Hath God Said?
Someone asked me recently to explain the difference between the prevailing theology of today and the theology of say, a hundred years ago. I didn’t want to give a “pat” answer so I asked if I could mull on the question for a while. Today, driving down the interstate highway in my pick up truck the answer became so clear to me. I was listening to a sermon by Charles Spurgeon (one of my favorite preachers of yesteryear) on the incarnation of Christ. I don’t want to assume that everyone who reads this automatically knows what that word means so I will take a moment to clarify it, just in case. But first, let me answer the question that is pressing in everyone’s mind: I wasn’t actually listening to Charles Spurgeon preach since he died in 1892, before the age of the ubiquitous mp3 player. I have a number of his sermons recorded from their written text so that I can listen to them when I have the time. Its great stuff when you are on a long flight or drive.
That being cleared up, the incarnation of Christ is one of the most important doctrines of the church and it separates Christianity from all other faiths. Without delving into the Greek word forms, the word incarnation means simply “in flesh.” The Scriptures tell us that in the person of Jesus Christ dwelt not only humanity, but the full essence of God Himself. God literally created a bond between humanity and divinity in the person of Christ. The eternal second person of the trinity, the Son bonded Himself to human flesh and became man (which was conceived by the Holy Ghost in the body of Mary) while retaining all of His “God-ness”. That’s the quick version on “incarnation.”
It is an amazing truth to know. In order to be a sacrifice for mankind, the one who would be offered had to be out of the flock, so to speak, of mankind; a man. He had to be one of us. However, to be an acceptable sacrifice, the one offered would have to be perfect; without blemish and without sin and since all men have “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23) Jesus was THE One who could fulfill all requirements – and that’s why He was called the Anointed (chosen) One. In the incarnation He became “one of us,” thus fulfilling the humanity part of the equation, but because He retains His divinity He was acceptable, having no sin of His own for which to atone. The Son of God became a man. He wasn’t play acting, pretending or messing with our heads; He became a man. He was a man when He died on the cross of Calvary and He was a man when He rose from the dead – and, He will be a man when He appears in the Heavens to judge the earth and establish His eternal Kingdom.
Now, the question at hand: What is the difference between the prevailing theology of today and the theology of say, a hundred years ago? As I was listening to the powerful message from a representative of that generation it was remarkable in the absence of phrases such as “I think” or “In my opinion”. There wasn’t a single issue in which Spurgeon offered his opinion. There wasn’t a single theological position which was birthed in his mind, as great as that mind was. The doctrine wasn’t Spurgeon’s; it was God’s.
The prevailing theology of this generation is built upon a seemingly endless array of questions that no one is either able or willing to give an authoritative answer to. The prevailing theology of this generation is marked by its lack of objectivity and an abundance of subjective “feelings.” If you read or watch a video by Rob Bell or any of the other “emergent” theologians of our day, they will admit that they are asking the hard questions such as, “Would a loving God truly send men that He has created to an eternal Hell?” “Do we really think that a loving God would do this or do that?” “I realize this is what the Bible says, but is it really what God means?” The result is a generation of people confused and disoriented about God. It reminds me of another scenario: The woman in the garden is visited by a serpent who begins the conversation with a question: “Hath God said?” She responds with a positive response, “Yes, God said.” The serpent parries with, “I think you should have reason to doubt that this is really true,” and the confusion begins.
As I listened to the sermon on the incarnation by Charles Spurgeon today, he did not ask questions. He simply said, “This is what God has said.” It left me with a very simple and straight forward decision to make: Will I believe God or not? I don’t have to determine whether I will believe the doctrine or the preacher or the philosopher or anyone else. I wasn’t given the opinions of a man, I was presented with the Words of God. Therein lies the difference between the prevailing theology of the day and that of say, a hundred years ago. A simple man with clarity and authority stating, “This is what God says.”
The true nature of preaching. It is the MAN of God opening the WORD of God and expounding its truths so that the VOICE of God may be heard, the GLORY of God seen, and the WILL of God obeyed.” (Steven J. Lawson in his book “Famine in the Land.”)