Sunday, May 20, 2007

HOW NOT TO WALK THE PLANK (The one in our eye, that is)

I'm still being enthralled by Jeremiah Burroughs this week. Although I had completed my reading of his, "A Treatise on Earthly-Mindedness" a week ago, I felt compelled to read it once again. This time I observed a stern warning for those of us who are reformed and are strongly drawn to apologetics. So for all you "word-faith" fans and "little gods" out there, we reformed folk do turn the radar on ourselves!

In chapter five of this superbly insightful book (Nine Proofs of Earthly-Mindedness), Burroughs warns us to beware that "through some predominant lust for something else, a man may seem to despise some earthly thing". Basically, he is saying that a man's apparent despising of one sin may actually be due to a lust for another rather than a true hatred for the first. For example, a man may apparently despise the love of money but only because he doesn't want to be generous. This, according to Burroughs, is also a proof of earthly-mindedness.

Burroughs uses Isaiah 13:17 for a text that illustrates this principle. Scripture, here, describes the Medes as a people that did "not regard silver, and as for gold they shall not delight in it", apparently the love of money was not a problem for them. God, however, still describes them as wicked and heathen and having no grace in them at all. Burroughs elaborates, "Some men think it is through the work of grace because they are above the base covetousness they see in other men. They do not regard silver and gold, or getting all for themselves and they despise those men who are of such a base, covetous way". Burroughs states that this makes a man no better than a Mede. Although he may disregard silver and gold, it is only because his spirit entertains a different lust.

Herein, I believe, lies the stern warning for those of us who are reformed and love apologetics. Is our readiness to hold others' feet to the fire only a means to deflect further investigation of ourselves? Is our love for sound doctrine and biblical accuracy somehow a disguise for our own sin? In other words, have we removed the plank in our own eyes in order that we may see more clearly to remove the speck in another's eye? This calls for much self-examination.

Burroughs provides a strong test. He challenges us with this: "Can you say this, you who seem to scorn covetousness, and hate such base sordidness as you see in some men, "The LORD has made me to know what communion with Himself in Jesus Christ means; and since that time I bless God that my heart has been above all these earthly things. And that's the reason that I look upon all these earthly things as vanity, because the LORD has revealed to me those excellent and glorious thing that are infinitely above these earthly things . . . where lies the chief joy and sorrow of men's hearts? What is it that most troubles your heart? Is it the loss of the light of God's face or the loss of an estate; the loss of a voyage, or the commission of a sin? What's your chief joy, your profiting from the Word or gaining from a bargain? You have come to the Word and, sometimes, God has there revealed some truth to you, and you have profited. Can you go away rejoicing because God has made you to know His Law?" This is indeed a stern test. May all who endeavor to decry the abuses of the modern pulpit first pass it before ever uttering a single criticism.

The Apostle Paul instructs us through Titus to "rebuke them sharply (false teachers), that they may be sound in the faith . . ."(Titus 1:13) and this is not to be disregarded. However, the Apostle James also warns, "My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment". For,with the same measure that we mete, so shall it be meted unto us!

There. Now, having fulfilled my contractual obligation to be self-effacing let us return to the business at hand; that Benny Hinn is a . . .

Be Like the Bereans Baby!

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