Past Articles by Pastor Cunningham
John 15:5 . . . without me ye can do nothing.
A current oracle of wisdom adorning the sign in front of a "church" near my home reads – "If God is your co-pilot, swap seats!" I really do my best to completely ignore such nonsense completely, but now and then one, such as this, displays in a remarkable way the depth of religious error apart from revealing grace.
Even this "correction" of a previously conceived masterpiece – "God is my co-pilot," is a weakly disguised declaration of the humanism that is the new age gospel of anti-Christ.
If your God needs a co-pilot, you are in deep trouble. If you cooperated in any way whatsoever with God in the matter of your salvation, then there is no grace for you and you have no Saviour. Christ is all and in all (Col 3:11) – the Alpha and Omega (Rev 21:6), the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2). There is no need for any sinner to swap seats with God, because there is only one seat. It is the throne of the universe and Christ sits alone upon it (Rev 4:2). My only hope is to sit there in Him (Eph 2:6) and this happens only at His sovereign, gracious, saving discretion.
If men and women are ever made to see how utterly dependent we are upon Christ, then certainly we would fly to Him. We hang utterly upon His mercy. He will save us or damn us as it pleases Him. But whether pilot or co-pilot, grace is no more grace (Rom 11:6). If I have any hand in it, then it is disaster. I am nothing, I have nothing and I can do nothing and I like it that way. "Christ is all" is not a slogan or a saying we put on our church sign. It is the indisputable message of holy scripture.
Neither salvation nor sanctification are in any way a cooperative effort. When Peter was sinking beneath the waves, he didn’t say "Lord, nothing is going to happen today that you and I together can’t handle." He said, "Lord, save me."
Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing . . .
I was recently confronted, by a man who claims to be a preacher of the gospel, upon a point of doctrine. He said that the term "Total Depravity" was misleading because, after all, men are able to do some good things. He argued, are there not those who have never cheated on their wives, and is this not a good thing?
This type of carnal reasoning seems very sound on the surface. Surely we cannot argue that it is evil to refrain from adultery, and yet in a sense that is exactly what I do argue. When examined in scripture light this man’s "logic" is seen in its true self-righteous colors. It is in fact a flat denial of basic gospel truth and completely anti-Christ to maintain that any man has ever done anything good (whether actively or passively) since Adam’s fall, other than the Man Christ Jesus, the sinner’s Representative.
Revelation 22:3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him.
And there shall be. . . It is the delight of the believer, on the authority of the word of God, to think on what shall be. We do rejoice in some things that are now (Rom. 8:1, 1 John 3:2), but in regards to our salvation, how true are Solomon’s words, "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof." Ecclesiastes 7:8
no more curse . . . One of the "all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3)" that we enjoy in the Lord Jesus Christ is that He has borne and done away with the curse of God against us. The lost go through this world under this curse and while all things work together for good to God’s chosen (Rom. 8:28), all things work for evil to these cursed ones. All events and experiences, even the successes and temporal "good" shall all culminate in and contribute to the eternal damnation and woe of those who reject Christ. Transversely, all things, even the failures and suffering of God’s sheep shall ultimately result in and be the means of our everlasting joy and security, through the merits of His sacrifice. Gal. 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.
But the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it. . . What a comfort that whatever else may change, the One Who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, shall REIGN forever! He is still where Stephen saw Him as he fell asleep (Acts 7:54-60). He is still where Isaiah beheld His glorious majesty in the year that king Uzziah died (Isaiah 6:1-5), and as Isaiah prophesied, of His kingdom there shall be no end (Isaiah 9:7). Hallelujah!
And His servants shall serve Him. The curse came when Adam ceased to serve God in submission to His righteous authority and rebelled against Him. There is no danger of this ever happening again. Having the very righteousness of God’s own Son, we are infallible. We gained better standing before God in Christ than we lost in Adam. With the very nature of God, we shall be incapable of any thought, word or deed which is not in total, mathematical agreement with His holy will. How worthy He truly is of the eternal praises which we shall render unto Him with gladness and song.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Rev. 22:20
John 3:27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.
God’s revelation of Himself in the scriptures is a vast ocean of knowledge and wisdom of which the combined understanding of all mankind is but a drop. If the vast sum of all the volumes, both of what has been written and what has been spoken truthfully concerning God’s Word were all amassed it would amount to a mere handful of jewels from His infinite and unsearchable riches. While His children marvel at what we do see and are overwhelmed at times with a comparatively clear view (by His grace) of His glories, we mourn the extent to which our sin has blinded us and the more we learn, the more we realize how little we know. The most distinguished scholar as well as the newest of babes in Christ has need daily, as His disciples, to ask Him for the simplest and most basic needs: "Lord, teach us to pray." "Lord, increase our faith."
Another effect which comes with each step of truth we take is the increasing realization that we owe all spiritual understanding to the free, revealing grace of God. In this school, the intelligent student has no advantage over the idiot; the well-behaved will not excel beyond the trouble maker. Both will see when the understanding is enlightened by the Teacher and until then, both will be equally in the dark. How humbling is the free grace of God to the wicked pride of man! His gospel has nothing for any who are able to receive it or do anything to deserve it, but gives precious hope to the most wretched offender.
We are most blessed, as Christ declared Peter to be, (Mt. 16:17) whose testimony revealed a higher learning than that which man can bestow. Lord we bow to Thy prerogative each time we speak, write, read or hear and acknowledge that it shall profit
NOTHING, except . . .
Luke 22:35 And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? and they said, Nothing.
So far from lacking anything, we live in luxuries’ lap and don’t know it. These disciples said "nothing" though they had no purse nor scrip. We have never lacked purse nor scrip (food pouch) yet we think of ourselves usually as being poor. I groan at my own ungratefulness when I look back on my years of plenty. Having a nice apartment, I lacked a house. Having a house, I lacked a new vehicle. Having a new vehicle, I lack a fishing boat.
I know that luxuries are not bad things and can be used, enjoyed and appreciated as the gifts of God that they are, but we tend to think of luxuries as necessities and this is dangerous. How we need to remember "we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out" (1 Tim 6:7). Having known no lack but rather great wealth I wonder if we had nothing but food and raiment if we could be "therewith content" (I Tim 6:8).
The Lord sent these disciples forth with nothing but faith. How preferable this is to having purse and scrip yet no faith. Would we trade our savings account, stock shares and 401K for faith in Him whose the earth is and the fulness thereof and "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge"(Col. 2:3)? If these disciples lacked nothing then surely we who have like faith lack less than nothing. How grateful we ought to be and what givers we should be! If we ever have less than we do may this be our attitude:
Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Hab 3:17, 18
John 11:5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
I believe it was Spurgeon who said once that if you've never been called an Antinomian, you've probably never preached the gospel. I also believe that if you've never been accused of having a hard, cold God, then you probably don't know the true God. Those who embrace the truth of God's electing grace in Christ alone, are invariably indicted in this way. I would, however, attack my enemies on what they might consider to be their own ground.
There is no love like my Saviour's love and those who do not know Him in His sovereign, particular love for the chiefest among sinners, do not know at all what love is. If you have never seen the Master pass by thousands of His enemies with scorn and wrath and then seen His eyes rest upon the worst of His enemies, yet shine with deep affection and saving purpose toward that most filthy one of all, then I contend you have only imagined what love might be and fallen miserably short. We have hated, offended, rejected and murdered Him, and yet He has loved us and washed from our sins in the very blood that stains our guilty hands. There are many kinds of love known to men, but it requires them all to even begin to illustrate Christ's boundless love for His own.
He has the love of a true Friend for us. Pr 18:24 As Jonathon made a covenant with David, loving him as he loved his own soul, so the King's son has loved us and covenanted for our eternal good.
He has the love of a Father for us. Ps 103:13 He takes a personal and continual interest in every aspect of our well being. Those who would offend us, He considers His personal enemy. Mt 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
He has the love of a Brother for us. Mt 25:40 However benevolently I may feel and act toward other men, I have only two natural brothers in this world. There is nothing I would not do for my brothers, just because they are my brothers! There is something unique about that relationship. Even so, every man is not Christ's brother. Mt 12:48
He has the love of a Husband for us. There is intimacy between my wife and I which is our privilege alone. When we went on our honeymoon, we took no one with us. There is this oneness with Christ. There is a place that we go and take no one else. It has cost Him immeasurably to have me and He paid it with joy. Since I was precious in His sight, He has given people for me. Is 43:4 A thousand have fallen at my side and ten thousand at my right hand, but the wrath that I as richly deserve, will not come nigh unto me. Ps 91:7
Christ loves, as He hates, perfectly and righteously, but His love is most amazing. I am not at all surprised that God hates sinners. I am overwhelmed, however, that He loves them.
1 Samuel 22:2 And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.
Throughout his life, David pictures our Lord Jesus Christ in many ways and we have before us a blessed example. We of course, are represented by these distressed, discontented debtors who have forsaken the kingdom of this world to join ourselves to a greater Captain. Better to dwell in a cave with God’s anointed King than in the very palace of the prince of this world. These were not the cream of the crop which David attracted. Nor are we who have fled for refuge to the Lord Jesus, but rather we are the weak, foolish, base and despised (1 Cor. 1:27, 28).
It mattered not what these 400 were before; they were now royal subjects of God’s anointed king. His following was pitiful compared to the vast army which pursued them, but they were utterly devoted and loyal to their leader. Joining with him meant that all their possessions, talents and allegiance were whole-heartedly at his disposal.
David, like His Son and Lord was despised and rejected of men, but was king nonetheless in the eyes and purpose of God. Before David occupied the throne however, he endured great sorrow and became acquainted with grief. How glorious to think of Him who is pictured here Who though He has all pre-eminence, suffered matchless sorrow for our sakes who have gathered ourselves unto Him. How completely we should and must lay our all at the feet of such a gracious and mighty Captain. Though the masses cry, "We will not have this man to reign over us" (Luke 19:14), it is our unspeakable joy that He allows us the lowest rank in His service.
The word "captain" here means master, general, lord, steward and keeper. Not only is His wish our joyful command, but He is responsible for us. We are under His wise care and protection. In such a case, the hardest rock is to us a plush pillow and the darkest cave, a palace of gold.
1 Cor. 1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God . . .
The Apostle Paul never forgot, nor tried to hide the truth of what he was made of. He recounted his self-righteous, God-hating past (1 Tim 1:13) and acknowledged his present sinfulness, crying, O wretched man that I am (Rom. 7:24)! He did not pretend to be something he was not, considering himself to be less than the least of all saints and unworthy to be called an Apostle (Eph. 3:8, 1 Cor. 15:9). His only claim to any authority or favor whatsoever is that he was called (divinely selected and appointed) in grace, by God Himself.
The text also reveals that God didn’t allow Paul to become an Apostle, it being Paul’s will to become one. It was by the will of God, that he came to this place. The last thing Saul of Tarsus wanted was to be a servant of God and an Apostle of Jesus Christ, until God opened his eyes. Likewise it is by God’s will that sinners are divinely selected and appointed to be saints by the grace of God (Rom. 1:7). The last thing I ever wanted to do was submit to God’s will and way of salvation by the Person and work of Christ, but like the man of authority in Matt. 8:9, God said to this man, Come and I came.
Paul declared his own calling to be a "pattern" of those who should thereafter believe. We cannot forget nor hide our shameful past as hateful enemies of the God Who made us, nor can we deny our ever-present wretchedness and unworthiness to be called by the gracious God Whose law we have broken and Whose Son we have slain. Nevertheless, He hath called us and His gracious calling is to life and glory in Christ. All that is worth mentioning about me can be traced back to His calling me out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).
I did not choose Christ, nor make a decision of any kind for Him, nor have I ever done anything good, nor ever shall. I am simply Chris, called and I have no reason nor desire to ever be anything else.