Summary: Living between two worlds diametrically opposed to one another
Sermon Preached at Grace Community Church (EPC)
Sun City Grand, Surprise, AZ
Sunday, June 14, 2015
by the Reverend Cooper McWhirter
The Doctrine of Assurance: “Caught Between Two Worlds” [Part Three]
On numerous occasions you’ve heard me speak fondly of our spiritual mother, Swann Bates, who once told Sammie, “Honey, you can’t have a foot in both worlds!” Now what on earth did she mean by that? In due course we discovered precisely what she meant!
In his book, The Doctrine of Assurance, A. W. Tozer wrote (paraphrasing): “One of the greatest hindrances to internal peace…is the all too common habit of dividing our lives into two arenas: the ‘sacred and the secular’ ”
In our walk of faith, Sammie and I learned that these two worlds are diametrically opposed to each another. Put simply, these two worlds are ‘worlds apart’. They are morally and spiritually incompatible! Too often we find ourselves crossing back and forth from one world to the other. Tozer goes on to say, “This is the old ‘sacred-secular’ antithesis in which many Christians are caught up in its tentacles…they find themselves walking a tight rope between these two kingdoms; finding no peace in either.”
You’ve heard it said: “Oil and water do not mix.” Similarly, neither can the natural man (born of flesh) co-habit, or mingle with, what is born of the Spirit! In this passage, the apostle John speaks about the wide expanse that separates these two contrasting worlds.
Scripture reminds us: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh"; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” [John 3:6]. In his book, According to Promise, Spurgeon posed this question: “Is the life that is within you the result of the fermentation of your own natural desires? Or, is it a new element, infused, imparted, implanted from above?”
So, John explains how we can avoid being misled by placing our confidence in “easy believeism” which, in theological jargon, is called
“antinomianism” meaning “cheap grace”.
The Holy Spirit induced this apostle to devote an entire epistle (1st John) where he speaks of the assurance of the believer’s salvation. Clearly, John was addressing his letter to God’s sovereign elect where he distinguishes between the sacred and the secular.
So, we’ll begin by turning our attention to: THE WORLD OF THE SACRED (repeat)
Aiden Wilson Tozer became a distinguished pastor, preacher, and author. This in spite of his humble origin. His parents were impoverished. They made a meager living in a rural farming community in upstate Pennsylvania. Tozer was unable to attend either high school, or college; so he taught himself. Later, he was bestowed with two honorary doctorate degrees from Wheaton College. And although he lacked formal credentials, Tozer became a highly-respected “man of the cloth”; his peers came to recognize him as a remarkably insightful scholar.
He asserted that: “Christians today haven’t the faintest idea of what it means to be saved. First, in order to be saved one must first have a longing desire to be saved from the ‘love of sin’. For the heart of the natural man is wedded to everything that is opposed to God. He may not acknowledge it, or even be aware of it. Secondly, to be saved from our sins means to be delivered from the ‘temptation of sin’…third and finally, to be saved from our sins means being delivered from the ‘reigning power of sin’.”
This ties in with one of the ‘five principles’ of Reformed theology which came to be known as “TULIP”. The fifth principle has to do with the “Perseverance of the Saints.” In step with this principle, Tozer writes: Perseverance is a willful refusal of the things God hates by choosing the things in which He delights. It is the yielding of my will to His which is a ‘life-long process’ of conformity to God’s holy nature.”
Holy assurance delivers the ‘legitimate’ Christian from any and all doubts and fears which can rob the believer of experiencing true joy and peace. This becomes evident where Paul writes: “For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba Father” [Romans 8:15]. The believer is adopted into the family of God; thus, he becomes an “heir of hope”!
One way to seize, or to lay hold of, this assurance is by “testing” the spirits! Our passage begins where John writes: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,…” [1 John 4:1, 2]. But why must we confess that Christ came in the ‘flesh’? Simply because if Christ did not come in the flesh, then we are still dead in our trespasses! To cleanse us of our sins, God required a ‘blood sacrifice’ as an atonement for sin [Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22].