Sunday, August 23, 2009
Not Quite Grace
We listened to a speaker on Creation Science. He was in the practice of persuading people that the Genesis account is totally reliable. God willed the creation in six actual days. Adam and Eve were a literal first couple. Their wilful disobedience brought in sin and death. Noah prepared for a world-wide flood which fashioned a great deal of the geological and fossil records. Dinosaurs have been found with soft tissue left un-fossilized within the bone suggesting a much more recent date. So often, he said, curious inquirers would stumble at the veracity of these Genesis accounts and as a consequence would doubt the Bible entirely. The presentation made much sense until he suggested that with this ammunition and scientific backup we could debate or persuade people into the Kingdom of God. He suggested that we start this campaign with our own children facing the onslaught of evolutionary teaching in the schools and colleges. But souls are not saved by persuasiveness.
I have heard much talk in the last year of the ways and means of the "Emerging Church". Here is a movement trying to bring us into the post-modern era where absolutes must give some room to a wider range of spiritual hunger and expression. Where doctrine and Christian nomenclature are down-played and seen as forces which divide rather than engage. The Church must get outside the bricks and mortar and rub shoulders with a populace not speaking of salvation but yet looking for truth and love. But souls are not saved by winsomeness.
My own faith upbringing was in the holiness-pentecostal persuasion. Reverence, self-control and the precariousness of our plight were emphasized. Images were presented of such men as Charles Finney who could enter a work-place and by his very austere presence reduce coarse workers to tears and repentance. We heard much talk on the anointing of the Holy Spirit. But souls are not saved by the proximity of holiness.
Souls are saved by the compassionate and sensitive presentation of words of life from the scriptures. No other language will suffice. Such testimony mixes with the sovereign preparation of grace. Paul in his encouragements to Timothy mentioned the great impact of godliness in the process and suggested how it might be attained:
1 Timothy 4:
12Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
13Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
14Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
15Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
16Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.