Counsel of Chalcedon
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2006 Issue 2

There are, indeed, those who tell us that no defense of the faith is necessary. “The Bible needs no defense,” they say; “let us not be forever defending Christianity, but instead let us go forth joyously to propagate Christianity.” But I have observed one curious fact-- when men talk thus about propagating Christianity without defending it, the thing that they are propagating is pretty sure not to be Christianity at all. They are propagating an anti-intellectualistic, non-doctrinal Modernism; and the reason why it requires no defense is simply that it is so completely in accord with the current of the age. It causes no more disturbance than does a chip that floats downward with a stream. In order to be an adherent of it, a man does not need to resist anything at all; he needs only to drift, and automatically his Modernism will be of the most approved and popular kind. One thing need always be remembered in the Christian Church-- true Christianity, now as always, is radically contrary to the natural man, and it cannot possibly be maintained without a constant struggle. A chip that floats downwards with the current is always at peace; but around every rock the waters foam and rage. Show me a professing Christian of whom all men speak well, and I will show you a man who is probably unfaithful to His Lord.

Certainly a Christianity that avoids argument is not the Christianity of the New Testament. The New Testament is full of argument in defense of the faith. The Epistles of Paul are full of argument-- no one can doubt that. But even the words of Jesus are full of argument in defense of the truth of what Jesus was saying. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Is not that a well-known form of reasoning, which the logicians would put in its proper category? Many of the parables of Jesus are argumentative in character. Even our Lord, who spoke in the plenitude of divine authority, did condescend to reason with men. Everywhere the New Testament meets objections fairly, and presents the gospel as a thoroughly reasonable thing.

How well do you know the gospel? Do you know it well enough to be sure that you have embraced it to the salvation of your soul? Paul speaks of “false brethren” (Gal. 2:4), of “evil workers,” of “the false circumcision” (Phil. 2:2), and of “false apostles who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ” (2 Cor. 11:13). He speaks of those who proclaim a “different gospel” or of a “distorted gospel” (Gal. 1:6-9). Jesus spoke of the “false apostles who will come in sheep’s clothing, bearing no genuine fruit” (Matt. 7:15) and of those hypocrites who were white washed tombs (Matt. 23:26-29).

Teaching elders, how well do you know the gospel? Do you know it well enough to cogently declare it to those who reside in darkness? Church member, do you know it well enough to testify to its glorious message? If the occasion arose, could you take someone through the Scripture and its plan of salvation, showing them specific biblical references on how to come to saving faith?

I write this on the eve of prostate surgery. I believe in God’s power to heal by miracle and by medicine. I believe it is right and good to pray for both kinds of healing. Cancer is not wasted when it is healed by God. He gets the glory and that is why cancer exists. So not to pray for healing may waste your cancer. But healing is not God’s plan for everyone. And there are many other ways to waste your cancer. I am praying for myself and for you that we will not waste this pain.

1. You will waste your cancer if you do not believe it is designed for you by God.

It will not do to say that God only uses our cancer but does not design it. What God permits, he permits for a reason. And that reason is his design. If God foresees molecular developments becoming cancer, he can stop it or not. If he does not, he has a purpose. Since he is infinitely wise, it is right to call this purpose a design. Satan is real and causes many pleasures and pains. But he is not ultimate. So when he strikes Job with boils (Job 2:7), Job attributes it ultimately to God (2:10) and the inspired writer agrees: “They…comforted him for all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him” (Job 42:11). If you don’t believe your cancer is designed for you by God, you will waste it.

Have you ever seen a Treasure map? If you found one would you follow it? What if you knew there really was a treasure at the end of it? I believe you probably would. Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, Mat. 13:44. Where are we to dig for this treasure? In the Bible! When the Queen of England is crowned, a minister presents a Bible to her and says, “Our gracious Queen; we present you with this book, the most valuable thing that this world affords. Here is wisdom, this is the Royal law; these are the lively oracles of God.”

Living in a spiritually divided marriage is a challenge. I came to faith after leaving Jehovah’s Witnesses but my wife remains in that “religion.” No matter what our circumstances are in our marriage, we are called upon to be obedient to God’s law, as in all of life.

The question is “Do you really believe that marriage is a ‘calling’?” That is something to think about. Have you ever thought of your marriage as a calling? Too often it seems, we fail to connect our circumstances in our marriages, divided or not, to God’s Providence. And what do we mean by God’s Providence? The Westminster Confession of Faith beautifully defines and describes it Chapter V, Par. 1:

“God, the great Creator of all things, doth uphold, direct, dispose, and governs all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his wise and most holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.”