Sunday, January 13, 2008
JESUS SAVIOR AND THE EVIL OF HAWKING MEN
Among the evil tendencies of our age that are destructive to the church of Christ and subversive of sound doctrine, I consider the rapidly growing practice of hawking Jesus and the spiritual blessings of salvation one of the most sinister. Salvation-hucksters, pretending to be profoundly concerned with the salvation of sinners, traverse our land, know how to draw the masses in gigantic evangelistic or revival meetings by their emotional preaching, frequently of the coarser type, and, instead of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, they degrade the Savior and His salvation into articles of vendition offered at the cheap price of the sinner's goodwill. And they find many followers and imitators, not only in revival meetings and rescue mission gatherings, but also among ministers of the divine Word in instituted churches.
In various forms and degrees this evil tendency reveals itself. Among the more conservative and moderate of these hawkers of Jesus are those who confine themselves to the preaching of a Jesus who is willing to save all men. They therefore present salvation as a mere chance, an opportunity, the realization of which depends upon man's choice. This opportunity of salvation presents itself as long as man lives, but is forfeited in death. Hence, they will urge all men to accept Jesus, to accept Him today; for today He is still waiting for them to accept Him, tomorrow it may be too late! And with heart-rending pathos they will reach the climax of their perorations by saying: "Jesus is still waiting, waiting for you to open the door of your heart, that He may enter in! Won't you come? Won't you open the door? Won't you accept Him and let Him in?"
And in the extreme wing of these salvation vendors you meet with a modern would-be evangelist, whose resourcefulness to find methods of bringing men into the Kingdom appears to know no bounds. You meet with your Billy Sunday, who, having passed through the land in every direction like a thunderstorm, now seems to be satisfied with his laurels and enjoying the fruit of his labors. You find your "Sister Aimee, the beloved," who appears with lovely face and lovelier garb, is an expert in setting effective stages for "the gospel," and whose fame only increases with the suspicion she arouses by her life and walk. And among them you find a great many lesser lights of weaker personality, on platform and in the pulpit, who, enticed perhaps by the lure of great audiences, a preacher's fame, and worse things, attempt to imitate these hawkers. No style of preaching they seem to consider incongruous with respect to the dignity and purity of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They sing and weep, they laugh and joke, they walk on all fours and stand on their head, they writhe and roll and jump; they drag or kick men into the kingdom of heaven; they promise to chase the devil on skates on the frozen surface of hell. And all the while they offer salvation, playing upon the mere emotions of the masses, attempting to force a passageway into the hearts of sinners for a Jesus whose success in saving men seems to depend upon the efforts of the preacher.
But whether this hawking of Jesus assumes the quieter and more refined form of the moderate type or the coarser form of the extremist, the fact remains that it must be considered an influence for evil upon and within the church of Christ.
The underlying thought in all such preaching is, of course, that salvation is a matter that depends upon the free will of man. In its extreme form it is simply Arminianism reduced to its proper absurdity.
And the results, evident round about us, are inevitable. Large numbers are led astray. They are deceived into imagining that they are saved, when they accepted Jesus whom they did not receive. Waves of emotion are mistaken for the operation of the Spirit. A superficial ripple of the natural heart is considered regeneration. Masses are alienated from the church of Christ, being taught to despise her. Shallow, emotional preaching is preferred above sound doctrine. And the way is prepared for the complete victory of modernism, for the modern conception of Jesus and His cross. For an atonement that is contingent upon the acceptance of the sinner is no satisfaction for sin and, therefore, no atonement. A Jesus that must be offered to the free will of the sinner, that may be hawked and vended, is not the Christ of the Scriptures. Arminianism is modernism in principle. And the evil effects of hawking Jesus are plainly visible.
This pamphlet purposes to counteract this evil tendency by setting forth the blessed fullness of salvation that is in Jesus according to the Scriptures. The contents of this little treatise, therefore, are positive, not negative. There is no more effective way of opposing this auctioning of salvation than that of witnessing for the name of Jesus, who came to save His people from their sin. For by considering the Christ of the Scriptures it will become evident that He cannot be hawked, that He must be preached. I shall try to reach my purpose in the way of three propositions which I shall prove from the Holy Scriptures:
That Jesus according to the Scriptures actually and fully saves. He is Jesus, not because He offers salvation or created a chance of salvation, but because He really accomplishes our salvation.
That Jesus according to the Scriptures actually saves, not all, but His people, the elect, given to Him by the Father from before the foundation of the world.
That this Jesus according to the Scriptures must, indeed, be preached to the ingathering of the elect and the condemnation of the powers of darkness; but that He cannot be hawked.
Jesus actually and fully saves
By this proposition I mean that Jesus does not offer salvation but works it. His name is Jesus, because through Him salvation has become, not a possibility, but a reality. He is called Jesus, because He is Jesus. The name Jesus, Joshua, Jeh-oshua, signifies: Jehovah-saves. In Him Jehovah, our Triune Covenant God, is revealed as the God of our salvation. Therefore He receives His name by a special injunction from heaven: Thou shalt call His name Jesus. And the reason for this name is also expressed by the heavenly messenger: Because "He shall save His people from their sins."
Note: He shall save His people. He shall not throw out a lifeline which you may, perhaps, grasp, that He may pull you to safety; or which you may, at your pleasure and folly, sneer at and refuse to grasp, so that you perish in the raging sea.
No, He shall save. He shall not beg you to allow Him to save you, to come to Him, to accept Him, to let Him in, so that you may make it possible for Him to realize His name, Jesus. His name is Jesus, for He shall surely save His people from their sins.
What is salvation?
It is that work of the God of our salvation whereby He lifts us from our present misery into the glory of His heavenly kingdom and covenant.
What is our misery from which we must be saved?
What is the natural state and condition from which Jesus lifts us into eternal glory?
Is it to be compared to the condition of a drowning seaman struggling with the waves, whom you may save by calling to him to take hold of the lifeline?
No, he is a man who is already drowned. Not drowning but drowned is the word that describes his condition. Not dying but dead. Salvation is no rescuing of the dying, but raising of the dead.
Still more. That death is spiritual death. And spiritual death means that our nature is become so corrupt that we are enemies of God and cannot be of ourselves anything else than enemies of the Fountain of Life. We will not, we cannot, and we cannot will anything but sin. We are in darkness. We are perverse of mind and heart. We are corrupt in all our thoughts and desires and ways. We are blind, deaf, dead. We are alive unto iniquity and dead unto righteousness. We are children of our father the devil rejoicing to do his will. We are hateful and hating one another. And in that condition we are enslaved as willing slaves. Our will is not free, except to do evil. We are shackled by sin and death and we could not even will to let anyone break those shackles.
Yet more. We are in this condition because we are all under the guilt of sin. Sin makes guilty, for God is just and He is angry with the sinner every day. We are born in sin. And we increase our guilt daily. Hence, we have no other right than to be damned. We have no right to life. We lie under the sentence of death.
Such is our state and condition by nature. Such is the testimony of the Holy Scriptures. For the Word of God declares that "by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men" (Romans 5:12); and that by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation (v. 18).
The Scriptures declare that by nature we are carnally minded and do mind the things of the flesh, that the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be, and that they that are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:5-8).
The Bible teaches that all are under sin, that there is not one that doeth good, not one righteous, not one that understandeth and seeketh after God; that all have gone astray; that their throat is an open sepulcher; that they use deceit with their tongues; that the poison of asps is under their lips; that their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, their feet swift to shed blood; that destruction and misery are in their ways; that they have not known the way of peace; and that there is no fear of God before their eyes (Romans 3:9-18).
Holy Writ pictures the natural man as being full of unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; that men are backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boastful, inventors of evil things; disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful. (Romans 1:29-31)
The natural man, according to the divine Word, is foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving diverse lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. (Titus 3:3)
He is "dead in trespasses and sins." (Ephesians 2:1)
By nature he is a child of wrath. (Ephesians 2:3); he is darkness. (Ephesians 5:8)
He is so dead that except through faith in the Son he shall not see life, the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36)
They are children of their father the devil and will do their father's lust.
But why quote more?
The proof is sufficient for anyone who has grace to understand and believe.
From this natural condition of slavery he must be translated into the glorious liberty of the children of God. His state of guilt must be transmuted into that of righteousness before God; his condition of darkness and corruption must be changed into one of light and holiness; and he must be delivered from the power of death, both spiritual and physical, into the state of final heavenly glory.
Now, God has sent His Son into the world and called His name Jesus, because through Him this entire marvelous work of salvation must be accomplished.
In Him we are made righteous, that is, declared free from all our guilt before the supreme bar of justice, because of His atoning self-sacrifice He fully satisfied for all our sins. Hence, the guilt of our sin is taken away. All our sins are blotted out. This is a historic fact. The cross and the resurrection are the actual justification of all for whom He died and rose again. Who they are must be discussed in our second part. If only one point is made clear, let it be that the cross of Jesus establishes an actual not a possible righteousness. Although we become partakers of this righteousness through faith, yet faith is not the cause of our righteousness. Objectively, before God, His people are righteous on the basis of the atoning blood that was vicariously shed for them, by the gracious will of God over them, by Jesus, Jehovah-salvation.
The actual blotting out of our sin does in no way depend upon our faith. It is in no sense contingent upon the choice of your will or mine. Jesus is Savior because He fully satisfied for all our sins.
"He was delivered for our offenses and was raised again for (because) our justification."
"Ye are bought with a price."
(1 Corinthians 6:20)
"For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead, and He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them and rose again."
(2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
Christ "hath (not: will or can) redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree."
"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building, neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."
"And by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified."
Now, however, the next question arises: how do we become partakers of this righteousness and of all the riches of salvation of which it is the basis?
Does Jesus simply offer it to whoever desires it and is willing to accept it?
Does He merely throw out the lifeline of His atoning sacrifice, leaving it to the will of man to take hold of it?
God forbid! If this were the truth He would not be Jesus. This presentation of the matter would make of Jesus a possible Savior, who merited a possible righteousness, in whose death and resurrection there is the possibility of redemption, but who is dependent upon the choice of the sinner's will for the realization of the mighty possibilities He created by His death. And such a possible Savior is after all quite an impossible Savior, for we are dead in trespasses and sins, enemies of God and His Christ, only willing to reject the offer and to cast the lifeline far from us, and we cannot come to Him unless the Father draw us (John 6:44).
No, but the answer of Scripture is: Jesus saves. And this salvation "is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy" (Romans 9:16).
Not only the objective realization of our righteousness, but also the subjective application of it is solely the work of the God of our salvation, which He accomplishes through Jesus Christ. "For God raised Jesus from the dead and wrought the exceeding greatness of His power in Him; and He set Him at His right hand in heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:19-20).
And Jesus, exalted at the right hand of God, received the Spirit and poured out that Spirit into His church (Acts 2:33).
Through this Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ we are made one plant with Him, members of His body, and He applies all the work of His salvation to us. He is Jesus because He also delivers us from the power of sin and death and the devil, and this not upon the condition of the choice of our will, but without our will as we are by nature and entirely contrary to it.
The Jesus of the Scriptures is not a Jesus who will save you if you will, but who saves you although you do not will; or rather, He makes you willing before you ever can will to come to Him. He does not merely offer salvation but powerfully, efficaciously, irresistibly He works it within you. He raises you from death and regenerates you. He calls you with an almighty calling from darkness into light. He strikes you down in true repentance and makes you cry out for Him. He implants into your hearts the saving faith and makes you one with Him. He imparts Himself to you and pours forth all the blessings of His salvation into your hearts. He justifies you and gives you peace with God. He sanctifies you and gives you a new delight in His precepts. He dwells in you and bears fruit in you and through you. He makes you persevere even unto the end and glorifies you. And He ultimately raises your body from the dead and gives you with all the saints a place in the eternal tabernacle of our covenant God that will be with men. His name is Jesus because He shall save His people from their sins!
Such is the Jesus of the Scriptures. For, "verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).
And such a one is born, "not of blood, neither of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13).
"Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live"
All that the Father giveth unto Him shall come unto Him (John 6:37);
and no man can come unto Him except the Father draw him (John 6:44).
Some believe not, because they are not of His sheep, but His sheep surely hear His voice, and He knows them and they follow Him and He gives them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of His hand, with whom He is one (John 10:26-30).
"The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."
"If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His, but if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness."
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ."
"But God who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He hath loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved); and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
"For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
And "He that hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).
"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer with Him."
But why quote more?
All the Scriptures are one great testimony to the fact that His name is Jesus because He actually saves His people from their sins. The Jesus that is willing to save you, but waits for you to be willing to let Him in, is a pseudo-Jesus, created by the mind of Arminius, but never set forth in the Word of God.
Jesus actually saves His people
Let us, then, also consider the second proposition, that Jesus actually saves not all, but His people, the elect, given to Him by the Father from before the foundation of the world.
In the first place, this follows necessarily from all that was set forth in the first part concerning the nature of the work of salvation. One must choose between these two: either Jesus purposed to save all men and He is only a possible Savior who does not actually save; or Jesus came to save the elect unto eternal life and them He actually saves. You may broaden out a living stream and let it flow over the land, only to create a stinking morass; and so you may broaden out the living stream of salvation in a gospel for all depending upon free will, but only to lose the power of salvation in Christ, to lose Jesus Himself.
For, first, it follows from the nature of atonement, that He died, not for all, but for the elect, that is, for a certain number in whose stead He died and for whom He arose. Atonement is satisfaction. And satisfaction is the actual payment of our debt with God. If Christ paid the debt of all, all are righteous and saved, which is absurd. If nevertheless you maintain that He died for all men without distinction, you must deny the truth of atonement, namely, that He actually satisfied fully for all our sins. However, such is not the truth. Christ's death is a real and full satisfaction for the sins of those for whom He died. Hence He died only for the elect. You must choose between an actual satisfaction for the elect only and the denial of this satisfaction through the blood of Christ.
You can express this same truth in another way. Jesus' death was vicarious; He died instead of those whom He represented, whose Head He is. Now, either He vicariously represented all men and then all are surely saved, which no one believes, or He represented a certain number and these are the elect. And, secondly, this follows from the state and condition of the sinner that must be saved and from the very nature of the work of salvation. The sinner is dead. He must be raised from life. He must be born again. Therefore, the actual realization of the salvation which Jesus merited cannot depend on his will, for he will not and cannot will. Besides, we have abundantly shown that the application of salvation does not proceed from man but from God through Christ. But if it proceeds from God, He saves whom He will, that is, the elect.
Salvation is the work of sovereign grace alone!
But the truth that Jesus saves the elect only may not be derived only from the nature of the atonement and the efficacious character of the application of salvation to the heart of the sinner. It is also the constant teaching of the Holy Scriptures.
I shall not now stop to refute the Arminians in their interpretation of a few texts in which they pretend to find support for their presentation of the truth. They never weary of opposing the doctrine of sovereign grace by appealing to sundry passages in which the word "world" or the word "all" occurs. Let it be sufficient to state that I am fully prepared to prove that in all these passages neither "world" nor "all" can possibly have the meaning of all human beings.
Rather will I utilize the limited space of this pamphlet by showing that Scripture abundantly testifies that salvation is of sovereign grace and that Jesus saves the elect only. This is emphasized already when the angel announces the name He shall bear, for, says he, He shall save His people from their sins. Always the Scriptures set forth this name Jesus that shall save His people, that is, the elect, from their sins. For God hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-4); that is, the bestowal of the spiritual blessings in Christ takes place according to the standard of eternal election. And this election is not because of foreseen faith or goodness in the elect, for He chose us, not because we were, but in order "that we should be holy and without blame before him in love" (Ephesians 1:4).
"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved."
"In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will."
"For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth, it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated."
"For He saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy...Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth."(Romans 9:15,16, 18).
"For, whom He did foreknow (that is in sovereign, causal, divine knowledge of love), He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren; and whom He did predestinate them He also called; and whom He called them He also justified; and whom He justified them He also glorified."
And "who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect" (Romans 8:33)?
In contrast to the unbelieving Jews at Capernaum Jesus refers to His own when He says:
"All that the Father giveth unto Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day."
The unbelief of the Jews who had seen so many miracles of Him is explained by the words of Esaias: "they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted and I shall heal them." (John 12:37-40)
Nor is it different in the Old Testament.
For He saith to His people:
"Yet now hear, O Jacob My servant, and Israel whom I have chosen; thus saith the Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; fear not, O Jacob, My servant, and Jeshurun, whom I have chosen; for I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground; I will pour My spirit upon thy seed and My blessing upon thine offspring."
This people hath He formed for Himself, they shall show forth His praise (Isaiah 43:21).
"Ye are My witnesses, saith the Lord, and My servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He; before Me there was no God formed; neither shall there be after Me."
These passages must suffice for the present. They are taken rather at random from an overwhelming abundance of testimony. But these are sufficient to prove that the Good Shepherd laid down His life for His sheep, and His sheep are given Him by the Father. They are the elect, and these He surely saves.
Jesus must be preached
Now, then, let me briefly explain the third proposition, that this Jesus, according to the Scriptures must indeed be preached to the ingathering of the elect...but that He cannot be hawked.
Let me rather begin with the last: this Jesus cannot be hawked.
By hawking Jesus I mean all such preaching as leaves the impression, directly or by implication, that He is impotent to save unless the sinner first wills and gives his consent. This is done directly by the denial of predestination, by the preaching of a Jesus for all, and by the teaching of the free will of man by which the latter is able to accept or to reject the proffered salvation. But it is also done indirectly, when preachers change the grace of God into an offer of God to all and present Jesus as a poor beggar, standing outside of the door of man's heart, begging him to let Him in and give Him a chance to save the sinner. It is done in various forms and degrees. But all such preaching as finally leaves the impression that it is at all up to man, to the sinner, whether Jesus shall save him or not, is hawking Jesus, or rather, it is an attempt to hawk Him.
Now this hawking may have the Jesus of Arminian philosophy for its object, but it cannot be applied to the Jesus of Scripture. Hawking Jesus is denying Him. For there is an essential difference between the Jesus of the Scriptures and the one these hawkers present. The Former shall surely save His people from their sins; the latter will do nothing surely — it all depends on the will of man. The Former surely satisfied for all the sins of His people and established a righteousness which is of God; the latter established nothing, but merely created a possibility of justification contingent on the will of man. The Former is an almighty Savior, clothed with the power of the Spirit to break the hardest heart, to quicken the dead sinner, to regenerate, call to life and faith, justify and sanctify and glorify; the latter is a poor beggar, who loves to find lodging in the hearts of all men, but cannot enter in unless the sinner opens the door. The Former surely leads His people to eternal glory, causing them to persevere in grace, and His almighty hand holding them; the latter is not so sure at all that his sheep will arrive at their final destination, for he holds them only as they hold on to him. And, therefore, to hawk Jesus, to offer Him to the free will of man, to beg sinners to let Him in before it is too late, is not to preach Jesus, it is to present a substitute for the almighty Savior that will surely save His people from their sins.
But Jesus, the Jesus of the Scriptures, must be preached. He must be preached to all men promiscuously, no doubt. It is a patent fact that, when the apostles go into all the world, they never hawk Jesus, they simply preach Him. One cannot possibly imagine Paul or Peter or John going about to preach a gospel in the form and with the contents of a modern revival sermon. They followed the injunction of their Lord and preached Jesus. For the Lord had briefly pointed out their calling as preachers of the gospel: "And said unto them, Thus it is written and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things."
To this injunction they are faithful. They preach Jesus and Him crucified and raised from the dead. They call men to repentance and faith in His name. But they never hawk Jesus. They preach a gospel that is, indeed, a power of God unto salvation; a Jesus that actually satisfied for the sins of His people, that actually saves by the power of His Spirit. And as many as are ordained unto eternal life believe and are saved under their preaching, while the rest are hardened, hate the apostles, are enraged against them, stone them, kill them, as they did the prophets.
This Jesus must be preached, for it is through this preaching that Christ by His Spirit gathers the elect, calling them efficaciously to faith and repentance, assuring them of the riches of His grace, enriching them with all the blessings of salvation. For the Spirit calls; preachers are mere bearers of the Word. It is not the word of man that can call sinners to repentance, no matter how earnestly a man may preach, or how sincerely he may bring the gospel of Jesus. Christ Himself calls His own by His Spirit and translates them from darkness into the marvelous light of God.
And by the same Word and through the same Spirit He also convicts the unbelieving world of sin and becomes a savor of death unto death to them. This twofold purpose of the gospel must be accomplished. And, therefore, the Jesus of the Scriptures, the mighty Jesus, that accomplished our righteousness and works all our salvation, that calls men to repent and believe, that is the Water of Life to the thirsty, the Bread of Life to the hungry, that promises rest to them that are heavy laden, must be preached to all.
And men must beware that they do not change the living gospel into an impotent word of mere man!
By Herman Hoeksema