The Stones Would Cry Out

August 5, 2019 at 12:44 PM Leave a comment

Years ago, shortly after becoming a Christian at the age of 13, like most, I began reading the Bible. Admittedly then, I didn’t understand a lot as I had not yet learned that certain hermeneutical rules apply to Bible study.

Instead I found myself turning to human authors whose written works I felt would help me gain more insight into God’s Word. One such author was Andrew Murray. Another was E. M. Bounds whose works on prayer are well known by many.

While I was enthralled by what I read then, looking back I also recall being confused by both authors for different reasons. Though he often spoke of “abiding” in Christ, Murray never clearly explained it. Murray’s experience seemed founded on “feelings,” though propped up with Scripture.

I’ve since learned of course that abiding in Christ means remaining in fellowship with Him. Sin breaks that fellowship. It’s not an ethereal view of our relationship at all. It is practical and faith-based, regardless of how we feel about things. Murray’s ethereal view of God and Scripture sadly caused him to adopt the heretical doctrine of “unversalism” – the idea that all people will be saved. [1] He believed that this view should cause all Christians to work that much harder to bring the lost into salvation since that was God’s “plan.”

Bounds seemed to do the same thing where prayer is concerned that Murray did with universalism, taking Scripture out of context to support his notions regarding prayer. In fact, it appears that men like Bounds and Murray place a great deal of emphasis on man’s role or responsibility in salvation.

The progress to consummation of God’s work in this world has two basic principles—God’s ability to give and man’s ability to ask. – Bounds from The Weapon of Prayer

Bounds seems to be referencing 2 Corinthians 9:8 in the above statement which has to do with Paul’s instructions on giving financially to support the Church. But Bounds makes it appear as though the salvation of others relies mainly on Christians and whether or not they are obedient to God, including our warfare through prayer. Bounds was a Methodist and an Arminian after the theology of Jacobus Arminius, a Dutch pastor who countered Calvinism by emphasizing man’s free will (such as it is) over and above God’s sovereignty and will though he does highlight God’s sovereignty.

For Arminius and those who have adopted his theological views, the emphasis is on man’s responsibilities in bringing others to God for salvation. In reading E. M. Bounds, it quickly becomes clear that he believed that the failure of the Christian to pray, to witness, etc., was the chief reason that the lost did not come to God in Christ for salvation. Bounds would say that when Christians stand before God, we will face our failures, even hearing the cries of the deceased lost who will blame us for not telling them about salvation.

The emphasis for both Bounds and Murray is on man’s efforts to bring salvation to the lost of the earth. In fact, this type of view also leads many to believe that the more Christians pray and work to bring others into a saving knowledge of God, the sooner God’s Kingdom will be brought to this earth. Many fringe groups (cults?) like IHOP (International House of Prayer/Mike Bickle) believe and teach this. I believe they are in complete error.

The emphasis should always be on God, not people. Proponents of Bounds’ theology would argue that it is still God working, but He has chosen to work through the people who are Christians in this world. Yes, He has but has He deliberately tied His own hands if people refuse to obey? Remember Balaam’s donkey (Numbers 22)?

Stop and consider something. What Bounds and others teach is that if YOU (a Christian) fail to tell others about the salvation found only in Jesus and they die in their lost state, YOU are responsible for that. Is this what the Bible says?

This belief is based loosely on passages like Ezekiel 3:18; 33:5, Revelation and other areas of Scripture. God said He would hold the prophet Ezekiel responsible if he failed to tell people what God wanted him to tell them. If Ezekiel failed (he didn’t), would he have lost his salvation? No, though he would’ve been judged for the sin of disobedience.

Would God have allowed Ezekiel to fail and not had a backup plan? Would God allow people to die in their sin without hearing the gospel from someone else if one Christian refused to obey? God always has His “remnant” of obedient believers. Always. His perfect will marches on. It cannot be slowed or stopped.

While on one hand, I bear responsibility for not sharing my faith (disobedience), does this mean that God is hamstrung by my disobedience? Does it mean that in spite of God’s power and omnipotence, if I don’t obey, God can do nothing or His purposes and progress are slowed?

Has God put sole responsibility for ensuring others know Him via salvation on MY shoulders or YOURS? The answer to that question is a resounding NO. You have a choice to obey God or not, but God will accomplish His purposes in His time and in His way regardless of our involvement or not.

Consider Jonah, not the most obedient prophet, right? He tried hard to ignore God, even running in the opposite direction and hopping on a boat to escape God. God had several choices. He could’ve chosen someone else to go in Jonah’s place or make it impossible for Jonah to refuse to obey. He chose the latter and because of it, the king and people of Nineveh (the capitol of Assyrian Empire), repented and God held off His judgment until much later. Jonah was not happy though, was he? He was adversarial toward God and the Ninevites and did not want them “saved” from judgment. God had other plans and brought those plans (His will) to fruition in spite of Jonah. Jonah was an unwilling participant in the completion of God’s will.

Had Jonah continually rejected obedience to God’s will, God could’ve easily sent someone else. Jonah would’ve missed out altogether, but there was no way God would allow the Ninevites to not hear His good news. No way at all. Imagine the blessings Jonah might have gained had he been a willing participant in God’s will? He missed out, though God’s will occurred.

People who think like E. M. Bounds end up discounting God’s absolute sovereignty over world affairs and the lives of individuals He has called for salvation. Is God sovereign or not? Does He exercise His sovereignty daily or is He limited by what Christians accomplish for Him? If the former, then clearly, God will not allow anyone to perish who is to come to Him despite any Christian’s failings to spread the Gospel. If the latter, then God is not sovereign at all and is bound by what Christians accomplish in this life. How absurd is that? Whom do you worship?

This does not absolve us of our responsibility. But failure to obey God means a complete loss of growth in Him, benefits and rewards later on for us.

Will God’s purposes be fulfilled even if people (Christians) fail to follow Him faithfully? Let’s consider Luke 19 starting with verse 39 because it provides insight into God’s sovereignty and how He accomplishes His will in spite of the limits or failures of humanity.

39 But some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples!” 40 “I tell you,” He answered, “if they remain silent, the very stones will cry out.” (Berean Study Bible)

The above section is dealing with the Triumphal Entry, prior to His crucifixion. As He rode into Jerusalem, people in the crowd recognized that just maybe this Jesus was the promised Messiah. They began to praise God because of Jesus and even placed palm fronds on the path in front of the donkey carrying Jesus as an act of worship.

Of course, the Pharisees and religious leaders were furious because of this. In their blindness and stupidity, they went directly to Jesus and ordered Him to tell the people to cease and desist from their praise.

What was Jesus’ response to these religious leaders? “…if they remain silent, the very stones would cry out.” This wasn’t hyperbole! I believe He actually meant that the very inanimate stones of God’s Creation would be animated and would praise God for what was happening if people didn’t. Think about that.

Jesus is pointing out the clear and undeniable FACT that even if/when people fail to do what God wants, God’s will does not fail. Even when people work against God’s will through disobedience, God’s will occurs anyway. This is not only true of people, but it is especially true of Satan and his fallen angels who work 24/7/365 against God’s will. Has Satan ever won? Will he ever win? He is fully limited by God’s will (Job 1).

If I have a neighbor whom I don’t like and because of that, I never talk to him about salvation, what will God do? Will God count only on me to bring the Gospel to that neighbor and if I fail, God has no other options? Hardly! God will make every effort to bring that person to Him for salvation, providing as many opportunities as needed. If I do not cooperate (obey) with God in this endeavor, God will use someone else or He will change my heart. God will successfully find a Christian who will obey, who will talk to this neighbor about his need for salvation. Even if the neighbor ultimately refuses to acknowledge his need for salvation and dies in his lost state and sin, it won’t be my fault though I will be guilty of disobedience to God and His will! It’s called sin.

God will hold me accountable for that sin, but not for the fact that the neighbor ultimately rejected God’s salvation because that’s their choice (Romans 1). If, on the other hand, I tell that neighbor about his need for salvation, I pray for him often, and do what I can to help him understand his need for salvation so that he does become saved, I am also not credited with that man’s salvation as if I did that. However, I will be credited for my obedience in telling him about Jesus and will reap rewards based on that obedience. But others have done that as well most likely in that man’s life. I may have simply been there at the harvest, while others planted and watered. God alone brings that harvest.

If I fail to spread the Gospel, God will get it done. In fact, in Revelation, God uses angels to spread the Gospel above the heavens over the entire earth (Revelation 14:6-13), though it is largely ignored by humanity. God knew before the foundations of the earth who would and who would not receive His salvation. Obviously, for Him to be all-knowing requires Him to know this. This being the case, He will not allow His purposes to fail. Ever. We are privileged to join in with God in His purposes (obedience) or we can ignore His will (disobedience), but His purposes are not dependent upon us for fulfillment. We will reap accordingly (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

The problem with E. M. Bounds and those who think like him, is that the emphasis is on man. Surely, prayer should guide our lives. We should be praying for and talking to those we know who are not saved. Our lives should reflect Jesus. There are many things we should be in constant prayer about, offering praise and thanksgiving for the completion of God’s will in and through us.

However, the idea that if I personally fail in this area, I can somehow hold up God’s will coming to fruition is ridiculous and flies in the face of God’s absolute sovereignty. I’m accountable for my obedience and my disobedience before God.

The idea that the more Christians work (or pray, etc.), the sooner more will come to know Him and the world will change for the better flies in the face of biblical revelation. The Bible says these are bad times and they will get far worse until He raptures His Bride from this earth. Once that happens, judgment will fall onto the earth. Only upon His physical return will this world begin to experience the peace of the Millennial Kingdom over which Jesus Himself will rule with a rod of iron.

No amount of working or praying will make this happen sooner. The timing was and is predetermined by God in the council of the Godhead before the foundations of the earth were laid.

The Christian’s obligation is to be obedient to God’s moral and individual will for our lives. We need to be empowered through prayers of faith in order for this to happen. Obedience is key to our growth and His glory. If we fail, He has someone who won’t. It doesn’t rest on your shoulders or mine. We either gain more of God in Christ through our obedience or we break our fellowship with Him through our disobedience/sin.

We’ll talk more about prayer in an upcoming article. Join me then.

 

[1] https://tentmaker.org/biographies/murray.htm

Entry filed under: Agenda 21, alienology, Atheism and religion, christianity, Cultural Marxism, Demonic, devil worship, dispensationalism, Emotional virtue, eternity, Life in America, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Politics, Pretribulational Rapture, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, Satanism.

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