A CRITIQUE OF THE HIGHER LIFE MOVEMENT

Higher-Purpose

A CRITIQUE OF THE HIGHER LIFE MOVEMENT 

By Jay Wegter

INTRODUCTION

The concept of the higher Christian life arose in the nineteenth century in connection with the holiness tradition in America.  The movement grew in popularity and ultimately spread to England.  Keswick, England became the home of the higher life conventions.  In time, the movement returned to America with great momentum.  “The Higher Life movement has influenced the rise of other theologically conservative movements, the founding of a number of institutions, the growth of foreign missions, and the theological perspective of several denominations.”1

Description of the Movement

          The higher Christian life is an explanation of the means and methods involved in advancing the believer’s progressive sanctification.  The purpose of this paper is to identify the areas where the higher life model of sanctification differs from the scriptural doctrine of sanctification.

          Though not identical, three terms are used synonymously to refer to the movement; “The higher Christian life,” the “Victorious Christian Life,” and “Keswick Teaching.”  In this paper, any of the three terms may be used to refer to the whole body of higher life teaching.

HISTORIC BACKGROUND

          The inception of the higher life movement is often identified with the publication of William Edwin Boardman’s book, The Higher Christian Life (1858).  The book argued that Christ was to be received for sanctification sometime after justification. Continue reading

Lordship Salvation aka Progressive Sanctification? High fashion, yes, but not for Christians.

jesus is your sanctification

Grant Swart

I needed to jot down just a few more recent thoughts concerning the subject of (progressive) sanctification, as I have seen it gaining in popularity as a subject for discussion in certain circles, particularly I suppose, in the social media. This is additional to my most recent article on the subject at SANCTIFICATION: Why & how can God accept sinners into His Presence?

As a subject, I don’t believe that progressive sanctification should be handled with much kindness. It is a hideous and potentially fatal religious proposition. The highest possible price was paid for it, it belongs to God’s people exclusively, and it should not be allowed to become a plastic accessory to be worn by fashionistas of the commercial free-will religious order.

Free-will, works religion, also known as Arminianism or various forms of synergism, is the highly fashionable religion being practiced by great numbers of churchgoers in these times. Followers of this religious form of worship, under the guise of Christianity, now crowd the pews of the great majority of what were once, Biblical and God-fearing churches.

In these shiny new will-worshipping theatres are man-made pavilions with many steps leading upwards, each step representing a higher level of self-righteousness and perceived holiness on which proud men stand and display their shame before other men, as witness to them worshipping their own efforts and abilities (Col. 2:23).

In order to solicit more support, in the great eagerness of their own driven will, they have named this system of will worship. Some call it “Lordship Salvation”. Even more ostentatiously they might call it “progressive sanctification” and deluded men heap wondrous praise and elevated prestige onto those who put great effort into achieving improved righteousness. These great congregations, having placed themselves under the spiritual governance of the powerful hierarchies and church councils which they have elected for themselves to serve under, often find themselves becoming the victims of their own ill-begotten belief systems when the whip of contrived church discipline inevitably turns on them. Continue reading

Charles Haddon Spurgeon: Preacher of Free Grace, or Religious Idiot?

Spurgeon Freeness-of-Grace

Grant Swart

Of course there are those who do not regard Charles Haddon Spurgeon as a preacher of solely the truth. Admittedly, no man can be perfect by his own means, and even perfect holiness is acceptable to God only through Jesus Christ. There are also those who ignorantly rummage about in the published works of Spurgeon in the hope that they will find some shards of support for their own deceived religious belief system, and thereby falsely portraying the famous and well-beloved preacher as a will-worshipping Arminian, like they themselves have been misled to be.

While many Christians have had the misfortune of making the acquaintance of some unrepentant religious idiots, nevertheless, they do exist in larger numbers and their written works proliferate throughout the digital media – their presence is evidenced clearly by the overabundance of their deceitful and misrepresentative contributions. Now, please don’t get me wrong, I do not refer to them as religious idiots because I regard my own capabilities as superior to theirs in any way. I would not dare do that, because in all honesty, many of them are highly intelligent people and some are even academic giants, with qualifications way beyond my own.

Neither do I refer to them as religious idiots because I harbour some form of hatred for them, quite to the contrary, I must have compassion for their lostness. Why would I resent them? For financial gain or for fame? No, I refer to them as religious idiots because they ascribe false man-made doctrines to the Scriptures and then they promote and cling to a damning form of religion, which is set worlds apart from Christianity. I refer to them as religious idiots because they oppose Christ. Continue reading

Arminianism Agrees With Roman Catholicism, Calvinism Agrees With The Bible

road to rome

Arminianism at Home in Rome

But, however frivolous his cavils, the principles for which he contends are of the most pernicious  nature and tendency. I must repeat, what already seems to have given him so much offence, that Arminianism “came from Rome, and leads thither again.” Julian, bishop of Eclana a  contemporary and disciple of Pelagius, was one of those who endeavoured, with much art, to gild the  doctrines of that heresiarch, in order to render them more sightly and palatable. The Pelagian system,  thus varnished and paliated, soon began to acquire the softer name of Semipelagianism. Let us take a  view of it, as drawn to our hands by the celebrated Mr. Bower, who himself, in the main, a professed  Pelagian, and therefore less likely to present us with an unfavourable portrait of the system he  generally approved. Among the principles of that sect, this learned writer enumerates the following:

“The notion of election and reprobation, independent of our merits or demerits, is  maintaining a fatal necessity, is the bane of all virtue, and serves only to render good  men remiss in working out their salvation, and to drive sinners to despair.

“The decrees of election and reprobation are posterior to, and in consequence of, our  good or evil works, as foreseen by God from all eternity.”

Is not this too the very language of modern Arminianism? Do not the partizans of that scheme argue on the same identical terms? Should it be said, “True, this proves that Arminianism is Pelagianism revived; but it does not prove, that the doctrines of Arminianism are originally Popish:” a moment’s cool attention will make it plain that they are. Let us again hear Mr. Bower, who, after the passage just quoted, immediately adds, “on these two last propositions, the Jesuits found their whole system of grace and free-will; agreeing therein with the Semipelagians, against the Jansenists and St. Augustine.” The Jesuits were moulded into a regular body, towards the middle of the sixteenth century: toward the close of the same century, Arminius began to infest the Protestant churches. It needs therefore no great penetration, to discern from what source he drew his poison. His journey to Rome (though Monsicur Bayle affects to make light of the inferences which were at that very time deduced from it) was not for nothing. If, however, any are disposed to believe, that  Arminius imbibed his doctrines from the Socinians in Poland, with whom, it is certain, he was on terms of intimate friendship, I have no objection to splitting the difference: he might import some of his tenets from the Racovian brethren, and yet be indebted, for others, to the disciples of Loyola. Continue reading

The Matter of Church Discipline

early-christians1

 

The Matter of Church Discipline

“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. (Mat_18:15-35)

In this passage our Lord and Savior anticipates two things. First, he anticipates the fact that differences would arise among his disciples, causing offenses. It is a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless, that God’s people in this world are sinners still. We love one another; but those who are the objects of our most ardent love are the very people we are most apt to offend. The offenses are excuseless. We ought to exercise great care not to offend. But offend we do. What husband, wife, son, or daughter has not wept bitterly after needlessly offending one in the family dearly loved? Paul and Barnabas were both brethren, faithful servants of God. But they had a falling out over John Mark. Yes, God’s people, true believers, often trespass against one another. Continue reading

Why Don’t All People Come To Christ?

Turning away

Don Fortner

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” (John 5:39-40)

Faith in Christ is set before us in many different ways in Scripture. Faith is looking to Christ. — “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:22). — “Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us” (Psalms 123:2). Faith is trusting Christ, as a son trusts his father. — “O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee” (Psalms 84:12). Faith is seeking Christ, as a man seeks something he has lost. Faith is laying hold of Christ, as a drowning man lays hold of a life-line. And saving faith is described in Scripture as coming to Christ. The Lord Jesus is able to save to the uttermost all them that come to God by him. Believers are described by Peter as a people coming to the Savior. — “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, andprecious” (1 Peter 2:4).

How often poor, needy sinners came to Christ, or were brought to him in desperate need, while he walked on the earth. And as often as a needy soul came to our omnipotent, ever-gracious, all-merciful Savior, he obtained the healing power and saving mercy he needed (Matthew 8:1-3; 9:1-8, 20-22, 18-26, 27-31). Salvation is obtained by coming to Christ. The Lord Jesus is able to save all who come to God by him. The Lord Jesus has promised that he will save all who come to him. (Matthew 11:28; John 6:37; John 7:37-38). And in the Gospel narratives every poor sinner who came to Christ obtained the salvation he sought.

In John 5:39-40 our Lord Jesus is talking to religious people, people who went to church every week, people who read and studied the Bible. He says, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” These were Bible thumping, conservative, religious, church going people, people who read, memorized, and studied the Word of God. Yet, our Savior said to these religious people, — “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” Continue reading

Blinded By Satan

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INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD’S-DAY, APRIL 16, 1893. DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,

AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD’S-DAY EVENING, MARCH 31, 1889.

“The god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not.” 2 Corinthians 4:4.

THE practice of blinding men is a horrible process, too horrible for us to say another word about it, but there is also a spiritual blindness which comes upon some men. These are, to begin with, unbelievers. The god of this world does not blind Believers—but he blinds the minds of them which believe not. It is, therefore, a very dangerous thing not to believe on the Son of God. The penalty of unbelief is death and condemnation—and that penalty begins to fall on men when, in consequence of their unbelief, their foolish heart is darkened, their intellect loses the power to perceive spiritual ob-jects—and the god of this world blinds their mental vision. Ah, my Hearers, how anxious Satan is to secure your destruc-tion, since, rather than that you should see the saving Light of God, he takes the trouble to blind your eyes! God grant that no man here may die under this dreadful deprivation of Light which is caused by Satanic influence upon the minds of men who have not believed in Jesus!

Remember that this blindness to spiritual things is quite consistent with much sharpness as to natural things. A man may be a very keen politician. He may be a first-rate man of business. He may be an eminent scientist, a profound thinker and, yet, he may be blinded as to spiritual Truths of God. How often is it true, “You have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them unto babes”! As an old writer says, “Poor, ignorant men often find the door to Heaven and enter in, while the learned are looking for the latch.” Yes, a man may have clear eyes for worldly things. He may be very keen as to his insight into the problems of life and, yet, the god of this world may have blinded his eyes! Continue reading