Thus, in every aspect of our life for Christ, our testimony is that of Peter in Acts 10:36, “He is Lord of all.” When we first came
to Him for salvation, as we live our Christian lives daily, as we meet together in a local church and as we win the lost to Him. This is the one truth above all truths; upon this blessed revelation Christ is building His Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
Entered by Sherie Bennett for S.O.N. (Salvation Online Network)
Edited by D. Moore (Computers for Christ #11)