The Evangelical Reality

The Silent Intruder

We have come to a point in our journey where we have lost the meaning of the Reformation. How many of us count Evangelicals as “partners” in the fight against liberalism yet conveniently forget that they are not spiritual partners of any measure. Our focus on morality as the cause de jour of the age has left us at the point where we can pass over the doctrines which make us Reformed in favor of reconciling a law-based salvation with moral values. Do not misunderstand I do not intend to defend liberalism in any fashion nor would I consider it a possibility. However we tend to forget that what Luther was fighting against was a Catholic Church that measured salvation through the works of the flesh not the work of Christ on the cross. Luther was also fighting against the work of men like John Tetzel, who sold salvation through three easy payments of $19.99 (plus s+h). What we have today in the Evangelical movement is this same type of Roman Catholicism minus the Pope and as Dr. Michael Horton says, “without the sacraments”. In a-I think-wonderful song by Hank Williams, Jr. he says, “they want you to send money to the Lord but they give you their address.” It pretty much sums it up does it not? The Arminian heresy that is modern Evangelicalism receives a pass for most of us. Our combined passion and motivation lie in the fight against the normalization of homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and the evil of abortion. While these are the moral problems of the age and we must not discount their importance, the Reformed among us tend to focus more on these perverse sexual sins than on Salvation by Faith Alone. If you look at Martin Luther’s Freedom of the Will you see that he writes nearly 200 pages without speaking directly about the salvationary value of morality but focus’ directly on SALVATION BY FAITH ALONE. I was sitting in Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh waiting for my wife to finish her glucose test when while reading Jonathan Edwards’ Justification by Faith Alone when a young lady leaned over and asked what I was reading. I told her what it was-not expecting much-and she asked “what kind of God stuff is that?”. While I may be a poor explainer of the Doctrine of Salvation by Faith Alone she was completely blown away by the concept that the works of her flesh will not gain her entrance into heaven. This concept was one she was completely unaware. She began telling me stories of the life she had led-which incidentally had brought her to be at Magee Women’s that morning-and the depravity of which she was describing (I have always found it interesting how people will tell complete strangers things they wouldn’t tell their own family) blew me away. I asked if she had ever attended church and she told me no that she never felt that she was “good enough” to be a Christian. And while I was listening to that sentence I felt as if the building was crumbling around me and no one else was noticing. I thought to myself, “This is the problem. We have so allowed the error of Arminianism to permeate the idea of Christian faith that the problem does not lie in rooting out the sin of the law but in preaching the Gospel of Salvation of Faith Alone.” Then after telling her in a pastoral way-at least my feeble attempt-that the behavior she was engaging in was harmful not only to her but to the baby she was carrying I began to explain to her the glory that awaited her if she would repent and seek Christ. However what was important is that instead of feeding her the typical works-based salvation that she was used to hearing and used to dismissing I explained to her more what Salvation by Faith Alone means and then unfortunately before I could get to the basics (me and my long-winded mouth) she had to go to her appointment. I sat there thinking about the conversation that I had just said and the reality of it blew me away. While I was replaying the event in my head it struck me. It hit me that the problem with the Reformed church today is that we have forgotten why we are Reformed. We believe-unlike the vast majority of the church-going public-that Salvation is not through the works of the flesh but by the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
We cannot have salvation without the intercession of the Son. I know some of you are saying, “why does he keep saying this stuff?” I realize that I have already stated Salvation by Faith Alone a good 10 times already and in the fear of being redundent I’ll say it again. We as Reformed Christians have lost the fight against Arminianism. Worse than that we have lost the case for Salvation for millions of our brethren. In favor of moral battles we have given up the battle for salvation.