Tuesday, October 25, 2011


May 2011

This is the second sermon by Mr. Lane that we have chosen to review. We found it on Balmoral’s website.

Mr. Lane, Balmoral Bible Chapel, November 29, 2010, The Choice of Light or Darkness.

Summary: (Mr. Lane welcomes listeners to the weekly time of corporate discipleship, and goes on at some length about the related sermon-based life-groups.) John shows us who Jesus is in relationship to the Father. Warren Wiersbe, the great Bible commentator, says, “Remember, we are not studying a book; we are seeing a person.” That person, Jesus Christ, wants to have a relationship with you and me. And he wants that relationship to shape all of our other relationships. The first verses of John are very strong on the deity of Jesus Christ. But I want to get to the practical side of that message. ‘In the beginning’ implies that there is a story coming. It’s a story about God and his world. These three words link John’s gospel with the beginning of Genesis. This leads us to the other link of light and darkness. The gospel of John talks about a new creation, a spiritual creation; the book of Genesis is talking about the old creation. The same God, Jesus Christ, is responsible for both. Light is equated with life in the Bible. This word ‘life’ is ‘zoe,’ eternal life. It’s about truth, fullness, purpose, meaning, purity, holiness, obedience. We’re talking about the way God has intended for us to live. But when we talk about darkness we speak of death, falsehood, emptiness, rebellion, and something that is not the way. (He reads from John 1, then from Genesis 1.) In Genesis we come across a world that is formless and empty. God’s solution was, ‘Let there be light.’ When Jesus came into the world, it was the same, spiritually speaking, without purpose or meaning. The solution was the same. And the author was the same. And again we hear, ‘Let there be light.’ (Here he quotes from Isaiah, John, and Deuteronomy to bring the theme of darkness and light together.) The Bible tells us we have a choice to make, to live in the light of Jesus that is offered, or reject it for darkness, not only here but in the next life. My challenge and question to us is, ‘Have you come to the point of choosing the light Jesus offers us?’ (Here he relates a story about a friend who is in a coma on account of the bad choices he made.) We don’t know how much time we have. ‘This is the day of salvation,’ the Bible says. And if you have already chosen light, this settles your eternal destiny. But every day you are called to live a life worthy of this destiny. (He gives each listener an actual light to carry with them as a reminder, and a stone to remind each one of darkness.) Jesus wants us to reflect his light to a world that is in darkness. If you’re feeling nudged about crossing over from darkness into light, come up and wait for counsel. (Music and Communion follow.)   

Remarks: This sermon goes to 28 minutes, six of which are about the sermon-based life-groups. This time the theme of the sermon is obvious. The linking together of Testaments by reference to John and Genesis is good. Lots of Scripture support is brought forward to throw light on the subject. And there is some emphasis (not in so many words) on both salvation and sanctification. Having said all this, the sermon is weak, lacks persuasion, and in spite of it being short, is a mile wide. Mr. Lane bounces across the Scriptures like a slick stone skipping across water. Like such a stone that is casually cast, this sermon doesn’t make it to shore, but just quietly sinks without disturbing anyone. Mr. Lane says that he’s looking forward to what the Lord has to teach. He invites the people to reflect as he prepares to take them on this journey. So we are made to anticipate. But everything is so general that not much is taught and therefore little is provided for us to reflect upon.

And many things are askew. (1) This teaching on relationship with Jesus is not sustained and developed by doctrines like justification, adoption, etc. Because of this we have relationship without religion, a fuzzy-wuzzy kind of puppy-love. Unless law and sin are preached, and repentance demanded instead of suggested, Jesus will appear (as he does appear in this sermon) like some lonely, pathetic soul who might disintegrate into nothing if he doesn’t get to have this relationship with sinners. In truth, the Godhead needs nothing from man, not even relationship. The Bible commands repentance and warns of judgment. This sermon is just timidly suggestive.

(2) We get the impression from this sermon that a positive relationship with Jesus depends all on man. A choice for Jesus is not balanced with God’s choice here, God’s choice being what the salvation of sinners is ultimately based on.

(3) The persons of the trinity are not given their due. For instance, Jesus as the Creator is not the whole truth. What part did the Father and Holy Ghost have in it? It is no defense to retort that one cannot say everything in one sermon. If this pastor were more deep than broad, he would discover that balance is possible in a short space. What’s more, systematic theology would guard a pastor from getting out of kilter. This is why theologies are written.

(4) There is a failure to distinguish. A denomination that prides itself on its ‘distinctives’ and dispensational categories ought to be able to spawn pastors who can distinguish. But the difference between an unbeliever’s darkness and the remaining darkness that a believer must work through is not handled here at all. Neither are the saved and the unsaved distinguished from each other, which is certainly necessary in a Sunday morning sermon to your congregation that incorporates an invitation to be saved! To speak as if all are saved and to follow this up with an invitation is a confusion that betrays the ineptitude of the pastor. All that a sermon tries to do will be nullified if it causes perplexity by an absence of biblical discrimination. Discriminating the sheep from the goats does not just happen on Judgment Day. It happens in the competent sermon also. Example: “But, beloved, we must divide our congregation before we send you away, and remind you that there are some of you to whom this does not belong. Perhaps some of you professors of religion may want this promise [‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want’] badly enough; but it is not yours. The Lord is not your shepherd; you are not the sheep of his pasture, and the flock of his hand. You are not those who have gone astray; you are not sheep, but goats—unclean creatures, not harmless, and undefiled as sheep; but everything that is the reverse.” Then the gospel can be laid out; then an invitation to be saved can be given with at least a scintilla of hope for success. You see in this extract from The Good Shepherd that Spurgeon addresses each group distinctly; he hangs the law over those who need salvation, and he mentions the rest as those who have at least gone astray. No one is passed over. Nor are the regenerate and the unregenerate addressed as one. The gospel should not be preached, nor invitations to salvation given, without distinctions being made somewhere. This is what it is to preach responsibly. At the close of his sermon, Mr. Lane makes the comment that sin is sometimes as slick and attractive as the stones he is preparing to hand out for remembrance purposes. Up to this point no preaching on sin has occurred. But suddenly there is this chance on the heels of an acute comment! But he passes it up. Not one particular sin is preached in this sermon. Yet sinners are asked to come out of darkness! Until the conscience be pricked a little, how can we expect anyone to do so much as squirm toward salvation? The people go home once again without any idea of what sin even is; consequently, salvation can be hardly desired by them. Are you simply too scared to preach, Mr. Lane? The Bible is for preaching. People are not going to die if you preach to them. But many are going to hell while you tread on eggshells. Someone might get a hurt feeling if you really preach. Popularity will suffer. Less pats on the back. Some will scowl. The Ministerial will talk. Someone might even hate you. Are great preachers prevented by any of this? John Bunyan, in A Treatise of the Fear of God: “But what a shame is this to man, that God should subject all his creatures to him, and he should refuse to stoop his heart to God?…Sinner, art thou not ashamed, that a silly cow, a sheep, yea, a swine, should better observe the law of his creation, than thou dost the law of thy God?” We can imagine what Mr. Lane’s reply to this might be: ‘I’m not Spurgeon nor Bunyan; be realistic.’ No one expects you to be Spurgeon or Bunyan, Mr. Lane; nor do we suppose that you could become as greatly used of God as they. The problem is not that you fail to preach as sharply as they did, but that you will not preach. It is not just a suspicion but a certainty, that the ‘fire and brimstone’ preaching that pastors like this shun is really the gospel of Christ crucified properly and biblically delivered. Suggesting challenges and speaking of ‘what struck me’—this is conversational prating, not biblical preaching. This sermon lacks essential elements; and the tone is charming (though cautiously earnest) instead of commanding. “The heathen oracles were delivered privately by them that peeped and muttered; but the oracles of the gospel were proclaimed by one that stood, and cried” (Matthew Henry on John 7.37-44.)  

Conclusion: You have to preach law and sin in order to preach grace and salvation. Otherwise you will resort to all kinds of oddities to produce results. When you preach a sermon that’s all smoothed over so as to make no one uncomfortable, you will be tempted to try all kinds of eccentricities to do the work that the preaching should have done. You might even resort to sending your audience home with some props to do the job you failed to do! Incidentally, on these props that are given out. Near the end Mr. Lane holds up the kind of light that members of the congregation will be given to take home. To his dismay this light he holds up is already flickering and on its way out. This is an apt incident, for the gimmick has no energy. It is a poor substitute for sermon substance! And a stone to represent sin (as if any prop at all should be used) is a poor choice for a symbol of darkness. Stones are often positive figures in the Bible. They are sometimes monuments, one time an object to take a giant down, and Jesus Christ is called a stone! You could dash your foot against a stone, which is unfortunate. Or you could have a stony heart, which is far worse. But to choose a stone to symbolize darkness is not a good idea, for the stone is not this or that. It is sometimes darkness and sometimes light. The only time we’ve ever heard of actual stones being used during effective sermons is when some were thrown at the heads of preachers for their strong preaching of sin. Stones are not given out by serious preachers; they are received upside their heads. A stone might be used to prop the preacher up if he has nothing else to stand on; but it will not hold a sermon up. A stone is not a strong enough support for that! Does Mr. Lane know anything about pricking sinners’ consciences enough to get called down, yelled at, or even frowned upon? He wants to deal with the practical side of those first verses of John, he says. Translated, this means he is going to be short on doctrine. How fitting that he calls Warren Wiersbe ‘the great Commentator.’ Mr. Wiersbe’s Commentary is formulated from his ‘Be’ series. You see, the focus is away from the doctrine that underlies all godly practice; it’s all about ‘be this’ and ‘be that’; what you are, a sinner, this is merely secondary! Who it is who commands, that too must be secondary, for it’s all about us ‘being.’ What God does, this must be subsidiary also. This is why sermons like this one are so shallow and ineffective. Follow men like Mr. Wiersbe, and it will be all about trying to get a harvest but without plowing first. Don’t disturb any soil, don’t even bother to seed, maybe, but look for plants to spring up anyway! Without having read even one section of the ‘Be Series’ commentary, we know, just by the title and the fact that it is subdivided into ‘be’s’, that it’s going to be shy on doctrine. Only a lopsided thinker who is scared of doctrine would write such a commentary. Preachers relying on this thing are going to be hurting for doctrine too. Mr. Lane relates that Wiesbe says, “Remember, we are not studying a book: we are seeing a person.” This might seem like a Christ-centered approach. But there is something subtle and pernicious here. Studying the Book is the only way to keep Christ at the center. What does Jesus say? “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5.39.) What does this mean? It doesn’t mean to belittle study and look for Jesus instead. It means to study the Book as diligently as you can in order to find Jesus and his salvation (which must involve doctrines, not practices) in it. Practice is not the foundational thing. This ‘Be Series’ is probably as bad, or worse, than our suspicion of it is, for the man who follows the author of it is doctrinally light, which is exactly what we should expect the correlation to be. One must read deeper than any well that is dug by a man who would divide the Bible up into a series of ‘be’s’! We are encouraged that Mr. Wiersbe has compiled a huge number of sermons by famous preachers in the ‘Classic Sermons Series.’ But we wonder if he has any warning in there about some of the men whose sermons he includes? Henry Drummond, for instance, was of the opinion that Redemption and Evolution are synonymous. (See page 413 of his Natural Law in the Spiritual World.) Wiersbe the ‘great commentator’ is not that discerning, which we can say even on the basis of having read his very general, light as a feather Victorious Christians You Should Know. Better men than Warren Wiersbe must be followed for one’s ministry to contain all that it should, and for it to be destitute of those things that should not be contained in it.

To sum up, this sermon seems okay, until you start going over what’s missing from it. This is the dead orthodoxy that you’ve heard about. And it is just the thing that drives churchgoers to extremes in search of life, right into the chaos of charismatic superstition, or perhaps all the way back to medieval religion: legalistic Rome. If it’s too much to call this dead orthodoxy (for some souls do live on it, and by its feeble stimulus plod through their troubles week by week), then it surely wouldn’t be going too far to call it orthodoxy-light.

Monday, October 10, 2011


(Because of the wretched state of Red Deer’s pulpit space, it is now, as predicted by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3, the time to ‘pluck up that which is planted…a time to break down…a time to weep…a time to cast away stones’ and even ‘a time to refrain from embracing.’ And it is certainly more ‘a time to speak’ than ‘a time to keep silence.’ Be that as it may, the wrecking ball of negative criticism should be followed by the laying down of truth. To this end, we introduce the sermon sketch as an intermittent blog feature. As the term ‘sketch’ implies, this kind of post, in distinction from the usually lengthy analysis, will be pithy. The source for each sketch will be indicated at the bottom of each post.)


“I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing” (Hosea 8.12.)

Introduction. This is God’s complaint against Ephraim. It is a great proof of God’s goodness that he stoops to rebuke his erring creatures. If he pleased, he might be as indifferent to us as the heathens supposed their Jove was. Our God notices every one of us. We are beneath his smile or his frown. How merciful that God does not smite man out of existence! Instead, he pleads with him. I come here as God’s ambassador to plead with you and to charge many of you with the sin of this text.

(1) Who is the Author? The text says that it is God. John tells of love; Peter speaks of fire devouring God’s enemies; but everywhere I find God speaking. I could show you that God wrote the Bible. But I stand here as a preacher of things I know and feel, not as a controversialist. A thought or two now on this Word of God. First, admire its authority. It is not the sayings of the sages of Greece. It is dated from the hills of heaven. The chapters are big with meaning and mysteries unknown. Written by God? Then I will bow before thee. Reason, your place is to stand and find out what this volume means, not to tell it what it should say. Then, mark its truthfulness. This is the Word of God, a sun without a blot, the judge that ends the strife. I have heard men in prayer say, ‘Make your calling and salvation sure’ instead of, ‘Make your calling and election sure.’ Pity they were not born far back enough to teach God how to write! God wrote what they do not like—the truth. Stop and consider the mercy of God in writing us a Bible. He might have left us in the dark with only the star of reason as our guide. The light of creation is bright. God’s glory may be discovered in the ocean waves. But his glory is more clearly revealed in the Bible. What will become of you who neglect your Bibles? There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write ‘damnation’ with your fingers. Be Bible-readers; be Bible-searchers.

(2) The Subjects in the Bible. There is nothing unimportant in the Bible. I believe a man may be saved in any denomination. But not all churches are equally truthful. One teaches we are saved by free grace, while another says by free will. They cannot both be right. Never say that what you believe doesn’t matter. Search and see. But while all things in God’s word are important, they are not equally so. Certain vital truths must be believed, or no man would be saved. What are the three R’s? Ruin, redemption, and regeneration. There is an even better epitome of the gospel in the five points of Calvinism. Do you think the great things of God’s law are not worth your attention? Reflect a moment, man. If you die without Christ, there is no hope for you. As heaven is desirable and hell is terrible, you ought to listen to God’s great things.

(3) How the Bible is Treated in the World. It is accounted a strange thing. First, because some never read it. A full-grown person once heard me reading the story of David and Goliath, and then remarked, ‘Dear me! what an interesting story; what book is that in?’ Others who read the Bible say it is so horribly dry. If it is dry to you, you lack the greatest evidence of your Christianity, and you will be dry at last in hell. Blind men need the Spirit to put eye-salves on. Then there are some who hate the Bible. Do not quarrel with your only refuge from hell! Hope in the Saviour’s veins. Hope in the Father’s mercy. Hope in the Holy Spirit’s omnipotent agency.

Selection from Conclusion. “Let no one turn away from the Bible because it is not a book of learning and wisdom. It is. Would you know astronomy? It is here: it tells you of the Sun of Righteousness and the Star of Bethlehem…Whate’er your science is, come and bend o’er this book.”

{This sermon by C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) is sketched by M. H. Gaboury.}

Saturday, October 1, 2011


August 2010

Mr. Keys, Streams, Take your Place in the Kingdom.

Mr. Keys, you teach in this sermon that we should come in past the mere fringes of the kingdom: we must get past this fear of leaving our comfort zone and we must not be scared to commit. We are challenging you to live up to these words by reading our analysis of your sermon. This will not only take you outside your comfort zone, but it might show you some things that you should be aware of. 

Summary: In the beginning, God meant earth to be a reflection of heaven. Humankind was seated in authority to extend that kingdom. Adam and Eve gave it up. Jesus came to restore it. The kingdom was the central theme of everything he did and said. Jesus brought the kingdom with him; he commissioned his disciples to do the same; we are expected to bring it with us. We must take hold of our kingdom privileges. Our destiny is in this kingdom. Repentance and forgiveness are just our entry into it. God wants us to move to its center. (He reads from Isaiah 14, comments on Lucifer’s fall, and recapitulates what he said about earth as it was in the beginning.) Lucifer, cast from his seat, looked for another one. So he tricked Adam and Eve out of their seat, and he became the god of this world. They lost their seat. But God had a plan. The King himself came to earth and brought his kingdom with him. (He reads from Luke 4.16-21, and gives some historical context to Jesus’ ministry.) Ministry begins when you take your seat of authority in the kingdom. (He reads from Ephesians 1.18-22; 2.4-7.) Lucifer tried to take God’s seat; Jesus offers to share his seat with us. Do we deserve it? No. It’s because of God’s love and kindness, grace and mercy. When the kingdom comes, there is joy, freedom, peace, power, and healing. Why do we not always see these things? We have to choose to take our place in the kingdom. We must choose not to hang around the fringes. We cannot fulfill our purpose and assignment in the kingdom until we take our seat of authority there. (Joseph and Esther are mentioned as examples of persons who took their seat.) Jesus has a place of dominion for you, a place of authority over the enemy, a place where you extend the kingdom. When Jesus taught, he first sat down because when he taught he taught with authority. We need to learn how to sit in kingdom authority. We have to believe we have it. We have to live in awareness of what we have. (He testifies to having come into this awareness about a dozen years ago.) This is a year of fulfillment. This year we need to do less pursuing, more possessing. Imagine courting a woman for thirty years. There would be a problem there, maybe a fear of commitment. This is like the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for all those years. We’re scared of getting out of our comfort zone. Something more might be required of us. “We talk about pursuing revival. Maybe we should stop pursuing it and just possess it…just have one.” Pursuing can become an excuse for not possessing. And it can become a substitute. We need to take what God offers. With God there is more than enough, but no waste. He’ll give only what we take. “How do we take our seat? Choose to take it, and then live with the awareness of where we are, what we have.” If you’re living in fear, you’re not resting. You have no authority. Jesus slept during the storm because in the kingdom there are no storms. He was seated in the kingdom, in that heaven on earth. If the kingdom comes into your life, into your home, there is peace. Peace is fatal to the enemy. If we live in fear, we lose our authority. To pursue is wonderful; to possess is glorious. (Worship team is called up while he counsels the people.) If the enemy takes our peace, he takes our authority. (He prays against defeatist Christianity while someone begins to strum a guitar.)

Remarks. It is obvious that some research was done in preparation for the sermon. The verses that are read coordinate well with the topic, which he does not digress from. This theme of taking your place in the kingdom is a biblical one. It is perhaps most obvious in the word ‘reckon’ that occurs in Romans. “Likewise reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (6.11.) The kingdom is presented in its past and present aspects. This is refreshing, for too often, the future aspect is all we hear about. Esther and Joseph are excellent choices for showing us persons who took their seat of authority. He’s right that Christians live as though they do not possess what they have been granted. Until we come into an awareness of the spiritual riches given to us, and until we begin to act as the heirs we are, too often we will have a defeatist attitude and be hindered from living victorious lives. In the process of explaining this, he takes us back to Genesis to show us what was had and lost in Adam. He handles this well. The healing shadow of Peter is well applied as the potential influence a Christian could have. The best point of the sermon concerns the sitting posture of Jesus being a symbol of the seat of authority he had: When he taught, he usually sat down. This is very instructive. We’ve never heard this before. The truth of it seems obvious as we recall the Scriptures featuring Jesus’ teaching ministry. We do not see any major doctrinal faults in the sermon.

But there are some lesser faults that are too serious to say nothing about. (1) His assumptions. He teaches that when you’re in the center of the kingdom, in deep awareness of your spiritual possessions, as it was with Jesus during his ministry, there are no storms. It is true that there may be greater peace in trials when we are more conscious of our high place in the kingdom, a peace that surpasses that peace we enjoy simply by an assurance of salvation, like that peace certain martyrs have been known to possess on their way to the stake. But can unshakeable peace be the norm? Was it even the norm for Jesus Christ? Is it not true that the more spiritually cognizant we are, the more likely it will be that greater trials will be our lot, even to the point that our peace will be thoroughly disturbed? The prime example he gives for the assumption that deep spiritual awareness yields unshakable peace is the incident in which Jesus calmly slept during the storm. “In the kingdom, there are no storms,” Mr. Keys says. But what about the time Jesus wept before the tomb of Lazarus? This looks like a storm. What about when Jesus mourned over Jerusalem for its unbelief? “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23.37.) This looks like a storm. What about Jesus in Gethsemane? “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death” (26.38.) This looks like a storm. And what about the storm Jesus was in while on the cross? “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (27.46.) This is the greatest storm in all of history! So while we agree that there may be a sense in which Jesus always experienced peace (for how can it be otherwise with a God-Man?), yet it is utterly wrong to assert that there are no storms in the kingdom. Jesus was in the center of the kingdom; there the greatest storms occurred; and by his own testimonies his peace was profoundly shaken by them. And so the same must all Christians expect (they being no greater than their Master, but infinitely inferior) once they enter into the realization of the inheritance and privileges that are theirs in Christ. Rather than state that we should just take our seat in the kingdom, then, Mr Keys ought to tell us how this is done, the conflict to be expected when we do it, and what joy there is set before us that might stimulate us toward this end. How do we take our seat? “Choose to take it,” he says. First he assumes that there are no storms in the center of the kingdom. Then he assumes that we can just take our seat there. This is simplistic, vacuous advice. How is advice like that going to help anyone? “I press toward the mark,” says Paul in Philippians 3.14. This advice is better. That we should no longer pursue and just possess instead is to merely pretend that we have attained to that which we have been pressing toward. Mr. Keys assumes that he moved from the fringes of the kingdom to its inner space about a dozen years ago. If that were so, he would know what living closer to the center of this kingdom involves. He would not miss the plain answers in the lives of Esther and Joseph, which are the examples he gives of persons who took their proper seat in the kingdom. Esther did it in the words, ‘If I perish, I perish.’ Joseph did it by resisting sin and suppressing the urge to revenge himself. You don’t just take your privileges. It’s a tense matter and a hard work. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him” (1 Timothy 2.12.) The closer Jesus got to the center of his mission, the more agitation of soul did he experience and the more temptation there was to avoid the objective he had set his face toward. The temptations of Christ did not end in the wilderness. The devil departed from him ‘for a season,’ the Bible says. Natural storms did not move him. But spiritual storms did. The other assumption committed by Mr. Keys is that this is the year of fulfillment in his church regarding the possession of privileges. What evidence is there for this? Knowledge of divine matters abounding in his members? A sense of sin among the members that amounts to an outworking of selflessness? Are we not always hearing predictions like this from certain brands of churches? And yet things always continue the same. If we go to the life of Jesus for an example of what it means to absorb our inheritance and to claim our privileges, then it means that we will often be in situations that call forth an utterance like, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26.39.) By obeying in face of the tormenting prospect of the cross, Jesus came into full possession of his privileges. Our victories in the kingdom are not so easily come by either. And if this is true individually, then it is even more true en masse. Therefore, how can revival just be claimed and presumed? “Maybe we should stop pursuing revival and just possess it,” says Mr. Keys. “Just have one.” But because God the Holy Spirit is the Reviver, he is Sovereign to revive according to his will; therefore there is no guarantee, no matter what we do and how holy we live, that we will be raised to an awareness and conquest in this life that surpasses that which the babe in Christ attains to.

(2) His demeanor. There can be no doubt that Mr. Keys thinks himself to be much closer to the center of God’s kingdom than he actually is. As long as this is the case, he is living in a kind of presumption. And we have never read of any minister in history who had revival while his joking and worldliness remained unmortified. Men like Jonathan Edwards and Henry Venn were serious, mortified ministers. Mr. Keys is way off this mark. For instance, at one point he asks why the congregation is so quiet. Probably they were actually learning something. But thinking noise to be a sign of success, this pastor is dismayed by the lack of it, and finally expresses relief when he gets the congregation yelping and clapping at the mention of his marital relations! This is the year this congregation will take its seat, Mr. Keys assures us. But we can assure him (the year being passed) that this prophecy has proven false. We suspected that it would if only for one reason: these people at Streams are too ready for carnal laughs to be taken seriously by the Lord. And no doubt the prophecy will prove false again if uttered again unless the pastor stifles their desires by his own mortification!

Conclusion. Whatever is meant by taking your place in the kingdom, it is not the ‘reckon’ of Scripture, like in ‘reckon yourselves dead to sin’ in Romans 6.11, which would make for a biblical application of taking your place. Mr. Keys means something else, like something akin to claiming victory. And to us this advice amounts to something that is no more revolutionary than positive thinking. To reckon, one must learn what one’s place is on account of Christ, and then, by the strength of the renewed mind (by learning doctrine), apply faith to a higher practice. Mr. Keys would have us take our place by simply choosing to. But this is like choosing to be somewhere without any means to move you there. And so you get nowhere. He tells us to take our seat closer to the center of God’s kingdom. But he never tells us how to get further in to take that seat. The poor people are given nothing to work with. This is the principal flaw in the sermon. The omission leaves us with a huge question mark. When people try to apply this advice to just sit down in authority, they will soon realize that they are no more powerful to do it than they were before they attempted to sit down. And this hollow advice that says we should just take our seat is even more hollow when applied to the larger matter of revival. We can’t claim revival, for it is the Holy Spirit who revives, and he is like the wind that blows where it will. It is a dismal fact that Mr. Keys does not know what that event is which he so greatly desires. And we can say it with emphasis that he does not know what real revival is because if he did he would never teach that we can just lay hold on such a thing. If he were acquainted with the nature of revival, not only would he stress our impotence to bring revival on, he would come in from the fringes and preach soberly and earnestly on the nucleus of God’s truth. He would come in from the fringes, and rather than tell us to claim something, he would zone in on the center of the kingdom where the doctrines are that the Spirit has been pleased in the past to revive men by. But preaching such doctrines will not guarantee revival. Pride, joking, and worldly amusements must be put away by the preacher of them. And still there is no guarantee because above all it must be believed with certitude and conviction that revival is never deserved and that the Spirit, for his own reasons, must decide to come down in power upon his people. But though the presence of these doctrines will not guarantee revival, it is a guarantee that there will be no revival without them being preached. A competent historian gives the following list of reviving doctrines: the sufficiency and supremacy of Holy Scripture; the total corruption of human nature; Christ’s death upon the cross as the only satisfaction for sin; justification by faith; regeneration, or heart conversion; the connection between true faith and personal holiness; and God’s hatred of sin and love of sinners. It should be obvious by this list that repentance and forgiveness would have to be preached in connexion with these. Repentance and forgiveness are our entry into the kingdom. And because of God’s condescending attributes, like grace and mercy, we get to share the seat of Jesus. This is all true as far as it goes. But to go beyond this barely entered state to a place of awareness by which we reach for our privileges must involve more than just an act of the will. There needs to be an understanding of what was necessary to bring us in the door. The big old doctrines must be preached both for Revival and Maturity. Without knowledge of our adoption, we will hardly be compelled to live like sons of God. And so the pastor’s job is not just to tell us to lay hold of our kingdom potential, but to give us a tour of the trials and wonders that are found near the center of this glorious kingdom. We must be taken past the elementary doctrines of repentance and forgiveness to what it fully means to be justified, to what it really means to be holy, to what it’s like to connect with our Advocate in Heaven. Give us a view of what the center looks like, and we might be drawn to the dedication it takes to dwell there. We are thankful that repentance and forgiveness are mentioned as our entry into the kingdom. But when Mr. Keys intimates that the gospel is more than this, he seems to teach that the rest of it is this move to the center of God’s kingdom. But this is wrong. The gospel is truth, not practice: saving doctrine. Strictly speaking, the gospel is the death of Christ for sin, his burial, and his resurrection, as it says in 1 Corinthians 15. The doctrines connected with these facts, like those mentioned above by J. C. Ryle, the competent historian, are what we might call the rest of the gospel. This additional truth, once taken in, is what will enlighten us and produce the awareness needed for some further attempt at pressing into this kingdom already entered into. And these doctrines should be prominent for another reason. They are the teachings by which sinners are awakened to their need of salvation. Preaching to the lost must somehow be blended in with our teaching of the found, for in this present church-world we cannot assume that we are addressing bona fide Christians.