Why is there Something rather than Nothing? by Michael Patton

A very interesting article originally posted at Parchment and Pen blog.  I have really enjoyed several items from their site this week and highly recommend it…enjoy, PS.

Why is There Something Rather than Nothing? The Only Six Options

Someone has once rightly said that this is the most basic philosophical question that there is: “Why is there something rather than nothing?”

As far as I can tell, there are only six options:

1. The universe is eternal and everything has always existed.

Everything has existed for eternity. As far back as  one can go into the past, there is still an infinite amount of time which preceded it. The sum total of the universe is inclusive of an infinite succession of events and moments going backward.

Why this is wrong

An infinite number of temporal events going into the past is a formal absurdity. Going backward, no matter how far you travel in time, you would always have an infinity to go. Going forward, we would never get to the present moment because we would have an infinite amount of time and causes and effects to traverse to get here. It would be like asking of a man who is jumping out of an infinitely deep hole, when would he get out? The answer is never. There is no starting point from which to jump.  Or, better, it would be like someone walking down the street and you heard him counting down… “negative 5, negative 4, negative 3, negative 2, negative 1, zero!” And you said, “What are you doing?” And he responds, “I just got done counting to zero from negative infinity!” That would be a logical absurdity.

Even most atheists, since the early 20th century, now believe that there was a singular moment when all things came into existence called the big bang. Some have even proposed a multi-verse theory where our universe came out of another universe. But this only pushes it back one level. Where did that universe come from unless it is transcendent?

2. Nothing exists and all is an illusion

Everything you hear, see, do, or think does not really exist. There is no reality. There is not something. There is only nothing.

Why this is wrong

This proposition, it should be obvious, is completely self-defeating. In order to even make such a proposition, the subject has to exist in some sense. If all is an illusion, where did the illusion come from? If another illusion produced the illusion, then where did that illusion come from. In other words, there is something, namely the illusion.

Even the solipsist, who does not believe in the existence of other minds, has to explain the genesis of his own mind.

3. The universe created itself

This is the idea that the universe and all that is in it did not have its origin in something outside itself, but from within. The universe did come into being, but it came from itself. It is self-created. Here, we may suppose that while we don’t understand how this could happen, advancements in scientific theory will eventually produce an answer.

Why this is wrong

Like with the previous two, we have created a logical absurdity. It would be like creating a square triangle. It’s impossible. A triangle by definition cannot be square. So creation cannot create itself as it would have to pre-date itself to create. The pre-dated form would then need a sufficient explanatory cause, ad infinitum.

4. Chance created the universe

“The universe was created by chance.” Have you ever heard that? While the odds of winning the lottery are not very good, given enough time, everyone will win. While the odds of the universe coming into existence are not very good, given enough time, it had to happen.

Why this is wrong

This option is a slight of hand option that amounts to nothing. The fact is that chance has no being. This option implies that “chance” itself has quantitative causal power. The word “chance” is used to describe possibilities. It  does not have the power to cause those possibilities. It is nonsense to speak of chance being the agent of creation of anything since chance is not an agent.

“Sophisticated arguments of chance creation have been formulated which dazzle our mathematical comprehension… What are the real chances of the universe created by chance? Not a chance. Chance is incapable of creating a single molecule, let alone an entire universe. Why not? Chance is no thing. It is not an entity. It has no being, no power, no force. It can effect nothing because it has no causal power within it. …It is a word which describes mathematical possibilities which, by the curious flip of the fallacy of ambiguity, slips into the discussion as if it were a real entity with real power, indeed, supreme power, the power of creativity.” (R.C. Sproul, Not a Chance. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1999.)

5. The universe is created by nothing

Simply put, nothing created the universe.

Why this is wrong

The problem here is that it is either a restating of option #1 (the universe is eternal) or fails due to the irrationality of #4. In our current universe, the law of cause and effect cannot be denied with any sanity. While we often don’t know what the cause of some effect is, this does not mean that it is causeless. When we go to the doctor looking for an explanation for the cause of our neck pain, we don’t accept the answer “There is no cause. It came from nothing.” When there is a fire, the fire investigator does not come to a point where he says, “Well, we searched and we searched for a cause to this fire. Our conclusion is definite: the fire came from nothing.” In both cases, we would assume that the person who gave such answer is better fit for a straight-jacket than a respected professional of his field.

There is an old saying, ex nihilo nihil fit which means “Out of nothing, nothing comes.” Even Maria in the Sound of Music got this one right, “Nothing comes from nothing; nothing ever could.” To say that the universe was created by or came from nothing is an absurdity. Like with the idea of chance, “nothing” is a non being with no causal power. If there is something, there must be a sufficient explanation for it.

6. An transcendent being (God) created all that there is out of nothing.

This is the last option that I know of. Here we recognize the impossibility of the first five. Realizing that the universe must have come into existence a finite time ago, we know that there must be a sufficient cause. Here is how it might look:

  • Whatever comes into existence has a cause.
  • The universe came into existence.
  • Therefore the universe has a cause.

The question now is what is that cause? It can’t be “chance” or “nothing” as we have shown that they don’t have causal power. As well, it cannot have relation to time, space, or matter in its actual being as that would make it subject to the laws of cause and effect (i.e. then we would be infinitely stuck in the trap of “If God created everything, who or what created God?). Therefore, this being is transcendent (above, beyond, without ontological relation to…) to the universe. This causal agency must be “all”-powerful or else the grandeur of the effect would eclipse the grandeur of the cause (then we are back to absurdities). This causal agent must have a will (i.e. be personal) or else there would not have ever been a time when the universe was not created (i.e. it would always be being created—again, an absurdity) since it would not be a willful decision to create, but simply a natural aspect of the transcendent cause.

This creator had to have created all things ex nihilo (“out of nothing”). In other words, all of matter could not be eternal since material itself is, by definition, not transcendent and subject to the law of cause and effect. This creator, being transcendent to the laws of our universe in which the saying “out of nothing nothing comes” applies, must create time, space, and matter out of neither himself or preexisting material. He creates it all out of nothing. He brings all of existence into being by his power. While it is beyond our understanding how transcendence can create immanence, it does not form a logical absurdity. In fact, existence itself demands that it is a logical necessity.

All other options, I believe I have shown, are self-defeating, formally absurd, and irrational. In short, the only logical explanation for existence is that a transcendent, powerful, and personal being (i.e. God) created all that there is out of nothing.

Are there any other options that I am missing?

A Meditation on Luke 1:13-17 by J.C. Ryle

Originally Posted HERE

A Meditation on Luke 1:13-17

by J. C. Ryle

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” – Luke 1:13-17

We have, in these verses, the words of the angel who appeared to Zachariah. They are words full of deep spiritual instruction.

We learn here, for one thing, that prayers are not necessarily rejected because the answer is long delayed. Zachariah, no doubt, had often prayed for the blessing of children, and, to all appearance, had prayed in vain. At his advanced time of life, he had probably long ceased to mention the subject before God, and had given up all hope of being a father. Yet the very first words of the angel show plainly that the bygone prayers of Zachariah had not been forgotten–“Your prayer is heard–your wife Elizabeth shall bear you a son.”

We shall do well to remember this fact, whenever we kneel down to pray. We must beware of hastily concluding that our supplications are useless, and specially in the matter of intercessory prayer in behalf of others. It is not for us to prescribe either the time or the way in which our requests are to be answered. He who knows best the time for people to be born, knows also the time for them to be born again. Let us rather “continue in prayer,” “watch unto prayer,” “pray always, and not faint.” “Delay of answer,” says an old divine, “must not discourage our faith. It may be, God has long granted, before we shall know of His grant.”

We learn, in the second place, that no children cause such true joy, as those who have the grace of God. It was a child about to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to whose father it was said, “You shall have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.”

Grace is the principal portion that we should desire for our children. It is a thousand times better for them than beauty, riches, honors, rank, or high connections. Until they have grace we never know what they may do. They may make us weary of our life, and bring down our grey hairs with sorrow to the grave. When they are converted, and not until then, they are provided for, both for time and eternity. “A wise son makes a glad father.” (Prov. 10:1.) Whatever we seek for our sons and daughters, let us first seek that they may have a place in the covenant, and a name in the book of life.

We learn, in the third place, the nature of true greatness.The angel describes it, when he tells Zachariah that his son “shall be great in the sight of the Lord.”

The measure of greatness which is common among men is utterly false and deceptive. Princes and potentates, conquerors and leaders of armies, statesmen and philosophers, artists and authors–these are the kind of men whom the world calls “great.” Such greatness is not recognized among the angels of God. Those who do great things for God, they reckon great. Those who do little for God, they reckon little. They measure and value every man according to the position in which he is likely to stand at the last day.

Let us not be ashamed to make the angels of God our example in this matter. Let us seek for ourselves and our children that true greatness which will be owned and recognized in another world. It is a greatness which is within the reach of all–of the poor as well as the rich–of the servant as well as of the master. It does not depend on power or patronage, on money or on friends. It is the free gift of God to all who seek it at the Lord Jesus Christ’s hands. It is the portion of all who hear Christ’s voice and follow Him–who fight Christ’s battle and do Christ’s work in the world. Such may receive little honor in this life. But great shall be their reward at the last day.

We learn, in the fourth place, that children are never too young to receive the grace of God. Zachariah is informed that his son “shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.”

There is no greater mistake than to suppose that infants, by reason of their tender age, are incapable of being operated upon by the Holy Spirit. The manner of His work upon a little child’s heart, is undoubtedly mysterious and incomprehensible. But so also are all His works upon the sons of men. Let us beware of limiting God’s power and compassion. He is a merciful God. With Him nothing is impossible.

Let us remember these things in connection with the subject of infant baptism. It is a feeble objection to say that infants ought not to be baptized, because they cannot repent and believe. If an infant can be filled with the Holy Spirit, he is surely not unworthy to be admitted into the visible church. Let us remember these things specially in the training of young children. We should always deal with them as responsible to God. We should never allow ourselves to suppose that they are too young to have any religion. Of course we must be reasonable in our expectations. We must not look for evidences of grace, unsuitable to their age and capacities. But we must never forget that the heart which is not too young to sin, is also not too young to be filled with the grace of God.

We learn, in the last place, from these verses, the character of a really great and successful minister of God. The picture is set before us in a striking manner by the angel’s description of John the Baptist. He is one who will “turn hearts”–turn them from ignorance to knowledge, from carelessness to thoughtfulness, from sin to God. He is one who will “go before the Lord”–he will delight in nothing so much as being the messenger and herald of Jesus Christ. He is one who “will make ready a people for the Lord.” He will strive to gather out of the world a company of believers, who will be ready to meet the Lord in the day of His appearing.

For such ministers let us pray night and day. They are the true pillars of a Church, the true salt of the earth, the true light of the world. Happy is that Church, and happy is that nation, which has many such men. Without such men, learning, titles, endowments, and splendid buildings, will keep no Church alive. Souls will not be saved–good will not be done–Christ will not be glorified, excepting by men full of the Holy Spirit.

We have, in these verses, the words of the angel who appeared to Zachariah. They are words full of deep spiritual instruction.

We learn here, for one thing, that prayers are not necessarily rejected because the answer is long delayed. Zachariah, no doubt, had often prayed for the blessing of children, and, to all appearance, had prayed in vain. At his advanced time of life, he had probably long ceased to mention the subject before God, and had given up all hope of being a father. Yet the very first words of the angel show plainly that the bygone prayers of Zachariah had not been forgotten–“Your prayer is heard–your wife Elizabeth shall bear you a son.”

We shall do well to remember this fact, whenever we kneel down to pray. We must beware of hastily concluding that our supplications are useless, and specially in the matter of intercessory prayer in behalf of others. It is not for us to prescribe either the time or the way in which our requests are to be answered. He who knows best the time for people to be born, knows also the time for them to be born again. Let us rather “continue in prayer,” “watch unto prayer,” “pray always, and not faint.” “Delay of answer,” says an old divine, “must not discourage our faith. It may be, God has long granted, before we shall know of His grant.”

We learn, in the second place, that no children cause such true joy, as those who have the grace of God. It was a child about to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to whose father it was said, “You shall have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.”

Grace is the principal portion that we should desire for our children. It is a thousand times better for them than beauty, riches, honors, rank, or high connections. Until they have grace we never know what they may do. They may make us weary of our life, and bring down our grey hairs with sorrow to the grave. When they are converted, and not until then, they are provided for, both for time and eternity. “A wise son makes a glad father.” (Prov. 10:1.) Whatever we seek for our sons and daughters, let us first seek that they may have a place in the covenant, and a name in the book of life.

We learn, in the third place, the nature of true greatness.The angel describes it, when he tells Zachariah that his son “shall be great in the sight of the Lord.”

The measure of greatness which is common among men is utterly false and deceptive. Princes and potentates, conquerors and leaders of armies, statesmen and philosophers, artists and authors–these are the kind of men whom the world calls “great.” Such greatness is not recognized among the angels of God. Those who do great things for God, they reckon great. Those who do little for God, they reckon little. They measure and value every man according to the position in which he is likely to stand at the last day.

Let us not be ashamed to make the angels of God our example in this matter. Let us seek for ourselves and our children that true greatness which will be owned and recognized in another world. It is a greatness which is within the reach of all–of the poor as well as the rich–of the servant as well as of the master. It does not depend on power or patronage, on money or on friends. It is the free gift of God to all who seek it at the Lord Jesus Christ’s hands. It is the portion of all who hear Christ’s voice and follow Him–who fight Christ’s battle and do Christ’s work in the world. Such may receive little honor in this life. But great shall be their reward at the last day.

We learn, in the fourth place, that children are never too young to receive the grace of God. Zachariah is informed that his son “shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.”

There is no greater mistake than to suppose that infants, by reason of their tender age, are incapable of being operated upon by the Holy Spirit. The manner of His work upon a little child’s heart, is undoubtedly mysterious and incomprehensible. But so also are all His works upon the sons of men. Let us beware of limiting God’s power and compassion. He is a merciful God. With Him nothing is impossible.

Let us remember these things in connection with the subject of infant baptism. It is a feeble objection to say that infants ought not to be baptized, because they cannot repent and believe. If an infant can be filled with the Holy Spirit, he is surely not unworthy to be admitted into the visible church. Let us remember these things specially in the training of young children. We should always deal with them as responsible to God. We should never allow ourselves to suppose that they are too young to have any religion. Of course we must be reasonable in our expectations. We must not look for evidences of grace, unsuitable to their age and capacities. But we must never forget that the heart which is not too young to sin, is also not too young to be filled with the grace of God.

We learn, in the last place, from these verses, the character of a really great and successful minister of God. The picture is set before us in a striking manner by the angel’s description of John the Baptist. He is one who will “turn hearts”–turn them from ignorance to knowledge, from carelessness to thoughtfulness, from sin to God. He is one who will “go before the Lord”–he will delight in nothing so much as being the messenger and herald of Jesus Christ. He is one who “will make ready a people for the Lord.” He will strive to gather out of the world a company of believers, who will be ready to meet the Lord in the day of His appearing.

For such ministers let us pray night and day. They are the true pillars of a Church, the true salt of the earth, the true light of the world. Happy is that Church, and happy is that nation, which has many such men. Without such men, learning, titles, endowments, and splendid buildings, will keep no Church alive. Souls will not be saved–good will not be done–Christ will not be glorified, excepting by men full of the Holy Spirit.

The Huh? and Oh! Relationship of Old and New Testaments by Dan Phillips..excellent!

If you’ve ever read the Old Testament and scratched your head and said, “huh???,” then this article is for you.  An excellent and simple read on the relationship between Old and New Testament Scriptures by Dan Phillips…PS.

Originally Posted HERE:

Relationship of Old and New in Messianic Prophecy: Huh? and Oh!

by Dan Phillips

Building a bit on the previous post about Messiah in the OT, I’d like to add a couple more seed-thoughts.

The relationship of Old and New Testaments is of course a massive topic, subject of thousands of pages by men vastly my superior. Yet I have a thought I’d like to contribute which I haven’t seen elsewhere phrased exactly thus. Maybe for good reason. Let’s see.

The relationship has been likened to form and fullness; to shadow and substance; to Law and Gospel; to type and antitype.

My suggestion: the relationship is that of “Huh?” to “Oh!”


Here’s what I mean: in many forms and in many ways God spoke to the Fathers in the prophets. He meant every word He said. Every word had meaning for the original writers and audience, and that meaning was God’s meaning.

At the same time, many of those meanings ultimately led to ambivalence, puzzlement, or even frustration. They led somewhere meaningful, yet incomplete. Followed out, thought through, they still would have to leave the serious and believing thinker trusting, yet baffled and unresolved. He’s stuck at “Huh?”

But when the full-day revelation of the NT dawns, then and only then comes the “Oh!” of resolution and understanding.

We could single out a number of examples. I’ll take two, and be brief about it.

First: God — monad, or plurality?

God is One. We’re clear on that, right? “Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4), the central confession of Israel’s faith. “I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God” (Isaiah 45:5a). Many Scriptures affirm this truth, beyond all doubt and ambiguity.

And yet….

Plurality in unity? The most common noun for “God” in Hebrew is, beyond debate, plural in form. Most scholars explain this in various ways unrelated to any suggestion of plurality — plural of majesty, potentiality, something. Yet God speaks in the first-person plural (Genesis 1:26), and there are other occurrences of plural verbs associated with the subject “God” (e.g. Genesis 20:13; 35:7;  2 Samuel 7:23). Sometimes plural adjectives modify the noun (e.g. Deuteronomy 5:26).

In fact, back to the verse asserting that Yahweh is “one.” The word used there well accommodates the notion of a complex unity (cf. Genesis 2:24; Numbers 13:23), rather than a solitary unit (Genesis 22:2, 12, 16).

Then there’s this figure, the Angel of Yahweh, who speaks both of and as Yahweh (Genesis 16:11 and 10, respectively) — that is, as if distinct from, and yet as if identical with, Yahweh. Scholars explain this language away as messenger-talk… but does that explanation really do justice to the language, and to the actions of those in His presence (cf. Joshua 5:13—6:5), and to the figure’s appropriation of a title of the Messiah (Judges 13:18; Isaiah 9:6; virtually identical spelling in Hebrew)?

Add to these the baffling back and forths in Zechariah, where Yahweh speaks of Yahweh sending Him (e.g. 2:8-11 NAS). In fact, in Isaiah, Yahweh seems to send both Yahweh and His Spirit (48:16). Plus, Messiah will have God as His Father (Isaiah 7:14), and will bear His name (Isaiah 9:6; cf. Jeremiah 23:6).

So on the one hand, God is one. On the other, there’s some kind of plurality going on there.

Huh?

Second: Messiah — glorious ruler, or suffering victim?

Victorious ruler. The first prophecy of Messiah depicts Him as crushing the Serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). He is the ruler from Judah (Genesis 49:10), the son of God from David’s line sitting on his throne (2 Samuel 7:14) who will rule the nations and crush them as with a rod of iron (Psalm 2). In His days, peace will reign, Jerusalem will be exalted, and Eden will be restored (Isaiah 2; 11), He will reign as priest-king at Yahweh’s right hand forever (Psalm 110).

Suffering victim. Yet often in the psalms we see a very different picture. If we take David’s experience as foreshadowing Messiah, we see him not only triumphing and reigning, but being mocked and forsaken and poured out in the dust of death (Psalm 22), and being abandoned by his friends (Psalm 41:9). Or laying aside types in favor of full-on predictive prophecy, we see the crystal-clear portrait of Messiah offering His soul as a sin offering, and dying (Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12). In fact, going back to the root-prophecy of Genesis 3:15, is not the Serpent-crushing Seed also stricken in His heel?

So, on the one hand, Messiah is a glorious, victorious Conqueror. And on the other, He suffers and dies, forsaken by God.

Huh?

The fullness of time

But you see, in both of those cases — and I am only singling out two of a number I have in mind — once the full light of day dawns in the NT, we see (to coin a phrase) the rest of the story.

As to the first conundrum, we now see that there is but one God as to His essence, and that He is three as to His persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. All three appear and act in bold distinctness in the events and teaching surrounding the inauguration of the New Covenant, while confirming every jot of the teaching of the Old. So all of the OT is absolutely true, both in insisting at God’s unity, and hinting at a plurality within that unity.

Oh!


And in the case of Messiah — victim, or victor? — we see Him born to the royal family in fulfillment of prophecy, living a holy and righteous life marked by Messianic miracles and words. And we see Him die as an offering for sin, stricken for the iniquity of His people, that by His wounds we might have peace. But after dying, He rises from the dead, ascends to the Father’s right hand, and will return one day to begin His kingdom reign on earth. So all of the OT is absolutely true, both in insisting on Messiah’s royal reign, and in foretelling His sacrificial suffering and death.

Oh!

As I said, this is true in a wide variety of ways. Many mysteries are stirred and tales half-told, left unresolved and unsatisfied by the time Malachi (or 2 Chronicles, in the Hebrew Bible) is finally penned. But all those central mysteries are resolved with the complex of revelation unfolded in the coming of Christ.

The NT takes the OT’s “Huh?” of penultimate bafflement, and transforms it into the “Oh!” of ultimate fulfillment.

Carl F.H. Henry: The Awesome Silences of Eternity from Kevin DeYoung’s Blog

Found this very interesting article HERE at Pastor Kevin DeYoung’s blog, PS.

Carl F.H. Henry: The Awesome Silences of Eternity

Carl F.H. Henry (1913-2003) was neo-evangelicalism’s earliest theologian. He was also the first editor-in-chief at Christianity Today. It’s a shame that his magnum opus, God, Revelation and Authority, is not more widely read. It is a dense and somewhat dated, but the theology still speaks forcefully and relevantly in many places.

This is one of those places:

God’s most awesome silence in eternity will be his silence toward the lost, a punitive and retributive silence reserved for the wicked who are not on speaking terms with him. There are scholars who consider the eternal punishment of the wicked to be inconsistent with the nature of God. These critics tend to subordinate to divine love all the biblical passages about God’s wrath, and ignore the fact that Jesus said even more about the pangs of hell than about the bliss of heaven, and moreover makes their duration coextensive and unending.

Millar Burrows is right in the verdict that “no basis” exists in Jesus’ recorded sayings for the universalist notion that all humans will finally be saved: “So far as the evidence indicates, he thought of the punishment of the wicked as eternal” (An Outline of Biblical Theology, p. 211). Hell involves not only the continuance of the sinner’s present condition of unhappiness, but also grievous punishment and irreversible exclusion from God’s presence. Jesus did not hesitate to quote Isaiah 66:24, which implies eternal punishment in the flesh, and to use such characterizations as “out darkness” and “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Hell resounds with weeping and wailing: there it is not the sinner but rather God who is silent.

The New Testament has no doctrine of a “second chance”; its emphasis is rather that “everyone must die once, and after that be judged by God” (Heb. 9:27, TEV) or, as Phillips words the text, “it is appointed for all men to die once, and after that pass to their judgment.” Nor does the New Testament anywhere condone the notion that the wicked will not survive this life into an afterlife. Such an end would mercifully terminate their existence, would spare them conscious separation from God and the punishment of the ungodly of which the Bible insistently speaks.

A fundamental Christian doctrine is that all departed souls will at the second coming of Christ be restored to bodily life; the redeemed will enter upon the life of heaven, the unredeemed will be excluded from it. The punishment of the wicked who in this life rejected the divine invitation to redemption will include conscious awareness of having spurned Christ’s agony and death in their behalf. (Volume IV, 596-97)

One can hope that when Christianity Today, the magazine Henry helped start, reviews Rob Bell’s new book, it sounds something like this.

Spurgeon on Separation from False Teachers

Originally posted HERE at Apprising Ministries

SPURGEON ON SEPARATION FROM FALSE TEACHERS

By Ken Silva pastor-teacher on Mar 3, 2011 in Quotes

“For Christians to be linked in association with ministers who do not preach the gospel of Christ is to incur moral guilt. A union which can continue irrespective of whether its member churches belong to a common faith is not fulfilling any scriptural function. The preservation of a denominational association when it is powerless to discipline heretics cannot be justified on the grounds of the preservation of ‘Christian unity.’ It is error which breaks the unity of churches, and to remain in a denominational alignment which condones error is to support schism.”

The Forgotten Spurgeon, Murray, 164-165.

One thing is clear to us, we cannot be expected to meet in any union which comprehends those whose teachings on fundamental points is exactly the reverse of that which we hold dear. Cost what it may, to separate ourselves from those who separate themselves from the truth of God is not alone our liberty but our duty.”

The Sword and Trowel.

“Separation from such as connive at fundamental error, or withhold the ‘Bread of life’ from perishing souls, is not schism, but only what truth, and conscience, and God require of all who would be found faithful.”

The Sword and Trowel, 127.

A Dreary Task, A Terrible Truth by Charles Spurgeon

Thank God for men like Charles Spurgeon who throughout the history have truly cared more for mens souls than for their own popularity.  May God give us more men like this today and silence false prophets who offer “superficial treatments” for humanity’s mortal wound…PS.

Originally posted HERE at Pyromaniacs blog

Jeremiah 6:13“From the least to the greatest, their lives are ruled by greed. From prophets to priests, they are all frauds. 14They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace.

A Dreary Task; A Terrible Truth

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Frank Turk

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from “Heaven and Hell,” a sermon on Matthew 8:11-12 delivered on Tuesday evening, 4 Sept 1855 atKing Edward’s Road, Hackney.

The second part of my text is heart-breaking. I could preach with great delight to myself from the first part; but here is a dreary task to my soul, because there are gloomy words here. But, as I have told you, what is written in the Bible must be preached, whether it be gloomy or cheerful. There are some ministers who never mention anything about hell. I heard of a minister who once said to his congregation, “If you do not love the Lord Jesus Christ, you will be sent to that place which it is not polite to mention.” He ought not to have been allowed to preach again, I am sure, if he could not use plain words. Now, if I saw that house on fire over there, do you think I would stand and say, “I believe the operation of combustion is proceeding yonder?” No; I would call out, “Fire! fire! and then everybody would know what I meant. So, if the Bible says, “The children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness,” am I to stand here and mince the matter at all? God forbid! We must speak the truth as it is written. It is a terrible truth, for it says, “the children of the kingdom shall be cast out!” Now, who are those children? I will tell you. “The children of the kingdom” are those people who are noted for the externals of piety, but who have nothing of the internals of it. People whom you will see with their Bibles and Hymn Books marching off to chapel as religiously as possible, or going to church as devoutly and demurely as they can, looking as sombre and serious as parish beadles, and fancying that they are quite sure to be saved, though their hearts are not in the matter; nothing but their bodies. These are the persons who are “the children of the kingdom.” They have no grace, no life, no Christ, and they shall be cast into outer darkness.

… First, notice, they are to be cast out. They are not said to go; but, when they come to heaven’s gates, they are to be cast out. As soon as hypocrites arrive at the gates of heaven, Justice will say, “There he comes! there he comes! He spurned a father’s prayers, and mocked a mother’s tears. He has forced his way downward against all the advantages mercy has supplied. And now, there he comes. “Gabriel, take the man.” The angel, binding you hand and foot, holds you one single moment over the mouth of the chasm. He bids you look down—down—down. There is no bottom; and you hear coming up from the abyss, sullen moans, and hollow groans, and screams of tortured ghosts. You quiver, your bones melt like wax, and your marrow quakes within you. Where is now thy might? and where thy boasting and bragging? Ye shriek and cry, ye beg for mercy; but the angel, with one tremendous grasp, seizes you fast, and then hurls you down, with the cry, “Away, away!” And down you go to the pit that is bottomless, and roll for ever downward—downward—downward—ne’er to find a resting-place for the soles of your feet. Ye shall be cast out.

And where are you to be cast to? Ye are to be cast “into outer darkness;” ye are to be put in the place where there will be no hope. For, by “light,” in Scripture, we understand “hope;” and you are to be put “into outer darkness,” where there is no light—no hope. Is there a man here who has no hope? I cannot suppose such a person. One of you, perhaps, says, “I am thirty pounds in debt, and shall be sold up by-and-by; but I have a hope that I may get a loan, and so escape my difficulty.” Says another, “My business is ruined, but things may take a turn yet—I have a hope.” Says another, “I am in great distress, but I hope that God will provide for me.” Another says, “I am fifty pounds in debt; I am sorry for it; but I will set these strong hands to work, and do my best to get out of it.” One of you thinks a friend is dying, but you have a hope that, perhaps, the fever may take a turn—that he may yet live. But, in hell, there is no hope. They have not even the hope of dying—the hope of being annihilated. They are for ever—for ever—for ever—lost! On every chain in hell, there is written “for ever.” In the fires, there blaze out the words, “for ever.” Up above their heads, they read “for ever.” Their eyes are galled, and their hearts are pained with the thought that it is “for ever.” Oh! if I could tell you to-night that hell would one day be burned out, and that those who were lost might be saved, there would be a jubilee in hell at the very thought of it. But it cannot be—it is “for ever” they are “cast into utter darkness.”

But I want to get over this as quickly as I can; for who can bear to talk thus to his fellow-creatures? What is it that the lost are doing? They are “weeping and gnashing their teeth.” Do you gnash you teeth now? You would not do it except you were in pain and agony. Well, in hell there is always gnashing of teeth. And do you know why? There is one gnashing his teeth at his companion, and mutters, “I was led into hell by you; you led me astray, you taught me to drink the first time.” And the other gnashes his teeth and says, “What if I did? You made me worse than I should have been in after times.” There is a child who looks at her mother, and says, “Mother, you trained me up to vice.” And the mother gnashes her teeth again at the child, and says, “I have no pity for you, for you excelled me in it, and led me into deeper sin.” Fathers gnash their teeth at their sons, and sons at their fathers. And, methinks, if there are any who will have to gnash their teeth more than others, it will be seducers, when they see those whom they have led from the paths of virtue, and hear them saying, “Ah! we are glad you are in hell with us, you deserve it, for you led us here.” Have any of you, to-night, upon your consciences the fact that you have led others to the pit? O, may sovereign grace forgive you. “We have gone astray like lost sheep,” said David. Now a lost sheep never goes astray alone, if it is one of a flock. I lately read of a sheep that leaped over the parapet of a bridge, and was followed by every one of the flock. So, if one man goes astray, he leads others with him. Some of you will have to account for others’ sins when you get to hell, as well as your own. Oh, what “weeping and gnashing of teeth” there will be in that pit!

Now shut the black book. Who wants to say any more about it? I have warned you solemnly. I have told you of the wrath to come. The evening darkens, and the sun is setting. Ah! and the evenings darken with some of you. I can see gray-headed men here. Are your gray hairs a crown of glory, or a fool’s cap to you? Are you on the very verge of heaven, or are you tottering on the brink of your grave, and sinking down to perdition?