“while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse,
deceiving and being deceived.” 2 Tim 3:13
We’d like to compare this recent post by Seth Barnes with Scripture. We are very concerned that Racers are being taught things that sound good but actually have no Biblical premise at all. These young people need to see and recognize the error so that they don’t pass along these deceptive teachings to others.
“I’d like to ask you a question that, while foundational to our lives, we often fail to ask and answer: Why are you alive?
Many of us are motivated to get a better job or do more good works. But let me clue you in on a secret: your primary purpose on earth is not to do good works.
We must then consider the meaning of this…
Eph 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
“The Westminster Confession states that “the chief end of man is to glorify God.” 1 Cor. 10:31 says, “whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.””
For reference, what was the purpose of the Westminster Catechism?: “The existence of a Confession of Faith is continually a standing defense against the danger of any Church lapsing unawares into heresy…For although no Church ought to regard her Confession as a standard of faith, in any other than a subordinate sense, still it is a standard of admitted faith…”
All confessions were intended to be guardrails.
The full question and answer that Seth was referencing in the Westminster Catechism is as follows:
Q. What is the chief and highest end of man?
A. Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy Him forever.
Romans 11:36 For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. 1 Corinthians 10:31. Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
“But I’d like to suggest to you that this emphasis on doing starts in the wrong place and often leaves us feeling inadequate because we didn’t do enough.
Seth just removed the guardrails. He is doing exactly what the catechism was a safeguard against. He misses the point of the question entirely and shifts the emphasis to us feeling bad about ourselves as opposed to the emphasis being on God. Seth not only questions the wisdom of this historic document of the evangelical faith, he has the audacity to believe he has a better answer to this question than the trusted fathers of our faith. This question is not a secondary issue, it is the first question asked because our view of God is of utmost importance.
“Let’s start instead with God and the fact that he loves us. He loves us! In fact, we were born to be loved. Our primary responsibility does not involve doing, but being. If you follow Jesus, your purpose is to feel his love and then reflect it back to him and to others. And yes, in doing so, we glorify God.
This actually sounds pretty good, but was any Scripture offered to back this up?
Note, also, that Seth did not start with God as he proposed. In fact, he said NOTHING in praise of God or Christ. Nothing. It was praise of man and his worthiness. The subtlety of false teaching is almost always what is missing.
God’s word does not affirm Seth’s premise that we are inherently adequate and worthy of love. Ephesians 2:1-3 states just the opposite.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
We are not sounding very lovely in that verse. Or consider what another historic father of the faith, Charles Spurgeon, says about a genuine Christian.
“Mourning Christian, why are you weeping? Are you mourning over your own sins and failings? Look to your perfect Lord, and remember, you are complete in Him. You are in God’s sight as perfect as if you had never sinned; more than that, the Lord our Righteousness has clothed you with a royal robe of righteousness, which is wholly undeserved–you have the righteousness of God.
You who are mourning by reason of inbred sin and depravity, remember, none of your sins can condemn you. You have learned to hate sin; but you have also learned how that sin is not yours–it was laid upon Christ’s head. Your standing is not in yourself–it is in Christ. Your acceptance is not in yourself, but in your Lord; you are just as accepted by God today, with all your sinfulness, as you will be when you stand before His throne, free from all corruption.”
Truth about ourselves leads to genuine hope in Christ. Seth’s version is a false faith that does not save.
“The point is that we can’t reflect his love unless we feel it. Anything else emanates from obligation and duty. It results in dry religion and ultimately in a judgmental spirit when people fail in their duty.”
This feels like a heavy burden…what if we don’t feel it one day? This “feeling” will be the basis for the rest of his post. What if our sin causes us to feel guilt (as it should), do we just convince ourselves to “feel” otherwise? No, if we have submitted to Christ we can be assured of His saving love because He is unchanging regardless of how we feel at any given moment.
Continuing in Ephesians 2.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Eph 2:4-10
Why does He save? …”to show the immeasurable riches of HIS grace.”
If we don’t understand who Christ is, compared to who we are, then service to Him would feel exactly like, as Seth says, “obligation and duty.” When we understand the amazing love and sacrifice of Christ for us, the response is a joyful submission and desire to serve God for who HE is. This results in the good works He predestined us for (Eph 2:10). True saving faith is proven genuine by good works born out of love for our Savior.
God shows love because He IS love, not because we are lovely apart from Christ.
“We were born to be with our Father God and to bring others into his presence. He reconciles us in our broken state to himself and asks us to invite others to the party.”When we feel his love and reflect his love to others, we embrace what he calls “the ministry of reconciliation.”
The ministry of reconciliation is NOT about “feeling His love”. He has plucked this idea out of context and does not offer the Scripture, again.
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Cor 5:18-19
God reconciled us to Himself through Christ. He does not hold the trespasses against (only) those who repent and put their faith in Christ. He then gives them the “ministry of reconciliation” to implore others to be reconciled to God as well. It has nothing to do with “feeling His love and reflecting it back to others” as Seth states. The chasm between God and sinful man must be bridged and it IS bridged by Jesus.
Seth believes this happens when we recognize our intrinsic value. This is Pop psychology at it’s best.
His version cannot be interpreted as anything but universalism. He has not distinguished that while all are made in God’s image, not all will be eternally in His presence. God loves all in the sense that He is love (John 3:16), but not all receive His saving love. Some will be eternally punished. Christ affirms this in Matt 5:41 , “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Consider that in Romans 1-4 Paul teaches first about wrath and sin before he ever speaks of God’s great love in Romans 5.
“Maybe that sounds like evangelism to you. The word “evangelism” sticks in a lot of people’s throats like a bone. They equate the term to acting like a kind of a religious used car salesman in a cheap suit.”
This is so, so sad. Equating the message of the cross to the pitch of a used car salesman? The Gospel is the BEST NEWS there is!
“My guess is that if we really felt loved and understood how so many people feel, it would be much easier to embrace the ministry of reconciliation. Perhaps you’ve never experienced the sense of utter despair that comes when you feel abandoned by God. Perhaps you’ve forgotten what it was like to feel God’s embrace for the first time. People all over the earth feel ugly, forgotten, and estranged from God. The Bible calls them “children of wrath,” and that’s how they feel – at odds with themselves and the God who made them, living in a scarred and forgotten place.
It’s not a matter of “feeling” like children of wrath, they ARE children of wrath. Unbelievers are not abandoned by God, rather they are ENEMIES of God because of their sin. Again, where is his Scripture to prove his point?
“…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Romans 5:8-11
“Listen to a missionary friend of mine describing the Islamic culture in which she works, “The legalistic religion dictates that every aspect of culture turns their lives into little more than an empty performance of religious acts from cradle to grave. The streets teem with the various categories of the hopeless. The sense of oppression is thick.”
As a follower of Jesus, your purpose is a noble one. You are called to partner with God to help people realize their belovedness, to see a God who is lovesick and wants to woo them back to himself.”
God is lovesick?? Where is the reverence, fear, and awe of a holy God who we have offended with our sin? Christ was beaten, tortured, and hung on a cross to bear the wrath of God for US. He willingly laid down His life so that we might be reconciled to God. Where is the praise for His sacrifice?
Christ offered Himself because we have a debt that we cannot pay, not because we are lonely, lacking in self-esteem, or unaware of our “belovedness”.
“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” 2 Cor 7:10
“It’s the task of setting things right, of restoring the natural order to things – orphans brought into a family, parched lips feeling the refreshment of a cool drink, lonely hearts feeling the glow of companionship.
You are a treasure
Jesus described his kingdom as a place where lost things are found. When we’re that lost thing and he finds us, we realize the treasure we are in his eyes. And we get to join him in helping others to see themselves that way too.
It’s an incredible thing to partner with God. It’s wonderful to help a person see that God loves them. I am so thankful that God loves me. Reflecting that love to you and to those I encounter in life is God’s grace working in me.
If you’ve really experienced this love of God, it may have been the high point of your life. To join with God in helping others experience his love is a privilege that we we need to grasp. It’s a purpose to which we are loved into embracing.”
Again, sounds pretty good. However, pay attention, he has again twisted Scripture to create a man-centered theology. We are not the lost treasure that God “finds”. The Bible makes it clear that the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is the treasure worth selling everything to obtain.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44.
Man has a sin problem, the Bible is clear. Unbelievers stand guilty before a Holy God and are desperate for an answer. Stuck in the shackles of works righteousness, they are hopeless and oppressed. Seth’s answer of helping them to understand and FEEL how lovable they are is a lie. It serves to compound their problem as their God-given conscience tells them rightly that they are not.
God offers rest for our guilty conscience as we place our sin at the foot of the Cross, humbly recognizing how unworthy we are and how worthy HE is.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matt 11:28-30
Seth then adds a video at the end of the post by Andrew Shearman (of G42). It continues the lie and is very deceptive. He speaks of a “love story”, but what is the focus? Not God. He speaks to us of an actual voice he heard from God, but please don’t believe it. No voice of God goes against Scripture. This is demonic. He never mentions why Christ died. It is a message designed to make us FEEL good. This is exactly how Satan is disguised, as an angel of light. (2 Cor 11:14) It is Man-centered with not one hint of the need to submit to and worship God. It actually sounds more like God worships us.
It is blasphemy plain and simple to attribute this teaching to the Holy Spirit.
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 2 Tim 4:3-4
For further reference, the Westminster Catechism gives an full picture of sin and God’s gracious love using Scripture. See specifically, questions 30-32.