Six glaring perversions by Pedobaptist on Matthew 19:14

And now mark if you please, the glaring perversions with which this whole Pedobaptist “exposition” is crowded. I shall notice six only. It is here denied that Christ designs to illustrate the true Christian character by the disposition of children, and it is asserted that this might have been done by the dispositions and affections of doves, or lambs, as well as by those of children; thus the obvious truth is repudiated: it is maintained that Christ here teaches the church-membership of literal infants, by natural birth; that parents have a natural right to “transact” in religion for their children impose upon them the vows, and ordinance of baptism and that God will accept it as binding upon the children; that in the last day, when God shall make up his jewels, persons will be “owned” by him, because they were in their infancy “dedicated to the Holy Trinity in baptism;” that Christ takes it ill of those who refuse to receive infants into the church, and to baptize them; and that “for aught we know, infants have received the Holy Ghost as well as we,” and ought therefore to be baptized! What perversions! What falsifications of truth!

We have thus seen how the word of God is perverted in order to sustain this unauthorized rite, in the instances of the apostolic commission, the address of Peter on the day of pentecost, the instructions of Paul to the Corinthians, regarding social and domestic intercourse, and the blessing of children by our Lord Jesus Christ. Many, very many other examples equally striking, might be produced, but enough has been said to establish fully the proposition with which we set out. It is unquestionably true that the defense of infant baptism necessarily leads to most injurious perversions of the word of God. This is an evil, a most melancholy evil. It destroys all just principles of biblical interpretation; it covers the sacred oracles with impenetrable obscurity; it inculcates error, and withholds the truth from the cause and people of God; by it knowledge is abridged; faith is made weak; religion becomes less enlightened; and practical godliness is overwhelmed!

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Infant Baptism- Chapter 2- Infant Baptism is an evil because its defense leads to most injurious perversions of the Word of God


But,” says one, “how am I to know whether I am elect?

“But,” says one, “how am I to know whether I am elect?” Beloved, thou canst not know it by any outward profession. Thou mayest be of any church in the world, or of no church, and yet be one of God’s elect. Nor canst thou know it even by the sentiments which thou receivest as being true, for thou mayest know truth, and vet not have truth in thy soul; thou mayest be orthodox in thy head, and heterodox in thy heart; thou mayest believe everything, and yet be cast away at last. The only way whereby thou canst judge thyself is this: dost thou fear the Lord? Dost thou reverence his name and his Sabbath? Hast thou trembled at his Word? Hast thou cast away thy self-righteousness at his command? And hast thou come to him, and taken Christ to be thine All-in-all? I do not ask thee whether thou fearest hell; many fear hell who fear not God. Dost thou fear to offend a loving Father? Dost thou fear lest thou shouldst go astray from God’s commandments? Dost thou cry to him, —

Savior, keep me lost I wander?”

Dost thou ask him to preserve thee? And canst thou honestly say that, if thou couldst be perfect, thou wouldst be; that thou desirest to be freed from sin’ that thou hatest every false way? And is it thy dally groaning to be set free from guilt, and to be wholly surrendered to the Crucified? Lastly, canst thou say this after me, —

A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,

On Christ’s kind arms I fall:

He is my strength and righteousness,

My Jesus and my all?”

Then you are elect; then you are justified; then you are accepted; and you have no more reason to doubt your acceptance and your election than you will have when you stand before the throne of God, amid the blazing lustre of eternal glory. You are elect; and you always were elect. God hath chosen you; your fearing him is the evidence of it; and your believing in Christ, without any righteousness of your own, is a proof positive that you were chosen of God before the foundation of the world.

Charles H. Spurgeon- “Covenant Blessings”- On a Thursday Evening in the summer of 1858, delivered at New Park street Chapel, Southwark, intended for reading on the Lord’s Day, July 1st, 1900, another sermon on this subject is sermon 3261 called “The Covenant”


The Wednesday Word: Grace not Debt

“Now to him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that works not, but believes on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Romans 4:4-5).

Good gracious, that is an audacious statement, but it is perfectly correct and accurate.

God justifies the ungodly!

Why the ungodly? Because there is no other kind of people for Him to justify. All outside of Christ are ungodly. As Romans 3 explained, “There is none righteous and none that doeth good.” NONE! That’s comprehensive if you ask me.

So, let’s say it again, if God did not justify the ungodly, no one would be justified (acquitted). All are ungodly, some are very ungodly; but none are too ungodly to be justified. Why so? Because justification, (acquittal) is by grace— sheer unbounded grace, and not because of merit (what we deserve or earn).

At Calvary, infinite grace met unbounded demerit and grace triumphed.

Notice, we are not even told to believe that God justifies the ungodly. No, we are called to believe on Him,—on God Himself,—who justifies the ungodly (see our text).

Faith in God for justification implies the abandonment of any confidence we have in justification by our own good works. The old gospel Hymn by James Proctor deals so well with this. It says,

“When He, from His lofty throne,

Stooped to do and die,

Ev’rything was fully done;

Hearken to His cry!


It is finished! yes, indeed,

Finished, ev’ry jot;

Sinner, this is all you need,

Tell me, is it not?

2) Weary, working, burdened one,

Wherefore toil you so?

Cease your doing; all was done

Long, long ago.


3) Till to Jesus’ work you cling

By a simple faith,

“Doing” is a deadly thing-

“Doing” ends in death.


4) Cast your deadly “doing” down-

Down at Jesus’ feet;

Stand in Him, in Him alone,

Gloriously complete.”

Our only hope of heaven is Jesus Himself. Our good works cannot bring us eternal life. As the scripture says, “To him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” Now that is a plain, well-known matter. If we work for a wage, we’ve earned it. It is not grace, therefore, on the part of our employer to, at the end of the week, give us our wages. We’ve earned them.

But grace gives us what we haven’t earned or deserved.

Supposing you met a homeless stranger and you bought him a meal, that would be grace,—but only in a small measure. Gospel grace is much greater than that. Gospel grace is more akin to the following. Suppose a stranger plundered your home and robbed you and you, knowing who he was and what he had done, unbegrudgingly and gladly bought him a meal, that’s more like the grace of God.

We are saved by grace!

There is no question of working for wages to gain eternal life.

Salvation is “to him that works not— but believes on Him that justifies the ungodly,”—Gospel truth makes us repudiate our works as our hope of salvation. In grace, the Lord justifies the ungodly, the stranger, the destitute and the enemy. He is “the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.”

The blood of the Lamb is the basis on which He can righteously justify. That is why He “is just, and the justifier of him that believes in Jesus” (Romans 3:25-26). God justifies the ungodly—but some people would rather do anything other than simply trust themselves to Him. They would rather work than believe. They want their own righteousness and refuse to surrender themselves to the righteousness of God. They won’t submit, they won’t repent.

But, thank God, the most ungodly who trusts in Him is declared not guilty.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee  

The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination Chapter XXVII- The practical importance of the doctrine

The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination

Chapter XXVII



He will be only a very imperfect Christian who does not know these deeper truths which are brought to light by the doctrine of Predestination. He can have no adequate appreciation of the glory of God, nor of the riches of grace which are given him through redemption in Christ; for nowhere else as brightly as in the predestination of the elect to life does the glory of God shine out in its full-orbed splendor, undimmed and unsullied by human works of any kind. It shows us that all that we are and all that we have that is desirable we owe to His grace. It rebukes human pride and exalts Divine mercy. It makes man to be nothing and God to be everything, and thus preserves the proper relation between the creature and the infinitely exalted Creator. It exalts one absolute Sovereign, who is the universal Ruler, and humbles all other sovereigns before Him, thus showing that all men in themselves and apart from God’s special favor are on the same level. It has championed the rights of mankind wherever it has gone, in the State as well as in the Church.

The doctrine of Predestination emphasizes the Divine side of salvation while its rival system emphasizes the human side. It impresses upon us the fact that our salvation is purely of grace, and that we were no better than those who are left to suffer for their sins. It thus leads us to be more charitable and tolerant toward the unsaved and to be eternally thankful that God has saved us. It shows us that in our fallen state our wisdom is folly, our strength weakness, and our righteousness of no account. It teaches us that our hope is in God, and that from Him must come all our help. It teaches us that lesson of which so many are fatally ignorant, the blessed lesson of self-despair. Luther tells us that he “used frequently to be much offended at this doctrine,” because it drove him to self-despair; but that he afterward found this kind of despair was profitable and near of kin to divine grace. In fact we may say that it solves more questions, it involves fewer difficulties, it gives more solid ground for faith and hope, and it more exalts and glorifies God than does any doctrine which contradicts it. We do not go too far in saying that it is fundamental to the religious conceptions of the Biblical writers, and that to eradicate it from either the Old or the New Testament would transform the entire Scriptural representation. The matter was well put by Dr. J. Gresham Machen when he said, “A Calvinist is constrained to regard the Arminian theology as a serious impoverishment of the Scripture doctrine of divine grace; and equally serious is the view which the Arminian must hold as to the doctrines of the Reformed Churches.” 4

It must be evident that there are just two theories which can be maintained by evangelical Christians upon this important subject; that all men who have made any study of it, and who have reached any settled conclusions regarding it, must be either Calvinists or Arminians. There is no other position which a “Christian” can take. Those who deny the sacrificial nature of Christ’s death turn to a system of self salvation or naturalism, and cannot be called “Christians” in the historical and only proper sense of the term.

By way of comparison we may say that the Lutheran Church emphasizes the fact that salvation is by faith alone; the Baptist Church emphasizes the importance of the sacraments, particularly baptism, and the right of individuals and of congregations to exercise private judgment in religious affairs; the Methodist Church emphasises the love of God to men, and man’s responsibility to God; the Congregational Church emphasizes the right of private judgment and of local congregations to manage their own affairs; the Roman Catholic Church emphasizes the unity of the Church, and the importance of a connection with the Apostolic church. But all of these, while good in themselves, are paled by the great doctrine of the sovereignty and majesty of God which is emphasized by the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches. While the others are more or less anthropological principles, this is a theological principle, and it presents to us a GREAT GOD who is high and lifted up, who is seated upon the throne of universal dominion.

Dr. Warfield has given us a good analysis of the formative principles which underlie the Lutheran and the Reformed Churches. After saying that the distinction is not that the Lutherans deny the sovereignty of God, nor that the Reformed deny that salvation is by faith alone he adds: “Lutheranism, springing from the throes of a guilt-burdened soul seeking peace with God, finds this peace in faith, and stops right there… It will know nothing beyond the peace of the justified soul. Calvinism asks with the same eagerness as Lutheranism the great question: ‘What shall I do to be saved?’ and answers it precisely as Lutheranism answers it. But it cannot stop there. The deeper question presses upon it, ‘Whence this faith by which I am justified?’ . . . . It has zeal, no doubt, for salvation, but its highest zeal is for the honor of God, and it is this question which quickens its emotions and vitalizes its efforts. It begins, it centers, and it ends with the vision of God in His glory; and it sets itself before all things to render to God His rights in every sphere of life activity.” 5 And again he says: “It is the vision of God in His majesty, in a word, which lies at the foundation of Calvinistic thinking,” and after a man has seen this vision he “is filled on the one hand with a sense of his own unworthiness to stand in God’s sight, as a creature, and much more as a sinner, and on the other with adoring wonder that nevertheless this God is a God who receives sinners.” All dependence on self is gone, and he casts himself on the grace of God alone. In nature, in history, in grace, everywhere, from eternity to eternity, he sees the all-pervading activity of God.

If God has a definite plan for the redemption of man it is very important that we shall know what that plan is. The person who looks at a complicated machine but who is ignorant of the purpose it was designed to accomplish and ignorant of the relation of its several parts, must be unable to understand or usefully to apply it. Likewise, if we are ignorant of the plan of salvation, the great end aimed at, or the relation of the several parts, or if we misunderstand these, our views will be confused and erroneous; we shall be unable properly to apply it to ourselves or to exhibit it to others. Since the doctrine of Predestination reveals to us so much concerning the way of salvation, and since it gives so great comfort and assurance to the Christian, it is a great and blessed truth.

We have no hesitation in affirming that this system of belief and doctrine, as given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is the true and final system of Philosophy. Furthermore, Theology studies God Himself, while the physical sciences and liberal arts study only His garments. In the very nature of the case, therefore Theology must be the “Queen of the Sciences.” Philosophy, as it has usually been studied by the different schools of thought, is indeed the ground and mistress of the merely human sciences, but is itself only an auxiliary science in the study of Theology.

Calvinistic Theology is the greatest subject that has ever exercised the mind of man. Its very starting point is a profound apprehension of the exaltation and perfection of God. With its sublime doctrines of God’s sovereign grace, power, and glory, it rises to far greater heights than does any other system. In fact, the one to whom it is presented is moved to cry with the psalmist, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain unto it”; or to exclaim with the apostle Paul, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!” (Psalm 139: 6; Romans 11:33). It is a subject which has challenged the intellects of all great thinkers in earnest times, and there is little wonder that we are told that these are things which angels desire to look into. To pass from other systems to this one is like passing from the mouth of a river and launching out on the mighty ocean. We leave the shallows behind and feel ourselves out on the great broad deep.

Loraine Boettner- The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination


As a responsible being, as a moral agent, as one who was endowed with free will, Adam had necessarily to be placed on probation

In the third place, as a responsible being, as a moral agent, as one who was endowed with free will, Adam had necessarily to be placed on probation, submitted to a real test of his fealty unto God, before he was confirmed, or given an abiding standing in his creature perfections. Because Adam was a creature, mutable and fallible, he was entirely dependent upon his creator; and therefore he must be put on trial to show whether or no he would assert his independency, which would be open revolt against his maker and the repudiation of his creaturehood. Every creature must necessarily come under the moral government of God, and for free agents that necessarily implies and involves two possible alternatives—subjection or insubordination. The absolute dominion of God over the creature and the complete dependence and subjection of the creature to God, holds good in every part of the universe and throughout all ages. The inherent poison in every error and evil is the rejection of God’s dominion and of man’s dependence upon his maker, or the assertion of his independency.

Arthur W. Pink- The Divine Covenants-Part Two-The Adamic Covenant


But notice its particular application

But notice its particular application. “Yet hath he made with ME an everlasting covenant.” Here lies the sweetness of it to me, as an individual.

                      “Oh how sweet to view the flowing

                               Of Christ’s soul-redeeming blood

                                                                  With divine assurance knowing

                                                                  That he made my peace with God.”

It is nought for me that he made peace for the world; I want to know whether he made peace for me: it is little that he hath made a covenant, I want to know whether he has made a covenant with me. David could put his hand upon his heart and say, “Yet hath he made a covenant with ME.” I fear I shall not be wrong in condemning the fashionable religion of the day, for it is a religion which belongs to the crowd; and not a personal one which is enjoyed by the individual. You will hear persons say, “Well, I believe the doctrine of justification; I think that men are justified through faith.” Yes, but are you justified by faith? “I believe,” says another “that we are sanctified by the Spirit.” Yes, all very well, but are you sanctified by the Spirit? Mark you, if ever you talk about personal piety very much, you will always be run down as extravagant. If you really say from your heart, “I know I am forgiven; I am certain that I am a pardoned sinner;”-and every Christian will at times be able to say it, and would always, were it not for his unbelief-if you say “I know in whom I have believed, I am confident that I have not a sin now recorded in the black roll; that I am free from sin as if I had never transgressed, through the pardoning blood of Jesus,” men will say it is extravagant. Well, it is a delightful extravagance, it is the extravagance of God’s Word, and I would to God more of us could indulge in that holy, blessed extravagance. For we may well be extravagant when we have an infinite sum to spend; we may well be lavish when we know we never can exhaust the treasure. Oh! How sweet it is to say, “Yet hath he made with ME an everlasting covenant. It is nought that you talk to me of my brother being saved. I am very glad that my friend should get to glory, and I shall rejoice to meet you all; but after all, the thing is, “Shall I be there?”

Shall I amongst them stand

To see his smiling face?”

Now, Christian, thou canst apply this personally. The covenant is made with thee. Man, open thine eyes; there is thy name in the covenant. What is it? It is some plain English name, perhaps. It never had an M.P. Nor an M.A. After it, nor a “Sir” before it. Never mind, that name is in the covenant. If you could take down your Father’s family Bible in heaven,- you would find your name put in the register. O blessed thought! My namepositively mine! Not another’s. So, then, these eyes shall see him, and not another’s for me. Rejoice, Christian; it is a personal covenant. “Yet hath he made with me an everlasting covenant.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- “David’s Dying Song,” A sermon delivered on Sabbath Morning, April 15th, 1855


Free Ebook Friday- Introduction to the Puritans by Erroll Hulse

Introduction to the Puritans is a wonderful overview of the Puritan movement in the 1600s that has given the English-speaking world its richest depository of theological writings, with practical applications in every area of life. Part One helps us to understand the fascinating history as the British monarchy took some unpredictable turns and various factions literally fought for control of Britain’s religious life. Part Two ably illucidates the lives of the Puritans with brief summaries of 20+ Puritan leaders. These were real men whose contributions came at great personal cost to themselves and their families. Part Three shows us the importance of the Puritan legacy as it applies to important doctrinal and practical issues of our day. All Christians will benefit from knowing the Puritans. This book affords an excellent place to start.

Author: Erroll Hulse (1931-2017)

Pages: 138

Format: Paperbacks

Code: ittp

Language: English

Download as Pdf, Epub,

Source (Chapel Library)

Matthew 19:14

One other passage ought to be considered, and its false glosses briefly exposed, since much confidence has of late, been expressed that it contains evident authority for infant baptism.

“Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14.)

Let us, in the first place, carefully examine this text, and ascertain its exact Sense.

The Savior was in the midst of a discourse of surpassing interest. His disciples were absorbed in their attention to his instructions. Suddenly there “were brought unto him little children.” The object of those who brought them, probably their parents, the evangelist fully states. It was, “That he should put his hands on them, and pray.”[35] This was a very familiar observance among the Jews. Great importance was attached by them, and justly, to the benedictions of holy men. To obtain them therefore, when practicable, had been common from the earliest times. (Genesis 48:14; Matthew 9:18;. Mark 16:18.) These parents fully believed that Jesus was a prophet of God, and they desired for their children his prayers and blessing. This was what they sought, and all that they sought. They however, encountered in their approach, a rebuke from the disciples! This occurred, not certainly, from any want of respect on the part of the disciples for their motives, and wishes, but evidently because they were impatient of the interruption. Their feelings were deeply enlisted in the topic before them, and they were not willing that their Master should, on any account, be diverted from it. But he, observing what they did, “was much displeased,” (Mark 10:14-16.) and immediately suspending his discourse, “Called the little children to him.” (Luke 18:16.) Thus he manifested his great love, patience, and condescension. What the Savior did for these children is now distinctly and fully stated: “He took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.” Meantime he compensated his disciples: for the interruption, by imparting one of the richest lessons to be found in all his teachings. It is contained in the very passage now in question: “Of such is the kingdom of heaven.” And he adds: “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall in no wise enter therein.”

By “the kingdom of heaven,” and “the kingdom of God,” here employed as convertible terms, our Savior refers to the Gospel, the true principles of which in the heart, alone can qualify any one for the holy brotherhood of the church upon earth. This fact needs only to be stated. But what are we to understand by the phrase, “Of such is the kingdom of heaven?” Is it not sufficiently explained by the other phrase, “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God [the grace offered by Christ] as a little child, [in the spirit, and with the disposition of a little child] shall in no wise enter therein?” This appears to me most evident. He does not say that the kingdom of heaven, the church, belongs to little children, or is composed of these, and other such little children. Certainly not. This is plain from our present version, but in the original it is still more obvious. The word rendered “of such,” (toioutwn, not autwn) conveys the idea, as every scholar must see, of comparison, and does not therefore, signify identity, but likeness. The church therefore, is made up, not, as Pedobaptists tell us, of little children, but of those who by divine grace are made like little children. Only “such” can have a place there, as are spiritually, what little children are literally. Little children love their parents supremely: To fit you for a place in his visible church, you must love God supremely. Little children receive as true, and implicitly believe, whatever is declared by their parents: You must receive as true, and implicitly believe whatever is declared in his word, by God. Little children submit themselves to such provisions as are made for them by their parents: You must submit yourselves to such arrangements as are made for you by God. Little children obey the commandments of their parents: You must obey the commandments of God. In these and other respects, to qualify you for a place in the kingdom, or church of God, you must be like little children. You “receive the kingdom of God as a little child” when you cherish the same love, faith, submission, and obedience towards God, that little children do towards their parents.

Such is undoubtedly, the true, and full sense of the passage. How evangelical! How rich! Never, as has been said, did the Redeemer himself, teach a more important lesson. Let it be observed, however, that neither in the passage, nor in the context, nor anywhere else in this connection, is there an allusion of any kind even remotely to baptism. With these facts and expositions before us, we turn to the interpretations of our pedobaptist brethren. What are they? Mr. Henry shall again serve as an example of them all.[36] He speaks thus:

“Observe the faith of those who brought [these children to Christ. They were believing parents.] The children of believing parents belong to the kingdom of heaven, and are members of the visible church. Of such, not only of such in disposition, and affection, (that might have served for a reason why doves, or lambs should be brought to him,) but of such in age is the kingdom of heaven; to them pertain the privileges of visible church-membership as among the Jews of old.”

“Parents are trustees of their children’s wills, are empowered by nature to transact for their benefit, and therefore Christ accepts their dedication of them as their [the children’s] act and deed, and will own these dedicated things in the day when he makes up his jewels. Therefore he takes it ill of those who forbid them, and [who] exclude those [children] whom he has received;”

“and who forbid water that they [infants] should be baptized, who if that promise be fulfilled (Isaiah 44:3) [I will pour out my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring] have received the Holy Ghost as well as we, for aught we know.” Look at this gloss! Ponder it! How preposterous! Dr. Clarke’s commentary is as follows:

Let every parent that fears God, bring up his children in that fear; and by baptism let each be dedicated to the Holy Trinity. Whatever is solemnly consecrated to God, abides under his protection and blessing.”[37]

These, and such like, are the Pedobaptist interpretations of the passage in question! They are published to the world, and received, and defended, as expressing its true sense! Is it surprising therefore, that a vail is thus thrown over the gospel, and its great truths withheld from the faith of the simple?

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Infant Baptism- Chapter 2- Infant Baptism is an evil because its defense leads to most injurious perversions of the Word of God


Sir, how can I know that I am elect?

III. Now I close by noticing THE CHARACTER OF THE PERSONS HERE REFERRED TO: “them that fear him.” Those who fear the Lord are in the covenant of his grace.

The anxious enquirer or the young convert oftentimes says to the minister, “Sir, how can I know that I am elect?” And the usual answer is, “You have nothing to do with that; you may think of that matter by-and-by.” Begging the gentleman’s pardon, that is not true. A sinner has everything to do with it. Instead of having nothing to do with election, he has everything in the world to do with it. But it is said that he need not trouble his mind about it. Perhaps he should not; but he will, and it is no source of comfort to tell him that he ought not. If I have a toothache, it is poor comfort for a physician to tell me that I ought not to have it. So, when a sinner is troubled about the doctrine of election, it is poor comfort to tell him he ought not to be troubled. The best way is to go fairly through the whole question, and say to him, “Do you fear the Lord? Then, so sure as you are a living man, you are elect. You have the fear of the Lord before your eyes; then you need have no doubt but that your name is in the covenant.” None have feared the Lord who were not first loved by the Lord. Never did one come, and cast himself at the feet of Jesus simply because he feared the penalty of sin; and none ever came to embrace the loving skirts of the Redeemer because he feared lest he should go astray, without having been first called, and chosen, and made faithful. No, the fear of God in the heart is the proof of being God’s elect one. If we fear him, we may believe that he will ever give meat unto us, and that he will always keep his covenant towards us which he has made for us in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Charles H. Spurgeon- “Covenant Blessings”- On a Thursday Evening in the summer of 1858, delivered at New Park street Chapel, Southwark, intended for reading on the Lord’s Day, July 1st, 1900, another sermon on this subject is sermon 3261 called “The Covenant”


The Wednesday Word: Repentance or Reformation?

Opinions are like noses…everyone has one. That’s why, when it comes to doctrine, we so often hear “I think this,” or “I think that,” and “Mr So-and-So thinks the other.” There are many varied and colourful opinions out there but to establish the veracity of a matter we need to ask what God thinks? What are His thoughts?

In Matthew 22:29 the Lord rebuked the Sadducees saying, “You do err, not knowing the Scriptures.” That’s a sombre reprimand for many of us.

God has spoken and His word endures for ever (1 Peter 1:25). What then does His Word say, for example, about repentance? Is it the same as reformation? Let’s then, for just a moment, look at this important truth.

In Acts 17:30-31 we discover that, “God now commands all men everywhere to repent: Because he has appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained; whereof he has given assurance unto all men, in that he has raised him from the dead.” Let’s unpack this;

Who commands repentance? God!

When does He command it? Now!

Whom does He command to repent? All men!

Where does He command this? Everywhere!

Why does He command repentance? To escape the coming judgment.

What assurance have we that there is a coming judgment? Christ has been raised from the dead!

Through the years, many have considered their responsibility to repent, and yet they still lack salvation.


Because they confuse reformation with repentance. They realise, to a point, their sinful condition, and unfitness for God’s holy presence, so they turn over a new leaf. They give up their obvious and visible sinful habits and try to lead a good and religious life. By doing so, they hope to make amends for their ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’. Oh, and yes, they believe that Christ died on the cross, but they seem to have no idea that they are to trust Him for their salvation. They do not see Him as their sin-bearer and substitute. However, by their upright behavior and sincerely trying to be good they believe they will reach heaven someday.

But is this repentance? Far from it! Repentance is seeing ourselves as poor, helpless, vile, lost sinner whose only hope is Jesus. What we are looking at with the ¨new leaf adherents¨ is the evidence of the deeply rooted self-righteousness of a deceived mind. These folks have gone through reformation not repentance. But God commands repentance, not reformation. Reformation will probably be appreciated by their neighbours but repentance towards God and repentance unto life are other things altogether.

If a person trusts in their reformation to gain eternal life, they are trusting in what they have done. But we are not saved by works. We are not called upon to trust what we have done (see Ephesians 2:8-9). A saved person does not justify themselves, but they look to Christ alone for their right standing before God. What a vast difference there is between reformation and repentance! Repentance is a change of mind about sin, our lostness and about Jesus. Real salvation is by grace. By the work of the Spirit we see that we are guilty and lost (see Luke 19:10). We comprehend that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (see 1 Timothy 1:15). We understand that Jesus, the appointed Judge, is also the Saviour.

Those hoping in their reformation must realise the following: God is “just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). They must, ‘Believe on (trust on) the Lord Jesus Christ, and they shall be saved,’ (Acts 16:31).

We are not called to believe about Him as merely an historical fact, but to trust the Person and finished work of the risen One. We cannot do a single thing to please God before we believe, for ” in all your doings your sins do appear ” (Ezekiel. 21:24). Reforming our ways is not the ground of salvation. We must believe and trust on Him first, and then follow Him.”

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee