96. Beware failure to present the Law which teaches sinners to recognise their need for grace
People may ask why Wheelhouse would preach 'keeping the commandments' to be a disciple of Christ if he was an Antinomian? Others, such as Roy James (see earlier text) have already put the reason as 'confusion' to excuse this state, but the evidence of his behaviour towards others speaks of deliberate self-seeking heretical acts. The Apostle Paul answered this thoroughly in the first part of the Epistle to the Romans, a passage used by Luther in his reply to Agricola ('Against the Antinomians', 1539). The Apostle makes it clear that one function of the law is to reveal sin: 'Through the law we become conscious of sin' (Romans 3:20), and he adds later in the Epistle, 'I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, 'Do not covet'' (Romans 7:7). How well this speaks of the current deceptions running amok in our churches today. It is not just the Alpha Course that is bringing people into the church as supposed born again Christians when research shows that they cannot even spell out the basics of the faith. 'Easy Believism' is rife in the church and revered men who have been put up on pedestals, such as Dr R.T. Kendall, have much to answer for because of their teachings.
It is the law alone that exposes sin for what it is. Ignorance of the law therefore spells ignorance of sin - no wonder the Wheelhouse's of the world treat people in a worldly manner. Ignorance of sin spells damnation, for salvation is salvation from sin and who can experience salvation from that of which they are ignorant? Unfortunately men like Chuck Colson and John Wimber have (or had) renewed Antinomianism in gospels they introduced which omit the mention of sin. Apparently sinners can now be saved by signs and wonders and ecumenism. These verses are sufficient to silence Antinomian complaints regarding the use of the law in evangelism, and contradictions such as those brought to South Wales by Wheelhouse.
The law does more than simply expose sin, for it throws it into greater relief as Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: 'the law was added so that the trespass might increase' (Romans 5:20) - the very opposite of Roger Wheelhouse's contention! Man begins to see how offensive sin is - 'that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful' (Romans 7:13). IF it makes you feel 'possibly ten times worse' it is because it was meant to!
All this leads to a conviction that the sinner is guilty before God: 'Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God' (Romans 3:19).
It is clear that it was the giving of the law that enabled God to impute to man the guilt of sin: 'For before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law' (Romans 5: 13). Once the law was given, guilt came, and with guilt came wrath, as planned by God:
'The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness' (Romans 1:18).
People who try and hide their guilt are clearly warned, for it is the law that calls forth God's wrath:
'Because the law brings wrath; and where there is no law there is no transgression' (Romans 4:15).
The case for preaching the law to man is absolutely complete. Notice that Wheelhouse did not even fall back on this as a vindication of his baptismal service message, but insisted that the law 'leaves us in our sin.' It doesn't - it points to the need of a Perfect Saviour - the Lord Jesus Christ and is therefore exactly the Teacher that Paul wrote of in Galatians 3:24: 'Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.'
The great gospel preachers of the Protestant era laid down the law as the foundation on which to build the gospel. They argued from these Scriptures that men needed to feel the enormity of their sin before they would feel constrained to seek relief for that sin in the gospel. But they didn't attack the law or denigrate it in any way. How this differs from the 'easy believism' of so much of the 'Alpha Course' and contemporary evangelism generally. If there is anyone who has trustingly accepted everything they learnt at an 'Alpha Course', or a similar evangelical outreach, I would advise them to carefully check that they have really accepted the Lord Jesus Christ alone as Saviour and are not putting their trust in any sacraments, good works, baptism or a 'co-savior', or 'Mediatrix', such as Mary, mother of Jesus. The Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 9:12-13) made it clear that:
'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance' It is the sick, not the healthy who go to the doctor.'
It is 'sinners', not the 'righteous', who come to Christ for spiritual healing, but how can they know they need him without the law as a Teacher? J. C. Ryle wrote, 'The beginning of the way to heaven is to feel that we are on the way to hell'. This conviction of sin comes through the law and the law demands absolute perfection:
'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind . . . And love your neighbour as yourself (Matt. 22:37,39).
This seeking after perfection in every thought, word and deed, every second of our lives drove the apostle Paul and men like Martin Luther to the cross and Christ! They recognised that the slightest deviation at any point disqualifies us from God's heaven, so we are all doomed to failure before we ever begin. It was the recognition of what the law meant that drove Paul to cry out in abject despair: 'What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?' (Romans 7.24).
It all comes down to man's basic problem of sin! Who can remove the burden and guilt of sin, or make amends for even one sin, let alone the countless thousands and millions we all commit on earth? The Apostle John defines sin as 'lawlessness' (1 John 3:4), for it is God's law that constitutes the yardstick of judgment and means that Antinomians are wrong from the start. This makes it essential to introduce a statement on the nature of sin to those whom you witness to under the leading of the Holy Spirit. Incorrect views of sin radically affect a man's theology, especially his view of such vital matters as evangelism, repentance and sanctification - as witnessed by the ministry of Roger Wheelhouse, the flabby Alpha Course embraced by so many denominations today, and the inability to confront sinners with their sin as exhibited by so many presenting the 'social gospel' instead of the genuine biblical gospel, such as the Assemblies of God in Australasia.
The Bible is clear that man is born with an inbuilt bias to sin, as David declared: 'I was sinful from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me' (Psalm 51:5). David did not blame his adultery with Bathsheba on others, or on society in general, but blamed himself. Scripture repeatedly affirms this diagnosis of sin as in-born, and the psalmist is unequivocal: 'Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies' (Psalms 58:3), and Jeremiah concurs: 'The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure' (Jeremiah I7:9). The apostle Paul was inspired to write that 'All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God' (Romans 3:23) and the Lord Jesus Christ made this devastating analysis of the human condition in response to the Pharisaical tenet that failure to wash properly before meals was at the seat of the problem:
'What comes out of a man is what makes him unclean. For from within, out of men hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man unclean' (Mk. 7:20-23).
There is an increasing tendency to misunderstand the words of the Apostle Paul:
'Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes' (Romans 10:4).
This does not mean that Christ has brought our relationship to the law to an end, but that Christ is the perfection of the law who, as the sinless God-man, embodies in His person the righteousness which the law requires of man and the law therefore leads to Him as its 'end'. The significance of God's law is that it makes the mind aware of sin: 'through the law we become conscious of sin' (Romans 3:20). Again, contrary to the views of Wheelhouse, no law means no knowledge of sin: no knowledge of sin means no repentance: no repentance means no salvation!
How does the law bring knowledge of sin, and how does an attack on law affect a church in which a lawless leader runs amok? Law brings knowledge of sin by revealing the truth about God - His glory, His greatness, His holiness and His justice - as well as His love, His mercy and His kindness. If a church allows any leader to preach an unbalanced gospel, preaching 'love' while ignoring teaching on deception (as Calvary Baptist Church allowed for years prior to Wheelhouse's introduction to its pulpit), sinners remain unaware of the potential for deception. How many churches today hear that sin leads to eternity in Hell and not an escape clause reprieve of annihilation as taught by un-Scriptural leaders, such as Roger Forster. I have heard the doctrine of Hell mentioned just three times in Christian meetings in my many years as a born again believer - and once was in a mocking fashion by Kevin Dare! This results in an unbalanced emphasis on 'love' at the expense of truth and justice. The claims witnessed by Wheelhouse's supporters and recorded in this text are clear: anyone who opposes the 'pastors' teaching is 'unloving and ungracious!' Is it any wonder that the Holy Spirit conveyed the words highlighted in Section 37 to the church. The light of God's Word reveals His perfect attributes which brings knowledge of sin as man is made aware of his own corruption. Paul's letter to the church at Corinth revealed how their deep repentance had affected their hearts:
'Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done' (2 Corinthians. 7:10-11).
This is the difference brought by godly sorrow and Wheelhouse's claim that: 'if the law doesn't make you ten times worse - I don't know what does, because it brings death … law reveals the sin - and that's what makes us feel worse. But, because it doesn't save, it leaves us in our sins.' It is 'worldly sorrow' that 'brings death' and no one could accuse our God of bringing a law that was worldly! God's ways are so much higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9: 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts') and His 'foolishness' so far above our wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:25: 'Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men'), yet we are careering towards another tower of Babel in our attempts to make ourselves like God (Isaiah 14:14) - the sin of Satan! Today's 'law' is weak, vacillating, and polluted by the mind of man with his vain philosophies and false religions that seek the glorification of man and his achievements rather than the glorification of God our Creator.
97. Beware missing out 'Faith without deeds is useless' (James 2:20)
What a difference between an earlier believer like Job, who recognised that he was full of sin: 'I am insignificant; what can I reply to Thee? I lay my hand on my mouth (Job 40:4); 'Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes' (42:6), and the teachings of Wheelhouse, who recommended a sinner to tell 'Jesus exactly what she thought of Him.' How different this is from the faith of Job and how thoroughly the behaviour of a man in rebellion against God. 'Saving faith' is faith in the Person of a God whom we love, whose word we believe and trust. We have faith that He will save us from the guilt, pollution, and the power of sin - and the faith that He will take us to be with Him for ever in heaven. Such faith in Christ is not something natural to man, for we read that:
'the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned' (1 Corinthians. 2:14).
Man has a fundamental animosity to God:
'The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so' (Romans 8:7).
It is clear that such faith in Christ is not something natural to man, for we are told that: 'the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned' (1 Corinthians. 2:14). We need a fundamental change of heart before we can believe, and this happens in the new birth, when God implants the seed of faith and we are 'born again.' Faith joins with the will in yielding obedience to the gospel and the New Testament always associates faith with obedience and Paul speaks of 'obedience that comes from faith' (Romans 1:5) and Hebrews 5:9 speaks of Christ as 'the Source of eternal salvation for all who obey him'.
Scripture is not interested in a mere intellectual assent, but in action which Paul called 'faith expressing itself through love' (Galatians. 5:6). This is the point of James's passage on faith and works, for true faith always works: 'faith without deeds is useless' (James 2:20). When the doctrine championed by Dr R.T. Kendall: 'Once Saved, Always Saved,' is translated into Antinomianism, as the Doctor so often does, we have a demonic doctrine. It is no surprise to find that Roger Wheelhouse is a contributor to the works of Kendall, as recorded in our letter to him. Whereas the saints of the past made a strong defence and asserted that 'we show by St James's works that we have St Paul's faith', we find now the results of one of the worst features of modern evangelism - 'easy believism'! In such teaching the main emphasis is put on the initial confession of Christ with the mouth, based on Romans 10:9-10:
'If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord', and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with the heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved'.
Now it is self-evident that no one can fully read another man's heart, although God may chose to reveal an individuals' sin through the gifts of the Spirit (Ananias and Sapphira: Acts 5:1-11) for a particular purpose. So the emphasis is therefore put on an individual's verbal profession despite the evidence that speaks of one who is showing little sign of sanctification - if any. I mentioned in the earlier Case History I how Kevin Tugwell used this weapon in order to try and cover up the exposure of his own contradictions (q.v. Section 18).
The emphasis is placed on justification, so that Paul is impiously misconstrued as teaching 'easy believism' - or 'cheap grace', as it has so rightly been called. This is why we see so many walking down the aisles at Billy Graham-type evangelistic meetings, making their confession and receiving assurance that they are a Christian and can henceforth be untroubled by any qualms of conscience. No change of life need be required - no fruit, no good works, no holiness. To insist on these things would be to go back to 'works'. It would make converts concerned about the subjective and lead them to forget that all is objective - in Christ. So such converts are given strict instructions not to examine themselves, for that could be uncomfortable and disturbing, and not to seek assurance from signs of holiness in their lives because they might not find any. Feelings are excluded as carnal, unless the 'holy spirit' they have imbibed through un-Scriptural methods whispers to them some great and un-testable truth - which never amounts to anything. They must simply 'look to Jesus,' whose Cross is rarely mentioned and their own, which they should pick up as often as they drop it, is mentioned even less. The advice sounds good to their ears but is dangerous in isolation from other truths. They say that when doubts arise, as they will, they are to be stifled as the work of Satan, for they must not be troubled since they believe in justification 'by faith alone'.
I witnessed a couple, who migrated from Calvary Baptist Church to the Word-Faith nightmare of Kings Church, Newport, fight like cat and dog as a result of flesh life surrendering to losses of temper. They were unaware that a Christian has the choice of whether to succumb to sin whereas an unsaved person has no choice - they sin as often and as easily as breathing! It often seems to be an intellectual assent to 'faith' which characterises 'altar calls,' but does not lead to demonstrations of the Biblical faith of God's elect. Sadly, this couple soon separated, a product of un-Scriptural teachings.
A Christian will witness many examples of the affect of 'cheap grace' as expounded by so many following Dr R.T. Kendall's Antinomian version of 'Once Saved, Always Saved' doctrine. During Luis Palau's 'Tell Wales' crusade in 1989, a young emaciated man came down for the 'altar call.' As a counsellor specialising in the cults and occult, I was called to hear this man's confession and to counsel him. He admitted having been involved in the Hare Krishna group in Cardiff and to have dabbled in other things. On being told that he needed to renounce all these past sins and involvements he made a dramatic, yet totally unconvincing, gesture of tearing off his Krishna beads and throwing them on the floor and stamping on them. His 'confession' of some obnoxious personal sins seemed more to impress than to show genuine repentance and he claimed that his desire was to ensure his heavenly future with his 'beloved grandfather.' This was clearly his major objective, rather than to despise his past life. I prayed with him and then filled in the 'necessary paperwork' which was supposed to ensure that he received follow-up discipling from a local church in the Dinas Powys area. I heard no more of the young man, apart from an indifferent comment from a member of the said church that, 'they knew of him.' Several years later I met the young man again. Now he looked even more dreadful, like a walking skeleton, and I asked him about 'his walk with the Lord.' He glibly revealed that he had since returned to the Krishnas, but had now left and joined Islam! When I quizzed him as to his confession at 'Tell Wales' he blithely enquired: 'Don't you believe in 'once saved, always saved'! No, I don't, I believe that James was right! Your 'walk with the Lord' reflects exactly the state of your heart, mind, and soul! God will never let you slip out of His hands (John 10:28-30) - but you have the free will to wilfully walk away from Him for eternity. You can carry your cross or insult the Lord of Grace.
It should be no surprise that Dr Kendall is charged with advocating cheap grace for, in his book (Once Saved, Always Saved (1983; reprint 1997), p. 53, Hodder & Stoughton) he writes:
'I therefore state categorically that the person who is saved - who confesses that Jesus is Lord and believes in his heart that God raised him from the dead - will go to heaven when he dies, no matter what work (or lack of work) may accompany such faith. In other words, no matter what sin (or absence of Christian obedience) may accompany such faith.'
Professor Donald Macleod (in The Monthly Record of the Free Church of Scotland, June I984) said of this 'misguided' statement: 'To the theologically aware, it immediately suggests Antinomianism. To the general public it is an invitation to live as you please.' Derek Thomas also agreed in his review of the book: '. . . it is a licence to sin that grace may abound' (Evangelical Presbyterian, January I984, pp. 2ff). Similar views were expressed by Iain Murray, The Banner of Truth (March 1984, pp. 1ff); Christopher Bennett, in Christian Arena (June 1984, pp. 29f.). Dr William Young had already found evidence in Dr Kendall's D. Phil. thesis of 'the deluded imagination of an Antinomian' (The Bulwark, May/June 1980, pp. 15ff.; cf. Gospel Magazine, Jan/Feb. 1978, pp. 16ff.). Dr Kendall's sermons on Galatians and his book, Once Saved, Always Saved, put his Antinomianism beyond all possible doubt and six of the twelve deacons at Westminster Chapel charged him with this heresy and were dismissed - but not before they had recorded the relevant facts. Dr Kendall published a defence (Westminster Record, March 1985, pp. 14ff.) of his views and is well aware of the controversies that arose from his preaching, but his foreword to the 1992 reprint of Once Saved, Always Saved makes it clear that he stands by every word he has written. As I wrote earlier, it is little surprise that he descended into sharing lectures and a book, titled 'The Spirit and the Sword,' with the false prophet, Paul Cain. When you have taken the element of Antinomianism to the point demonstrated by Kendall you are willing to accommodate false prophets and deceivers of every kind - as shown by many other formerly orthodox Christians in these pages.
A work published in 1973 goes even further:
'It is possible, even probable, that when a believer out of fellowship falls for certain types of philosophy, if he is a logical thinker, he will become an 'unbelieving believer'. Yet believers who become agnostics are still saved, they are still born again. You can even become an atheist, but if you once accepted Christ as Saviour, you cannot lose your salvation, even though you deny God' (R. B. Thieme; Apes and Peacocks or the Pursuit of Happiness (1973), p. 23).
These views affect believers at every level. Preaching in Treforest (near Cardiff), some years ago, a deacon of the church challenged me after a service and suggested that, since Judas Iscariot had shown remorse by hanging himself, we should not be surprised to find him in heaven!
Matthew 21:32 "For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax-gatherers and harlots did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.
Matthew 27:3 Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
I asked the deacon if he knew the difference between remorse and repentance - and suicide and murder. I was not invited back by that church.
One of the many serious problems facing the contemporary Christian church is our ability to fill our pews with people who have been through some process described as 'conversion' or 'the new birth' but who give no evidence of new life. The old test of a church's strength being discovered, not by how many attend the morning or evening services, or the mid-week meeting, but how many attend the prayer meeting is still true. As I mentioned earlier, the invitation to a training session in evangelism or serious Bible study to this same end will produce an equal apathy. In the United States of America conservative estimates put the number of those 'born again' at between thirty and fifty per cent - which would indicate massive revival. Social Antinomianism is the order of the day now and a far cry from genuine revival brought by God in which multitudes of lives are changed and society is cleansed as people turn, weeping in genuine repentance, to the Lord Jesus Christ who alone can cleanse and transform their lives. The Antinomian/'Once Saved Always Saved' answer to this dilemma is to assert that there are Christians and Christians. The genuine Christians are justified and sanctified, some are 'merely' justified but they do not opt for sanctification, and the ones who they said were Christians when they were counting numbers in Toronto/Pensacola/Brownsville etc., are suddenly disenfranchised when they revert to their former states. We have a Scriptural example in Simon Magus, the sorcerer who was known as 'the great power' (Acts 8:10), who 'believed and was baptised' (8:13) but apostatized, returning to his old occultic arts. The early Church Fathers wrote of how he was demonstrating his 'magic powers' by levitating, claiming to be God, when the apostle Peter brought him crashing down to earth by the power of the Holy Spirit and caused him to break several bones! There is nothing in their witness to suggest that they considered him to be anything but an enemy of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.