TITLE: REMOVING ANCIENT LANDMARKS
Subtitle: The Mystery Of Iniquity At Work
Proverbs 22:28 contains an admonition which has both a civil as well as a spiritual application:
"Remove not the ancient landmark which your fathers have set" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary).
From the dawn of civilization until the advent of surveyors and courthouse records, people laid claim to sections of land by marking the corners, or limits, thereof with piles of stones, masonry pillars, etc., in order to signify ownership. Of course unscrupulous individuals would often try to cheat them out of their land by moving the "landmarks" and claiming it for themselves. And this is the secular emphasis behind the remarks found in Proverbs--exhorting God's people to be honest and leave the landmarks alone. However, the spiritual application of this admonition is what we want to emphasize here.
When our God says something He means it and does not change His mind--contrary to what many seem to believe. Malachi 3:6(b) states this premise very succintly:
"For I am the Lord, I do not change...." (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary).
God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent (the very pinnacle of wisdom and power, and everywhere present) which means that He always gets it right the first time! For that reason, I wince whenever I hear the expression "prayer changes things"--because it actually changes nothing. If we could change God's mind through intercessory prayer, He would cease to be God. Martin Luther captured the essence of the truth when he defined prayer as not overcoming God's reluctance, but rather laying hold of His willingness. Yes, we are taught to pray without ceasing and to be importunate, but if God grants our petitions it is strictly because it was His will to do so from the very beginning. Perhaps it never occurred to you, but God answers each and every prayer that one of His elect children lifts toward heaven. Sometimes He says yes, very often He says no, and occasionally His answer is "wait"--but in each case, and without fail, there is a definite answer.
Again, I reiterate that God does not change and when He commands us to do--or not to do--something, it is chiseled out in granite! We know from God's Word where He stands and that should be a great source of comfort for those of us who know Him in the free pardon of sin. But unfortunately, men do change. Again, note that in our text from Proverbs we are told that we are not to move the ancient landmarks that our fathers set. Looking at this from a spiritual point of view, I see that my fathers in the faith established some ancient landmarks that I am to recognize and honor by leaving them where they are and as is. The cardinal doctrines of the faith were well established during the time of the early Church fathers and we must recognize that any attempt to change them is wrong and must not be condoned.
It is a fascinating and sometimes frustrating study to consider the heated battles that have taken place between various factions of professed brethren over these very same doctrines. Rather than acknowledging that the landmarks were set and settled, there always has been, and continues to be those who are determined to formulate "a better way." Paul warned believers in 2 Thessalonians 2:7, that "the mystery of iniquity doth already work" (KJV). This principle of evil was very much at work during the days in which Paul ministered and has only gotten worse during the nearly two thousand years since. I think it safe to say that the mystery of iniquity refers to the plan and program of Satan and is very much a visible fact of life today. And as a consequence, landmarks--ancient landmarks--doctrines that were hammered out and agreed to as being Scriptural by the early Church fathers and faithfully followed for many years, (then re-established and validated during the Reformation) have now been cast aside by the majority and regarded as null and void.
My personal belief is that the majority of the fundamental and conservative elements within the Church have undergone a doctrinal revolution and are not even aware of it. The final stages of this revolution took place approximately 150 years ago and the full effects of it are just now coming to light. Mainly at issue is the doctrine of God's absolute sovereignty in salvation--a doctrine that was the backbone of the Protestant Reformation and one that was adhered to by the early Church--until Roman Catholicism largely obscured it through its doctrine of "free will." The Reformation restored the doctrine of Sovereign Grace to its rightful place of prominence--a position it held until just prior to the American Civil War, when once again it began to be displaced in favor of "a better way."
Independent Fundamental Baptists and other conservative groups take a dim view of anything that remotely smacks of liberalism in theology--especially Roman Catholic dogma. And an axiom that many of these pastors and Bible teachers live by (consciously or not) is that if it's popular, it's probably wrong! I suscribe to that theory because it is based upon human nature. When the majority opinion jumps on the bandwagon, something is usually smelly in Copenhagen. Such is the case before us.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was (and still is) affectionately known as "the prince of preachers" because of the profound effect he had upon the Baptist scene in England during the late 1800's. Over a hundred years later he is still widely quoted and his sermons extensively printed and disseminated far and wide among fundamental believers. Yet few among the brethren seem to know or care that he was a staunch Calvinist in his soteriology. He believed, defended, and taught the old doctrines of Sovereign Grace until he died--never once wavering in his stand. But the seeds of change had alread been sown some fifty years earlier by Charles Grandison Finney in the United States and were by then taking root through the efforts of such men as Dwight L. Moody, the famous American evangelist. From the Reformation up until the days of Finney, fundamental believers among several denominations were solidly Calvinist in their doctrine of salvation, but Charles Finney developed what he called "new measures for a new theology" and set in motion a philosophy that became wildly popular. The old landmark of Calvinism did not lend itself well to the "revival upon demand" claims of Finney and soon fell into disfavor once again. The new theology adopted the Roman Catholic doctrine of "free will"--that a man is quite literally the captain of his fate and has the ability (the freedom of will) to accept or reject Jesus Christ as Savior. Interestingly enough, the "Council of Trent" (a Roman Catholic doctrinal council that met between the years of 1545-63) reaffirmed their doctrinal position and placed numerous and specific anathemas upon anyone daring to deny the doctrine of free will. And this very fact should put a fundamental Bible believer on full alert! But rather than debate the issue, please allow me to pose a question to you. How in the name of reason can a slave possess a free will? A slave has no will of his own, but is inalterably and unconditionally bound to the will of his master. And the Bible clearly teaches that all men fall under one of two categories: They are either (a) slaves of Satan, or (b) slaves of Jesus Christ. Period! Furthermore, the Bible teaches in Romans 8:8 that those "in the flesh cannot please God." 1 Corinthians 2:14 states that "the natural man" does not receive spiritual things, but considers them to be foolish. The verse then concludes by stating "neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned." Finally, we must consider the point that John 1:12 is the one and only verse of Scripture (used as a "proof text" by Arminian theologians) that even remotely speaks to the matter of a man's will--and the very next verse (13) totally destroys their premise! And I quote verse 13: (speaking of those who are saved)
"Who owe their birth neither to bloods, nor to the will of the flesh [that of physical impulse, nor to the will of man [that of a natural father], but to God--They are born of God! (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary, emphasis mine).
Beloved, the doctrinal landmark of God's Sovereign Grace has been obscured ("painted over," so to speak) and replaced with what I characterize as "man's last gasp attempt at saving himself." If the Word of God teaches anything, it teaches that salvation is by God's grace and not by the works of man. This doctrinal fact is so basic and fundamental, yet millions are blind to the fact that the whole concept of free will places salvation into the hands of the individual--one can either accept it or reject it. Need I remind you that "accept" and "reject" are both verbs and verbs denote action? Works--get it? This is a subtle distinction, but the Bible says in Genesis 3 and verse 1:
"Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made..." (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary).
Preachers and Bible teachers who rightly condemn the unscriptural doctrine of a works salvation, in practically the same breath then teach that one must "make a decision for and accept" Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I know they do because I was formerly one of them! And this whole premise is so universally believed among those who consider themselves to be "evangelical Christians" that to contradict it is, in their eyes, tantamount to blasphemy. But be that as it may, the position--popular or not--has no real Scriptural foundation. O.K., O.K., I know that by now many of you are about at the boiling point, but if you will please calm down and listen to some historical facts and what the Bible has to say on the subject, you just might learn something that will revolutionize your spiritual life. First of all, the chances are very good that this "Calvinist" (for the lack of a better term) position is pretty much new to you. Why do you suppose this is true? Are you aware of the fact that it was the historic doctrinal position of Baptists (overwhelmingly so), along with several other denominations, until the theology and methods of Charles Finney finally obscured the landmark? 'Tis true, my friend and all you have to do is check Church history to corroborate it. There are two main reasons why you may not have been taught this "alternative" doctrine. (1) Most preachers today are themselves largely biased against it, because if it was even covered in seminary, it was not stressed. (2) Those who know better usually keep their mouths shut because it is currently a very unpopular doctrine. Why is it so unpopular, you ask? Well, for starters here is an extremely simplified synopsis of God's Sovereign Grace:
(1) For reasons known only unto Him, prior to creation God "elected", or chose, some individuals for salvation and rejected the rest as reprobates.
(2) He does not love everybody! (Gasp, choke, wheeze! Now calm down and don't stroke out!)
See, I told you it was unpopular--so much so that I had to resign as pastor of a church after I learned the truth and immediately made my position known to the congregation. The majority reacted in an emotional manner and would not listen to what the Scriptures actually say on the subject, preferring instead to stick with what preachers (myself included) had told them it said. "The Berean Christians" (Acts 17:11), searched the Scriptures for themselves to see if the preachers were correct or not and you should too. It is an unfortunate fact of our fallen human nature that each one of us is subject to being misled into interpreting passages of Scripture according to the preconceived notions of respected Bible teachers--Who are themselves, more often than not, the product of their teachers in seminary. Heresy is like crabgrass in your lawn and spreads just as quickly!
Speaking of heresy, the "Council of Dort" in the 1500's soundly denounced Arminians and their doctrine of free will as being heretical. But to the best of my knowledge, no official Church convocation (other than perhaps Roman Catholic) has ever done so concerning the doctrines of Sovereign Grace ("nicknamed Calvinism" as Spurgeon once put it).
Well, if you haven't unplugged your computer by now--let me give you two verses of Scripture and then ask some leading questions. The first verse is found in Ephesians, chapter two and verse one:
"And you [He made alive], when you were dead [slain] by [your] trespasses and sins" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary).
The second is taken from 1 Corinthians, chapter two and verse fourteen:
"But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them--of progressively recognizing, understanding and becoming better acquainted with them--because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary, emphasis mine).
It is widely accepted among fundamental Christians today that the Bible teaches a lost man is born into this world spiritually dead (alluded to in Ephesians 2:1) and remains in that condition unless/until God gives him spiritual life. It is also recognized by many, but not all, that this lost man does not, and indeed cannot understand spiritual things. Those who dispute the impossibility aspect of this claim, do so by saying that he has the ability but not the will--in other words, it is a volitional lack of understanding. Frankly, I fail to see where they get this because the Amplified text clearly states that he is incapable (underlined above). The King James Version states it this way:
"...neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned..."
I could quote from several different translations, but I think you get the point. What we have in the denial of impossibility is a perfect illustration of "eisegesis"--bringing a presupposed position to Scripture and finding proof texts to support it (as opposed to "exegesis"--letting the text say what it says). Spiritually dead men cannot understand that which is spiritually discerned and this is so logically obvious as to be beyond question! But when one buys into the false doctrine of free will,
these types of assumptions are necessary to provide some semblance of textual support.
Moving right along, what we have here before us is a spiritually dead man who is totally incapable of understanding the Word of God. And not only that, according to Ephesians 2:2 he is a slave of Satan. Then Romans 3:11 comes along and adds the coup de grace with the fact that he does not/will not seek after God! Does a house have to fall on you in order for you to see that this individual is in a spiritual "hole" out of which he is totally incapable of crawling? He is as bad off spiritually as he can possibly be! Oh, he definitely possesses a human will, but it is only free to do the bidding of his master the devil. Pray tell then, how does this pitiful wretch arrive at the point at which he can consider the gospel message and "make a decision to accept Christ"? The Arminian theologians lamely grope for an answer by claiming that Titus 2:11 teaches ability to believe is somehow restored (and this is the one and only verse they offer). Does it? Let's look at what it says:
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men" (KJV).
Regardless of what one might try to read into this verse (and I believe that it is clearly speaking of Jesus Christ revealing Himself to the world), it would seem that for such a weighty doctrinal matter one verse is just a tad insufficient to back up the assertion. This is also true for the issue of free will because John 1:12 (as previously stated) is basically the only peg upon which they hang their hat.
I briefly mentioned the passage in Romans 3:11, where the apostle Paul loosely quotes from Psalm 14:2 and says this:
"No one understands--no one intelligently discerns or comprehends; no one seeks out God" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary, emphasis mine).
What was the first thing that Adam and Eve did after partaking of the forbidden fruit and breaking God's one and only prohibition placed upon them? They immediately hid from Him! What did God do in response? He went to them and killed innocent animals (shed their blood) in order to clothe His naked children with their skins. This of course pictures God's initiative in providing salvation for those who are His own. In reading this account in Genesis, can you find even one hint of where God asked them for permission to save them? The same holds true in the Book of Acts where we read of the conversion of the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus. Is there anything in the narrative that would lead us to believe that God consulted Paul in the matter? My answer is, absolutely not! If you will take the time to go through the New Testament with a highlighter pen marking instances of salvation, you will always find where individuals were challenged to believe and believe they did. Not once will you find any references to "deciding for Christ" or "accepting" Him as Lord and Savior. As a matter of fact, the whole idea of such is rendered invalid by Acts 13:48 where we read:
"And when the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and glorified (praised and gave thanks for) the Word of God; and as many as were destined (appointed and ordained) to eternal life believed--adhered to, trusted in and relied on Jesus as the Christ and their Savior" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary, emphasis mine).
Men of the Arminian persuasion have tried their best to turn this verse around and have it say that as many as believed were ordained to eternal life, but the Greek construction of the sentence will not allow it! (As per A.T.Robertson, the Greek scholar). No, what they obviously do not understand, or want to understand, is that God actually "saved" His elect prior to creation. Romans 8:28-30 makes this clear:
"We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor], all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to those who love God and are called according to [His] purpose. For those whom He foreknew--of whom He was aware and loved beforehand--He also destined from the beginning (foreordaining them) to be molded into the image of His Son [and share inwardly His likeness, that He might become the first-born among many brethren. And those whom He thus foreordained He also called; and those whom He called He also justified--acquitted, made righteous, putting them into right standing with Himself. And those whom He justified He also glorified--raising them to a heavenly dignity and condition [state of being]" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary, emphasis mine).
Then Ephesians 1:4-5 puts the "icing on the cake":
"Even as [in His love] He chose us--actually picked us out for Himself as His own--In Christ before the foundation of the world; that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love. For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted [revealed] as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will (*not ours*)--because it pleased Him and was His kind intent" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Commentary, emphasis and parenthetical insert (**) mine).
The bottom line is that God--prior to creation--called, justified, and even glorified His saints! Justification is the doctrinal term for salvation, my friends and when one of us believes it is the result of salvation and not the cause. We are saved because we are sheep and not sheep because we are saved. The currently popular theory is that God, in His omniscience, "looked down through the corridors of time" and determined who--when given the opportunity--would accept Christ as their Savior. And based upon this prior knowledge, He predestinated the elect. It sounds good and I can state with all sincerity that I arrived at that conclusion on my own long before I was ever exposed to it in any academic sense. But the problem is that it is an unscriptural and totally fabricated position, dictated by man's depraved sense of "fairness," and it diminishes God's wondrous grace. Remember Romans 3:11 points out that man, when left to his own devises, will not seek God. This point is absolutely pivotal in understanding the fallacy of "accepting" Christ. If God did not intervene in the affairs of men, as He did with Adam and Eve,and with Saul of Tarsus, no one would be saved! Let me again highlight the impossibility and incongruity of the "popular" position by restating the predicament of a lost person: he/she is spiritually dead and totally incapable of understanding spiritual matters--plus they are slaves of Satan and are therefore "as bad off" spiritually as they can possibly be!
I can just hear someone saying, "But, but what about John 3:16 where it tells us that God loves everybody? Before I attempt to tackle this verse, let me direct your attention to Hebrews 12:6 where we find:
"For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth" (KJV).
Then look at Revelation 3:19 where it says:
"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent" (KJV).
If God (as most of us have been taught) loves everybody equally and without discrimination, why do these two verses clearly make a distinction? Why does Malachi 1:2-3 make the statement that God loved Jacob and hated Esau--and reiterated by Paul in Romans 9:13? (And the rest of the chapter dedicated to answering the anticipated arguments?) Why does Proverbs 6:19 say that God hates the individual ("he") who sows discord among brethren? Well, you may say, what about all of the statements in the New Testament about God's love? If you will check them out thoroughly, you will find that in each and every case the reference is to God's elect--not everybody in general. This is confirmed by the fact that each Book, or epistle, where these references are found, is addressed to the elect and the personal pronouns "we", "us", etc., bear this out.
Then back to John 3:16--"For God so loved the cosmos, that He gave..." This is what the Greek actually says, you know. "Cosmos" means literally "order" or "arrangement" and was the Greek concept of beauty. And as it turns out, it is a word that has at least seven different meanings--each of which must be determined by context. And since the other verses we have cited limit God's love to His elect, systematic theology demands that John 3:16 cannot contradict them--and indeed it does not, if properly interpreted. It may also interest you to know that the whole idea of God's universal and indiscriminate love gained acceptance during the time of, and credit given, to D.L. Moody's ministry. He is believed to have been influenced by a little book entitled, "The Greatest Thing In The World," written by a man named Drummond--in which the universal love of God was proposed. This concept, when it began to be advanced, was greeted with enthusiastic approval and soon another spiritual landmark was removed. The indiscriminate and all-encompassing love of God sounds good and is so comforting to the reprobate, but it just isn't Scriptural--despite the fact that multiplied millions of professed Christians around the world today believe it. And to me, what is even more astounding is that most unsaved people exhibit more common sense regarding this subject than the ones trying to witness to them! They instinctively know that they are at odds with God and deep down inside they hate Him, but wind up having to be convinced by others that God loves them in spite of it all! Where is the logic in all of this? Without a doubt the devil is probably still doubled over in laughter and holding his sides about having moved this particular pile of rocks!
Fundamental Christians are in general agreement that prior to the Tribulation Period, a departure from the faith--the apostasy--will take place, based upon 2 Thessalonians 2:3. I think it safe to say that the consensus of opinion is that it refers to a specific and widespread act by those who have merely professed Christ and wind up recanting their confession due to some type of pressure situation (persecution?) relative to the rise of antichrist. Those who hold this view also admit that there has always been and continues to be a progressive apostasy within Christendom--tares among the wheat. However, even though there may yet be a mass defection from the faith among professed believers--I am of the opinion that the apostasy began when Finney postulated his "new measures for a new theology" approximately 150 years ago! He boasted that by using his methods "revival can be had upon demand" and anyone with the spiritual discernment of a gnat should be able to spot the fallacy of such a heretical statement! Only God can revive the flagging spirituality of His people and man's best efforts have absolutely nothing to do with it. But Finney's methods produced results for those who used them and, as everyone knows, results are the yardstick by which ministries are measured. But hold on here! Has anyone stopped to consider the fact that Satan is capable of producing these "results"????
Do you know what the "doctrine of Balaam" (Rev.2:14) is and how the devil used it to plague Israel? Balaam tried his best to earn the money promised to him by the Moabite king Balak for cursing Israel, but God would not allow him to do it (Numbers 22-23). But we learn from a statement made by Moses in Numbers 31:16, that Balaam indirectly achieved his goal through "counsel" he had given the Moabites. Verse 16 (referring to the Moabite women who had committed whoredom with the men of Israel--Numbers 25:1) has this to say:
"Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord" (KJV, emphasis mine).
This mixing of the men of Israel with the heathen women of Moab caused untold harm to the spiritual well-being of the Israelites and brought God's wrath down upon them in the form of a plague. God's mandate for Israel (and the Church) has always been that of SEPARATION. And from that day until this, whenever this mandate has been ignored, God has punished his people severely. Almighty God demands separation by His people but the devil promotes unity! Unwittingly, or not, Charles Finney introduced to the preachers/evangelists of his day a system of theological compromise coupled with clever psychological techniques guaranteed to elicit emotional responses from those targeted by them! The results were immediate and preachers who naturally hungered for fruitful ministries suddenly began to experience "God's blessing" upon their preaching! Small churches became large churches and the ministries of many evangelists grew to heady proportions as their fame spread far and wide. They then passed their legacy on to other men and the evangelical explosion snowballed into the mass evangelism crusades we now see in which individuals are assured that "God loves you" and if you will follow some simple directions and "accept Christ" you will be saved. Are these professions of faith genuine? Without a doubt some are, because God uses His supernatural gospel message to call in His sheep--but the vast majority show no real fruit of the Spirit in their lives and worldliness is the rule and not the exception.
Have we become so blind that we cannot see how the devil is using the "free will" of man and high pressure sales techniques from the pulpit to "Balaam-ize" the Church? Can we not understand that a synonym for apostasy is "departure" and the currently popular theological system is a radical departure from the ancient landmark? Satan is obviously loading our churches with unsaved members--the majority of whom "accepted Christ," but were never accepted by Him! Ephesians 1:6(b) tells us that "he (God) hath made us accepted in the beloved." Salvation is of the Lord and He alone determines whom He will save. If you have not received Him through the Holy Spirit taking up residence within your heart--you are not saved according to the Scriptural definition of the term. We beg you to seek Him while he may be found and call upon Him while he is near (Isaiah 55:6)--earnestly imploring Him to save your soul, if it be His will. According to Romans 3:11, you will not do this and keep on doing it unless He intervenes, overcomes your depraved nature, and removes the natural inclination to hide from Him. All whom the Father has given to Him will come to Him (John 6:37). ARE YOU GENUINELY SAVED?????
If you have received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and been born again, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
If you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, but have come to sense His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to receive His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you truly believe in Him as Lord and Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.
We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order—Kingdom of Antichrist—in their daily news.
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