Basket of Figs

Published 2002-4

Bud Powell

Trinity Covenant RCUS, Colorado Springs


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Dead Orthodoxy?  Not!


But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.   --John 20:31 


According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: --2 Peter 1:3 


Energy is not the same as life.   Dead orthodoxy is not dead, for you cannot kill the Gospel, even if a fool stammer it.   The dead worshippers of Baal cut themselves and prayed loudly as they tried to get their dead god to answer from heaven.  They were sincere enough to cut themselves with knives, but their dead god didn’t hear. [I Kings 18]  Activity, emotion, noise, and sincerity do not of themselves constitute true worship.  But if we beat the drums loudly enough, people will not notice how empty their lives are and how false the doctrine is.


If a person really desires to know the will of God, he will find it in God’s revealed verbal revelation.  God had told Israel through Moses: 


If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.  For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.  It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?  Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?   But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.  Deut. 30:10-14


What Deut. 30:10-14 is to the nation of Israel, Romans 10:4-9 is to the modern world:


For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.  For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.  But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)  Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)  But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.


Just as the law was clear to Israel, so the Gospel is clear to the world.  The preaching of the Gospel is the power of God to all who believe, to those who are called of God.


Dead orthodoxy?  No way.  This was a phrase invented by revivalists to slander and discredit those who insisted on faithfulness to the message of the Gospel.  In refusing to preach the whole counsel of God revivalists tailored their message to make people feel good.  Excitement and hoopla replaced the faithful preaching of the Gospel.  Crowds flocked to the excitement and circuses of the revivalists. 


Emotion replaced doctrine, people barked like dogs, were “slain in the Lord,” and many other foolish things completely unknown in the Scripture.  Irrationalism replaced Gospel truth, and people who had these experiences thought they were “saved.”   Emotional, irrational experiences replace the “word of faith,” which was preached by Paul and the other apostles.  But it felt good, the crowds came, there was plenty of money, and preachers became famous.  Were lives changed?  A great many things can change lives:  a death in the family, drunken driving, a divorce, psychic experience.  “Changed to what?” is the real question.  If the conversion does not result in obedience to Christ, it is not a real conversion. 


Every revival, it seemed, moved the church farther and farther away from the truth. Experience replaced objective truth.  “We must unite, and not divide over doctrine,” the revivalist said, even as they divided churches and split denominations.


Emotion is addictive and requires a larger and larger fix.  It is also divisive and destructive.  At first we reject a few doctrines in order to feel good; later we reject more; finally we worship a God without attributes and a Jesus without definition.  But we beat the drum louder.  We are warned of such things in the Scripture:


And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?  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 8:19,20


But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,  To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,  And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.   See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:  Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.  And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.   Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:  For our God is a consuming fire.  Hebrews 12:22-29


The “life” which is divorced from doctrine is false fire and a rattling of the bones.  It is not to be confused with the Spirit of God, Who is given to those who believe the gospel.  The words of the Spirit, the very intimate breath of God, are recorded on the pages of Scripture.  If we do not abide in the doctrine of the Son, we have neither the Son nor His Spirit.


Herod was very sorry to give the order to behead John the Baptist; The rich young ruler went away from Christ and was very sad; Judas was so sorry that he had betrayed Christ that he went out and hanged himself.  Repentance is not the same as being sorry; it means to turn around and go in the right direction.  Sometimes people are sad because they refuse to repent.  True conversion involves the will and is an assent to doctrine and obedience.  It is not defined by emotion.  Good and bad feelings come and go; faith overcomes both.


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