Thursday, November 26, 2009

Taking on the “repent and believe” gospel

(Blogger’s note) I wrote the following in response to a letter by a father and son team who call themselves evangelists and essentially approach people on the street telling them various reasons that they need to “repent and believe” in Christ. “Do you know if you died today, whether you would go to heaven or hell?” That type of thing.

In any case, for this father and son team this approach is what passes for “preaching the gospel.” I wrote this to share biblically why their approach is not the biblical gospel—there is no repenting before there is believing (which is the work of the Holy Spirit—our new birth, John 3). In other words, if you have not yet received the gift of faith, you will have no desire to repent:  
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor. 2:14)

You wrote: We believe that Jesus died ONCE for ALL our sins. When we repent and receive Him, we are SAVED. That's all we do. The reformers called this Sola Fide.

I responded: I must disagree. This is not what the reformers called sola fide because sola fide means “by faith alone” but you say, even without faith in Christ, one has the ability to repent and receive him, as you put it, “That’s all we do.” Repentance comes not before but only after we are given the gift of faith (born again). Otherwise it is a “work” of man. Again, “Without faith it is impossible to please God. Without me you can do nothing…”
1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

1 Cor. 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

As a former cradle Catholic for more than 40 years, I dare say your father and I sought to confess our sins time and again in true repentance before our priest friends. But, as for me, the first day I knew I was truly forgiven was the day that the Holy Spirit brought me to admit that Christ alone had saved me and I had would never be able to contribute anything to the salvation he alone has won for me.

Then and only then was I truly able to repent of my sins, because, until that time, I had not believed in the true Christ. The Christ I had been taught about was an idol of the pope’s making. He had died only to make me “savable”—not to save me completely. That idol christ—which was no Christ at all—bid me to do many things such as attend daily Mass, receive and pray to him in the form of bread, repent of my sins and rely on priestly mediation to get the worst of my sins forgiven, etc…

What I am saying is that from a practical standpoint, practicing “repentance first” all those years never did a thing for me and your dad as Roman Catholics. What made all the difference was to believe the true Gospel. After I received faith in the true Christ who had totally accomplished my salvation by his death on the cross, I knew I was forgiven, even before I repented, though I did indeed repent in tears of sorrow and joy.

2 Timothy 1:9 …who has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done (repentance) but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

Romans 1:17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,[ 1:17 Or is from faith to faith] just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."[ 1:17 Hab. 2:4]
Romans 3:22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

What I’m urging you and your father is to preach the true Gospel first and then you will occasionally see the true repentance that comes from belief in a God who did (and does) it all.

And what is that true Gospel?—that Christ alone has won the salvation of all those who come to believe just that—he did it all. That does not mean that we don’t seek the good works he gives us to bring glory to him among men, but that we fully realize those works won’t get us to heaven—Christ alone will. Something he plainly promises: He who believes…has everlasting life. ..I go to prepare a place for you…No one can snatch you out of my hands…

For me, the tract version of that Gospel goes like this: Christ, the Son of God, is Lord, Savior and God in the flesh, who died to rescue those who believe in him from everlasting hell and secured for them everlasting life with him.

If they hear and believe that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, they’ll know they need to repent—and then you can help them more.

However, your gospel, has Christ dying for everyone, those who believe and those who do not ultimately believe, to secure their ability to at least repent and receive. The only problem is that you have no direct biblical basis for this belief.

You make your own case for this “repenting before faith” by insisting that John the Baptist and Christ himself would not have preached “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is near” unless all people on earth (or at least all the Jews at that time) were able to repent and receive the faith to be saved. You conclude: So clearly man is able to repent, without the need of God needing to supernaturally and individually help man to respond to this divine command. In other words, you admit the basis of your gospel is only “implied” by certain verses such as those from the Baptist and Christ.

This much is clear: Everyone on the face of this earth has the responsibility to repent of their sins. As Paul tells us, they have no excuse. But having a responsibility and the actual power to carry out that responsibility are two entirely different things (Again, without me you can do nothing).

Your premise that Christ didn’t command the impossible is negated throughout the scriptures, where he often commanded the impossible

“Young man, I say to you arise.”

“Little girl, arise.”

“Lazarus, come forth!”

“Therefore you shall be perfect…”

“you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

Christ even explained on one occasion that it is, for all practical purposes, impossible for a rich man to get to heaven. His disciples countered with “Who then can be saved?” “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”

However, by insisting that man is somehow of him or herself able to repent without the benefit of faith, you are saying that all men are able of themselves to initiate a saving process. Since you insist they are somehow able to do this without the benefit of faith, it’s the same as the so-called fathers of Trent insisting that natural (ungenerated) man can prepare himself to receive saving grace.

“If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema.” (Canon 9 on Justification, Council of Trent)

Without faith, the repentance you speak of would certainly seem to qualify as an “action of our own will” which means that, no matter how many times we say we are saved by faith alone, we do not truly believe that we are saved solely by faith—by Christ through faith—because we were able to repent of our sins without it (without him!).

All this also reminds me of that Catholic teaching that I used to so cherish that we are somehow born with a “spark” of the divine in us, a spark that we ourselves somehow have the ability and a responsibility to kindle. Taken together, all of this is the reason that Roman Catholics are labeled semi-Pelagians. I know you’ve heard of Pelagius. He, of course, claimed that man could do much more than simply repent. However, since you teach me that my repentance was strictly of me—I too can qualify as a semi-Pelagian.

The other thing that bothers me about all this is that you seem to desperately try to separate grace and faith, to try to prove that faith is somehow not a gift. For by grace we are saved through faith… How can the two be separated if God’s grace is indeed, as his word indicates, delivered or instrumented through faith? The grace of God is this: that we are saved by Christ through faith. The word says “Without faith it is impossible to please God..”, yet you and I would surely agree that repentance is pleasing to God. Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. Surely that is enough to indicate that it is a gift if you choose to discount the clear revelation of Ephesians 2:8-9. If that’s not good enough, try these:

Faith as a gift…

Matthew 16:16-17 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, " Blessed are you Simon Son of Peter for flesh and blood have not revealed this to you but My Father who is in heaven. (faith is a gift of God)
Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
Acts 3:16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through Him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.
Luke 17:5 The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" (faith is a gift)
James 2:5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as gold.

That’s another thing that’s scary about your work on Calvin and your reaction to the verses I sent you. It’s as if you tend to reject or avoid certain bible verses that Calvinists use, simply because they use them. I trust that is not correct and that you embrace every word from God, at least as much as you seem to embrace every word from Ruckerman.

None of this should be taken to mean that we should not preach the Gospel to all. Indeed we should preach it to all. Christ commanded such. But we should certainly ensure that it’s the correct Gospel. Evangelizing techniques (sinners prayers and altar calls, etc…) should not be the basis for Gospel doctrine.

Did Christ truly die for all the world? For everyone? The pope tells me he did. You also listed several verses (in your Calvin article) but you failed to point out the qualifiers in and around them. Such as John 3:16 “whosever believes” What did Christ say? “He who believes in me has everlasting life.” And before he went to his death, he prayed to the Father::

John 17:9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

Here Christ is preparing for his death on the cross and he refuses to pray for the world, that verse certainly needs to be thrown into the mix in order for you to properly weigh the others. Here’s a few more worthy of inclusion: “Even the Spirit of truth, who the world cannot receive because it seeth him not…” (John 14:7) “…For all men have not faith.” (2 Thess. 3:2)

---Bro. Jim

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Verses for we stand watch

ACTS 17:24-25

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

JOHN 6:56

He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cautions against Romanism and the priesthood's proper place

(Short note from Bro. Jim...)

While the late Bishop J.C. Ryle of Liverpool (died 1900) and I may not see exactly eye to eye on the Lord’s Supper (see below), on many matters we are in very real agreement--much of the following included. It's all very worthy of consideration for BibleCatholics. We have much to thank Ryle and others in the old Anglican Church and especially those of the so-called “low church” like Ryle, who are indeed a near dead breed in the days of the ecumenical Roman takeover. Here are some important thoughts Ryle had against the creeping adoption of Roman Catholic errors among Anglican priests and some specific cautions to keep the priesthood itself in proper perspective. (I made a few comments in parenthesis)

Bishop Ryle (pictured at right) wrote:

2. For another thing, I charge you to beware of Anglo-Romanism, and do all you can to resist it.

Resist it in little things. Resist strange dresses, sacrificial garments, the eastward position in consecrating the bread and wine, idolatrous reverence of the consecrated elements, processions, banners, incense, candles on the communion table, turning to the East, crosses and crucifixes in the chancels, and extravagant Church decorations.

Resist it in great things. Oppose with might and main the attempt to re-introduce the Mass and Auricular Confession in our parishes. Send your boy to no school where auricular confession is ever tolerated. Allow no clergymen to draw your wife and daughter to private confession. Oppose sternly, but firmly, the attempt to change the Lord’s Supper at your parish churches, into the Romish sacrifice of the mass. Draw back from the communion in such churches, and go elsewhere. The laity have a great deal of power in this matter, even without going to law. They should tell the clergy their minds. They cannot do without the laity any more than officers in a regiment can do without privates. Let the English laity all over England rise in their might, and say, “We will not have the mass and auricular confession.”

Resist it for Christ’s sake. His Priestly and Mediatorial offices are being injured and dishonoured. They are offices He has never deputed to any order of ordained men.

Resist it for the clergy’s sake. The worst and cruellest thing that can be done is to lift us out of our proper places, and make us lords over your consciences, and mediators between yourselves and God.

Resist it for the laity’s sake. The most degrading position in which laymen could be put, is that of being cringing slaves at the foot of a brother sinner (the priest).

Resist it, not least, for your children’s sake. Do what in you lies to provide that, when you are dead and gone, they shall not be left to the tender mercies of Popery. As ever you would meet your boys and girls in heaven, take care that the Church of England in your day is maintained a Protestant Church, and preserves her Articles and the principles of the Reformation wholly uninjured and undefiled.

--From "What do we owe the reformation" by J.C. Ryle, Bishop of Liverpool

(3) I go on to say that Evangelical Religion does not under value the Christian ministry. It is not true to say that we do. We regard it as an honourable office instituted by Christ Himself, and of general necessity for carrying on the work of the Gospel. We look on ministers as preachers of God’s Word, God’s ambassadors, God’s messengers, God’s servants, God’s shepherds, God’s stewards, God’s overseers, and labourers in God’s vineyard.

But we steadily refuse to admit that Christian ministers are in any sense sacrificing priests, mediators between God and man, lords of men’s consciences, or private confessors (and they are certainly not "another Christ" as taught by Roman Catholicism). We refuse it, not only because we cannot see it in the Bible, but also because we have read the lessons of Church history. We find that Sacerdotalism, or priestcraft, has frequently been the curse of Christianity, and the ruin of true religion. And we say boldly that the exaltation of the ministerial office to an unscriptural place and extravagant dignity in the Church of England in the present day, is likely to alienate the affections of the laity, to ruin the Church, and to be the source of every kind of error and superstition.

(4) I go on to say that Evangelical Religion does not undervalue the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. It is not true to say that we do. We honour them as holy ordinances appointed by Christ Himself, and as blessed means of grace, which in all who use them rightly, worthily, and with faith, “have a wholesome effect or operation.”

But we steadily refuse to admit that Christ’s Sacraments convey grace ex opere operato, (I'm with that) and that in every case where they are administered, good must of necessity be done. We refuse to admit that they are the grand media between Christ and the soul,—above faith, above preaching, and above prayer. We protest against the idea that in baptism the use of water, in the name of the Trinity, is invariably and necessarily accompanied by regeneration. We protest against the practice of encouraging any one to come to the Lord’s Table unless he repents truly of sin, has a lively faith in Christ, and is in charity with all men. We protest against the theory that the Lord’s Supper is a sacrifice, as a theory alike contrary to the Bible, Articles, and Prayer-book. And above all, we protest against the notion of any corporal presence of Christ’s flesh and blood in the Lord’s Supper, under the forms of bread and wine, as an “idolatry to be abhorred of all faithful Christians.”

(I still maintain that we should believe that partaking of the bread and wine is the same as receiving the very body and blood of Christ, as he promised us. "This is my body...this is my blood.." Paul tells us that those who recieve without faith are guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. How can we be "guilty of the body and blood of our Lord" if it is not true?  "...whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." 1 Cor. 11:27. This is not idolatry as long as we keep to his promise in the Lord's Supper--but it most certainly is when we try to take the elements out of the context Christ gave us--as in so-called Eucharistic adoration--which is most definitely idolatry.)

--From “Evangelical Religion” by J.C. Ryle, Bishop of Liverpool

Read more Ryle at
Short overview at the following:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Mighty Saving Priest

by Miles McKee

Hebrews 7:25, Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Christ Jesus saves to the uttermost---He is able, willing and ready to completely, perfectly and utterly save. His ‘uttermost salvation’ means that we have salvation to the fullest extent! Since there is nothing beyond the uttermost, there can be nothing lacking in God’s salvation through Christ! Christ has removed every power and enemy that has attempted to roadblock our salvation. He saves to the uttermost! But, what does it mean to be saved? Simply put, when we are saved we have salvation. But what is salvation? One of the things that salvation means is that we have been rescued and delivered from imminent danger.

One of the earliest expressions of salvation being equated with deliverance from danger is found in Exodus 14. At that time, Moses and the children of Israel were facing the impassible Red Sea; Pharaoh and his blood-baying army were rapidly closing in for the kill. But faithful Moses said to the people, “Fear ye not! Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord which He will show you today.” You know the rest of the story, how that God parted the Red Sea, Israel was delivered and the Egyptians destroyed. At the conclusion of these events we read, “Thus the Lord saved Israel that day, out of the hand of the Egyptians,” Salvation and deliverance from danger, therefore, are one and the same.

Salvation may be looked at in three tenses, past , present and future.

The Past

So what danger have we been delivered from? First of all we were delivered from the wrath of God! Wrath is dangerous! However, we have been utterly saved from it because God’s wrath has been exhausted on Christ! Christ’s blood has already been poured out on Calvary. Our sin has already been punished there. The Law demanded satisfaction for sins, but there was no command which demanded that the sinner provide the needed satisfaction in his own person! Freedom was his if he had a suitable substitute. Today, because of grace alone, we have the satisfactory substitute, the Lord Jesus, who lived and died for us. At the cross, He suffered the whole of divine wrath in our place. There are now, therefore, no charges against us—(Rom 8:1, Rom 4:8). There can, therefore, be no punishment due to us, as Christ has already paid for our crimes in full. He saves to the uttermost!

The Present

Have you ever noticed, however, that our past often filters into our present? That is dangerous! It can lead to despair and depression. Perhaps you are weighed down by an ongoing sense of your guilt and shame. Old sins are casting long shadows. Is there a possibility that you can escape from this? Yes indeed, for Jesus saves to the uttermost! Your failures and sins have been taken away---do you believe that? Tell yourself that! Preach that to yourself! Here’s the Gospel Truth------No sin which you have committed needs plague you---it cannot shut you out of Heaven; Christ has died for all your sins and has risen to make intercession for you. However damnable your past iniquities, there is present tense deliverance through your high priest, Christ Jesus! The arm of God’s grace is long enough to reach the worst and the vilest thing you have ever done. —Christ Jesus is mighty to save. His blood cleanses us from all sin and clears our conscience. He is saving us to the uttermost!

In salvation, we are also delivered from the control of sin. While rejecting the error of sinless perfection we believe that sin no longer has dominion over us (See Romans 6). We have a living, risen savior/priest, seated in cosmic authority upon His throne of Grace. He is engaged in the work of delivering us from the control of sin. He is saving us to the uttermost! We continue to look to our Priest/King, the crucified Christ to keep breaking the power of sin in our lives.

The Future

There is one final aspect of Salvation which is yet to come. That’s when we will be saved from the very presence of sin when we are ushered into the very presence of God Himself. When the Lord returns, our vile bodies will be transformed to bodies of glory (Phil 3:21)! That’s our future hope! When this happens we will have been fully delivered; fully saved. He saves us to the uttermost. (For these three aspects of salvation see Titus 2:11-13).

We are blessed today because all our sins are forgiven and done away with in Christ. God does not count our sins against us. Instead, He counts us righteous in Christ. We are blessed because the Lord does not and will not impute sin to us (Rom 4:8). We have been saved to the uttermost, are being saved to the uttermost and will be saved to the uttermost because of one man, the God/Man, Jesus the Christ.

And that’s the Gospel Truth


Miles McKee Ministries

Box 541, Kingston Springs,

TN, 37082, USA
This came to us through Miles’ weekly Wednesday Word e-mail, you can contact him at

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A church that believes the promises of Christ

Remember the gospel—Jesus the Christ won everlasting life for all who believe in him. This is the gospel, the Good News of Jesus. Those who preach to the contrary are condemned (Galatians 1:8-9)

Whatever the pope’s intentions in recently mentioning that he would make it easy for Anglicans to become Roman Catholics, please let this former Roman Catholic attempt to dissuade you (Anglicans), if you should need some dissuading. I address this particularly to those Anglicans who have avoided allowing women priests into their fold, but I would be glad for others to consider my simple words as well.

I am often told that I will never find the perfect church because many assume that’s what I must be looking for since I am so dissatisfied with what passes for “church” in our time. However, I have often replied that I seek only a church with one real doctrine—and that’s the doctrine which insists that all the promises of Christ are true.

Promises such as “he who believes in me has everlasting life.” Promises such as “this is my body, given for you.” Promises such as, “…and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” Promises such as, “I go to prepare a place for you..."

That means that such a church would preach the true gospel based on Christ’s promises that:
“…he who believes in me has everlasting life.” (John 6:47) and

“…he who hears my word and believes in him that sent me, has everlasting life and shall not come to condemnation; but is passed from death to life.” (John 5:24) and

“My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me: And I give them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:27-29)

"I go to prepare a place for you." (John 14:2)

"I will come again and take you to me, so that where I am you may be also." (John 14:3)
This is the Gospel or good news of Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God and those who believe it are so glad that Christ alone has won heaven for them that they want to do something for him. They want to obey him. They don’t often do a good job of that, but they try.

Instead of “obedience” a better way to put it is they just want to say “thank you” to Jesus with their lives. Again, they often fail miserably at this “thank you” business—this business of loving God and their neighbor--this business of obediance.Yet, as often as they fail, they also confess and ask his forgiveness and remind themselves that it is Christ that they trust for their salvation and not themselves. Yes, they trust that Christ has won heaven for them, something they know they could never do.

Again, they remember Jesus’ promise that he has chosen them and that their ability to believe in him is a sure sign to them that he has given them the gift of faith. "For it is by grace that you are saved through faith; not of your doing, it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Another promise that Jesus makes is to be with them always and to give them his body and blood. That’s what he promised and that’s what we should believe. "For my body truly is the food, and my blood truly is the drink. He who eats my body and drinks my blood will abide with me, and I with him." (John 6:55)

Read that last line again. Jesus promises us his body and blood and that when we, as believers, partake...we abide with and in him.

"Therefore whosoever shall eat of the Lord's bread and drink of his cup unworthily shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." (Corinthians 11: 27)

What church preaches this gospel? What church believes all the Lord's promises? BibleCatholics will. --Bro. Jim