The Biblical Examiner
An Examination of Biblical Precepts Involved in Issues at Hand

February 1997



1) Against a Powerless Faith
Soveriegn Grace
Women and Wives


Against a Powerless Faith

[Point of interest: The following is taken from an old book this pastor acquired "along the way" some time ago: THE LAW UNSEALED; OR, A PRACTICAL EXPOSITION OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, by "Mr. James Durham, the late minister of the gospel at Glasgow. Printed by D. Schaw, Lawnmarket, 1802. To which are prefixed, the commendatory epistles of two famous English divines, Dr. John Owen and Mr Jenkyn." Mr. Jenkyn dated his note, "London, November 22, 1765." Dr. Owen (1616-1683) writes as though he was familiar with Mr. Durham s work, but I can find no date for Mr. Durham though Mr. Jenkyn dates his words eighty years after Dr. Owen. (Mr. Jenkyn speaks as though Mr. Durham s work had been around for some time: "The excellent and useful labours of this worthy author have long since obtained the best epistle of commendation...") Evidently, the publisher decided to publish Mr. Duram s several lectures on the Ten Commandments many years after they were delivered, and added to his edition the comments that had already been made by the "two famous English divines." Though Mr. Durham is unknown today, Dr. John Owen certainly is not. I believe the reader will find Dr. Owens comments, "TO THE READER" as interesting as did this pastor. We have reproduced Dr. Owen's complete comments with our added remarks. We changed the old English spelling of many of the words, but retained the strange punctuation.]

     We could title Dr. Owen's comments,


     Against a Powerless Faith.

     Dr. Owen's opening comments are as offensive to most professed Christians today as his comments were when he preached before the English parliament. He clearly presents his belief that God's wrath is against a "Christian" faith that fails to believe that the gospel can change hearts and lives of men for Christ and godliness. He opens:

The decay of religion, at this day in the world, is come to such an height, as that is observed by all who pretend unto any concernment therein, and complained of by many. By religion, we understand the power of it in the hearts and lives of men, and not any outward profession of it only, much less the general pretence that is made unto it, in them by whom its power is openly denied. Neither is it manifest only in the fruits of sinful security, and the flagitious lives of all sorts of men, but begins to be so also in its effects, in the present state of things in the world, filled with misery and confusion: "For the wrath of "God is many ways revealed from heaven against the ungodli-"ness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in un- "righteousness:" (sic) and in many nations the visible tokens and demonstrations of it do abount. For there is in them no peace, to them that go out, nor to them that come in; great vexation is upon all their inhabitants. Nation is destroyed against nation, and city of city; for God doth vex them with all adversity. For, whatever may be the thoughts and counsels of men in these things, the judgments of God are not merely subservient unto their lusts and passions; it is in his own controversy with the world, for neglect of the gospel and opposition unto it, that he pleadeth in them, neither can our present in the enjoyment of outward mercies be any evidence unto us that we are not the objects of the same displeasure. All men are in the same condition, among whom the same sins, and the same relapses from the power of religion, are found; for God is no respecter of persons; it is indeed an effect of divine patience, which, if abused unto security, will issue in a more sore revenge. In the mean time, the voice of God unto us in all the miseries and desolations we hear of in the world, is, that, unless we repent, we shall all likewise perish. Neither are we altogether left without pregnant warnings among ourselves, in many severer dispensations of divine providence. And those who are not utterly hardened through the deceitfulness of sin may easily see the hand of God lifted up in various intimations of his displeasure. But hitherto it must be acknowledged, and ought to be bewailed, that the security of the world seems to be unshaken, and the inundation of sin not to be stemmed in the least measure.

     First, "By religion" he meant the power of God to change the hearts and lives of men, making them far more than just professors of religion. Over three hundred years ago, Dr. Owen complained that many saw religion as simply a profession, and men openly denied that religion had any power to change lives, thus containing no power to change society. What would this divine say if he saw today entertainment not only in media but in supposedly Christian pulpits?

     Second, clearly, the open denial of the power of the gospel to change hearts and lives (and thus society) by those who profess Christ must be seen in its effects. The effects are seen in the scandalous, deeply seated crimes of society: We watch the news and say, "My, how could anyone be so evil to do such a thing?" The scandalous crimes we see and hear of are results of professed Christians believing the gospel of Christ cannot change hearts, lives and thus society. Note that Dr. Owen said that the truth held in unrighteousness is the truth that the gospel of Christ has the power to convert hearts and lives, and thus the world, to Christ and godliness. (Ro 1:18. See also 1 Co 1:18-2:5.) Holding the truth in unrighteousness is, accordingly, not believing the truth can and will convert the most hardened sinner to Christ, and thus convert his society to godliness. Just look around! The visible tokens and demonstrations of God s wrath against the denial of the power of the gospel are clearly seen in the weather and in the hardness of men s hearts. God vexes man s unbelief in the power of His gospel with all manners of adversity.

     Third, the present enjoyment of outward mercies of God cannot be evidence that we are not the objects of God s wrath against the powerless gospel being preached from the average pulpit.

     Fourth, Dr. Owen firmly laid "miseries and desolations we hear of in the world" at the feet of Christians who have no faith in the power of the gospel to change hearts and lives. "Repent or perish" was Dr. Owen s message: His call to repentance hundreds of years ago was to repent from faithless, powerless religion. He warns Christians of the "more sore revenge" if they remain hardened in the deceitfulness of sin, and refuse to see God's hand at work as He shows His hot displeasure against faithlessness. God s hand against the "relapses from the power of religion," he said, is seen "in all the miseries and desolations we hear of in the world." Have there been more or less "miseries and desolations" since Dr. Owen issued his warning?

     What are the reasons and causes of the present general defection from the truth, power, holiness, and glory of the gospel, or the Christian religion, I have enquired into and declared in a peculiar treatise designed unto that end. Some few things suited unto the present occasion may be here observed. All decays in religion begin in individual persons, though it extends itself unto families, and so the infection spreads into greater societies, ecclesiastical and national. For such also is the order in the genuine progress of the power of religion whereunto it is opposed. The testimony that God gave unto Abraham was, that, keeping the way of the Lord himself, he taught and commanded his children and household after him so to do. And if the living power of godliness, expressed in the history of Christ, and the gospel, in an holy conversation, be not preserved in individual persons, the profession of the purest religion in churches, or the highest pretence unto it in public national acts, are neither useful to the souls of men, nor do any tend to the glory of God. And the sole use of all outward religious order and profession is lost, where they are not applied to the ingenerating and promoting of holiness, or evangelical obedience, in particular persons. Wherefore, if any revival of the power of religion in the world may be put into the fatal declension which it suffers under, the forming and restoring of the principles of it in the hearts and consciences of such persons, is the way whereby it must be attempted; from and by them must it be discussed into families, and greater societies: Here must all reformation begin, or in the use of means suited thereunto. How this may be affected, we have on instance, among many, proposed unto us in the ensuing discourse..

     Dr. Owen again mentions the "general defection from the truth, power, holiness, and the glory of the gospel, or the Christian religion." The treatise he is recommending, <>The Law Unsealed..., is, he said, intended to return Christians to what was defected from, the Law of God - the Ten Commandments. All decay in godliness starts in individual persons, and extends into the families and then into the religious and national realm. In other words, the decay of the family is a direct result of the decay in the individuals of the family; the decay of churches is a direct result of the decay in the individuals of the churches, and the decay in the nation is a direct result of the decay of the individuals who make up the nation. Clearly, the problem is not reprobate leaders, either religious or civil. The problem is reprobate people: people who, for one reason or another, refuse to submit to the authority of God s Law-Word. The people profess religion, but the religion they profess is not applied, so it has no power to bring about holiness in the individual, the family, the church nor in the social order - nation - in which it finds itself. Thus there can be no revival of the power of religion, i.e., changed hearts and lives, without a changed faith: Christians must apply the gospel - the total of God s Law-Word - in faith that it can and will bring about godly change in the family, in the church and in the nation. "Repent, or you will likewise perish," said Dr. Owen.

     Making the 8 mile drive to the office in the very early mornings, sometimes a local Moody Broadcasting Network station has a short blurb by a "prayer" ministry. The ministry urges Christians to support them as they try to urge others to pray for revival in America. I do not imagine that ministry s motive for prayer is to plead with the Lord to place a desire in the hearts of His Christian leaders to start teaching people how to apply God s Law-Word into society; I doubt that they intend to pray for Christians to again have faith that the gospel of Christ can change nations for godliness. I have never heard them equate prayer with any kind of turning from sin. The "prayer" message is presented as though simply praying will bring about a godly nation.

     I have used the illustration before: In the midst of a very heated local political battle, a lady called me to see what she could do as a Christian. I started outlining some things she could do (e.g., circulate petitions, write letters, talk to neighbours, attend council meetings, give money), and she quickly informed me that the extent of her involvement would only be prayer and getting others to pray with her. "Prayer" was her ministry, she assured me, and that was all she was going to do. "Repent of your faithless, powerless Christianity," Dr. Owen would say, "or perish in your sins." The Lord gave us local victory in spite of the faithless Christianity that said, "We will pray about it." And he used the unsaved to do it. However, we are living in a nation perishing in the sins of faithless Christianity.

     One wonders how such a man, Dr. Owen, with his message of "Repent of powerless Christianity, or perish in your sins" could be invited to preach before Parliament in 1646 and again in 1649. In fact, the House of Commons appointed him dean of Christ Church College, Oxford, in 1651. (Who was Who, 317.)

     The general and undoubted reason of all sins and miscarriages amongst men is the neglect of the holy and perfect rule of obedience, or of the law of God, without a recourse unto a diligent conscientious attendance thereunto, without a due sense of the authority of God therein, and of the account which they must shortly give of their regard unto it; there can be no just expectation of the re-introduction of the power and glory of religion. And many ways there are whereby men are diverted from the due consideration of, and holy compliance with this rule.

     Once decidedly Christian nations descend into the void of despotism, anarchy and destruction, passing off the scene into history because of the decay of the Christian faith in the power of the gospel to change men. Men abuse one another and justice evaporates because men lose the sense of God s authority as revealed in His Law-Word. The Christian religion cannot be restored to the power it had in the book of Acts (17:6) without "holy compliance with this rule," that is, "the holy and perfect rule of obedience, or of the law of God." If Dr. Owen preached this message before the vast majority of churches today, let alone Congress, he would be vehemently denounced as a "legalist." However, he clearly lays bare the problem: The gospel message has lost its power to bring about godly change because of the lack of faith in Christians.

     First, False and corrupt interpretations of the law do countenance many in various lusts; and the neglect of manifold duties. The Pharisees of old, representing the design and sense of the law, as regarding outward acts and practices only, laid an axe to the root of all true holiness and religion in the apostatizing church of the Jews. Under a pretense of establishing a false legal righteousness, they destroyed the true righteousness of the law. And these things go together always. Those who plead for a righteousness of their own, as it were by the works of the law, do constantly, by false glosses and interpretations, destroy the spirituality, and all animating principles of the law itself. For, rightly to understand the sense of the law, and to seek for righteousness by it, or as it were by its works, are altogether inconsistent; whereas, therefore, many men, partly by their natural blindness, are not able to discern the spiritual sense of the law, and partly out of their dislike of, and enmity unto it, will not comply with the light which is tendered unto them: they have fought, by false interpretations, to accommodate the law itself unto their own lust and inclination. So evidently was it with the Pharisees of old. Nor are the present apprehensions of many about these things much different from theirs. For such expositions of the law are embraced, wherein there is little respect unto the spiritual frame of the heart, or the internal actings of the adverse principles of sin and obedience! The extent of the commandment is also by many exceedingly straitened, nor will any thing scarcely be allowed to be commanded or forbidden in it, but what the letter doth plainly express. And it is evident how such apprehensions will insensibly weaken the sense of the necessity of universal mortification, and abate the diligence of the mind in edeavouring after a renewed spiritual frame of heart; by such means a declension from all true holiness and piety will be effectually promoted. For, when men once begin to satisfy themselves in the outward duties of divine worship and righteousness, which, if alone, are but a dead carcase of religion, they will not long abide in a conscientious observation even of them.

     First, ignorance of, false interpretation of and natural blindness to the Law by religious leaders permits several things: 1) destruction of the true righteousness of God, which is by grace through faith in Christ (only a proper understanding of the law leads men to genuine repentance, Rom 7:7); 2) establishment of a false righteousness for salvation (permits other "gospel" messages that do not emphasize the redemptive, substitutionary work of Christ); 3) neglect of Christian duty; 4) destruction of true holiness in the church; 5) men to establish their own standard of righteousness, that is, right living, and 6) men to accommodate their own lusts and inclinations. Fallen man s enmity to the law causes them to seek out others and portions of God s Word which seem to permit them to be a law unto themselves. Dr. Owen allowed that those who were unable to see the proper relationship between the Law and grace (i.e., 1) salvation by grace through faith alone without the works of the law - baptism, circumcision, &c. - and 2) that genuine conversion resulted in loving the Commandments and doing the works of the Law) are at war against the Law, Antinomian. The truth about the Law and grace can only be spiritually discerned, so the militant person is still in his natural state. (1 Co 2:14.) Militancy against the Law is militancy against Christ: It is impossible to love Christ without loving the Ten Commandments. (Ps 119:143/Jo 14:6; De 5:22/Ac 7:37-39.) Dr. Owen was firm: Those who militate against the Commandments pave the road to national decay and degeneracy.

     Second, the problem, Owen said in the 1600s, was that people would only agree to what was plainly expressed by the Commandments, e.g., thou shalt not steal. In other words, the religious leaders refused to work out and teach the implications of the Law into the individual's life, his family, his church and into his society. Leaders accepted and taught the Ten Words from God very literally and restricted them to personal piety. The result, he said, was national decay, which could only be reversed by developing and taking the Law into every area of life and thought.


     Separation of Law from Grace

     2. The separation of the duties of the law from the grace of the gospel will have the like effect. For this will issue in a pretence of morality, set up in opposition unto true evangelical obedience. And there is no way whereby the whole rule of duty can be rendered more ineffectual and useless unto the souls of men. For, take away that reconciliation which is made in Christ between the law and the gospel, and it will prove a killing letter only. And so far as this imagination is gone about, it quickly manifests itself in its fruits; for every attempt of men against the grace of God will issue in the ruin of morality among themselves.

     The separation of the duties of the Law from the grace of the gospel must lead to several things: 1) a false morality opposed to true Biblical obedience. In other words, when the duties of the Law are separated from the grace of the gospel, one can claim to love God and to be moral while living in open violation of the Word of God, e.g., "I don t steal" while involved in dishonest business practices, or "We love God," while living in adultery or fornication. 2) it renders God s rule of duty for man totally ineffectual and useless, for through those rules of action as revealed in the Law, God blesses His people (Deuteronomy chaps 28-33). 3) the Law becomes a killing letter only without the effectual grace of the gospel. 4) the fruit will quickly manifest itself in the ruin of morality and, ultimately, national decay. Men cannot avoid the disastrous results of separating the grace of God from the Commandments of God. (Ho 13:9.) Dr. Owen clearly laid national decay at the door of those who separate grace from Law.

     Such apprehensions as these, in a coincidence with abounding tentations suited unto the lusts of all sorts of men, cannot but promote the interest and prevalency of sin and Antichrist in the world, however manifest it is, that this is great neglect and contempt of the holy rule of obedience in the most, with ignorance and misunderstanding of the design and sense of it in many. Wherefore an upright endeavour to declare and vindicate the authority and meaning of it, as also to make application of it unto the consciences of professed Christians, to direct them in, and press them unto constant performance of all duties of obedience, cannot but be esteemed seasonable, and, through the blessing of God, may be singularly useful. So our Lord Jesus Christ himself, observing the mischief that had befallen the church by the false exposition of the law, obtruded on the people by the Pharisees, began his prophetical ministry in the vindication of it from their corrupting glosses, restoring its pristine crown of purity and spirituality, as the Jews have yet a tradition, that it shall be so in the days of the Messiah. And, on the same consideration, it cannot be denied, but that the endeavour of this worthy servant of Christ in the work of the gospel, the author of the ensuing exposition of the decalogue, is both seasonable and worthy of acceptation. For, as other endeavours also are required in all them on whom it is incumbent, to take care in their respective stations for the improvement of holiness in the church, and the obstruction of the progress of sin, what in them lieth, so, for the reasons before mentioned, that this particular way is peculiarly seasonable and useful.

     Abandoning the Law under the name of grace is a great neglect of and contempt for God s most holy rule of life - it gives place to lusts of all sorts; abandoning the Law under the name of grace promotes the interests and growth of sin and the Antichrist. On the other hand, Christian teachers must declare and vindicate the validity of the Law, develop its implications and press those implications upon the consciences of professed Christians; doing so will do man nothing but good. The Pharisees had forced false expositions of the Law upon the people, separating it from grace: It thus became a killing letter in their hands, doing great damage to the people. Christ returned the Law to its proper context of God s grace, which the Pharisees found extremely offensive. (Le 19:18/Mat 22:39 & Mar 12:31, 33.)

     There are a couple points that stand out in Dr. Owen s statement above: First, he said the Jews in the 1600s had a tradition that the Messiah would one day come and do what Christ failed to do (Zionism, a prevalent doctrine in the Christian church today), and second, he continually stressed upon professed Christians the duty of obedience to God's Law. Accordingly, the rise of sin, the rise of the spirit of Antichrist and of the prevalence of national decay can only be attributed to the neglect of Christian duty as stated in the Law and its implications.

     And I am persuaded, that every pious, humble, and unprejudiced reader will judge, that much benefit may be obtained by his performance. Some may easily see how short that measure of duties which they have prescribed unto themselves doth come, of what is indispensably required of them; and others may take a plain prospect of that whole scheme of obedience in principles, matter, manner, and end, which they sincerely endeavour to come up unto. And sundry things there are which appear to me with a notable degree of excellency in the whole discourse.

     Dr. Owen commended Mr. James Durham s work to the reader as a work that placed the Law into its proper perspective of God s grace. Proper application of the Law will do several things: 1) it will show us how far short we are from our Christian duty; 2) what duty is required of us by God, and 3), will reveal the latter end of God s blessings for following the principles outlined it the Law.

     1. Plainness and perspicuity in teaching seems to have been designed by the author throughout the whole book. Hereby it is accommodated unto the meanest capacities, which is the greatest excellency of discourses of this nature, as unto outward form and order. For, whereas its only end is to direct the practice of all sorts of Christians, all ornament of speech, every thing diverts from plainness, sobriety, and gravity, is impertinent thereunto. Wherefore, as the things themselves treated of, are such, as the most wise, knowing, and learned among believers ought to be exercised in continually, so the way and manner of their delivery or declaration is accommodated unto the understanding and capacity of the meanest of them that are so, that benefit may redound unto all.

     The most wise, knowing and learned among believers will study the Law and apply it to their every thought and action, resulting in not only the personal blessings, but the blessings of God upon all those around them and upon their nations. (1 Co 15:34.)

     2. In particular, instances and cases relating to daily practice are so distinctly proposed, stated, and determined, as that the whole is a complete Christian directory in our walking before God in all duties of obedience; let the pious reader single out any one duty or head of duties to make his trail upon, and, if I greatly mistake not, he will discern with what wisdom, and from what deep experience, his plain directions are managed, and do proceed. As to give a particular instance, let him consider what he discovereth concerning public prayer, and the miscarriages therein, which men are liable unto, pages 114, 115, &c. Or apply himself unto what he supposes himself more immediately concerned in, unaffected plainness, perspicuous brevity, with solidity of judgment, will everywhere represent themselves unto him.

     The Law is the only complete source of Christian duty in every aspect of life, showing him how to walk before God and before his fellow man. Let the wise Christian take one duty at a time as placed upon him by God s Law, and let him work on that duty: he will increase in wisdom and understanding in his daily Christian walk. The Law also shows us how to pray.

     3. Add hereunto that constant respect which is had in the whole discourse unto the heart and inward principles of obedience, with the contrary actings of the flesh, and temptations of all sorts. And thence it is that these discourses, (though delivered with all planness of speech) will not be well understood by any, but those who in some measure have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

     Those who do not desire to have their ways corrected by the Law of God will not have their way corrected through its teaching. But those who sincerely desire to have their ways corrected by the Law will increase in their ability to determine what is good and evil in the sight of God. (He 5:14.)

     In the whole a full testimony is given, not only against the profligate lives of many, called Christians, but that barren careless profession also, which too many satisfy themselves withal, who pretend more unto the truth and power of religion. And as those who are sincere in their obedience may, in the examination of themselves, by the rules here laid down, discern the decays which possibly they have fallen under in this hour of temptation, which is come on the face of the earth, to try them that dwell therein, so also may they be directed in their Christian course unto the glory of God, and the comfort of their own souls: Which that all may be, is the hearty desire of,

     Christian Reader, The Servant of the Word of The Lord, JOHN OWEN

     The testimony of the Law is given as a testimony against the depraved, lascivious lives of those who carelessly profess to be Christians. It also speaks to sincere Christians with barren lives, those who have fallen in this (1600s) hour of temptation; it calls them to repentance to the glory of God, and to the comfort of their souls.

     Dr. Owen presented his case well: First, clearly, the term "Christian Religion" means the power to change hearts and lives of sinners, making them far more than mere professors of Christianity. The sinners change, or conversion, goes into their individual lives, into their families, into their churches and into their society in terms of the Ten Commandments. Only when the families are salvaged by the gospel that changes lives in terms of the Law, is the nation salvaged from decay.

     Second, the denial of the power of the gospel to ultimately change society for godliness is not the Christian religion; it is another gospel, that is not another gospel. Denial of the power of the gospel must lead to the ultimate destruction of the Christian religion, and to the destruction of any social order.

     As time permits, we may share parts of Mr. Durham's book with you. Though Mr. James Durham s book on the Law is rare, there is a book kept in print that does what Mr. Durham sought to do: develop and apply the implications of the Ten Commandments. Institutes of Biblical Law, RJ Rushdoony, Ross House Books, Box 67, Vallecito, CA 95251.


Sovereign Grace

     We regularly encounter the term, "Sovereign Grace." From several encounters I have had with the term, it is sometimes used to mean that during the "age of grace," the child of God is free from law, i.e, he is not bound by God's commandments and their implications as delivered from the Mount to Moses, Exo 20. So what is meant Scripturally by "Sovereign Grace?"

     "Sovereign Grace" simply means that God works sovereignly (that is, with no advice from anyone) in whomsoever He will, in any manner pleasing to Himself, and for His own praise, honor and glory. See 1 Ch 29:12ff.; Job 37:7; 22:2; 41:11; Rom 9:15ff.; 11:35, and 1 Co 4:1. It has nothing, Scripturally, to do with being free of the bands and cords of God's Word.


     Sovereign Grace Corrupted

     Those who militate against being bound by God's law (Ps 2 describes them) under the guise of "grace" deny the fact that God continually offers man a choice, and "grace" does not free one from the results of his or her choice. The choice is between God s promised blessings and God's promised curses (life and death), e.g. Lev 25:18. It is offered under the new covenant of grace by the very one the antinomians use to justify a anti-law attitude, Paul, e.g.,

Ro 2:6, Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10 But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For there is no respect of persons with God. Ro 2:6-11. See also, Ro 6:20, 21 [1 Jn 3:4]; 7:5; 8:13; Ga 6:7-10.)

     A word worth developing is,

Deceived: to cause to stray, to lead astray, lead aside from the right way; a. prop., in pass., Sept. chiefly for go astray, wander, roam about, (first so in Hom. II. 23, 321): Mt. xviii. 12sq. ; I Pet. ii. 25 (fr. Is. liii. 6, cf. Ex. xxiii. 4; Ps. cxviii.(cxix.) I 76); Heb. xi. 38. b. metaph. to lead away from the truth, to lead into error, to deceive: ... Mt. xxiv. 4, 5, 11, 24; Mk. xiii. 5, 6; Jn. vii. 12; I Jn. ii. 26, iii. 7; 2 Tim. iii. 13a; Rev. ii. 20 GLTTr WH; xii. 9; xiii. 14; xix. 20; xx. 3, 8, 10; ... 1 Jn. I. 8; pass. to be led into error, [R.V. be led astray]: Lk. xxi. 8; Jn. vii. 47, Rev. ii. 20 Rec.; to err, Mt. xxii. 29; Mk. xii. 24, 27, ... 1 Co. vi. 9; xv. 33; Gal. vi. 7; Jas. I. 16; esp. through ignorance to be led aside from the path of virtue, to go astray, sin: Tit. iii. 3; Heb. v. 2; ..., Heb. iii. 10; ... Jas. v.19; to wander or fall away from the true faith, of heretics, 2 Tim. iii.13b; 2 Pet. ii. 15; to be led away into error and sin, Rev. xviii. 23. (#4105, THAYER, p 514, emp added.)

     Paul warns that those who follow teachers who justify disobedience, follow them into the wrath of God. (Ep 5:6; Col 3:6, 7.)

     Paul twice warns against those who attempt to free men and society from the bands and cords of God s Word, Ps 2:3. The anti-law groups justify disobedience under the guise of "grace," Jude 1:4. They lead both men and their society into death.

     Disobedience, "obstinate opposition to the divine will." The word is translated in the KJV unbelief, four times, and disobedient, three times. (By the way, if you do not use a KJV, you should seriously consider using it.

     Anyone who will compare the wording of the KJV with the "off brands," will easily see that the meanings have been changed, for you cannot change words without changing meanings. Compare the modern versions closely with the Geneva or the KJV. You will be surprised at how God's Word to man has been diluted more often than not.) In other words, unbelief and disobedience have the same meaning. (He 4:6, 11.)

     I find it interesting that folks will freely use Heb 4:12 (For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.) with no consideration of the verse before it. V. 12 tells us the Word of God (i.e., the Old Testament) is the twoedged sword that defines disobedience and unbelief. The Old Testament people of God refused to believe God (have faith that God could do what He promised in His law, e.g., Deut 28-31), so they disobeyed Him when He told them to take the land.

     I know some will say, "But Moses could not bring God s people into the promised land; only Joshua could do that (Heb 4)." Obviously, the commandments cannot do what grace does " The law only works to convict of sin; the law does not give the desire nor the power to overcome sin, that is, the grace and power to obey God's will as revealed in His commandments. Accordingly, grace is not freedom from responsibility to follow God s commandments; rather, grace is power of God s Spirit working in fallen man, giving him both the desire and the power to do God s will as revealed in God s Command-Word, Php 2:12, 13.

     What is "Sovereign Grace" in terms of God's Word?

Php 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.

     Thus "Sovereign Grace" is God's Spirit working in individuals both to give them the desire and the power to do His will as revealed in the totality of God's Word. Clearly, the Lord knows what evil lurks in the heart of man, so He gives laws accordingly.

     Leviticus 25:14-17, provides insight into the true meaning of "Sovereign Grace." This section gives instructions to both the seller and buyer: Both are prohibited from defrauding the other. Maybe the buyer or seller forgets, or ignores, that the jubilee is soon to arrive, so either takes advantage of the other.

     Notice the basis for this law is that the Lord owns the land, so only the production of the land can be bought or sold. (We should add that the basis for the Lord's law is that He is the Creator of all things.) The only land that could be permanently sold was land within walled cities, for that property was separated from the "farm land." However, city dwellings belonging to the Levites could not be sold.

     Commenting on Leviticus 25:14-17, Andrew Bonar (1810-1892) gives some good points worth repeating. He points out that a worldly Jew might consider selling a profitable piece of property, e.g., a garden, so he sets the price high, hoping the buyer forgets the date of the upcoming jubilee. Or the buyer, hoping the seller forgets the date of the upcoming jubilee, bids too low on the piece of profitable property: "In this way, the worldly Israelite turned grace into licentiousness. 'Supposing that gain was godliness.'" Bonar refers to 1 Tim 6:

     1 Ti 6:3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, [even] the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

     Such men think that godliness is just a system to be upheld for the sake of worldly ends. (Leviticus, Bonar, 453.)

     The land had to be sold or bought based upon its productive years before the jubilee, and not to the years to the Sabbath. Accordingly,

It is thus that men abuse the doctrines of grace, deceiving their fellow-creatures and injuring their own souls. One man uses the Lord's table as a means of establishing his character in the sight of the world. Another asks baptism for his children from the same motive. Some adopt the doctrines of free grace as their tenets, in order to be able to sin on without abandoning the hope of running to the Ark whenever the first drops of the deluge fall. It is the doctrines connected with Christ's First coming that men so abuse now; whereas it was, in the case before us, the doctrine or type of His Second, that Israel abused to proposes of gain, forgetting the spiritual glory of the days of jubilee, and that "very man that hath this hope in Him (i.e., in Christ) purifieth himself even as He is pure." (Ibid, 453, 454.)

     Bonar had his finger on the problem back in 1846: Evil "men abuse the doctrines of grace" to pursue their own goals ž they "abuse the doctrines of grace" so they can be free of Godžs Law, i.e., lawless.

     There are those who teach that "Sovereign Grace" means that man is not accountable to Godžs Old Testament law during this "age of grace." Bonar had their number:

     In this way, the worldly Israelite turned grace into licentiousness. "Supposing that gain was godliness." ... Such men think that godliness is just a system to be upheld for the sake of worldly ends.

     Thus they corrupt the meaning of God's grace to permit themselves to pursue their own worldly ends.

     This pastor likes to sign his name, "By His Sovereign Grace Alone, Pastor Need." By this is meant that it is God's sovereign grace that has given this pastor both the desire and the power to do God's good pleasure as revealed in the total of God's Word.

By His Sovereign Grace Alone,

Pastor Need


Women and Wives

     Numerous times over the 34 years I have been in the ministry (either as a layman or "full time"), I have seen men determined to serve the Lord, yet their wives did not share that determination. It is extremely rare when the husband can withstand his wife s pressure to abandon his determination.

     On the other hand, many wives have determined to be faithful to the Lord despite their husband s indifference to the Lord, and they have been as faithful as anyone in the community to Christ. Moreover, I have seen many hardened husbands won to the Lord by their wives extended faithfulness.


     The Question

     Those who have been around Christianity for any length of time have ask, "Why are women and wives more receptive to the gospel than are men and husbands?" Moreover, why is the promise in 1 Pet 3:1-6 of winning the unsaved spouse given to wives and not to husbands? (Certainly, the principle of a godly life reaching the unsaved applies to all Christians, but the promise is to the wives.) Notice the passage:

Likewise, ye wives, [be] in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation [coupled] with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. (1 Pe 3:1-6.)

     God s promise, accordingly, is that the wife can win her husband if she will simply be a consistent Christian in the midst of the sinful turmoil and temptations around her, e.g., the immorality, pride and self-will of demanding "equal rights," among many other things. When women abandon their homes and families for the work place and they lose their Christian testimony, they forfeit the above promise. Paul tells us the same things, adding a point that gives some insight into the matter:

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. (1 Ti 2:9-14.)

     Thus Paul tells us that Adam was not deceived in the transgression, but his wife was. After his wife believed the devil's lie and yielded to the temptation and sinned (disobeyed God s Word as delivered to her through her husband), she brought her husband into the sin with her, Rom 5:12.


  • The Power of Words
  •      Evidently, Eve led her husband into sin through her words. Commenting on Gen 3:6, John Gill said,

         And gave also to her husband with her; that he might eat as well as she, and partake of the same benefits and advantages she hoped to reap from hence; for no doubt it was of good will, and not ill will, that she gave it to him; and when she offered it to him, it is highly probable she made use of arguments with him, and pressed him hard to it, telling him what delicious food it was, as well as how useful it would be to him and her. The Jews infer from hence, that Adam was with her all the while, and heard the discourse between the serpent and her, yet did not interpose nor dissuade his wife from eating the fruit, and being prevailed upon by the arguments used; or however through a strong affection for his wife, that she might not die alone, he did as she had done: and he did eat; on which an emphasis may be observed, for it was upon his eating the fate of his posterity depended; for not the woman but the man was the federal head, and he sinning, all his posterity sinned in him, and died in him; through this offence judgment came upon all to condemnation; all became sinners, and obnoxious to death, Ro 5:12-19. If Eve only had eaten of the forbidden fruit, it could only have personally affected herself, and she only would have died; and had this been the case, God would have formed another woman for Adam, for the propagation of mankind, had he stood; though since he fell as well as she, it is needless to inquire, and may seem too bold to say what otherwise would have been the case. (John Gill, Online Bible.)

         The first husband was convinced by his wife to follow her into her sin, and sin entered into the world.


  • The Second Adam
  •      The Second Adam is the Head of His new Humanity

    And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. (1 Cor 15:45-48.)

         The first wife ignored her husband's instructions: She was tempted by the devil and yielded. She then led her husband into sin with her words, and every child born since has been born into that sin.

         However, according to the Apostle John, that work of the first wife has been destroyed:

    He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (1 Jo 3:8.)

         Thus Christ came that he might destroy the works of the devil. The devil s first work was to use Eve, the first wife, to bring her husband, the first Adam, into sin: the devil talked and she yielded, and then she talked, and he yielded. But God s Spirit, turning the devil s own wicked work against him, now works through the wife to get the husband into the new humanity, the humanity of faith under the second Adam, Christ. The first wife worked through the physical to get her husband to follow her into the sin, but the wife under Christ works through the spiritual to get her husband to follow her into righteousness.


  • Meekness, not Argument
  •      God s way for the wife to win her husband is not though arguments of words and pressing Christ upon him, as Eve maybe did with Adam, but through the spirit of Christian consistency, obedience and meekness, the apposite of arguments.

         The husband now follows his wife into the righteousness of Christ through her spirit that is created new in Christ Jesus, Eph 4:20-27, Col 3:8-18. If wives under the new covenant, which is Christ Jesus, will obey the instructions of the second Adam, Christ Jesus, they can lead their husbands into righteousness and proper fellowship with the Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ our Lord. In other words, the obedient wife (obedient to God) has the promise that she can undo the sin damage to her husband that the first wife did to the first husband, Adam.

         Thus Christ "mocks" the devil by using the godly lives of wives to reach the hardest husbands, if the wife remains true to her Christian profession amidst the terrible temptation to turn back. Realizing the context of the following passages, note an application:

    [And] having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. (Col 2:15.) And to make all [men] see what [is] the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly [places] might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. (Eph 3:9-12. See also Mat 12:29.)

         God s Spirit of Grace uses wives to spoil the enemy: He, by His Spirit, makes a show of them openly, showing all principalities and powers in heavenly places that the Spirit of God can use a wife to do what the first wife failed to do lead her husband into proper fellowship with the Heavenly Father. Thus Christ destroys the work of the devil — the effects of the first sin by making the wife a means of conversion for the husband. And she will win her husband to proper fellowship not with arguments of words, but simply her consistency in Christ.


         Presumption Forbidden

         Keep in mind, however, that the promise to the godly wife does not justify violating another law of God that prohibits marriage between the godly and ungodly, e.g., "I have the promise that I can reach him, so I will marry him though he is unsaved." That is called presumption, and has not God s promised blessing, but His promised curse against it, Num 14:44, Ps 19:13; 2 Cor 6:14, 2 Pe 2:10 (presumptuous - a daring man).


  • Patience
  •      We should mention that it will probably take longer for the wife to claim her husband for the second Adam than it took for Eve to claim her husband for the first Adam (sin), so extended patience is required, Heb 10:35-39.


  • Illustration
  •      About eleven years ago, the Lord opened a door for a Bible study in the home of a retired couple who faithfully attend here at Linden Baptist. They lived in a small community about fifteen miles from the church. The couple had a close friend, a “Pentecostal” woman, who attended, and seemed to enjoy the study. Her husband was unsaved, but he had attended her church (where she went every time the doors were opened), but he refused to go back: It was too “wild” for him. The confusion was so great that at times the speaker could not be heard. If I remember right, the "offerings" were also quite upsetting to him: The day he was there, the pastor told of an evangelist from Texas who was scheduled to come speak, but it seemed the evangelist had a better financial offer from another church in Texas for meetings, so he was going there. The lady s church took up at least two more offerings in that one service; they passed the plates until they got enough money to persuade the speaker to not to go to the other meetings but to come here instead. It appeared to the husband that the evangelist only used the other meeting as an excuse to get more money. As a result of the Bible study and the encouragement of the family hosting the study, the lady and her husband came to Linden Baptist one time. He enjoyed the service, but it was not "emotional" enough for her. The wife tried to argue her husband into going to her church, but he refused to go back. However, he offered to come to Linden if she would come with him. She refused. It was obvious to all who watched the situation that the woman would rather see her husband perish in eternal damnation than give up her emotional experiences she had at church.

         Though we were all confident that the husband could have been reached for the Lord, it was either going to be her way or no way at all. She was not going to yield to his authority, even if it meant he would perish.


  • The Wife s Power
  •      The wife s power to reach her unsaved husband lies in her spirit of godly submission to the Word of God and to her husband. This is a reason why God tells women to stay away from places of authority over men: God clearly forbids women “preachers,” for the woman s power does not lie in her words (Eve used words to influence her husband away from God); rather, her power lies in her godly spirit:

    And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. (1 Co 14:35. Also 1 Tim 2:12.)

         Hence, a wife s power is not through a place of superiority and her ability with words, but her power is through her subjection to her own husband; that if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the chaste conversation coupled with fear; it lies in the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price, 1 Pet 3:1-6. 1 Cor 11:1-16 presents some points worth consideration: 1) the woman s head was to be covered (I personally feel this speaks of hair over the ears of a woman) to show her submission to her husband.

         2) she could only speak in the public assembly from the place of submission established for her by God (cf. Pro 31).

         3) v. 10, the angels present in worship (cf. 1 Co 4:9; Ps 138:1) ... would be shocked at the conduct of the women since the angels themselves veil their faces before Jehovah (Isa 6:2). (RWP, Online Bible CDROM.) Thus it is even more important that the wife remain under her husband, particularly in the Christian assembly.

         4) implied by v. 10 is that a woman has her great power over her unbelieving husband from her God ordained place of godly submission to the Word of God and to her husband. (Is it not strange that women who are attracted to Pentecostal churches, which seem to be a woman s domain, emphasize long hair?)


  • An Answer
  •      "Why are women and wives generally more receptive to the gospel than are men and husbands?" Because Christ has destroyed the first work of the devil, and His Spirit of Grace now works through wives to do what the first wife failed to do, that is, to influence their husbands for God and godliness.

         And in doing so, God s amazing grace is shown to all creation, for He now uses fallen people to undo the destructive works of the devil.

         If those who claim Christ would simply follow the basic guidelines (laws) revealed in the Word of God, we would certainly see the nations of the world Christianized.

         How many husbands will perish because their wives will not give them godly submission. How many husbands will perish because their wives will not make the personal sacrifice to faithfully and consistently practice what they claim to believe? Maybe a husband tries to discourage his wife, yet he does not forbid her faithfulness in church or other Christian activities. God speaks to Godly wives:

    Likewise, ye wives, [be] in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation [coupled] with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. (1 Pe 3:1-6.)

    Pastor Need.

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