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Living Carelessly Before the Means of Grace - by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon

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An exhortation to redeem the time.

What would it have been like to experience the tribulations of Jeremiah the prophet? He was a success in God’s eyes, but a dismal failure in the eyes of the people. On behalf of God he was a herald of unwavering truth. For the people he was a speaker of lies and blasphemy against Jerusalem and the king. There he stood, before the people, in the temple court, while all were gathered to worship, and proclaimed the Word of the Lord. This would have been the first time Jeremiah actually spoke publicly as a prophet to the people. He had received a number of personal encounters and revelations with the Lord up until this time, even from his youth. But now he was to become God’s voice-piece as the prophet in the midst of turmoil.

At this time some important historical notes must be made. Nebopolasser, the king of Babylon, had died mysteriously and suddenly. In God’s decreed plan this was the time where He would raise up His signet ring, Nebuchadnezzar, to acquire the throne of Babylon. In 604 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar commenced his conquest of the surrounding lands of Babylon, conquering even the declining power of the Egyptians. Also at this time Jehoiakim was king of Judah (no doubt, the King of Judah and his family (his son Jehoiachin and his brother Mattaniah, later to become Zedekiah) were present when Jeremiah began his exhortation to repent.) And Israel was about to be sent into exile for their exceedingly sinful behavior before God. Judah, the second “half” of the divided monarchy was also in dire straights since they, more offensively than Israel, had been disobeying God as well.

In the last 6 chapters of Jeremiah leading up to this point, the message Jeremiah had been receiving from God was His promise of the coming judgment. If Israel, and Judah, did not repent of their wickedness, they would be sent into exile and punished by God for their sins. However, in contrast to one another, though Israel was exceedingly disobedient in their idolatry, Judah was going to be in for it worse than her sister. The first deportation under the conquest of Nebuchadnezzar is in 606 B.C. (one which carried away Daniel.) In 597 B.C Jehoiachin revolts and the second deportation involving Judah is seen with the carrying away of Ezekiel as well. The last exile and destruction of Judah is in 586 B.C. where Jerusalem is not only pillaged (as in the second deportation) but also burned, and the temple destroyed.

Though Jeremiah is a prophet sent to Judah, God still required him to speak of Israel in his prophecies. However, these prophecies would have remained in the context of Judah and not Israel. Those living in and around Jerusalem would have been the listening ears of this message. In these warnings of the coming fate of Israel, Judah should take heed. Israel is to be conquered in 606 B.C. Jeremiah gives this warning to Judah using Israel as an example of what not to do before God since those who see and still disobey will receive a greater destruction; this Judah can count on.

In the first few chapters of Jeremiah, the false prophets respond to the impending problems, which are raised by Nebuchadnezzar and his conquests. They are, at this time, unaware that God is speaking with His true prophet Jeremiah. Even so, they decide to reveal their estimations of what God will do according to their own vain imaginations. In Jeremiah 2:8 they are said to have sacrificed to Baal. “The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.” Not only were these false prophets liars, but they seemed to muster up what they could in sacrificing to foreign gods as well as the One true God. They were such liars and counterfeit prophets that God refers to them in Jeremiah 5:13 as “blow hards” or “wind bags.” They were feeding the people lies in contrast to what God desires, which is to feed the people with the truth. In response to this, Jeremiah 3:15 says, “And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.” The word “pastors” here is literally the same word use as the word “feed.” The translation I prefer is “I will give you feeders who will feed you…” God’s pastors are those who have hearts after the people enough to tell them the truth, even when the truth is difficult, as in this case with Jeremiah. But Jeremiah, in remaining faithful to God’s word, was the true herald of God’s truth.

After keeping some of these preliminary ideas in mind, we come to the passage at hand. Here I would like to consider the exhortation, which Jeremiah delivered before the people, the king, his family, and in the temple court. In the first six chapters of God speaks to Jeremiah, now, from 7 onward, in most cases, Jeremiah speaks God’s revelation to the people. The text in our passage begins by saying, “The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,” Here I would simply like to emphasize the fact that this passage was not Jeremiah’s hobbyhorse, or his soapbox. This was God’s revelation to the people. It was God speaking through His prophet to the people.

Verse two says “Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house…” Here God is emphasizing the firmness of Jeremiah’s stand. Literally the phrase is “take your stand,” or “be planted there.” False Prophets have no problem voicing their opinion. They spout out heresy and wickedness with no problem. It is always more difficult to tell people what they do not want to hear than to tickle their ears. The false prophets loved the praises of the people after they gave them a false sense of comfort. In contrast to this, Jeremiah was to plant himself firmly before the people. He was not to be moved. He was to proclaim the truth as God had given him, as difficult as that would have been.

It is also important to note that verse 2 says that Jeremiah is to stand in the “Lord’s house.” It is a reference to the Temple of the Lord. This would mean that most of the people would be gathered here, as well as the nobles and the priests. Jeremiah would have been wasting his time if no one were present to hear him preach. Possibly, Jeremiah would have accomplished this at a feast time where all would be present. In standing in the Lord’s house, he would “…proclaim there the word.” The word “proclaim” is qara’ {kaw-raw’} which, in the Niphal usage of the Hebrew means “to be proclaimed,” or “be read aloud.” (It can also have connotations of “summoning,” or “to be named.”) Jeremiah is to stand in the Lord’s House, most likely the courtyard of the temple, and proclaim the “word” of the Lord. The word “word” is dawbar, which means “word, words; matter, or case.” I am more inclined to translate this as “word/case” since the context points to the evidence, which God held against the people. It was as if God was summoning them to court. He had an air tight case against them and Jeremiah was to proclaim it to them. This fact of having a “case” was all the more stressed to the people since Jeremiah was in the midst of temple as a priest. He was representing God before the people as the priest would commonly do in sacrifices, except here, it was by a case against them in words.

Who exactly were those to heed this message? No doubt, as Jeremiah was a prophet to the nation-state of Judah, all of Judah was responsible to hear the prophet’s message, whether they were present at the temple or not. However, the text makes it clear that they were those, “…that enter into these gates to worship the Lord.” It is interesting to me that the people were doing what they were suppose to be doing – they were in the house of the Lord worshipping God. Were they supposed to do what the Lord commanded? Yes they were. The phrase “worship the Lord” is common throughout the Scriptures. Whenever you see the phrase “worship the Lord” it will be the same phrase as in our text. They were going about their duty as God prescribed, right? Well, not really, as we will soon see. God had already condemned their practices in Jeremiah 6:20, “To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me.” God was angry at their carnal worship. They were not worshippers who worshipped in spirit and truth. Rather, it seems to me that they were going about this ritualistic form of worship to appease their own mind as either something they had to do, or something that was intricately attached to their heritage. But God would not be pleased in either case.

Then comes the rebuke. “Amend your ways and your doings…” The word “amend” here is yatab {yaw-tab’} and means “to do good to, deal well with; to do well, or do right.” (This is in the Hiphil.) To “amend” something is to make it right or work “righteously,” which Jerusalem was not doing. As a matter of fact, they were “doing” quite the opposite. They had sacrificed to false gods, and the rulers of the nation, both king and priest, had led them astray. So what does the covenant God of a covenant people say to them in rebuke? What does God wish the covenant people of Judah to know? He wants them to reform! And if they do reform, then the promise stands, “…and I will cause you to dwell in this place.” This is a promise based on repentance. Without a thorough change in them, they will not be given the fruit of the promise stated here.

The meat of this passage is contained in verse 4. Here we find the prophet exhorting the Israelites not to listen to the words of the false prophets, and not to abuse the means of grace, of God’s symbolic presence among them at the Temple. The text begins by saying, “Trust ye not in lying words…” It is a rebuke to repent from doing what they have been doing. Literally it means, “To place confidence in…” But a further study of the Hebrew bears out connotation of stating it this way, “To live carelessly.” Here the people of Judah are not to live carelessly listening to lying words. They have the opportunity to live well before God, instead of living carelessly before Him. This living carelessly would have been linked to the heeding of lying words that they had been consciously doing.

The second half of this verse refers to the words of the false prophets. It is not known, though most likely, that these words were used by the false prophets, or that these words summarize the intentions and hypocrisy of the teaching of these false prophets. In either case, the people of Judah were listening to them and following their evil ways. The text says, “…saying the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord…are these.” The first note to make here is the translation of “are these.” In the Hebrew this does not exist as such. Rather, the “are these” should be translated simply as “these.” This is important to note when dealing with the actual verse itself. The thrice repetition of the phrase “Temple of the Lord” is linked to the word “these” significantly. In attempting to unravel what the significance of this may be, we should ask why this phrase is given three times? There are two reasons: first, the repetition is used as an interpretive help. It is a literary device of exclamation. Other places where this Hebrew emphasis and use of the language occurs can be seen in Isa. 6 where the angels cry out “holy, holy. Holy,” and in Genesis 1 where the word “created” is used for man, female an then both of them together. This repetition is utilized by the writer here, Jeremiah, as a means to create an emphasis, but also, secondly, he is referring to the three tiers of the temple; the court, the holy place and holy of holies. It seems to be a poetic use of the means of grace hypocritically exploited. The people so trusted in the symbolic presence of God in the structure of the Temple (representing God’s favor), that they looked to the court, the holy place and the holy of holies as their means to exemplify God’s favor on them. The emphasis here is that they so trusted in this, they replaced a heart-felt service to God for the mere presence of the symbol of God in their midst as a way to show they were accepted in the sight of God. If the Temple stood where it was, if the activities of the court yard, continued, if the holy place still offered up incense, and Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) was practiced in the holy of holies, then all would secure their confidence. This is the thrust of the rebuke since Jeremiah is exhorting them not to live in such a careless manner.

With this in mind, and the verses so forthrightly rebuking their apostate religiosity, we find that the people in Judah lived carelessly before the means of grace. They believed that since God was symbolically in their midst in the temple, they were safe. Why would they think any differently? They were the chosen people, a holy nation. They would have appealed to every form that external religiosity could muster. But appealing to the Temple would not be able to save them from God’s just judgments. In their near future, God had the temple pillaged, and then later, a second time, He has the temple destroyed. God gave them two visual warnings of the reality of their transgressions at two different times over a period of years. First the temple was pillaged by Nebuchadnezzar, and then it is burned by him.

It is blatantly obvious that they abused the means of grace at the time, even holding God in contempt. This is the key to understanding the phrase “the Temple of the Lord” repeated. It was true that in the temple, and only in the temple, their hope of atonement could be made. God provided the Temple and all its intricacies to atone for sin at that time in the Old Testament. However, they misused the means of grace. How did they do this? They used it as one means instead of the only means. It seemed to be more of a heritage with them than the saving means of grace. If we were to follow Jeremiah’s prophecies through the rest of the book, we would see their blatant idolatry from God’s perspective. They not only worshipped God at the Temple, but also committed the heinous sin of idolatry with all the other gods of the surrounding nations.

After considering the context, syntax and word usage, and applying all this to the Old Testament people of Judah, we find a principle to draw out for us in this day and age. The doctrine stated will be this principle drawn from the text: People generally live carelessly before God’s ordained means of grace. I have chosen my words carefully here. I am not simply speaking about an apostate nation who has abused the privileges God has given them, which would immediately apply to lost people who abuse the means of grace. But I am including the Christian in this sentence, thus the word “People” as a general and encompassing term. The word “People” applies to both the saved and the lost. And this Scripture, as with any through the whole of the Biblical record, always has some benefit to the redeemed elect, though it is particular to the lost or apostate people of Judah. As we know that apostate people abuse the means of grace, so the lost, and oftentimes Christians themselves, abuse these means in the same way.

I was also careful to chose the word “generally” which means “often.” More often than naught, generally, these people act in a specific manner. What do they do? They live carelessly. How might one define “careless living?” Well, to “live” is the state of being. To be living “carelessly” equals a reckless disposition of apathy. Sometimes people do not even care about caring. Generally people live carelessly before the God-ordained means of grace. What does it mean for something to be “God-ordained?” This means that God defines those ways in which sinners are to approach Him. There is no other way in which God designed for sinners to approach Him other than through the Messiah. Whether one is living by faith in the Old Testament or New Testament, both believe and have placed faith in the Messiah to come (Old Testament), or the Messiah who came (New Testament).

We then approach the final phrase of this doctrine, “means of grace?” this is more relevantly going to be interpreted this way, “The only manner whereby men are saved or sanctified in Jesus Christ.” I cross the bridge here by saying “Jesus Christ” instead of simply “The Temple” or “means of grace.” Jesus Christ is the only means whereby any man shall enter heaven. When I speak about the means of grace generally, I mean that which points to or directly communicates the way of salvation that God has given in Jesus Christ. They are means which are grace, but gain saving or sanctifying grace in the person. They are the ordinances of God which remain sure as those guides or communicative devices to point the way to Jesus Christ. There are no others. For the people of Judah, there was no second temple in another city. They had to worship in the Temple in Jerusalem. It was the only means of grace. In our day, this is not the case. A person could pick a Bible in Wal-Mart as a means of grace. Bibles can be found in all sorts of places and almost any store, event he grocery store.

What are the means of grace? I must make a note on what the means of grace do before I tell you what they are. When speaking about the means of grace, this phrase answers the question of the instrumental cause of the operation of the Holy Spirit. What will the Holy Spirit use to draw men in? He will always use that which, in some way or another, points to Jesus Christ. The means he uses is centered in and around Jesus Christ, specially His death and resurrection. In the Old Testament, before the death of Christ in time, this properly belonged to the sacrificial system and the Temple, performed by the priests. By faith men trusted in what God had given them as a means to point towards the coming of the Messiah and in what he will do in deliverance in its types and shadows. The means of grace are road signs which do not properly save in an of themselves (like the cross of Jesus Christ), but indicate the Savior, Jesus Christ. After the death of Christ, this points back to what the Messiah fulfilled and accomplished for the redeemed elect.

The means of grace can come in a variety of forms. It may be God’s indiscriminate providence, or the beauty of creation. It is often the Bible, God’s revelation of Himself to us by the Word. It is usually seen in the preaching of the Word, when it is the word which is preached. It can be prayer, or someone else’s prayer that one hears; the ordinances of God such as the Lord’s Supper or Baptism; the fellowship of believers, church discipline, evangelism, sound theological books, or even note taking during a church service. In our technological age it can also manifest itself as those thoroughly biblical internet websites. Just as God had given the Israelites the temple, so He lavished upon the entire world the ordained means of grace seen on almost anywhere. However, even though the world is rich in the ordained means of grace, men still live carelessly in light of this; of all that surrounds them by means of grace.

The means of grace are not just duties to be performed. For example, the Bible as the means of grace should not simply be passing the words over the eyes. This would be an abuse of the means of grace. Judah did what they had to do but this translated into a thoroughly careless religiosity. Bible reading should never be a religious exercise we accomplish because it is part of morning devotions. It should be that which invigorates our soul to love Christ all the more.

In studying this doctrine that all people generally live carelessly before the means of grace, I desire to move down two avenues. The first avenue is this: in what ways do Christless men live carelessly before the means of grace? I believe there are three main ways in which Christless men, that is, men who do not know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, abuse the means of grace, ad thus, live carelessly before them.

First, as the text primarily demonstrates, people assume that because they have the means of grace that they will be saved. This is living carelessly before the means of grace. This is utter folly! And it is probably one of the greatest of Satanic attacks on the blinded mind of men. Some form of religiosity, some form of duty, some attachment to the things of God, in no way qualifies one as redeemed by Him. Possession of the means does not render a man eligible to obtain the grace that the means offers. Think about verse 4! Just because a man may buy a Bible in Wal-Mart does not mean that gives him an instantaneous ticket to heaven. God must effectually qualify those means in the hearts of men; otherwise men cry out “The temple…”

Secondly, they trust in the means and not the God of the means. This is living carelessly before the means of grace. They do not listen to the words “Trust ye not in lying words…” They trust in the possibility of the spiritual reality which becomes carnal, and wicked, and discards the truth of the thing. It becomes a twisted kind of knowledge by the fallen mind and carnal heart. They take that which could be a means to salvation and strip it of its power. It becomes a duty that they achieve and that they perform, and that they work for, and the spiritual means of grace becomes a carnal medium to satisfy their fallen conscience. Ultimately these kinds of people become exceedingly miserable because there is really nothing going on except a form of carnal habit. There is no transformation, no sanctification, no real attainment of a living relationship with the Lord’s Christ. They have form of godliness but deny its real power, because they become its power.

Thirdly, they trust in a false application of the knowledge of the means of grace, and the experience of those means. This is also living carelessly before the means of grace. The Jews knew their duty; they knew what had to be done in the temple – the meticulous obedience to the letter of the law. However, in their religiosity, they obeyed the letter of the law at the expense of the spirit of the law. What could the Jews have gained if, after they had sacrificed in the temple, they had to go to Baal and worship there? In this religious men may be exceedingly meticulous about their religiosity, but in doing so forfeit the means of grace. A Christless soul in attending a church service (a great means of great grace) could be exceedingly diligent to be on time and take their seat, participate thoroughly in song, take notes diligently, not miss one iota of the sermon – and all the while miss the entire means of grace!

This is not a difficult point to understand: Lost men, Christless men, abuse and live carelessly before God’s ordained means of grace.

The second major avenue I would like to traverse is this: In what ways do the Redeemed elect live carelessly before the means of grace? I qualify this by saying that it is a sanctifying affect on the redeemed elect, not a saving affect. Jesus Christ has already redeemed these people and saved them. He has bled and died for them. But, alas, they still abuse the means of grace. They could have reached a greater sanctification, or a higher state of religion than they had in previous days, but they squander the blessing.

First, and very importantly, because they have the means of grace they believe they are automatically sanctified. (Not saved, but sanctified.) Not only are the means of grace accessible to the redeemed elect, but they have been enlightened to realize this and to know this. They abuse the means of grace by neglect. The people of God truly know that morning devotions will be a help to their souls, it will edify them, and strengthen them, and the like. It is promised to help them and has done so before, yet, they neglect it. Or, if they are engaged in such devotional times, it is often short, or they give God their “dopey time” when they are half awake. They are engaged in the one-minute devotions, because they believe having some devotions is at the very least better than none. They use such excuses as being tired, which is a great hindrance. Thus, they become tired for devotions, for prayer meeting (or to pray at prayer meeting), for family devotions, for reading their bible, to study, memorize verses, etc. They also throw into this mix the excuse of being too busy as a hindrance for the same. This the opposite of being tired but just as crippling.

The second way in which the redeemed elect abuse the means of grace and live careless before them is that they look at the means of grace as a duty and not as a means to reach their blessed Savior. Let me illustrate this with one example. Imagine a husband who s going to leave his wife on a business trip for the first time. This will be the first time they are away from one another. The husband, than, writes a long letter to his wife the night before he leaves and mails it the morning so He knows the wife will receive it while he is away. That letter hold an abundance of emotions, and expresses in it all his desires for his wife. He writes it in a passionate way in which it creates a state of eager expectation of meeting again. When she receives the letter and opens it, she will treat the letter with love and care, and she will hang on his every word to her. I use this example of the impassioned husband writing to the endeared wife in this manner because the Bible for the Christian is like a love letter sent to him from God. The Christian should not find Bible reading (one of the means of grace) a drudgery. Would the wife read such a letter with drudgery in her mind? If she did she is no wife. And the Bible to us should not be a drudgery to read. It ought to be seen as the expression of the character of God’s love to Christians as His children. When Christians live before any of the means of God’s ordained grace in this manner, they are living carelessly! The means of grace are never drudgery!

Thirdly, if Christians do utilize some of the means of grace, they are content with being a little sanctified. Jeremiah was not content in the lying words of the false prophets. If he had been content with such drivel, do you think he would have ever stood up to be counted in the history of God’s prophets as the weeping prophet? Certainly not! Jeremiah was not content with hypocritical worship, and so, proclaimed the word of the Lord to the people. Christians must be like Jeremiah. They must not be contented with just a little of the blessing. They should desire full reform. Unfortunately many Christians are sanctified just a little, and they are content with this. The amount of the grace they receive from God is enough to keep them going but not growing. This ought not to be the mindset of the believer. He should desire as much sanctifying grace as God will grant him. God says that if the Christian becomes serious about the means He has given them, that He will cause them to be “dwell.” (verse 3) I skipped these words in verse 3 on purpose. To interject them here is important. The word “dwell” here means to “dwell and continue to dwell.” It means that God will establish the Christians in these things if he is serious about the desire to be sanctified. Christ takes the serious Christian seriously. Those Christian that have a desire to live whole-heartedly before Christ will be, by promise, blessed by God to live in such a manner. And after a single taste of such help, they would never settle for being just a little sanctified.

In look at these two avenues, and the three points under each avenue of thought, I would now like to turn to the application of the doctrine stated. The application of this text, as with the doctrine, is along two lines of thought. The first is to the Christless, who are lost and without a Savior, and the second is to the elect.

First, to you who may be reading this article and do not know Christ as Lord and Savior, I have a question for you to ponder. If you thought of one person in the Bible who was exposed to the means of grace more than any other person, and then threw it all away who would that be? I would imagine there could be a few choices, but I believe I would pick Judas. You who are reading this who are Christless are like Judas in this way: Judas heard all of Chris’s sermons, and Judas was ultimately lost. If there was ever a man who lived under the ordained means of grace and threw it all away, it was Judas Iscariot. He lived with Christ for three years. He ate with him, talked with him, walked with him, saw his miracles, listened to his teaching, and probably was counseled by Him on a variety of instances. Judas heard more of the words of Jesus Christ than we will ever hear while on earth. But ultimately, he abused the means of grace and threw it all away. It is a perversion of the means to live carelessly under them. How could Judas do such a thing? How could you do such a thing?

Have you ever been to a banquet? I am not talking about a formal dinner, but a real banquet? Once my brother told me of a trip he took to Germany. He was invited to have dinner at a banquet in one of the German castles; it wall a ball of sorts. Those attending were required to dress in a certain way, and keep their manners in a certain way. It was one of those balls where the butler announced your arrival once you entered the hall. The banqueting table was prepared in a certain fashion. People were seated in their expensive gowns and suits. The maids and butlers attended their meal and served them in a formal manner. Now imagine all this, and all the prepared food is perfectly placed before you, as well as with all the other guests, at this large banqueting table. And then imagine you began to take this food and start a food fight with it by casting all of your dinner at the master of ceremonies at the head of the table. When you abuse the means of grace you do the very same thing. You take the means and carelessly abuse them. The Jews were sent into exile for their sin, and much worse fate is reserved for all those who abuse the means of grace in hell. People will suffer under the wrath of God who abuse the means of grace. You may go to church each week, and hear sermons each week, and pray each week, and tithe each week, and still be lost. If you are reading this, a means of grace, but are still not converted, you are crying out the verse, “Temple of the Lord…” Think about the Jews for a moment. It was not until 583 years later that the Jews would have the ultimate means of grace, when Jesus Christ was born. Even then, they abused the means by which they would be saved and they killed him by crucifixion. They abused God’s fullest expression of His love and the means of grace. God prepared a banquet for them in Christ, and they kept right on crying out “the Temple of the Lord…,” and you are in the same boat. You like what you like and in the manner you like it rather than what God desires for you. The Pharisees loved their kingdom better than God’s kingdom. What makes you any different? All that you do in your meticulous religious duty is nothing without Christ. You and your meticulous religious duty will perish in the flames of hell if you continue to abuse the means God has given you in Jesus Christ to be saved. And you abuse these things even when Christ is very willing to save sinners. Look at all the Christians in the world. They are saved by the grace of Christ. Christ will save you if you will put your trust in Him and not in lying and deceptive words.

The second avenue to make application is to the redeemed elect. What does one say in this respect to the Reformed Christian? I have two things to say about we who are reformed. First, with all the wealth of knowledge we have how could we ever neglect the means of sanctifying grace? What knowledge! Look at your bookshelves, at the preaching in your church, at the Sunday School lessons you learn, the conferences you go to, even the web sites you can go and read at, etc. We have the monopoly on saving grace as Reformed believers. I believe the Reformed tradition has the purest expression of the biblical Gospel on the face of the earth. And when I say “monopoly” that is what I mean – the Reformed faith holds the purest expression of the grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth. There is nothing closer to hitting the mark of truth in the Bible than Calvinism. Then the question arises, if we have such wonderful blessings of spiritual knowledge at our fingertips, why are we not spiritual giants? Why do we need to look back in history to find spiritual giants? Are the means of grace any different now then they were back then? I believe we must look back in history to find spiritual giants because we abuse the means of grace. We are tired of our devotions. We lack spiritual vigor and zeal. We are too busy in our lives to devote the needful things a Christian requires to grow. We become lazy and tired with it all. Are we really tired in our walk with Christ to devote ourselves to him? How could we ever be tired of the means obey which Jesus Christ would sanctify us further? Why would we neglect that which would make us more like Christ? How could we do such a thing? What is wrong with us as Reformed believers? As Christians in general?! Are we so apathetic to these things?

Secondly, with the neglect of the means of grace comes the sin, because we, as the reformed of God’s church, who hold the monopoly of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its purest expression, have this tendency to shout out, “I am a Reformed Christian, I am a Calvinist, I am Reformed!” Is this not what the people of Judah did? The greatest abuse of the means of grace are by those who know those means best – the Reformed Christian. And Reformation theology can propagate such. It is far too easy to shout out, “I’m a Calvinist, I’m Reformed, I have the truth!” I am not saying being a Calvinist is bad, or being Reformed is bad. No not at all. But I am saying that being a Calvinist or being Reformed does not ensure your growth in Christ. You must have more than a bullhorn to enter the kingdom of heaven.

In conclusion, I want you to realize where those things which have been said have been taken from. All this article/sermon did was expound this one text in Jeremiah 7:4. If you opened your Bible from the beginning until now you will see that your finger is still on this text in Jeremiah 7:4. That is because I want to you to leave here with that verse. If you are without Christ, then you fill in the blank, “Trust ye not in lying words saying…I go to church…etc.” If you are one of the redeemed elect, a reformed Christian, you fill in the blank, “Trust ye not in lying words saying…I am a Calvinist, I am Reformed, I…” May it be that we all stop living carelessly before the means of grace. Judah did not hear Jeremiah’s words and they were cast out of the promised land by being exiled. God’s sore displeasure was upon them. What will we do?

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Reformed Theology at A Puritan's Mind