The Twin Causes of Error – Sermon Application #2
When the Sadducees sought to put Jesus to the test, they asked Him whose wife a woman would be in heaven if she had been married to multiple men. They asked this because they thought that it logically disproved the resurrection─ for they denied the resurrection. Jesus responded to them saying, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” (Matt. 22:29). In this response, we have two reasons for which men go astray with their fleshly reasoning. When such reasoning is applied to biblical interpretation, much damage can be done.
Application to the doctrine of eternal punishment:
When we rely on our own understanding, we tend to be too smart for our own good. While we suppose we are rising higher and higher into spiritual wisdom, we are sinking downward in carnality for lack of simple childlike faith. A premier example of this is found in that the doctrine of eternal punishment is frequently explained away. One argument, similar in nature to the argument of the Sadducees, argues that the lake of fire could not be eternal, for how could the body suffer in the flames forever and yet never be burned up. In this line of argument, we are guilty of projecting laws of the natural world as we know it upon something otherworldly. We might just as well complain of how men could never live forever in heaven because of physical laws as we know them. When God met Moses from the burning bush, “the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.” (Ex. 3:2). As the Creator of natural laws, God must have power over them, and so to deny eternal punishment on the basis of any contradiction to the laws of nature is tantamount to atheism. It is to pretend that the natural demands no Supernatural.
Application to Sanctification 1:
If we, like the Sadducees, are ignorant to the power of God, then we will likely be ignorant regarding the power of God in sanctification. Sanctification is the process by which believers become conformed to Christ. As Pastor Vradenburgh explained, much of the reason for widespread ignorance in this area is due to our “fast-food” culture. Rather than understanding sanctification rightly, as a day-by-day process wherein we are gradually transformed from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18, 4:16), we tend to pursue “get holy quick” schemes which lead to disillusionment. What are some of these schemes? One scheme is called “entire sanctification,” a doctrine of the early Methodists, which basically states that a Christian may in an instant, by a simple act of faith, enter into a life without sin. Keswick theology grew out of this stream, and asserts that Christians may instantly enter into a higher spiritual life once they cease from all striving and simply rest in total submission and trust (the correction to this passive view can be found in Col. 1:29; Php. 3:12-15). Many modern notions of a “second work of grace” run along similar lines of reasoning. However, while the Bible does teach that there may be spiritual breakthroughs (Act. 2:1-13; Heb. 4:11; Jer. 29:12-14), even those moments are part of a life-long process of gradual sanctification.
Application to sanctification 2:
Pastor Vradenburgh has recommended that we take some time to study the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. To whet our appetite, we might look at John 14:26 where Jesus says of the Spirit, “he shall teach you all things” (Jhn. 14:26). We might at first be inclined to limit this grand promise to the apostles, but the apostle John passes it on to the entire church saying, “the anointing which ye have received of him…teacheth you of all things…” (1 Jhn. 2:27). The apostle Paul, in his letter to the church at Corinth, described how the Holy Spirit teaches Christians “the deep things of God.” (1 Cor. 2:10). It is beyond exciting to consider that we have same Spirit which indwelled Jesus during His earthly ministry. Isaiah prophesied of the anointing upon Jesus saying, “the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD…” (Is. 11:2-3). What an immeasurable blessing to have “the Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9)! As we spend time in the word, let’s do so from a position of dependence on our Teacher and faith in these promises!