The Reformers and the Papacy
The theological title for this paper is “The Papacy, Totalitarianism and Justification” but if you want a more dramatic one, then “The Fiend Skulking Behind the Crucifix” would be an appropriate one. Next to India and China the largest state on planet earth is, in fact, the Roman Church-State. The Papacy, you see, is more than just a religious enterprise; it is also a political power. It boasts of over one billion subjects, one-sixth of the world’s entire population. It is a certain fact that the Reformers differed in some points of their theology, on what we would perhaps call secondary issues, but surely it behoves us to give very serious attention to where they were totally united. Two points upon which they were completely and utterly united on were, the biblical doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, apart, that is, from works. And secondly, that the Papacy was the very Antichrist. In a better day in England about a century ago, a theologian by the name of Dr H. Grattan-Guinness had clearer light than many Protestant theologians of our own day. The views of the Reformers known as Protestantism, or if you like, Biblical Christianity, were uncontested for three hundred years, but are in the United Kingdom today largely forgotten. But then so too is much of our history in general, most of it rewritten by modern historians, to the point where what is taught in our schools and Colleges, is almost unrecognisable. This serious neglect is surely itself contrary to the Word of God, which again and again reminded Israel in the old dispensation how God had delivered them from the clutches of Egypt and of all the great things he had done for them. Thus he commanded them to teach these things to their children and to their grandchildren, “remember your history”, was, is the clear instruction of scripture. How many Christians do you know today who could tell you how God delivered us, the United Kingdom, at the time of the Reformation? What would they know of it? And would they know what it was they were delivered from? No, it is unknown now even among those who call themselves Protestants.
The Historic Confessions and the Papacy
Even our historic Confessions which once clearly identified the Antichrist, have been illegally tampered with, rewritten, some editions of the Westminster Confession of Faith, also the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith has been moderated by some. May I suggest that people have no right to interfere with those historic Confessions, they are the property of the Church and without the sanction of the entire Church, no one has the right to alter them in any way whatsoever? If you don’t agree with them, then just leave them alone. Then there are others who have very proudly discarded the Confessions altogether, we don’t need these documents anymore they say, we can come to the Bible for ourselves, and yes, they do come to the Bible for themselves, but what they’ve read, they don’t know where it fits into the scheme of God’s bigger picture, his entire revelation, because they have no system and therefore no understanding. The very purpose of God in his divine providence in giving us and preserving for us, these historic documents is by missed by most modern Christians, these great Confessions systemize our faith and give us an understanding of the whole of Scripture and the whole of the divine plan. They have been neglected and discarded, displaying an attitude of pride and arrogance, saying, we can start all over again, we don’t need these historical documents. May I even suggest to you that this generation of Christians are mere pygmies, in comparison to former generations, who need to stand on the shoulders of the Luther and Calvin’s to be able to see even the foot of the mountain, never mind the summit. They are proudly and blissfully unaware of the issues concerning the Roman Church-State, its Papal totalitarianism and its apostasy from the true gospel. The ultimate offence of the Roman State-Church, of course, is its war against the biblical doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, apart from works. The only greater foe that the Protestant Church faces today is the apostasy within Protestantism itself. I suggest to you that that foe is so deadly that unless there is reformation in England very soon, we will be in even more serious trouble than we are now.
Justification by Faith Alone
It is in justification by faith alone apart from works that the Church lives. It is the very bedrock, it is the Gospel. You take that away and you take away the life of the Church. You may happen into a church one Sabbath morning and find yourself wondering, what is going on here, there is no life in this! Now it won’t be because there aren’t any guitars or there aren’t any drums, but because the very life of the church, the Gospel itself has been subtracted. The indifference of those who call themselves Protestants to the Papal visit in November 2010 is appalling. At the time of giving this paper, I hadn’t heard of any other lectures being given, any other voices being raised in England in defiance of the Papal visit, just one week away from the pontiff’s visit. The general secular public may well be indifferent but where is the voice of the Christian Church? Where are the protests of Protestants? Ignorance and indifference to justification by faith alone in Christ alone apart from works there is indifference to the Gospel itself. The church is saying it doesn’t really matter, it’s only the gospel, it’s only the means of salvation for our children and our grandchildren, it’s of no account to us. The truth of justification has been cast aside in pursuit of religious experience, that has taken the place of God’s righteousness, yes even Christ. They are more mindful of earthly things. Evangelicalism today speaks of being wiser than its forebears, it’s more scholarly, much more clever. It’s not seen to be theologically correct anymore to hold meetings such as this, to raise one’s voice against the Papacy or the Roman Church-State, it’s bad order old chap, or un-cool to ruffle the feathers of anyone today, let alone the papal Antichrist. What they mean by being wise today means simply saying nothing, peace, peace at any price? But, that simply will not do, we will unashamedly transgress the modern theological trend. We will not and cannot remain silent.
The Papacy and Totalitarianism
The Papacy, it needs to be remembered, is not just a religious power, but a political power also. Their agenda is still, as it has ever been, a one-world church and a world governed by the Papacy. One of their own, John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, otherwise known as Lord Acton, both a historian and Roman Catholic, the latter all his life, talking about the absolutism of the Papacy, he coined the well-known phrase about absolute power corrupting. An authority which he himself fought against vociferously, attacking the Papacy and its doctrine of infallibility, and yet he remained a Roman Catholic all his days. It is to former historians and theologians, even those within the Roman Church-State itself that you need to turn to, in order find the clearest and most distinct arguments that the Papacy is indeed the very Antichrist. They themselves are the most virulent in their attacks against the Papacy, and its claims of infallibility, their criticisms of the same are utterly damning.
Monopoly on Truth
The Papacy is designed for power over men, that was its purpose from its institution. The Roman Church-State wields a system of government centralised in Rome that is dictatorial and requires complete subservience to the State and claims that outside of itself, there is no salvation. It also lays claim to a monopoly on truth, that the Roman Church-State alone knows what truth is. It alone defines what truth is, describes the truth and it interprets the truth. Standing in opposition to, against the Reformation-wrought and blood-bought right of all men to read and to interpret the Holy Scriptures for themselves by the aid of the Holy Spirit. It also claims continuing revelation (which in itself is a mark of the false church) against Scripture’s teaching that revelation ended with the sealing of the New Testament Canon of Scripture and claims its traditions are of equal authority to the Bible, thereby destroying truth, for its traditions deny the very truth of Scripture. It demands total allegiance from its people and governs all that they are to say and do. It takes sole responsibility for the soul and salvation of its members, with its demands that they submit entirely to the Roman Church-state’s teaching, it shows itself as totalitarian as any form of communism or Hitler’s Nazism. Its claim is to stand supremely between man and Christ. In fact, the Papacy claims to speak as God.
It claims the role of mediator, that the Pope is the vicar of Christ and is a direct spiritual descendant of the Apostle Peter (apostolic succession). This is sheer fantasy as said the late John Robbins of Trinity Foundation. Its subjects call the Pope Holy Father, this in spite of the injunction of the Lord Jesus Christ himself. When the Pope speaks ex-cathedra in the College of Cardinals, he speaks with infallibility which was clearly defined in 1870. It is claimed he speaks as infallibly as the very word of God and as the very word of Christ himself, for he is the vicar of Christ, Christ’s representative on earth, they say. The power of the Roman Church-State centres on one man who they claim to be as God (2 Thessalonians 2:4). Therefore, he is to be worshipped, bowed down to and adored, and this in spite of the clear biblical warnings against such practices, even the apostle John is clearly admonished by an angelic being for falling before and worshipping him. Worship God, and God alone he is told. The Reformation challenged the Papal authority, the Bible alone it was claimed, and not the Church, not the Pope, not his councils or traditions, is the only source of truth. We are not to subtract from it, we are not to add to it and there is nothing else in all this world that is to bind the conscience of a Christian. We have one authority and one alone, one mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ and him alone. The Roman Church-state is a principle-less, totalitarian government.
Murder of Heretics
The Roman Church-State is an unprincipled totalitarian government and like all totalitarian regimes, it will stop at nothing to keep its subjects in obedience, even the murder of heretics being permitted. The Roman Church-State insists on unity, loyalty and conformity. Dissenters are to be corrected or killed, state-sanctioned murder. May I repeat that last phrase again, “nothing could be more agreeable to the cause of God! Massacre, make deserts everywhere, burn!” And yet its political thought has not altered in the least either before or since that statement was issued. The Albigenses were slaughtered in 1202 on the authority of this totalitarian regime. On the twenty-fourth day of August 1572, the blood of the Huguenots ran through the streets of Paris, France. The Crusades and so many, much more that could be brought before, and will be brought before the tribunal of God, all justified on the same basis. But, say many ignorant Protestants today, they, Rome have changed, altered for the better. This is a modern regime now, it is claimed. A superficial reading of the following statement would give you that impression. But, if you want to know what those due limits are, then you have to turn to their social encyclicals which define these limits, one of which I have just quoted. The freedom conferred is freedom from individuals, freedom from social groups, freedom from human powers but not freedom from the Papacy, which, they claim, is an infallible and divine institution. That same Pope declared that he was God on earth. He was speaking about their freedom, not yours. The only freedom that was being conferred was the freedom to be a Roman Catholic. Yes, their words change, with the varying circumstances they are faced with, Rome is ever the chameleon able to blend into any circumstance you care to think of, Semper eadem, it is ever the same. And none less so today, in fact, I suggest to you that it is still engaged in the same devious, wicked and bloody business as ever it was. In more recent times it threw the weight of the Papacy behind Hitler’s slaughter in Nazi Germany. The same during Hitler’s invasion of the Balkans, and even in recent days in the same region, its bloody paws are stained with the lives of many eastern Europeans, and it remains totally unrepentant. Northern Ireland, Africa, South America, we could go on, and these are just the ones we know of. It was with some audacity that the present Pope turned on Islam and accused it of being a blood-shedding entity, of course for purely political reasons, that statement of gross hypocrisy was very quickly withdrawn. The Roman Church-state is totalitarian to the very core of its blasphemous being. It brooks no equal and its policy is still, correct or kill. It is, I submit to you, the very Antichrist.
The Papacy and Justification
In regard to the Bible itself, their Canon Law states. That is present Canon Law. However, under pressure from freedom-loving people the world over, it has had to yield on the matters of censorship, Yet still, even now it outlaws publication of the Bible unless it is approved by the Apostolic See. With the phrase, ”with necessary and sufficient explanation”, the Roman Church-State dares to censor God himself! But, turning to the gospel essentials themselves.
Ever the Chameleon
Again it must be said, those ignorant Protestants, of which there are many in our day and generation, are often deceived by the Roman Church-State’s use of both Reformation and Bible words. They use the same words but they empty them of the same content, for example, justification by grace. I have had Protestant ministers say to me, Rome has changed, they believe in justification by grace the same as you and I. But they fail to ask what they mean by that familiar phrase, for what they mean is, that man is made righteous. The soul is inwardly adorned with grace, that is, infused with righteousness, not the imputed righteousness of Christ. The work of the Holy Spirit within man is substituted for Christ’s work for man, as the basis for our acceptance with almighty God, they have substituted the internal for what remains objective, not the work of Christ but the work of the Roman Church-State, of the Antichrist and his minions with their priestcraft. So justification by faith in their terms means that faith itself is a quality, it’s a work. It makes the believer righteous. Yet today Protestants applaud them and cry, hallelujah, the Roman Church-state has changed, despite its proving itself time and time again capable of adapting to every situation and language it chooses and to adapt to any pagan outfit that it cares to use for its own purposes. I have it on good authority that there are discussions taking place at an extremely high level, even as I speak, between the Roman Church-State and Islam as to how the two can come together. The issues that need to be overcome of course are Islam’s monotheism and Rome’s Trinitarianism, if they can solve that then the two of them will be married, a mighty army with the Papacy at its head.
Religious Ignorance and Confusion
Of course, they do exactly the same with Protestant slogans, they take the words but they change the meaning of them. They speak of a righteousness inside (internalised) so the words grace, righteousness, justification, substitution remain, but inward renewal is put in the place of the imputed righteousness of Christ. It is the work in man that replaces the work of God for man. The focus is on the inward not the righteousness of scripture which is at the right hand of God even Christ himself. The Roman Church-State is the head of all religious isms because as chapter seventeen and verse five, in the book of Revelation, we are told, it is the mother of all the abominations of the earth, a cage for every unclean bird and a home for all the rest. It is the perfect epitome of all false religion. It is a false church. The common denominator of all false religions is their preoccupation with the interior life of the worshipper. The Charismatic and Pentecostal religions are children of the same false church. Justification is an act of God for Christ’s sake, ascribing to believers everything that Christ did on their behalf. It’s his obedience for them and he alone is their righteousness. Yet even the righteous are being deceived. In the 20th century, we saw the onslaught of ecumenicalism fuelled by many famous names. One being Dr Billy Graham (the apostate American evangelist) who came once again to these shores to further the ecumenical movement. Apostate, you say? Isn’t that a bit strong? No, not all. Though I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t heard the words myself from his own lips. Dr Graham was interviewed in the Crystal Cathedral in California by Dr Robert Schuller who spoke with him concerning legitimate ways to God. During this discussion, Dr Graham said that he believed Islam was a legitimate pathway to God for sinners. Even Dr Schuller (who is himself a pluralist) could not believe what he was hearing and asked him to repeat it. “Dr Graham, did I hear you right? Did you say that you thought that Islam was a legitimate pathway to God?” Dr Graham repeated emphatically “Yes. That is what I said.” Chuck Colson and J. I. Packer with their “Catholics and Evangelicals together” are, again to quote the late John Robbins, “bleating wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Because of them and many others in the 20th Century, many have repudiated the faith of their fathers and have fallen over each other to fawn the beast. We read in scripture, “and I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; (That wound was the Protestant overthrow and we’ll come to that in a moment) and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast” (Revelation 13:1).
Deep and Ever Deepening Apostasy
I have met many wonderful saints who have been converted in predominately Roman Catholic countries such as Portugal, Spain and Italy and they know, believe me, what they have been saved from in a way that the foolish Protestants of our own nation today neither know nor understand. And knowing what it is they have been delivered from, they will not be so easily deceived as our brethren in this country. In this counterfeit gospel that has blinded, tranquillized and struck dumb Protestants throughout our land, the centrality and the all-sufficiency of justification by faith alone in Christ alone apart from works has been lost. It has been subordinated to sanctification. Protestantism in England has opened its doors wide to pantheism, paganism, occult practices, self-hypnosis, transcendental meditation, visualisation and yoga; all of which are antithetical to Christian teaching. It has committed intellectual suicide and sinks by the day into further and deeper apostasy.
The Protestant Overthrow
The Reformation’s watchword is Sola Scriptura, scripture alone. This assertion was made against the Papacy and against its Councils. It was a declaration for and of, the necessity, authority, sufficiency and perspicuity of Scripture. Scripture, the Bible, is necessary for salvation. The Word of God, the propositions of Holy Scripture, is our only authority. It is the Church’s only authority. And it is sufficient for all men everywhere and it is perfectly clear. A man or woman in whom the Holy Spirit dwells has the ability to understand the scriptures for themselves unaided by any Papacy or any other authority. For Luther and Calvin, the Bible and the Bible alone was the only authority in the Church. The government is on Christ’s shoulders. He is the sole supreme Head of the Church, there is no other. His statute book is the Bible and it is his regal, royal law by which he would have his subjects to be governed, “to the law and to the testimony if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). The Belgic Confession of Faith, Article VII says: “Neither do we consider of equal value any writing of men, however holy these men may have been, with those divine Scriptures, nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God, for the truth is above all; for all men are of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself. Therefore, we reject with all our hearts, whatsoever doth not agree with this infallible rule, which the apostles have taught us, saying, Try the spirits whether they are of God. Likewise, if there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house.”
The Reformers and the Bible
The Church, the Reformers advocated, is a product of the truth. It is the truth that produces the church not the other the church that produces the truth. It is by the living Word of God that men and women are born again to eternal life and called into the true Church of God. Outside of the Bible, there is no truth, neither in science, politics nor in philosophy. Outside of scripture, there is no truth, none at all, God alone speaks the truth, all men are liars, and so most certainly infallibility is found nowhere else either. The church is Christ’s kingdom and he reigns in his kingdom by his word alone. He comes to man with his word to challenge man’s authority and to overthrow his sinful conceit and arrogance. It is blasphemous impiety to maintain that the church has precedence, priority over the scriptures. It is before the scripture of God that the church must bow and submit herself to, and to that alone.
The Reformers and the Church
With all the moral, or perhaps we should say, the immoral, and the financial scandals amongst the subjects and the priesthood of the Roman Church-State that have been so publicly brought to our attention, it must raise the question in many people’s minds, including no doubt in that of many Roman Catholics, what and where on earth is the church? Well, firstly you have to understand what the Bible means by the church, because all that we see and all that we would call the church, isn’t necessarily what scripture calls the church. The Bible speaks of the church visible and the church invisible. The visible is the one that we all can see, made up of people of different tongues, tribes and kindred, spread throughout the world. You can see it, made up of men, women and children. However, within this visible church, there is what is called the invisible church. The one that God alone can see, the ecclesia, the New Testament word for church, made up of those who are truly elect; chosen that is, of God before the foundation of the world; regenerated, reborn and effectually united to Christ by faith. And this church, Jesus Christ himself has promised his people, will never be overcome, will never be totally overrun and ruined by sin, not even the gates of hell shall prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). It shall be preserved, kept holy and blameless before God. The visible church then is made up of all those who profess faith in Christ worldwide. Some will meet in formal situations in church buildings, some in houses, some in dens and hovels maybe. But amidst that visible church, we have been warned in the Bible there will always be the false professors and the false teachers, wolves in sheep’s clothing.
So we have the ideal, the invisible church, and the actual, the church from God’s perspective and from a human perspective. Now the Roman Church-State says that to be in good standing with itself is to be in good standing with God. As long as you are right with it, you are good to go, to heaven that is. But woe is you if you ever leave it, that is apostasy from God, according to their teaching. The womb of the New Testament church, according to Scripture, is divine, sovereign, particular grace and election; chosen by God from before the foundation of the world, sanctified and separated from the world, called out from the world and into the true church of God, the invisible one. Now such a person may at some point in their pilgrimage on earth, leave the visible church, because of error and outright apostasy, because of false teaching, they have every right to do that, and should, in fact, do so. But they being united to Christ by faith, and united to God’s people, i.e., part of the invisible, God’s gathered people, are never separated from that gathering. They have a covenant with God, which is inviolable and unbreakable. They are God’s called-out people for time and for eternity. Popes may inveigh against them, Minister and elders may rail against them for leaving, but they can never be separated from God. Justified freely by his grace, and justified forever.
The Reformers and Justification
If you attend a place of worship tomorrow may I make a suggestion? Either before or after the service ask the person next to you if they are a Christian. If they say yes, then ask them if they would explain to you what the gospel is. How does God righteous a man or woman? What is the gospel? What is this good news of which Christians speak? As I minister on the streets of this country I meet a great variety of professing Christians, I ask them about their conversions, about the gospel. I ask them these questions and they look at me as if I come from another planet. What the gospel is, they don’t know, the apostle Paul gives a clear statement of it. That is the gospel, an act of God’s free sovereign grace! It’s a forensic term, it is a legal term and it does not change the inner nature of a person, it does not make them righteous but it changes their judicial relationship, their legal standing before almighty God. When God justifies a man or a woman they are accepted as righteous before God and the grounds for that is not to be found in any inherent righteousness in the sinner but it is a righteousness that is credited to them, imputed by Christ alone which is appropriated by faith alone apart from any works. This faith is a God-given power whereby the believer is united to Christ and then, and only then, partakes of all the Covenant benefits that Christ purchased for them.
It is not a progressive work, it is a single, instantaneous act of God. The moment a sinner believes, God dawns the judge’s cap, he brings down his gavel, points to the sinner and says, no, not just not guilty, no, not just, there is no condemnation. He goes even further, to even greater lengths, he declares, righteous! To be thus declared is be declared to be without guilt, declared to be without condemnation. It is a declarative act; it is a declaration, a divine declaration by God in his utterly sovereign grace and mercy, whereby he clears in the court of heaven that sinful man or woman to be righteous before him. The sinner from that point on can be certain, and I repeat certain of their standing before almighty God. They can be assured in the depths of their being that they are no longer under divine wrath and condemnation. However, the Papal visit next week is a political visit. It is a state visit not a pastoral visit like the last one. But that makes no difference, for even if he were coming in the capacity of a pastoral visit, he has no words of comfort for his subjects, no, none at all. For he would rob them of any assurance of heaven, any right standing before God, for any who claims such assurance falls under Rome’s curse. The Roman Catholic who claims assurance of faith is cursed!
Justification by faith alone through Christ alone apart from works; this is the bedrock of the Christian faith, this is the gospel. You get it wrong here and you are wrong everywhere. If the foundation is wrong then the superstructure will be just a tangled mess. And that is just what the Roman Church-State is. The Bible assures us of unconditional grace, that verse from Romans could translate this way: being justified without cause, simply by his grace. That is to say, it is not conditional. For God’s covenant of grace is completely unconditional, it is a unilateral covenant. It is formed by God, established by God, and all its particulars are fulfilled by God because we ourselves are unable to fulfil it. But he pledges and he swears that he will do it. Unconditional! Depending not on any quality in the heart and the life of the person either before or after conversion. In fact, it is a given for the believer. For the true believer in Christ, it is done even before the foundation of the world. We could say, the believer is subjectively justified in eternity and objectively justified in time and brought to faith in Christ. This grace is a quality in God’s heart. It is a wonderful disposition to be kind and to be merciful to the sinful and undeserving. How great and how gracious is our God! Faith, my dear friends is the spiritual bond that unites us to Christ. Faith is also knowledge, knowledge of Christ to whom we are united by faith. Faith is knowledge because its object is Scripture in which Christ is revealed. All the propositions in the Bible concerning Jesus Christ, doctrine, that stuff that Protestants have no time for today. Faith is personal, intimate, experiential knowledge of Christ. It is a reasonable knowledge, rational and intelligent knowledge. Knowledge is a personal acquaintance. I need no more proof that my wife exists than I do God exists, because all scripture, all of it, is his word. You say how do you know that? Well because I know Him. I know him. If my wife writes me a letter when I’m away from home, I don’t have to go to the end to know who wrote the letter to me. I sit there reading it and I can say to my friends I have a letter from my wife, how do I know, because I know her writing, I know the way she thinks, I know the way she talks, the way she expresses herself because I know her. I know the Bible is God’s word because I know him. I know the way he thinks, I know the way he speaks, I know the way he expresses himself. It’s not proof or evidence that people need. If you won’t believe the Bible, you won’t believe at all. Miracles, proofs, evidence? If you won’t believe this Bible you won’t believe, end of story. It’s not proof, it’s not evidence that Richard Dawkins needs. It’s grace that’s needed, it’s grace alone, free, sovereign grace, it is that that opens the eyes of men and removes their blindness to see that God is God.
The Corporate Mess
Adam started the family, he’s the family head. And from Adam comes the entire family of the human race. And from that organism of the human race there comes other organisms – there is the State and there is the Church – it is the family that produces them all. We all have a responsibility for the family and the state, for everything it does; just as we are accountable to God for what Adam did. That’s how guilty you are, just as though you reached up yourself and took that fruit and ate it. Every single one of you is guilty in Adam (Read Romans Chapter 5). We are all accountable, all guilty before God of that sin, Adam’s sin. There is a corporate responsibility not just for Adam our family head’s sin but there is a corporate responsibility in all of us with regards to the State and, for those of you who are Christians, the Church.
You have examples of this in the Bible. You have the sin of Achan in Joshua chapter 7. Israel is making war and they come to a sudden stop. They are defeated. It’s an easy job the city of Ai yet they are brought to a standstill. Joshua the leader falls to his knees and he cries out “What’s gone wrong?” God tells him, “get up from your knees, there is sin in the camp. Israel has sinned” He says. Not Achan but Israel have sinned. The entire nation and the entire church were culpable before God because of that one man’s sin.
Read if you will the prayers of Ezra, Daniel, Nehemiah. They are confessions not of their own personal sin but the sins of the nation – WE have denied thy word, we have committed these idolatrous acts, WE have forsaken thy Law, we have turned from thee the fountain of living water; WE Israel as a nation and as a church have done this. WE are guilty.
You and I here this afternoon have a corporate responsibility and culpability for what is being done in our nation today. You may say the Papal visit has nothing to do with me, I never invited him. You are responsible before God for the sins of the State just as if you yourself had personally written to the Pope and asked him to come here. Every one of us in this room is guilty before God, culpable before God, for the abortion that takes place in this land. The blood is on our hands, every single one of us. For the widespread and increasing sodomy which is the very wrath of God expressed upon our nation (Broken Britain is how it’s described) and every one of us here this afternoon is responsible before God for all that sin.
If you are a professing Christian, a believer, then the same applies to you with regards to the Church. Protestants are responsible for the sin of the widespread apostasy in the Church today. We are all of us culpable before God.
I hear them complain, “Our church is no good, and the Pastor preaches error. He puts the sovereignty of man over the sovereignty of God”. They come home from church in a worse condition than they went. They sit around the family table whining, complaining about the state of the church, the false doctrine and the error that they listen to week after week after week but they never ever think of doing anything about it – of leaving. They remain where God’s name is blasphemed and His truth denied. But for that same apostasy, we are every single one of us guilty before God. Well, you say “How can I escape from error, what am I to do” That’s true but there are three things that are required of you. One is to refuse to have any part in the sin of the State or the Church whatsoever. Secondly to witness against the evil. When did you last lift up your voice against the abortion? You read the paper and you shake your head; you listen to the news bulletin and say that it’s terrible but you never open your mouth. We have a nation of Christians who live in fear of sodomy. They go to offices; they work in factories and are frightened to death to open their mouths because there are signs everywhere saying that homophobia will not be tolerated in any measure. It is your calling as a Christian, if that is what you are, to witness against that evil. We have all been cowed into silence. We are called to be witnesses, ye shall be my witnesses, courageously, emphatically and without fear whatever the consequences to ourselves. That’s a high calling, isn’t it? But that’s what God calls his people to do. Then thirdly to confess their sins – the sins of the State and the sins of the Church – that is to confess them as your own responsibility, we, Lord have done this! – to confess those sins and to repent of them before Almighty God. It is only as we walk in the way of repentance and faith towards Jesus Christ – there is no other way of escape.
Many Christians are very poorly taught in these days. They think in terms of “Well I repented 10, 12, 20 years ago so this call to repentance has nothing to do with me”. It has! Every time you hear this call to repent, it is applicable to every single one of us. A life of repentance and a life of faith, renewing that walk every single day of your life to its conclusion, there is no other way out.
Reformation or Revival
I don’t want to raise controversy in this matter but people talk about revival today and I wonder is that a legitimate prayer? I think it depends on what you mean by the word. If you mean reformation then I will agree with you but if you are talking about some mystical event that will vivify what we call Christianity in this land today then I say Lord forbid! Revival seems to me to speak of a revivification of something but what is there to revive? But if you mean reformation then I will agree with you wholeheartedly. I know I speak as a Scotsman but I have a heart for England. I’m called to minister here and I’m not speaking with prejudice when I say that one of the problems with England is that it was never, never really reformed. Certainly not in the way the Scotland and Ireland were. Henry VIII rejected the Papacy, not for doctrinal reasons but because he wanted 6 wives. The Papacy stood in the way of that. England was never a reformed country, Protestantism was imposed upon England. You may perhaps not agree with that statement but you surely must agree with me that a genuine reformation movement is the need of the day.
What do I mean by Reformation?
Firstly both an awareness and a condemnation of false doctrine are necessary. Every church member has a right to go to their Pastor is he is preaching error and tell him so. In the right manner and the right frame of mind of course but even so, every church member has the right to go to their Pastor, their preacher, their minister and say “Pastor, that’s not what the Bible says”. Secondly would be a determination to return to the old paths. Jeremiah 6: “Ask for the old paths.” I mean a return to the historic confessional standards; that so rich vein of Christian truth that proclaims and declares what the Bible and God’s salvation is about. Teaching our people, our children and our grandchildren those same Confessions, raising up a generation of Christians that know what they believe and are able to articulate it.
A return to psalm-singing, to the scripturally regulated worship of God. This is our standard for worship. It is not a free for all. We do not have a right to introduce anything to God’s worship that is not in his book. Reformation you see is always a going back not forwards. It’s going back to what we have forsaken; it is going back to what we have left. It is not looking for new gimmicks – we’ve tried all that and it doesn’t work – it’s a going back to what we’ve abandoned, what we’ve forsaken. It’s going back to the old paths, going back to the truth. Thirdly it is looking ahead positively and implementing the word of God in every area of our lives, our churches, our worship, our doctrine, our teaching. It’s believing what you have been called to believe, serious believing.
I have set before you the person of the Antichrist. In conclusion, I would set before you this afternoon the real Christ, the true and the only Christ of God, the Messiah, Jesus, who was crucified dead and buried and raised again from the dead to give eternal life to all those who believe on his name.
You wish to know more of him then the only place to turn to is to his Word and the propositions contained therein concerning Jesus the Christ. And I assure you that in obeying God and his command to all men everywhere to repent, that with His command to you this afternoon to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ there comes with it a promise that if you do, thou SHALL be saved.