Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Piper and Dale on muting and concealing truth

Yesterday, John Piper tweeted the following: "Muting unacceptable truth as a means of evangelism cannot build the church which is the pillar and bulwark of the truth." I am not sure of specifics towards which this tweet was aimed, but Pastor John might very well have been thinking of the propensity of modern day Christians to avert or altogether avoid any discussion of the wrath of God.

In the eighth lecture of the R. W. Dale book entitled The Atonement, Dale discusses the downfalls, dangers, and degrading of doctrine that results when we suppress or ignore the wrath of God in our teaching, preaching, evangelizing, and conversation. There are large tracts of this lecture worth quoting, but I'll limit myself to a few.

It is of no avail for us to plead that we have an invincible reluctance to speak of them, and that they are too  awful for contemplation, even in our silent and solitary thought. We are under the most solemn obligation to  receive ourselves, and to make known to others, whatever God has revealed concerning the condition and  destiny of our race. To refuse to consider the terrible penalties which menace those who have not received the remission of sins, will lessen the urgency of our solicitude for their eternal redemption; and if we fail to warn them that while they persist in their impenitence and unbelief they are exposed to "indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish," we cannot clear ourselves of responsibility for their eternal perdition.

Nor is it of any avail to plead that to tell men they have provoked the Divine hostility and the Divine wrath, is likely to repel them from Christ, rather than to attract them to Him. We are bound to tell them the real facts — concealing nothing, alleviating nothing. Christ Himself is responsible for the revelation He has made to our race. To improve upon it, to suppress what we think is likely to provoke resentment ; to insist incessantly on what we think is likely to conciliate, is no part of our duty. It is for us to " use great plainness of speech," "not
walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully."

I, too, believe that the great function of the Churchis to make known the infinite love of God as revealed through Christ, and the greatness and glory of theChristian salvation. But Christ did not come to tell men that they had incurred no guilt by their revolt against God's authority, or that their guilt exposed them to no penal sufferings in the world to come, or that in this world God regarded them with no anger. If the guilt had not been great, the Remission of sins which He died to obtain for us would have been an inconsiderable blessing; if the penalties which He professed to avert were unreal, there would be no reason for being grateful to Him for deliverance from them; if there had been no righteous anger in the heart of God, the propitiation which  He made for the sins of the world would have had no significance or value. One of the chief reasons why  men do not trust in Christ to save them, is that they do not believe that there is anything from which they need to be saved.

Nor is it of any avail to plead that if men can be made conscious of sin, and of their need of redemption from sin, it is unnecessary to provoke their antagonism by speaking of the terrors which threaten the impenitent.  Antagonism! Is it true that impenitence justly deserves God's anger and hostility, and will be justly punished with the pains of the second death? If it is, then this antagonism involves guilt; it arises from an inadequate apprehension of the evil of sin; so long as it continues there is revolt against the eternal Law of  Righteousness; latent revolt — if through suppression of the truth concerning the Divine hostility and wrath,  and the future penalties of sin, the antagonism is not provoked ; active revolt — if the truth produces resentment, and is rejected as inconsistent with the character of God. (346-8)

No comments:

Post a Comment