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T. Austin Sparks - Messages.

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Write The Vision.
Written by Grant Hayman   


Faith of our fathers?

The Reformation?

The Bible?

("The faith once delivered to the saints")

Many are the calls in these days to return to the "Faith of our fathers" or "to hearken back to the faith of the reformers".

What is the 'Reformed faith'? A common expression of definition is as follows -

The Reformed faith is considered to be the true Christian faith as it was recovered during the Protestant Reformation during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

The Reformers though mightily moved of God were still much affected by apostate doctrine.

Martin Luther said the following:

"She is rightly called not only the mother of the man, but also the Mother of God ... It is certain that Mary is the Mother of the real and true God."

[Martin Luther, Weimar edition of Martin Luther's Works, English translation edited by J. Pelikan [Concordia: St. Louis], volume 24, 107.]

Calvin said the following:

"To this day we cannot enjoy the blessing brought to us in Christ without thinking at the same time of that which God gave as adornment and honour to Mary, in willing her to be the mother of his only-begotten Son."

[John Calvin, A Harmony of Matthew, Mark and Luke (St. Andrew's Press, Edinburgh, 1972), p.32.]

"Helvidius has shown himself too ignorant, in saying that Mary had several sons, because mention is made in some passages of the brothers of Christ."

[Bernard Leeming, "Protestants and Our Lady", Marian Library Studies, January 1967, p.9.

According to Leeming's research it is very apparent that Calvin believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary which is contrary to the clear Word of God.

In the above quotes it is clearly demonstrated the great need in every era of time that the Church has only one authoritative reference and that is the Word of God.

Praise the Lord for the grace of God that did come to the reformers who were involved or in bondage to the apostate Church of their time and it is understandable, the tendency for error and tradition and superstitious doctrine to cling to them just as it is possible (in our day) for wrong spiritual assessment to cling to us. We in this 21st Century have had the privilege to observe the test of time and see that all the current monument that is built on the Reformation and the Reformers has failed. The very Church development that is founded upon their works as observed in the Protestant denominations is fraught with (as the Word says) grave aspects of the "falling away".[2 Thess. 2:3.] We hear the plea of men today calling for a reformation of the reformation or a renewal of the reformed faith.

What is urgent among God's people is a return to the Word of God or to put it in the words of Paul - A return to the "simplicity in Christ" [2 Cor. 11:3.] There is great scope for difference of opinion and endless conjecture with the positions held by the reformers. There is far less room to move in error if the Word of God is our authority and guide.

How much we are encouraged that the Word of God is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. [Ps. 119:105.]

Direction For the Servants of God.

"Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee". [1 Timothy 4:16.]

This doctrine is the doctrine of the Word of God. Paul talks in another place to "contend for the faith once delivered to the saints" and the "once" means one or 'single' time and is conclusive. In other words "the faith once delivered to the saints" is that which has been done 'once' and stands complete and which cannot be added to or taken from, and it is the Word of God and not the word, statements of faith or creeds of the Reformation or the reformers.

Our guide should never be the light given in any particular era; our guide is the infallible Word of God.

The Acts of the apostles is not meant for doctrine; if you try and produce doctrine from Acts you will end up confused because God was moving forward to a new era of the "The Church which is his body" baptised by the Holy Ghost where the Spirit will not only be 'upon' the saints but will be 'in' the saints, sealed in Christ, joined to Him as His body bearing His glory and likeness as Jesus said - "But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified. [John` 7:39] God is ever moving forward and our reference can never be the past mixture of grace and man's imperfect position but the unchangeable Word of God. All reformation is the fight of faith by those who are awakened to return to the Word of God from darkness and death and that which does not contain the Life of Christ. As with the Reformers of History all reformation falls short on a full alignment to the Word of God as illustrated above with Luther, Calvin and Wesley who held to the Roman Catholic position of the 'perpetual virginity of Mary' which is founded upon the doctrinal error of worship and veneration of a woman. Click here for answers to the claim that Mary is the "mother of God".

For a good coverage of the error of 'The perpetual virginity of Mary' click here.

Special Note

The writer is very thankful to the Lord for his goodness during the days of being involved in the Methodist Church. The precious event of coming to Christ through the youth group ("Christian Endeavour") remains a profound experience of the grace of God. Other involvements developed within the Church; that of eventually being a co-leader of the youth group, teaching Sunday school, and taking up a lay preaching role.

There is no doubt as to the goodness of God toward his people and all those that belong to Christ within the post ministries, movements and Churches of the reformation, but that is never a blanket sanction of the Lord upon all those outcomes. Grace always contains compensating goodness in spite of man's faulty adherence: Today we are witnessing the awful disintegration of the fruits of the reformation resulting in severe misalignment to the Word of God which should cry out to us to forsake the traditions of man and be conformed to the perfect will of God according to his precious Word.

The work of God does not go forward by the creeds and faith statements of men but only by the Spirit of God in power by the Word of God. Where man includes with the Spirit and the Word, what is of man and not 'Sola Scripture', then it is only a matter of time before any and all reformation becomes deformed and conformed to man and not to Christ. Watch some of the current spiritual strongholds of this foreign mixture that are still holding out today against such things as the ordination of women etc. and observe the eventual capitulation to separate and reform according to some new criteria. Unfortunately often the 'reformed' position is not a complete and high appraisal of the Word of God as the sole authority for doctrine and practice but a mixture of man's past incomplete reformations and the Word of God, thus instigating a mixture of faulty threads and a 'sandy' foundation in the future against the winds of apostasy.

Martin Luther.

It is vital to understand the peril of putting confidence in any man formulated creed and list of spiritual imperitives that may result from an awakening of God in the midst of apostate religion; invaribley there remains much for the person or people thus awakened to learn and be kept aligned to the truth as it is in Jesus. At a crucial time of change after the resurrection there was looming a major 'reformation' for all the disciples with the Lord ascending on high and the disciples to await the outpouring of the holy Spirit: Peter at this time began to be concerned about John and how he would feature in the future and Jesus said to Peter - "What is that to thee, follow thou me". [John` 21:22.] The call to each one of us is to follow Jesus and in doing that we will be kept in alignment to the written Word by the person of the Word. Praise the Lord for the reformation through Martin Luther but beware of the fact that doctrinal errors remained. One of those errors was regarding the communion table and he vehemently opposed and condemned anyone who stood against his holding to the mixture of Roman catholic tradition and doctrine of the Eucharist. He was exhorted to see that the table of the Lord was a table of remembrance but he held to the superstitious Roman catholic church tradition and belief that the bread and the wine turns into the body and blood of Christ. This theology is otherwise known as transubstantiation.

There has been much stated by many that is severe against some of the reformers but such is out of touch with the Spirit of the Lord. We shall praise God for all eternity for the thrilling work of God in the history of the dual Church - The true and the 'tare' Church. We must always remember the exhortation - "Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God". [1 Cor`. 4:5.] The limitations of the reformation is a spiritual and doctrinal reality. In Christian growth do we just come to spiritual full enlightenment and maturity all in one go? Of course not. If a young believer brings someone to Christ with some unorthodox methods, do we condemn him or her for the lacks in operation of winning that soul to faith? No, of course not, we praise the Lord for what he has done by grace through that brother or sister and continue to be available to pray and encourage the soul winner in spiritual growth. Similarly, the same applies to the need of continuation of light and conformity to the "whole counsel of God" with the reformers. Did the reformers come to full light, all in an instant as the dark abyss of dead religion was blazed in clear light to their spirit and soul? No, there was great need for more revelation of the Word and will of God just as there is need for us all to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord. Peter in the important matter of oneness in the body of Christ between Jew and gentile and not being governed by the law, needed to be rebuked by Paul to stand in grace and not according to the Law. It is far from the will of God to immortalise the reformers but it behoves us to continue in the faith of the Word of God. ('Sola Scripture').

The following is a quote from the book - The Torch and the Testimony" by John W. Kennedy.

"Paul consistently began his ministry in the synagogue wherever one existed, but in every instance the association had to be discontinued and the church had to start afresh on clear ground. As has been sufficiently pointed out, there is no theoretic reason why this should inevitably have been so;...But somewhere along the line God's progressive revelation in the synagogue had been brought to a halt. Light, which God had given, had become crystallized in an unalterable tradition. The flow of life was stopped, and the only alternative to the church's bursting of the bonds which held it and seeking a fresh channel in which to flow, was stagnation. At the beginning of the church's history we see a principle at work which is to be repeated continually through the succeeding centuries."

The book by John Kennedy contains some wonderful insights into early Church history which includes the pure testimony of Christ running parallel with the apostate Church in which the reformation took place. This Church existed "underground" so to speak because of persecution but functioned according to the "simplicity in Christ" under his headship and followed the Word of God.

Refer to the Website new testament pattern.net for more info or click on this link here. Then click on "see this at Amazon.com and when that is selected click on the book cover to "look inside" and click on "Table of contents to view the large expanse of subjects that contain exciting interest concerning the beautiful work of the Lord for his glory among his people.

It is important (and it doesn't matter the source of creeds, statements of faith, and authoritative documents of men used of God) to keep clear of any sense of presenting to the people of God any authority that could influence a believer to hold to such rival authority instead of the Word of God. It is in this matter that so much of walk and faith of believers has been immersed in intellectualism instead of hearing the Shepherd's voice and following him. For a believer to walk in life there must be instilled in the heart, that the words of Christ are "words of Spirit and words of Life" [John` 6:63.] and all spiritual growth and quickening life can only come from that source. The only source of such words are found in the Bible. Again and again (David) the psalmist said in Psalm` 119 - "Quicken me according to thy Word" [Psalm` 119: 25, 50, 107 & 154.]

The 'Reformed Faith' is at large not presented like any other Christian book as an encouragement of spiritual growth but is presented as a spiritual 'bench mark' for faith and conduct. This approach is certainly presented often as a 'mandate' or 'charter' for the establishment of a local Church. All such foundations for a personal or collective experience of Christ are weak and cannot produce spiritual fruit. What is produced (though all can be labelled 'Christian') can only be an intellectual dead form very similar to any conformity to the law instead of Christ. Paul outlined that if a believer is driven by conformity to the Law to be circumcised then Christ will profit them nothing! How grave is such a call to the saints of God and it can without any hesitation be said that if believers are driven by any persuasion towards conformity to any mandates or creeds of man the result will be - Christ shall profit nothing! [Gal`. 5:2.] How could any 'creed' or 'statement of faith' best the purity of the Law and yet the truth is, they "that are under the Law, have fallen from grace"[Galatians 5:4.] When man for whatever good reason seeks to condense the Word of God into a concise form to cause everyone to qualify for fellowship in that Church on that basis, you then have a club which only those who become 'members' can take part. And taking part is then not on the basis of Christ and the whole Counsel of God but on the limited basis of agreement with a certain classified doctrinal interpretations of the Word of God, and who has the authority to determine that? In Corinth some said "I am of Paul" and some said "I am of Cephas" and even some said "I am of Christ" and Paul answered "Is Christ divided"? [1 Cor. 1:12-13.] Even if someone said that "I am of Christ" Paul classified them as divisive, because it was placing a difference between one and another. Unity that should be maintained according to the Word of God is the unity that is in the Spirit (spiritual) [Eph`. 4:3.] and no collusion according to a set of man made requirements can possibly achieve that but rather produces a stumbling block in the process of the oneness of the body of Christ in fellowship. Having Christ and the Word of God as a basis for fellowship in the Spirit places a Church in the right position to proceed towards the next unity that Paul speaks of in verse 13 and that is - "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:" [Eph`. 4:13.] Unity in the faith (or doctrines of faith) increase only as believers grow in the knowledge of the Son of God. Agreed knowledge of truth happens in the knowing of Jesus who is The Truth and there is no mistake because such blessing comes from Him in whom there is no contradiction.

Jesus Loves You.

God Bless.