Others May, You Cannot – G. D. Watson

If God has called you to be truly like Jesus in all your spirit, He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility. He will put on you such demands of obedience that you will not be allowed to follow other Christians. In many ways, He seems to let other good people do things which He will not let you do.

Related imageOthers who seem to be very religious and useful may push themselves, pull wires, and scheme to carry out their plans, but you cannot. If you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.

Others can brag about themselves, their work, their successes, their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing. If you begin to do so, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.

Others will be allowed to succeed in making great sums of money, or having a legacy left to them, or in having luxuries, but God may supply you only on a day-to-day basis, because He wants you to have something far better than gold, a helpless dependence on Him and His unseen treasury.

The Lord may let others be honored and put forward while keeping you hidden in obscurity because He wants to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade.

God may let others be great, but keep you small. He will let others do a work for Him and get the credit, but He will make you work and toil without knowing how much you are doing. Then, to make your work still more precious, He will let others get the credit for the work which you have done; this to teach you the message of the Cross, humility, and something of the value of being cloaked with His nature. The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch on you, and with a jealous love rebuke you for careless words and feelings, or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seem distressed over.

So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign and has a right to do as He pleases with His own, and that He may not explain to you a thousand things which may puzzle your reason in His dealings with you.

God will take you at your word. If you absolutely sell yourself to be His slave, He will wrap you up in a jealous love and let other people say and do many things that you cannot. Settle it forever; you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue or chaining your hand or closing your eyes in ways which others are not dealt with. However, know this great secret of the Kingdom: When you are so completely possessed with the Living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of heaven, the high calling of God.

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Review of Leonard Ravenhill’s “Tried and Transfigured” – John Boruff

Hardships and Temptations:
Jesus Had Them and So Will True Christians

Image result for tried and transfigured ravenhill

This book is broken up into two main parts. Part 1 is about the temptations of Jesus (hence the word Tried or trial in the title); and Part 2 is about the transfiguration of Jesus (hence the word Transfigured or sanctified with Spirit-baptism in the title). Most of the book is a Bible study about these experiences in Jesus’ life; and explaining what they mean. But occasionally the suggestion is drawn that Christians are to expect the same things in their own lives, in different ways. Ravenhill advances the thesis that true Christians, who are reflections of Jesus, will go through both trials (painful hardships) and temptations (pleasurable, sinful seductions) in order to prove the genuineness of their faith in God. 1 Peter 1:6-7: “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that THE PROVEN GENUINENESS OF YOUR FAITH—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Ravenhill said, “Gold tried in a fire is of greater value than gold which still has a mixture of alloys. Gold that is shaped into an ornament has yet more value. Of still higher worth is gold purified, then shaped into a vessel, and finally beautifully engraved” (p. 64). I also think about Job 1:8-12, when Satan himself was allowed to test Job’s faith with hardships, in order to prove to the spirit world that Job feared God with no strings attached.

All kinds of trials. When thinking about Jesus, he refers to Jesus in the desert for 40 days, fasting, hungering, starving, getting challenged by the devil to make bread out of stones in order to prove to Himself that he was the Son of God (implied was a suggestion to Jesus that he was not the Son of God but illegitimate), to throw Himself down from the temple and see if the angels would come and levitate Him, and to seduce Him with worldwide religious and political authority if He would only bow down and worship the devil—perhaps an appeal to follow Roman religion and have influence in the Roman empire as a chief magician, like Jannes and Jambres were for Pharaoh (Exod. 7:22; 2 Tim. 3:8).

Related imageWith each demonic vision or voice, Jesus appealed to the authority of Scripture, saying, “It is written” (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10); and after the third time “the devil left Him, and angels came and attended Him” (4:11). The angels would have come to strengthen His faith. Even Jesus needed to live by faith, because He lived as a man. So, after proving His spiritual strength by conquering bodily cravings, by shunning the vanity of materialism and earthly authority, by placing His faith verbally in Scripture all by Himself in isolation from other people, by rejecting the Dark Side of the Force and Satan’s lure to become the next Darth Vader, and by overcoming the devil in the desert unlike Adam had in the Garden—Jesus proved to the spirit world that He had authority over all evil spirits: even over Satan himself. Before the desert, there is no mention of Jesus casting out demons. But afterwards, it happened almost constantly for three years until He was crucified.

The Transfiguration:
Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Empowerment to Face Even Greater Trials

When we come to the transfiguration part of the book, which is longer, we see different themes touched on. In its Introduction, conditional security is mentioned: the possibility of backsliding after mountaintop experiences with the Lord. Peter denied Jesus three times after he saw the transfiguration of Jesus (his body shining with the bright white light of the Holy Spirit), and Moses, Elijah, the bright white cloud of God, the audible voice of God, falling into a trance, feeling the fear of God (Matt. 17:1-9). Even after all of that, Peter still weakened and buckled under pressure when his life was threatened. The moral of the story is that spiritual highs in the present are no guarantee against losing your faith in the future. Salvation is by faith (Eph. 2:8); so much for the doctrine of once saved, always saved! We must keep ourselves in check, God helping us. 1 Corinthians 10:12: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” Biblical scholars generally date the transfiguration one year before the crucifixion. So, after this extremely supernatural experience of God, it took about one year for Peter to backslide to the point of denying Jesus three times, when threatened with martyrdom (Matt. 26:69-75).

Image result for Jesus transfiguration mount

I was pleasantly surprised to see Ravenhill favorably refer to Evelyn Underhill’s The Mystic Way on page 81, a 400 page book on Catholic mystical theology from an Anglican perspective. At first I was a little concerned, because in her book Mysticism, she takes a pluralistic approach, mixing the religions, but in the one quoted by Ravenhill, it looks like she had cleaned up her theology and only turned to sources like Catholic saints. It was about how contemplation can lead to transfiguration or even encounters with the shekinah glory (light of the Holy Spirit): St. Francis of Assisi and St. Catherine of Bologna are mentioned as examples. I recently wrote about this in my booklet on Supernatural Lights, drawing from Alexander Golitzin’s St. Symeon the New Theologian: On the Mystical Life, vol. 3, where he shares at length about the role of shekinah glory in the life of this Greek Orthodox saint. Foreign sounding to Baptist, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and other Protestant ears, but it begs the question of whether they are missing out on something due to a theological blind spot.

When referring to these mountaintop or transfiguration-like experiences, he brings it down a notch for the rest of Christianity. Not everyone is like St. Francis of Assisi, not everyone is literally going to light up like Jesus or Moses did. (Why not!?) But seriously, though, there are lower level experiences from the Holy Spirit that can follow the same pattern, following periods of trial and temptation, only to be followed by worse ones later on. Ravenhill said:

Christ’s glory-baptism on the Mount must have been a special means of ministry for His soul’s fortification. This was the entrance to a future, gloomy tunnel of soul-strain that led to the waste places of the valley of humiliation. It was a special anointing for service…Christ had this glory-baptism, this unique anointing of majesty on the Mount of Transfiguration. It was a gateway through which He began to tread the Via Dolorosa (pp. 127-128).

In other words, His transfiguration was a supernatural empowerment of confidence and divine protection, to energize Him for the greater trials that lied ahead (Matt. 17): namely, negative repercussions from cleansing the temple, persecution from politically empowered Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, Gethsemane where He sweat blood, Judas Iscariot’s betrayal and suicide, kangaroo court proceedings, mockery from Roman soldiers, the crown of thorns, Peter’s denials, beatings, scourgings, His crucifixion (definitely that), and knowing that most of His disciples did not believe He would rise from the dead (Matt. 21-28). Ravenhill also saw the transfiguration as a kind of baptism in the Holy Spirit, without speaking in tongues: and no doubt, it was: the glory cloud of the Holy Spirit was permeating the atmosphere to where you could both feel it and see it! All of them were Spirit baptized in a sense, but especially Jesus, since He shone with light. It might have been the greatest Spirit baptism He ever experienced. But by the time He’s on the cross a year later, He couldn’t feel God’s presence, and He cried, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me!” (Matt. 27:46). No presence of God was felt on the cross. It seems that the transfiguration baptism had all dried up by then. By the time of Gethsemane, just before the crucifixion, He needed extra encouragement from an angel (Luke 22:43). But He got there. Jesus didn’t run away, even though God told Him through Moses and Elijah what He wanted to happen. Luke 9:30-31: “There talked with Him two men, which were Moses and Elijah: who appeared in glory, and spake of His decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem.” Does it look like I’m presenting an all-too-human Jesus to you? How human can you get…dying on a cross. That is one of the most humiliating ways to die. Compare that with the way the Pharisees probably died: with honors and respect, as rabbi-saints, respected in the community, lying on their deathbeds, blessing and prophesying to a group of loving admirers. Not Jesus. He died with probably nothing more than a loin cloth on His body, with shredded skin and muscle tissue hanging out, with huge holes in His hands and feet, gasping for His final breaths while thugs laughed at him. Jesus was and is the Son of God, but He lived as a human being and was “tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin” (Heb. 4:15). He was the Son of God yes, but he was also the Son of Man (through the virgin Mary), and that is what qualifies Him to be a mediator, or middleman, between God and humankind. But this same Jesus definitely needed encouragement from the Holy Spirit, the voice of God, saints from Heaven, and from angels sometimes! And SO DO WE!

I disagree with Ravenhill’s doctrine of entire sanctification in ch. 16, which is what he thinks the transfiguration symbolizes for the life of the believer. On the contrary, I think it more so symbolizes what we have in Acts 2:4: “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” The presence of God part, more so than the tongues part, but they aren’t mutually exclusive now that we live in the Pentecostal age. But along with Wesley and all the confused Methodists and holiness people who hold to entire sanctification, Ravenhill at least said that backsliding from perfection was possible, which to me, nullifies the entire claim of the doctrine: “I am not inferring that this endowment is a kind of perpetual nonforfeitable” thing (p. 143). Well, then brother Ravenhill, I would say then that although God is omnipotent, the flesh will always remain sinful (Rom. 7:23), and only physical death will eradicate bodily sin entirely (glorification). There is no entire sanctification before death. However, SPIRIT-BAPTISMS should be the focus, because it is SPIRIT-BAPTISMS, or FEELING GOD’S PRESENCE that strengthens our faith and resolve to fight sin, when things get dry. And how do we get them? They are “maintained only by prayer and close submission to the will of God” (p. 143). Pentecostal praise and worship is a form of prayer. Bible study and faith-based obedience to Scripture is the best form of submission to God that I know of. James 4:7: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

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Antinomianism: A Historical Sketch – Daniel Steele

Originally from here.

We have hinted that Antinomianism has had its cycles in the history of the Church. Its full development, since the Reformation, is due to John Agricola (1492-1566), one of the early coadjutors of Luther, some of whose expressions, as to justification and the law, in the heat of his great controversy with Rome, were hasty, extravagant, and quite Antinomian. These utterances Agricola developed into a system so extreme, and so subversive of Christian morals, that he published in 1537 these words: “Art thou steeped in sin–an adulterer or a thief? If thou believest, thou art in salvation. All who follow Moses must go to the devil; to the gallows with Moses.” This was the kind of tares sown in Luther’s field by a professed friend. Luther attacked him violently, calling him a fanatic, and other hard names. After Agricola’s death, Amsdorf and Otto advocated his doctrines, and maintained that good works are an obstacle to salvation. Similar sentiments were preached in England in the days of Oliver Cromwell.

Tobias Crisp.jpg

But it remained for Dr. Crisp, (1600-1642), a rector of the Church of England, to give this error its full development in Anglican theology, from the seed-corn of high Calvinism. The following sentiments abound in his sermons: “The law is cruel and tyrannical, requiring what is naturally impossible.” “The sins of the elect were so imputed to Christ, as that, though He did not commit them, yet they became actually His transgressions, and ceased to be theirs. The feelings of conscience which tell them that sin is theirs, arise from a want of knowing the truth. It is but the voice of a lying spirit in the hearts of believers that saith they have yet in wasting their conscience, and lying as a burden too heavy for them to bear. Christ’s righteousness is so imputed to the elect, that they, ceasing to be sinners, are as righteous as He was, and all that He was. An elect person is not in a condemned state while an unbeliever; and should he happen to die before God calls him to believe, he would not be lost. Repentance and confession of sin are not necessary to forgiveness. A believer may certainly conclude before confession, yea, as soon as he hath committed sin, the interest he hath in Christ, and the love of Christ embracing him.”

This doctrine completely destroys the distinction between right and wrong, and removes all motives to abstain from sin. It boasts in the perseverance of the saints, while it believes in no saint but one, that is, Jesus, and neglects to persevere. Several vigorous theologians opposed this baneful doctrine, the chief of whom were Richard Baxter and Daniel Williams, who, after heroic efforts and no small suffering, finally triumphed.

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Book Idea: “Antinomianism: The Worst of Heresies” – John Boruff

…a number of unsent persons (went) preaching about…much smooth, undigested nonsense, preached up heresy, even that worst of heresies, (as not striking at the branches, but the whole root of holiness at once,) I mean antinomianism. — John Wesley

…a number of unsent men traveled about preaching smooth, undigested nonsense. They preached heresy, even that worst of heresies–antinomianism–which strikes not at the branches, but at the whole root of holiness. — paraphrase

Baxter, Richard. An Extract of Mr. Richard Baxter’s Aphorisms of Justification. Publish’d by John Wesley. Gale, 2018.

Fletcher, John. Fletcher’s Checks to Antinomianism. Ed. Peter Wiseman. Beacon Hill Press, 1948.

Gamble, Whitney. Christ and the Law: Antinomianism at the Westminster Assembly. Reformation Heritage Books, 2018.

Gunter, W. Stephen. The Limits of Love Divine. Kingswood Books, 1989.

Jones, Mark. Antinomianism. P&R Publishing, 2013.

Kevan, Ernest. The Grace of Law: A Study in Puritan Theology. Soli Deo Gloria, 2003.

Luther, Martin. “Against the Antinomians.” Luther’s Works, vol. 47, The Christian in Society IV. Fortress Press, 1971.

Steele, Daniel. A Substitute for Holiness: Antinomianism Revived. Schmul, 1980.

Wesley, John. “A Dialogue Between an Antinomian and His Friend” (1745).

—. “A Second Dialogue Between an Antinomian and His Friend” (1745).

Williams, Daniel. Gospel-Truth Stated and Vindicated. 1692.

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Contrary Spirits and Troublemakers – John Boruff

Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
–Matthew 7:6–

When you are involved in theology or philosophy, there is a path of reasoning that you can pursue in which you sort out wrong ideas and right ones. This is called a theological or philosophical “argument,” and if Christians are to be involved in this, which they are, they should do so in a way that is characterized by gentleness and respect (1 Pet. 3:15). What is often called “judging,” and is condemned under the censure of “judge not, lest ye be judged” (Matt. 7:1), is often just reasoning, and is not about put-downs, insults, and the nitpicky chewing out that I think Jesus is referring to when he speaks against judging. In Matthew 7:5, just four verses after saying, “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” he says, “You hypocrite! First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye!” Jesus judges the man, calling him a hypocrite, a pretender, an actor. Accusing him of being a false Christian who is merely pretending to be good, but whom on the inside, is rotten and mean-spirited. The hypocrite had a plank in his eye. He had a felony on his record currently; a capital offense presently; a mortal sin. But he had the audacity to criticize this other person who had but a speck in his eye; a misdemeanor currently; an honest mistake that anyone could make, which was easy to do; a venial sin. Matthew Henry said:

Here is a good rule for reprovers, Matthew 7:5. Go in the right method, first cast the beam out of thine own eye. Our own badness is so far from excusing us in not reproving, that our being by it rendered unfit to reprove is an aggravation of our badness; I must not say, “I have a beam in my own eye, and therefore I will not help my brother with the mote out of his.” A man’s offence will never be his defence: but I must first reform myself, that I may thereby help to reform my brother, and may qualify myself to reprove him. Note, those who blame others, ought to be blameless and harmless themselves. Those who are reprovers in the gate, reprovers by office, magistrates and ministers, are concerned to walk circumspectly, and to be very regular in their conversation: an elder must have a good report, 1 Timothy 3:2, 7. The snuffers of the sanctuary were to be of pure gold.

“A man’s offence must never be his defence.” That can’t be all he’s got to stand on to be in God’s will. What else should he have in his defense? As a criticizer, he should have this in his defense: that he bears the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). But if there is found in him a great amount of sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissension, faction, envy, drunkenness, or orgies (Gal. 5:19-21), then you can be sure that his critiques and judgments are most likely not in line with the Holy Spirit, but coming from a natural source: the carnal, natural reasonings of the human brain, and nothing additional or divinely aided. People that get involved in theological debates are not likely involved in fornication, idolatry, drunkenness, or the occult. But they could very well have lots of baggage with demon spirits, or natural and unmortified inclinations, that tend to hatred and fighting, fits of rage, and selfish ambition.

Such people often have what I call contrary spirits. These spirits may or may not be demonic, but they basically come down to a contradictory attitude. You say white, they say black; you say green, they say red; you say left, they say right; you say up, they say down. Its not really logical or about reasoning things out intellectually. Its based on picking a fight with you, because they don’t like you, and they just want to contradict you. Jonathan Edwards said that the godly man “has a mean opinion of the contrary spirit, and that, not only in others, but in himself. He looks upon it as a dishonorable and hateful spirit.” Jesus said that contrary people are like dogs or pigs; and that you should not throw your theological pearls to them, or else they will tear you to pieces with their words (Matt. 7:6). I’ve said in another place that theologians and pastors should not censure people who ask theological questions. But at the same time, I don’t think preachers should throw their pearls to swine. The difference is obvious: an inquisitive soul will have an inquisitive, curious, and prying spirit, and might get excitable at times, but will be reasonable throughout a discussion, and the subjects that are touched upon. But a dog, or a pig-like man (pigs are dirty, aggressive animals), will only have the presence of mind to contradict you; and have not that many reasons for why, other than that they made a contrary statement against what you said. And they will make it known that they don’t like you and your views, just because they don’t. These people are not spiritual seekers, they are just troublemakers. So, I’d say Jesus would have us to ignore such troublemakers.

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A Biblical Critique of Capitalism – John Boruff

Puritan Capitalism vs. Adam Smith’s Agnostic Capitalism

Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (1776) laid the philosophical foundations for what we today call capitalism. While there were truthful facts to be found in its pages, it was nothing really all that new, at least in the Puritan sense. About a century earlier, Richard Steele’s The Religious Tradesman (1684) taught Christian men to provide for their families through the virtues of diligence (hard working productivity), contentment (frugality, thrift), and retirement (which no doubt involved saving and investing). All of these things Smith continued to agree with as determinants of economic growth. But the ethical difference between Steele and Smith was very great. While Steele the Puritan taught people to temper their working lives with things such as prudence, justice, truth, and the Christian faith, Smith the agnostic and rationalistic economic philosopher, taught people to ignore Biblical ethics about money and instead be motivated completely by self-interest and competition.

Self-Interest and Competition: Shaky Motivators for Economic Growth

The vices of self-interest and competition are still found today in American business practices. No sales team is thought to be good that is not motivated by these things. Sales managers train their sales reps to be self-interested, to look out for number one, and be competitive. In so doing, by advancing the idea that “greed is good,” they motivate people with greed, with the desire for sales commissions, for more money. Maybe even with the desire for a hot car like a Lamborghini. During sales meetings they did this when I was with Lincoln Heritage Life Insurance Company. They actually motivated their sales reps to “get that Lambo,” in their pursuit of finding clients for burial insurance. Knocking on their houses door-to-door unannounced, and pressuring the elderly to buy insurance policies on the spot. Yeah, Smithian capitalism is still very much alive today: its self-interested. But its also competitive: why? Its competitive not only externally with other companies that are selling similar products (which I can’t really condemn altogether), but its competitive internally with other co-workers, in the same company, who have been assigned with the same tasks that you have. Back to sales as an example, if your sales manager wants you to sell 5 policies a week, pressure will be put on all the sales reps to reach 5 sales a week. Then when we come to the meeting at the end of the week, and it is announced by the sales manager that I made 7 sales that week, while everyone else made 3-5 sales, here we have a competition between co-workers. Now, it is always couched in terms of being a “friendly competition,” where contests and awards are given. But a lot of that is deceptive. The reality is, the best sales rep is isolated from everyone else socially; and everyone else feels jealousy and resentment about that guy, because he makes them look lazy. Not only that, the best sales rep has more money and possessions than everyone else; and in a culture of greed and self-interest, this makes them even more jealous. Smith didn’t really think that part of it through. I like what Art Gish had to say about this:

Adam Smith was wrong. Human egoism is not an adequate basis for economic development because private self-interest is seldom consistent with general social interest. When the self-serving elite control the means of production and distribution, we can expect that resources will be used for short-run profit rather than in harmony with the kingdom of God. It seems self-evident that a system built on internal competition will eventually destroy itself (Wealth and Poverty, p. 144).

Totally! Jesus said that a house divided cannot stand (Matt. 12:25). When we allow demons to enter into a company’s leadership, the company is now haunted, the business is now demon-possessed; and a house such as this will not stand for long, it’s only a matter of time. That’s why so many companies today have such outrageously high turnover rates. Nobody is content with their job: they want more money, they fear losing their jobs due to self-interested and competitive co-workers, and they try their best to assuage these fears through worldly office politics, adulterously flirting and swearing because everyone else does, and they lose their souls in the process; and most likely, still lose their jobs, because of self-interested and competitive co-workers. These vices of self-interest and competition are opposed to the Bible! The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines SELF-INTEREST as “a concern for one’s own advantage and well-being,” and further defines it with synonyms such as egocentricity, narcissism, self-absorption, self-centeredness, and selfishness. It defines COMPETITION as “a contest between rivals,” and uses synonyms such as having a bout, a contest, or a tournament. What is a bout? Its a fight. Fighting, in other words, is what capitalism is based on. That’s why competitive team sports are such an important part of American culture. Somewhere in the past, people must have decided that in order to beat their enemies in the workplace, they must first learn to beat their enemies at sports games. So lets train up a child in the way he should go. Teach him to beat an enemy senseless at football, basketball, or baseball.

Everything is about winners and losers in this economic system. But what does the Bible have to say about this? The total opposite. Jesus tells us to love our enemies: in other words, to resist and push back against the idea of having rivals and competitors (Matt. 5:44). Paul says, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Rom. 12:10). But by adopting Adam Smith’s capitalism, the result is hate, all in the name of looking out for your own well-being. You have to make a choice. This might be why Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matt. 6:24). Probably because the vices of self-interest and competition are of the flesh; and have always been at the heart of business practices, even in Jesus’ day. In business, either the unrestrained love of money will win your heart, or your love for God will win. But you can’t have both. If you choose God, sure you might not make as much money as you would if you didn’t use Biblical restraints, but at least your salvation is likely intact! Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Could the Scripture be anymore plain than this? This command is in direct contradiction to Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Do nothing out of self-ambition! No self-interest. Have humility! Rather than pride over your accomplishments, which are acquired competitively. Consider others as better than you! Don’t look out for your own interests! Look to the interests of others! “What anti-capitalistic nonsense is this?” says the modern businessman. Well, if he didn’t know who was saying it, or that it was coming from Paul’s letter to Philippians, he might not have been so quick to blaspheme the Word of God, if he is a Christian. 

Image result for enron jpegTake the Enron Corporation as recent example of unrestrained self-interest and internal competition among co-workers. This used to be a $100 billion natural gas company. It no longer exists. What happened? It went bankrupt through long, drawn out accounting fraud. Somebody in the accounting department got greedy and dishonest; somebody was motivated by self-interest; and somebody didn’t care a hill of beans about what happened to all of the families employed by Enron, because they were looking out for number one in the spirit of self-interest and competition with others. The house was divided, and as Jesus said, it did not stand. Oh, it stood for a while. It lasted from 1985 to 2007: a whopping 22 years. That company could have lasted for 100 years or more. But it collapsed because of self-interest, internal competition, greed, and dishonesty. That’s what happens when you don’t run a company by Biblical principles. It eventually implodes. The failure might not always be as dramatic in terms of numbers, which is why the Enron scandal attracted the attention of the media some years back, but I don’t think any business will last for very long if the Bible and Christian faith are not guiding principles among management.

Biblical Capitalism: The Journey Back to Richard Steele’s Economics

If we are followers of Jesus and Biblical principles, there must come a time when we judge Corporate America and reject its worldly ideas. Reject what your family has told you; and follow Biblical principles no matter if it costs you your job, your career, perhaps your marriage. Because even if your marriage ends for following the Bible, it is proof that it was based on money and not on Christ anyway. God calls us to Christian business activity, a Christian marriage, and a Christian family. He expects us to be different: not to compromise with the world system, but to reject self-interested and competitive business ideas, to embrace universal Christian love, giving to the poor, and above all to seek the glory of God rather than our own self-interest, and to cooperate and unify with people rather than compete with them as rivals. Acts 2:44: “All the believers were together and had everything in common.” The Amish and the Catholic monks are onto something here. When the Church becomes an economic refuge in times of crisis, there we have the opposite of Adam Smith’s views. When Christians seek to live in community, koinonia, and friendship, there we have the opposite of competition, self-interest, and rivalry. There we have the Holy Spirit, love, and joy. There is no “keeping up with the Joneses” when everyone is part of the Jones family! When all of the church “has everything in common.”

I’m not talking about atheistic communism obviously. I’m talking about Christian people sharing with one another; and enjoying each others’ company. When believers meet together in homes; and share their toys with one another; when they love, serve, and joke around with each other. This is the opposite of self-interest and competition. The opposite of pride, greed, and hate. It is the kingdom of God and is not of this world. That leaves us with Richard Steele’s Religious Tradesman, in which he taught Christians to be prudent, diligent, just, honest, content, faithful to God, and retiring. Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations will lead us to be productive, frugal with our money, and invest (especially in farming, trucking, and manufacturing), and we can thank him for his scientific analysis of these things. But we can’t allow self-interest and competition to seep into our view of economics, because the moment we do this, is the moment we cease to be truly Christian. It is hard for me to see true Christianity as workable in any employment situation other than jobs that are solo, or in businesses that allow you to say in an interview, “I’m a Christian guy and I don’t use profanity,” or in actual Christian businesses that publicly claim to operate by Biblical principles like Interstate Batteries and Chick-fil-A. The Fellowship of Companies for Christ International (FCCI) has a $50 per month membership that anyone can join. In Augusta, Georgia, there is a Christian radio station called WAFJ and they have a job board that local companies and even a few temp agencies can post jobs on. But it is hard for me to sit here and thoughtlessly consecrate 90% of the jobs that exist out there with most other temp agencies or on Indeed.com, because they are mostly driven by self-interest and competition. Not to mention, they usually put you in the temptation of being with flirters and cussers all the time. At least its that way in the sales force, of which I’ve been a part for 5 years. Matthew 6:13: “Lead us not into temptation.” Psalm 1:1: “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.” Most jobs are in companies that are filled with mockers of Christians. Whatever your job situation is though, try your hardest to avoid the demons and self-interest and competition. You will not go to Heaven if you don’t resist them. If you keep telling yourself that they are “means to an end,” then you have followed Worldly Wiseman to Carnal Policy, and you will find your end to be in Hell! (Luke 16:19-31).


Bauer, P. T. Dissent on Development.

Baxter, Richard. A Christian Directory, Parts 2 and 4.

Chilton, David. Productive Christians.

Foster, Richard J. Freedom of Simplicity.

Gish, Art. Wealth and Poverty.

—. Beyond the Rat Race.

MacArthur, Kathleen. The Economic Ethics of John Wesley.

Mandeville, Bernard. The Fable of the Bees. The origin of self-interested economics.

North, Gary. Puritan Economic Experiments.

Ryken, Leland. Worldly Saints: The Puritans As They Really Were.

Smith, Adam. The Wealth of Nations.

Spengler, Joseph. “Adam Smith’s Theory of Economic Growth, Parts 1 and 2.”

Steele, Richard. The Religious Tradesman.

Tawney, R. H. Religion and the Rise of Capitalism

Weber, Max. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.

Wilbur, Charles. “The ‘New’ Economic History Re-examined.”

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The Strange Theology Behind John MacArthur’s Strange Fire – Don Horban

This is a good 10 part sermon series from a charismatic point of view on the subject of John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference and his cessationism. The above is Part 1.

Part 2 – Do the Gifts of the Spirit Detract from the Glory of Christ?

Part 3 – Questionable Presuppositions in John MacArthur’s Cessationism

Part 4 – What is Happening in the Book of Acts When the Holy Spirit is Poured Out?

Part 5 – The Gift of Prophecy and the Local Church

Part 6 – Are the Gifts of the Spirit for the Church Today?

Part 7 – Yielding to Divine Truth with Both Your Mind and Heart

Part 8 – The Gift of Prophecy and Today’s Local Church

Part 9 – The Gift of Prophecy and Today’s Local Church (Part 2)

Part 10 – The Inseparable Gifts of Tongues and the Interpretation of Tongues

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