Thursday, March 28, 2013


(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.) 


“The poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11.5.)

Introduction. The disciples of John the Baptist came to some doubts about whether Jesus was the Messiah. Then Jesus answered, “Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see…the poor have the gospel preached to them.” The Jews had forgotten Old Testament prophecies too much; they only looked for a Messiah clothed in worldly majesty and dignity. “The poor have the gospel preached to them” will endure three translations.

(1) The Authorized Version. Almost every impostor has aimed his doctrine principally at the rich and the respectable and the princes and nobles. Christ aims first at the poor. He begins at the lowest rank, that the fire may burn upward. The gospel should be preached where the poor will come, or we should take it to them. The only reason I do not take it to the street in London is because this would disturb the peace. My heart is for preaching in the open air. The last time I did it twelve thousand souls surrounded me—and I trembled. Now we should preach attractively. The Puritans were popular because they were not dry. Instead of fancy language, we need the gospel of Christ, complete with parables and true stories. Look at the preaching style of Jesus. People just had to hear such a Preacher! Some gnashed their teeth—but multitudes crowded around him. He was too zealous and earnest to be dull and boring; too humane to be incomprehensible. And the gospel must be preached simply. Latin will do no good. There is a type of preacher, he goes down so deep into the subject that he stirs the mud at the bottom, and cannot find his way up again. John Bunyan, a surpassing genius, became the apostle of Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire because he spoke plainly. And we must preach the gospel: sinfulness and restoration, the blood of Christ and the pardon from guilt. Controversy and logic, science and philosophy, these will not do. And the gospel must be preached. The battle must be fought in the pulpit mainly, not the news-press. God will bless preaching.

(2) The Genevan Version. Calvin and Cranmer used this version much. The meaning at our verse is that the poor are ‘gospelized.’ The cheat is made honest, the harlot modest, etc. To gospelize a man is to save him from hell, to blot out his sins, to make him heavenly, etc. It is the greatest miracle in the world, greater than raising the dead. O! we love godliness anywhere! But what is more moving than a poor girl, for instance, in an upper room, with a lean-to roof, with nothing but a bed, a table, and a chair in there, and a candle and a Bible? There she is on her aching knees, wrestling with God! It is an honor to the gospel that those who want it most receive it!

(3) Wyckliffe’s Version. ‘Poor men are taking to the preaching of the gospel.’ But—“Ah!” say some, “they had better be minding their plows or blacksmith’s hammers.” Bunyan was a pot-mender; Whitefield, a pot-washer. And the Reformation in England was more promoted by the poor than by the rich. What an honor to the gospel! Their names are forgotten—but not in eternity. I do not undervalue high learning. The more the better. But it is not absolutely necessary.

Selection from Conclusion. “And now, beloved, I have opened my mouth for the dumb, and pleaded the cause of the poor, let me end by entreating the poor of the flock to consider the poor man’s Christ; let me urge them to give him their thoughts, and may the Lord enable them to yield him their hearts. ‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.’ May God bless the high and low, the rich and poor…for his name’s sake.”

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

Thursday, March 14, 2013


(One’s level of piety, whether devotional or practical, depends much on knowledge being either learned or misconceived. In these analyses we have made mention, occasionally, of books that either help or hinder the grand object of piety. It seems natural, consequently, to supplement the analyses, now and again, with correlating book reports.)


Charles G. Finney, Principles of Consecration (1841-1842; Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1990), 250 pp.

The sermons in this collection originally appeared in a periodical called The Oberlin Evangelist. In spite of Finney’s overt Arminianism, which he holds in a caustic spirit at times, I found the content of these addresses to be occasionally beneficial. I was convicted of sometimes doing my Christian duty in an unhappy spirit, and of being anxious to be done with it (p. 61); of sometimes avoiding worldliness just out of fear of hell (p. 66); and of too weakly fulfilling certain conditions of discipleship, like consecration, and mortification of pet sins (pp. 74, 75.) And I was encouraged to persevere through my trials by the following admonition: “These are the bright spots in your history, in which you have an opportunity to make the deepest impression upon the world” (p. 119.)

Some sharp definitions are laid down on vital matters in practical theology. On self-denial: “It is no proper denial of self unless we might benefit by the thing which is given up”  (p. 34.) In other words, it will not benefit you spiritually to give up things that are not hindering your spiritual progress. Giving up movies, sports, or television, then, will help you a lot. On cross-bearing: “The true spirit of cross-bearing for the sake of Christ is a state of mind that feels Christ to be such an all-sufficient portion as to perfectly satisfy the soul in the absence of everything else” (p. 36.)

There are some thought-provoking opinions, of which the following may be the best one: “Their selfishness led the Jews to misunderstand and misinterpret the ceremonial law—to look upon it as a religion of works. Instead of understanding it to be a system of typical instruction, by and through which the most spiritual truths were taught….” (p. 230.) That the Jews were expected to meditate on the spiritual significance of their ceremonies is not something that ever struck me very much until I read this.  

There are some educated judgments, not just touching upon psychology and physiology separately, but even concerning how the mind and body relate during spiritual exercise. The high point here is on page 121. The subject is the need of fasting for the purpose of drawing the mercy of God: “When the mind is strongly exercised, there is a powerful determination of blood to the head…food cannot be taken without serious detriment to the required state of mind. If the blood is diverted from the head to the stomach, the strong exercise of the mind must necessarily, in a great measure, cease.” Now that’s just plain doctoral, both medically and spiritually.

There are criticisms leveled at sins committed in the pulpit in Finney’s time that are even more fitting reproofs for ministers of our day. Concerning appeals to sinners to repent, Finney observes, “It often happens that nearly all the reasons urged by ministers and others to induce people to become Christians are mere appeals to their selfishness” (p. 176.) Is that not what’s happening in the evangelical world of our own day? The root cause of that kind of thing is the fear of man: “Many ministers are afraid of men…Rather than offend someone, they immediately qualify, explain away and apologize for what they said until they have neutralized the truth” (p. 219.) Truth is neutralized by apologies and qualifications; and then sinners are urged to become Christians for selfish gain! Unless you are singularly blessed, that’s what’s going on from behind your pulpit. We need straightforward finger-pointing just like this. Finney even weighs in against bad pulpit manners: “affected pronunciation…gestures…flattery…angling for compliments” (p. 217.) How many ministers are brave enough to confront such pretensions in their peers? Almost no minister will do this because ministers, generally, love themselves more than they revere God. I am not an admirer of Finney’s theology; but ethically, at least, he is to be ranked far above your average 20th/21st century minister. Let’s praise him at least for that.

I appreciate that he leaves no room for Christians having an easy go. “Do not infer from your temporal prosperity that God approves of your course of life or that you are the favorite of heaven,” he says (p. 32.) Unless your happiness supersedes that happiness you had gotten by gratification, he continues, you have cause to doubt your conversion (p. 42.) That may be a good point to ponder. It’s tough counsel, and we need it. But then he just takes things way too far, and even insists on sanctification as a condition of salvation. Denying yourself daily, he says, is “an indispensable condition of salvation” (p. 44.) He is obviously not speaking here, of that initial sanctification by the Spirit that we call regeneration, but of the practice of holiness. This is nothing else than to be saved by works, then. That his theology is Pelagian is beyond question: “You must renounce your selfishness…You must change your heart” (p. 81, emphasis added.) That sounds like regeneration by self, or just self-reformation. Charles Finney’s unorthodoxy is consistent, though, at least in the following two particulars. He believes that salvation may be lost (p. 94.) That falsehood follows naturally from the belief that salvation is by works. Also, he teaches some brand of ‘Christian Perfection’: the false belief that man may bring himself to perfection in this life (pp. 49, 78, 79, 102.) So on the one hand you can merit your salvation and lose it; on the other, you can save yourself and perfect yourself too. It’s all up to you, one way or the other—this is his teaching.

Though his definition of total depravity is totally incorrect, this comment will show what Charles Finney is capable of as a stylist: “This is moral depravity—enmity against God—entire consecration to self-gratification” (p. 166.) Not bad.

His opinions on Christian practice vis-à-vis politics are worth reading. But nothing is said there in The Necessity of Human Governments that has not been more convincingly argued. For the record, Charles Finney spoke out against the wrongs done by America to the Indians and the church’s silence about it, and he opposed slavery. Any Union formed upon a principle that would support slavery, or that would oppose the abolition of it, was boldly and plainly labeled ‘a league of iniquity’ by him (p. 137.) He also denounced ‘duel-fighting…in Congress,’ which happened nearly every year in his day (p. 138.) This cultural context makes the volume peculiarly interesting. Because Charles Finney’s theology is shady, though, I can just cautiously recommend this book.

Content: B (Moral, theologically weak, sometimes heretical.)
     Style: B (Occasionally dashing.)
    Tone: B (Challenging, but not civil enough.)
Grading Table: A: a keeper: reread it; promote it; share it.
                         B: an average book: let it go.
                         C: read only if you have to. 

Friday, March 1, 2013


Mr. Bradley is the President of the Ministerial Association here in Red Deer. He gave no answer to my warning about the suspicious fellow he received into his pulpit: Mr. Hawkins. (About that, see the archive to the right: September, 2012.) And he gave no response, either, to the following warning I sent to him last month (February 2013.) Can the president of this city’s ministerial tell a wolf from a sheep? It seems not. Of course, this should not surprise anyone, for the Red Deer Ministerial is made up of both orthodox and heretical ministers, which kind of ‘brotherhood,’ or blend of light and darkness, is condemned and disallowed by the apostle Paul in the closing verses of 2 Corinthians 6. The president of a ministerial body consisting of sheep and wolves cannot be that discerning of any minister! He can’t discern up close and personal. It is no wonder that he can’t discern beyond his own mongrel pasture!   

Here are, from the magazine mentioned in the letter, the affecting photos of this suspicious, globe-trotting Dr. Saddiki (whose doctorate is merely honorary.) He has a fancy fable to fool you with. Beware of his ministry of mammon. The man wants your money.

Yes, watch out, for Mr. Bradley may soon invite this wolf to town, to the disservice of many a sheep! Such is Mr. Bradley’s discernment and care! Remember Saddiki’s name, mark it down, and be watchful! Spare yourselves a mauling once in awhile at least! Making money through manipulation is the sham minister’s chief employment. A few years ago a politician down in California was accused of groping wallets. The sham minister will maul your money just like that! Needless to say, he will do no good to your soul!

To the letter, now, that I sent to Mr. Bradley last month:

February 2013

Mr. Bradley
Liberty Christian Assembly

Mr. Bradley,

Greetings again from

I have a copy of the Missions Fest magazine that was given out in your church. You recommended an article in there about Dr. Saddiki (or Siddiki, for the name is spelled both ways on the page.)

We should be instantly suspicious of an ‘evangelist’ who claims that the Lord has worked some great miracle upon his body because “many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4.1.) 

Notice that the doctors who spoke so despairingly of Dr. Saddiki’s Job-like affliction are never named. Why not? Notice that Dr. Saddiki’s ministry consists of ‘biblical principles for success.’ Notice (in the picture below the article) the man’s fancy suit and tie and what looks to be his ‘trophy’ wife. These signs are bad omens, for they are exactly the characteristics that we discover in the lives of prosperity preachers of the greediest, basest sort. These men are all about sham, show, and stuff, which they sum up in one word: ‘success.’ 

After noticing these things, I predicted that if I were to go to this man’s website, I would see there a mammon-centered effort, not a Christ-centered ministry. What did I discover? I discovered a very visible ‘donation’ button. I discovered the book he has written: Kingdom Principles of Financial Success, which is about ‘God’s abundant life of prosperity and financial success.’ I discovered the other book he wrote: How to Prosper in any Recession. His episode of shingles happened in 1987. His books were issued in 1999 and 2009. My, what spiritual progress the man has made! After all this time— after the big miracle upon his body and the other upon his heart, his mind is still fixed on money matters, not spiritual realities! It says in the article that after his conversion, “the Holy Spirit brought a voracious spiritual hunger that caused him to want to know about Jesus.” A voracious hunger for money has nothing to do with knowledge about Jesus, though. This article is a clever ad to steer readers to this man’s website, where money, not Jesus, is the aim and king. His education comes out of Rhema, as does that of his wife, which institution is the manufacturing house for prosperity preachers who make it their business to fly all over the world proclaiming healings and miracles where none can be found, which they do to receive undeserved glory and to draw gobs of money through which to glut their lives with earthly riches and amusements. 

Are you suspicious of this man yet? You should be. What happens when a man is saved and cured by the Lord? Does he become Christ-centered? That’s the way it went for A. B. Simpson, the founder of the once-doctrinal Alliance denomination. How come this is not the way it turned out for Mr. Saddiki? Is it possible that he is a liar who has money for his god? A man who has received Jesus Christ does not preach mammon. You do not believe that one would, do you? You do not believe a mammon-centered ministry to be the fruit of the Spirit, do you?

Did the New Testament disciples ever preach mammon? I cannot find that they ever did. Do we have any word from Jesus about treasures on earth? He tells us to lay up treasures of another kind, doesn’t he? If Dr. Saddiki really saw Jesus like he says he did, or encountered him in a saving way, would he not be in harmony with what Jesus says must be the new disciple’s aim? Would a saved Saddiki not be feeding us heavenly doctrine about Jesus instead of points on how to lay up treasures on earth?

Jesus’ word to new disciples is, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6.20.) What are ‘principles for success’ but the opposite aim? Jesus says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things [food and clothing] shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6.33) What is Mr. Saddiki seeking? The kingdom of heaven? No, but ‘kingdom principles of financial success.’ And does Mr. Saddiki preach the abundant spiritual life that Jesus speaks of? No, but an ‘abundant life of prosperity and financial success.’ Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6.21.) Where is Mr. Saddiki’s heart? It is set upon treasures on earth, isn’t it? After he was healed and saved, or ‘transformed,’ the article concludes, “Dr. Siddiki’s passion has been to know and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.” Why the books on mammon then? Should we not expect a ‘transformed’ man to be passionate about preaching ‘Christ crucified’ instead? That’s what the apostle Paul did when he was saved and healed! What does it say in the book of Acts about this? “And straightway he preached Christ” (9.20.) Let’s compare, shall we? Dr. Saddiki suffers (presumably), and then after getting saved and healed, he preaches mammon. The apostle Paul is saved and healed, upon which he preaches Christ ‘straightway,’ then his other sundry sufferings begin, endure throughout the course of his life, and then he is martyred. These two testimonies are quite different from each other, aren’t they? Yes, one is about prospering on earth and an easy life; the other is about an arduous life and a cruel death for the sake of a Saviour and Lord truly known, felt, obeyed, served, and worshiped. I didn’t even mention the trophy wife that Paul didn’t get! Is Dr. Saddiki a man you should be recommending to your congregation? This man’s purpose is the precise opposite of what a disciple’s ought to be! “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7.20.) Know who? False prophets (verse 15.)

Mr. Bradley, if you are a good shepherd, you will share this letter with your people, or you will at least make them aware of the dangers of what you recommended. There is more than enough to be gathered from the article and from the man’s website to give us reason to doubt his fantastic-sounding story. And the man’s mission is about as different from a biblical one as that of Barjesus from the apostle Paul’s! (Acts 13.6.) To put Dr. Saddiki and Barjesus in the same camp is not farfetched, for Barjesus sought to turn people from the faith and “to pervert the right ways of the Lord” (verses 8, 10.) I have shown you that Dr. Saddiki’s way is a perversion of what Jesus tells us the disciple’s way must be. And to urge Christian people to pursue money, which is what Mr. Saddiki does, is an attempt, whether he realizes it or not, to turn them away from the faith.   

Should you warn your people about this man whose testimony you recommended, maybe? I admonish you to be vigilant about articles and magazines before you recommend them. Because of your position, what you say influences what people do. Why don’t you find out what the Toronto General Hospital knows about Dr. Saddiki? The story over there (if there is even one to tell) will be at odds with the fable we are told in this article. You recommended the man. Why don’t you look into it? A man with integrity and a biblical work ethic would do nothing less. This is your job to do, not mine. Whatever the true story is, the fact is that this man is all about earthly riches, not the riches of Christ’s person, word, and work.

Your responsibility is to be sound in speech. What you say from your ministerial position should never be of the sort that may be justly condemned (Titus 2.8.)

If you are a good shepherd, you will right your wrong. I have done my part in bringing this matter to your attention. One Day you will give an account for the people who are deceived through your careless, thoughtless recommendations.