genies-lamp-aladdin

The Utilitarian Christ

 

tozerphtob(by A.W. Tozer)

Our Lord forewarned us that false Christs would come. Mostly we think of these as coming from the outside–but we should remember that they may also arise within the church itself.

We must be extremely careful that the Christ we profess to follow, is indeed the very Christ of Scripture. There is always danger that we may be following a Christ who is not the true Christ–but one conjured up by our imagination and made in our own image.

I confess to a feeling of uneasiness about this when I observe the questionable things Christ is said to do for people these days. He is often recommended as a wonderfully obliging, but not too discriminating, Big Brother–who delights to help us to accomplish our ends, and who further favors us by forbearing to ask any embarrassing questions about the moral and spiritual qualities of those ends.

Within the past few years, Christ has been popularized by some so-called evangelicals as one who, if a proper amount of prayer were made–would help the pious prize fighter to knock another fighter unconscious in the ring.

Christ is also said to help the big league pitcher to get the proper hook on his curve.

In another instance He assists an athlete to win the high jump; and in another case, not only to come in first in a track meet–but to set a new record in the bargain.

He is said also to have helped a praying businessman to beat out a competitor in a deal. He is even thought to lend support to a praying movie actress while she plays a role so lewd as to bring the blood to the face of a professional prostitute!

Thus our Lord becomes the Christ of utility–a kind of Aladdin’s lamp to do minor miracles in behalf of anyone who summons Him to do his bidding.

Apparently no one stops to consider that if Christ were to step into a prize ring and use His divine power to help one prize fighter to paralyze another–that He would be putting one fighter at a cruel disadvantage and violating every common instinct of fair play. If He were to aid one businessman to the detriment of another, He would be practicing favoritism and revealing a character wholly unlike the Bible picture of the real Christ. All this is too horrible to contemplate.

Theirs is a Christ of carnal convenience–not too far removed from the gods of paganism.

The whole purpose of God in redemption is to make us holy and to restore us to the image of Christ. To accomplish this, He disengages us from earthly ambitions and draws us away from the cheap and unworthy prizes that worldly men set their hearts upon. A holy man would not dream of asking God to help him beat an opponent, or win over a competitor. No man in whom the Spirit dwells, could bring himself to ask the Lord to help him knock another man unconscious, for filthy lucre or the plaudits of the vulgar spectators.

To teach that Christ will use His sacred power to further our worldly interests, is to wrong our Lord and injure our own souls.

We modern evangelicals need to learn the truths of the sovereignty of God and the lordship of Christ. Christ will not be manipulated by any of Adam’s selfish brood! We had better learn these things fast if this generation of young Christians is to be spared the supreme tragedy of following a Christ who is merely a Christ of convenience–and not the true Lord of glory after all!

 

*The above post occurred originally as a Grace Gem.  For more from Tozer – http://www.gracegems.org/29/treasures_from_tozer.htm

hedges

A Hedge of Protection

 

The phrase “hedge of protection” is one of those sayings that can be classified as “Christianese”, or the language of specific words or phrases given Christian meaning and used in Christian circles.  It’s a phrase you’re likely to hear when someone is praying, “Put a hedge of protection around so and so”.  It may be more commonly heard from charismatic churches or backgrounds and it is typically employed in the context of spiritual warfare.  I suppose their biblical basis for this saying may be drawn from Job 1:10 where in that context Satan proposes that Job is untouchable because God has placed a “hedge of protection” around him.  So it’s not to say that this is an unbiblical or bad saying, even though its overused and probably abused.  However, what if there was another way to think of a hedge of protection.  Not one so much focused on protection from Satan, as with Job, but one erected by God to protect us from ourselves.

Generally speaking a hedge acts as a barrier to either mark a boundary or as an added layer of protection.  Used in this way it typically serves to keep what’s on the outside of the hedge, outside.  Rarely is it considered to keep what’s on the inside, inside.  But that is exactly how God uses this term through the prophetic message of Hosea.

“Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths.” Hosea 2:6

In the passage above, God is outlining His pending judgment on the Northern Kingdom of Israel by way of analogy with the relationship between Hosea and his wife of whoredom, Gomer.  As the threats of desolation unfold, we see God’s promise to “hedge up her way with thorns” with application, by way of the developing analogy, to Israel.  Verse 7 makes an important addition and clarification, “She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them, and she shall seek them but shall not find them.”

Here we see that the hedge of protection is not like the hedge that we hear so often in prayers or even the one referenced above from Job.  Instead, this hedge is for the purpose of keeping Israel from her lovers, namely the idolatrous relationships that she has so wantonly pursued and the syncretistic manner in which she has co-opted the religion handed down by God.  Thinking of it in this way, the hedge is not for the purpose of defending Israel from threats from the outside, but for defending Israel from threats from the inside and preventing her from acting on the adulteries of the heart.

Israel’s plight is not isolated to the 8th Century B.C.  If, like Calvin has said, our hearts are idol factories then we are in far greater need of a hedge to protect us from acting on these sinful desires.  Perhaps our tendency is to see ourselves too often as Job, the righteous sufferer in need of a hedge of protection from Satan and not more accurately as wanton Israel in need of a hedge of protection from the idolatries of our hearts.  Perhaps our prayers should reflect the recognition of this enemy within more often than to assume our greatest threat is from the outside.

Oh how in need we are of Almighty God to hedge us in from acting on our sinful desires, preventing us from conceiving with them to bring forth sin.  John Owen captures the intentions of sin and expresses well our need to be hedged in,

“sin aims always at the utmost; every time it rises up to tempt or entice, if it has its own way it will go out to the utmost sin in that kind. Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could, every thought of unbelief would be atheism if allowed to develop. Every rise of lust, if it has its way reaches the height of villainy; it is like the grave that is never satisfied. The deceitfulness of sin is seen in that it is modest in its first proposals but when it prevails it hardens men’s hearts, and brings them to ruin.”

Additionally, may we note that as God hedges against acting on unholy desires, He also redirects those desires towards Himself.  The second half of Hoses 2:7 reflects this well, “Then she shall say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now.’”  As a result of the hedge, Israel would be unable to pursue her lovers and would consequently turn back to her Husband.  In the midst of judgment they would find mercy.

May this be the case with us; that our hearts would be kept from idols and our desires redirected to all-satisfying Savior.

May our hearts sing with the Psalmist, “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins” Ps. 19:13a

May sin not have its own way in us.

And may God’s restraining hand act always as a hedge of protection against the idolatrous desires of our hearts.

Video: Covenant Distinctions Dispensationalism vs. LBC

 

Following up the previous post on the history of Covenant Theology, where the development of dispensational theology in America was described, the video below gives a helpful overview of the theological distinctions between dispensationalism and Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology, also  called 1689 Federalism, as outlined in the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession.

 

Ephesians 4:15 "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ"