Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Q & A with Warren Wiersbe: "What is the Gospel?"

As a well-known and trusted Bible theologian and scholar, and former pastor of Moody Memorial Church in Chicago, Dr. Warren Wiersbe is well-qualified to answer questions about the gospel. Let's see what he has to say about this most important issue. Commenting on the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15, Wiersbe writes:
"We should test everything by the truth of the Gospel. What is the Gospel? Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. He was buried and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. He was seen alive by many witnesses. If you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you will be saved. (See I Corinthians 15.)"1
"The good news of the Gospel is the good news about Jesus Christ, '...that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen...' (1 Cor. 15:3-5)."2
"The gospel is the most important message that the church ever proclaims. While it is good to be involved in social action and the betterment of mankind, there is no reason why these ministries should preempt the gospel. 'Christ died...he was buried...he rose again...he was seen' are the basic historical facts on which the gospel stands (1 Cor. 15:3-5). 'Christ died for our sins' is the theological explanation of the historical facts. Many people were crucified by the Romans, but only one 'victim' ever died for the sins of the world."3
"The burial of Jesus Christ is as much a part of the gospel as is His death (1 Cor. 15:1-5), for the burial is proof that He actually died."4
"What gives us our firm footing? The gospel of Jesus Christ. (See 1 Cor. 15:1-5; Rom. 5:1-2; Gal. 5:1.)"5

ENDNOTES:

1 Warren Wiersbe, "SANCTIFIED BY CORRECTION" (accessed November 9, 2011), bold added.

2 Wiersbe, "J is for Jesus Part 1," (accessed November 12, 2011).

3 Wiersbe, Be Wise (1 Corinthians), p. 164.

4 Wiersbe, Be Comforted (Isaiah), p. 162.

5 Wiersbe, A Gallery of Grace, p. 123.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Darby vs. Moody on Calvinism

A couple weeks ago I started reading a biography of D. L. Moody's life titled A Passion For Souls, by Lyle W. Dorsett. I'm about 130 pages into the book, and this morning I was reading about Moody's first trip to England and how he was introduced to Charles Spurgeon, George Muller, and the Plymouth Brethren - John Nelson Darby among them. Concerning the latter, Moody was attracted to many of the Plymouth Brethren distinctives, but as time went on he became increasingly uncomfortable with some of their teachings, particularly the Calvinistic teaching of Limited Atonement. Dorsett gives the following details:
     Moody's initial love affair with the Brethren movement was inspired by their love for the Bible and their purposeful focus on reaching the lost for Christ. Therefore, Moody spent much time in Brethren assemblies on his [first] trip [to England in 1867], and he would invite many, including John Nelson Darby, to come to America and preach at the Illinois Street Church.
     Within a few years, however, Moody became uncomfortable with the Brethren. Not that he eventually swayed from his commitment to Scripture, premillennialism, missions, and evangelism, but he did find the increasingly separatistic views of the movement to be personally distressing and ultimately harmful to Christian unity. For instance, Darby was a staunch Calvinist who held unyieldingly to predestination and the doctrine of the elect. Increasingly, Darby unleashed verbal warfare against anyone who gave quarter to the Arminian and Wesleyan view that Christ died for all men and women. Moody was never a predestinarian, and as the years went by, his proclamation theology was like that of John Wesley rather than the one embraced by John Calvin (and Darby). Furthermore, while Darby wanted less and less to do with Christians who advocated clergy ordination, liturgy, and using women in ministry, Moody was seeking ways to unify all the denominations.
     Finally, Darby personally launched an ugly, verbal attack on Moody's "Arminian" views, arguing that he and most Americans, except for a few Presbyterians, did not know "the first principles of grace". Indeed, one day while doing a Bible reading time at Farwell Hall in Chicago, he and Moody had a verbal exchange on free will. The session ended when Darby, in disgust with Moody's emphasis on "whosoever will may come," [Rev. 22:17, KJV] closed his Bible and walked out; and he never returned.1
I find this information very interesting because I've attended Moody Bible Institute  in Chicago, and I would say that most of the present-day students and faculty would probably agree with Darby on this issue, not Moody! The present-day Moody Bible Institute is "generally Calvinistic,"2 while I'm not so sure that Moody himself was.3

I also find it interesting that in response to Moody's quoting of Scripture, Darby closed his Bible and walked away! This reaffirms to me that Calvinism really cannot stand up to the Word of God - in this case the simple truth that "whosover will, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev. 22:17, KJV).


ENDNOTES:

1 Lyle W. Dorsett, A Passion For Souls, The Life of D. L. Moody [Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1997], pp. 136-137. NOTE: Moody was not an "Arminian"; neither was he a Calvinist. Instead, Moody held to a Biblical balance between the two positions.

2 See the Moody Bible Institute "Doctrinal Statement".

3 I am reminded of the following statement by D. L. Moody, which I taped to the outside of my dorm room door while I was living in Culbertson Hall: "But some say, Faith is the gift of God. So is the air; but you have to breathe it. So is bread; but you have to eat it. So is water; but you have to drink it. Some are wanting a miraculous kind of feeling. That is not faith. 'Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God' (Rom. x. 17). That is whence faith comes. It is not for me to sit down and wait for faith to come stealing over me with a strange sensation; but it is for me to take God at His Word." (Moody, The Way to God [Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1884], p. 51.)