Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. I’m Gary Carmichael. We’re glad you could join us. In today’s program, we continue our series of classics from our Search the Scriptures Daily archives with the late Dave Hunt and TBC executive director Tom McMahon, originally broadcast in 2005 and part of the collection of programs based on Dave’s book Beyond Seduction. And now, along with Dave Hunt, here’s Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him. We’re going through Dave Hunt’s out-of-print book Beyond Seduction in this segment of our program, and we’re discussing some of the issues impacting the church that Dave wrote about nearly 20 years ago - and not because we are trying to be nostalgic, but because, sadly, they haven't gone away. And although they’re not being taught as blatantly, some of these false teachings seem to be more engrained in the church today than ever, and keep appearing in subtle ways.
We’ve been discussing concepts about “self,” which professing Christianity gleaned from the world and then began to present as though the teachings originated in the Bible. However, biblical teachings about self are contradictory to the world’s view of self. Yet, Dave, you mentioned in your book [that] those who object to the Bible’s input, they do so by saying, “Well, you can interpret the Bible to say anything you want.” Now, that’s amazing!
Dave: [Laughs] Some people say that, and if that were true, that alone would make it the most amazing book the world has ever seen, because words do have meaning. And we argue over the exact meaning of words in contracts, for example; lawyers are very careful about the wording. So you can’t just make a sentence say anything you want it to say.
But, Tom, that is a common saying. I’ve heard it repeated over and over and over: “Oh, you can make the Bible say anything you want.” Really? I don’t think so!
It’s pretty clear, and when Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, the life; no man comes to the Father but by me,” I don’t think you can turn that into, “All roads lead to the same place,” and “Jesus is just another Buddha.” He is making claims that no one else dared to make.
In fact, it’s interesting, Tom: the Bible and biblical Christianity are on one side; everything else is on the other side. There may be some differences as to the number of gods they believe in or the kinds of gods, the rituals, and so forth, but basically, as we’ve been noting, it’s all pretty much how to appease some higher power, some god, some deity with sacrifices or rituals or whatever, and only the Bible says it’s matter of justice, and the penalty for sin must be paid. And Jesus paid it all. You won’t find that anywhere else, Tom.
Tom: Mm-hmm. I’ve heard this before, and I've had people say it to me: “The Bible, you can make it say anything you want.” And I have a silly illustration - but you tell me, whether we just throw this out. Suppose I invite you over to my house for dinner. I’m making dinner, and I’m using a Betty Crocker Cookbook. So you figure, Okay, the guy is using solid foundation to make a nice dinner, and I serve it up. It’s spaghetti, but you notice there are white things in it, and you say, “Tom, what are those white things in my spaghetti?”
I say, “Well, Dave, those are marshmallows.”
And you say, “Spaghetti and marshmallows?”
I say, “Dave, I know the Betty Crocker Cookbook says spaghetti and meatballs, but you know, meatballs, marshmallows - what’s the difference? I can make it say anything - you can interpret it any way you want.”
Dave: [Laughs] Of course, but then, you see…
Tom: Then you’re going to get sick, aren’t you?
Dave: …people would recognize that, Tom, as nonsense, what you just said, but they would still say, “Yeah, but the Bible - you could make the Bible say anything you want,” okay?
The Bible is written in languages - the Masoretic text Hebrew, very precise language, and the Greek is very precise. Translators argue over the precise meaning of these words, and to say that you can make it say anything you want...Tom, that’s just a cop-out from people who don’t want to pay attention to the Bible, that’s all it is.
Tom: Well, Dave, and this brings us to the point of talking about self, which we mentioned last week. It’s not that people think they're being honest in interpreting something another way, it’s that they reject what the Bible has to say. They don’t like what it has to say, because, as you point out here, it’s not written to make us feel good about ourselves, it’s written to correct issues in our lives that we don’t want corrected.
Dave: Amen, and we do need some correction and guidance. For example, Tom, I would recommend to any young person, "You want a little guidance in your life? Study the Book of Proverbs." Solomon’s advice to his son is terrific! Every situation you could confront...you’ve got sound advice there, and you can’t make it say just anything you want; otherwise it would be worthless.
Tom: Dave, you write that “Biblical Christianity is not a list of moral requirements that one must live up to in order to get to heaven.” This is really what I want you to address: “To attempt to force sinners under the threat of hell to act like saints when they really have neither the heart nor power to do so can only produce hypocrites.”
Dave: I remember Richard Wurmbrand, many years ago - this is a very dear friend - and he had a lot of interesting ways of putting things, and he said, “When two hypocrites get married and they have children, they are hippies.” Now, I don’t think the hippies would like that, but anyway, that was the way he put it. Now, what are we going to do? I could launch out and talk about the hippies. Yeah, they didn’t like the way society was, and, “We’re going to do it our own way, and we are going to just be individuals,” and so forth, but they ended up all doing the same thing, all wearing the same clothes, all acting alike, and so forth.
But it’s one thing to profess that I’m a Christian; it’s something else to live it. And, Tom, it’s not only true of Christianity. A person can be very lazy and profess to not be lazy, and turn over a new leaf. You know, how many people turn over a new leaf every New Year’s Day or whatever, and don’t ever live up to it? But now we're going to get people who really don’t want to go to heaven, Tom. The only reason they might opt for heaven is because the only other alternative is hell, you know, but they really are not in love with the Lord; they don’t have the same interests as the apostles had. They have no heart for God. They want self to rule. They want to do their own thing and take their own way. But now under threat of, “Well, wait a minute! You keep living like that, you’re going to end up in the wrong place. Now, you had better straighten up and fly right!” You’re trying to force a square peg into a round hole. It isn’t going to work, and their heart is not going to be in it.
Furthermore, Jesus doesn’t ask us to do that. He doesn’t say, “Straighten out your life.” He asks us to follow Him, and to follow Him, we have to acknowledge we are unworthy sinners, that He came to pay the penalty for our sins. We have to recognize that we are guilty, and therefore we would like to be forgiven; we need forgiveness, and it’s only after I am transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible talks about - in fact, Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he can’t inherit [he can’t even see, much less enter] the kingdom of God,” and it’s only after I have been given a new nature.
I come to Christ as an unworthy sinner. I’ve got nothing to offer. You know the old hymn that says, “Nothing in my hand I bring; simply to thy cross I cling.” You recognize you've offended God. I mean, it’s horrible! We’ve taken the life that God has given us - He created us; He gave us the life we have, and instead of living it the way He wanted us to, instead of living it to His glory, we have robbed Him of the very life He gave us! We’ve stolen it from God, taken it to ourselves - this is rebellion. Rebellion against the Creator is a very, very serious offense, and now we repent of this. We realize, “God, I'm sorry! Thank you that Jesus came and paid the penalty,” because there is a very severe penalty. I mean, I would be separated from God forever. “Thank you that Christ paid the penalty for my sins.” And when you open your heart to Him and you receive Him as your Savior - you believe in Him - you are born again of the Spirit of God. Something happens inside: a person that had no taste for the Word of God, suddenly they love the Word Of God; they can’t get enough of it. And their companions change, their interests change - they become a new creature, the Bible says, in Christ Jesus. Well, then, those people can begin to follow the Lord.
Tom: Dave, I know there are some people listening and they just heard you saying that, but the way the world is, you know, we're so self-deluded that we don’t even see ourselves as rebels. But you quote Romans 7 here. Let me go through that, and let’s look at it from Paul’s perspective. I mean, he’s inspired by the Holy Spirit here, but he says, “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing. For to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good, I find not. For the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do. O, wretched man that I am. Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
Dave: Well, he’s writing that, actually, as a Christian, because his heart is changed. It’s the person who says, “Well, I don’t see that I'm doing anything wrong. [Laughs] I think I’m as good as the next person.” That’s the one I am concerned about. Paul has God’s perspective now,and he sees himself (“O, wretched man that I am”) as God sees him.
Tom, I’m sure - I don’t care who the person is; I don’t care whether it’s Hitler or Stalin, or whoever it is, if they stood before God (which they will one day); we read of it: “I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat upon it from whose face the earth and the heavens fled away, and there was found no place for them.” I don’t care who it is, how proud he is, what he thinks of himself, you get in the presence of God..."He dwells in a light that no man can approach unto.” He is pure and holy, and you will flee from Him, and suddenly recognize what a wretch you are - and I speak to my own heart.
So we need to get a perspective of God - we need to realize...I mean, the person that says: “I’m not so bad. I’m doing okay, you know, as good as anybody else,” if we could see God’s standards, what He wants for us...the measuring rod that He uses is perfection, holiness, purity.
Now, people say: “Yeah, I'd rather party, you know; I'd rather commit adultery, fornication, you know. I don’t want to go for that stuff! What’s the fun in that?” Well, you would suddenly realize what a fool you have been. And you have taken the life God has given you, you’ve sullied it, you’ve contaminated it, you have destroyed it... It’s like you’ve got a perfect pearl, let’s say, and somebody steps all over it and smashes it: this is what we have done.
Man was perfect when God made him; he was made in the image of God without sin. But of course, "self" was still in there - amazing! And Eve wanted to be wise for herself; she trampled on her husband’s rights, she trampled on the rights of the Creator who had created her, and all she thought of was herself: “I, my, me. How wise that will make me, how delicious it will taste to me,” and so forth, and it’s been going downhill ever since. And it’s really helpful, Tom, to get the perspective from God’s point of view.
Tom: So, Dave, what’s the answer to Paul’s question? He says, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Doesn’t he say next: “I thank God - through Jesus Christ our Lord”?
Dave: Absolutely, but how is He going to do it? David in Psalm 139 said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts; see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” That’s what Paul is talking about there: “I thank God - through Jesus Christ my Lord." He’s going to do it, He’s going to have to do it.
Look, we probably have often said it: living the Christian life is not difficult, it’s impossible! Nobody ever did it except Jesus Christ, and I can never live the Christian life unless Christ is living in me. And again, I’ve probably said it many times, but one of the most wonderful times of my life was when I finally said, “Lord, I can’t do it. Will you please live your life in me?”
And this is what Paul said: “I have been crucified - I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me.”
Now, Buddha never promised to live in anybody; Muhammad didn’t; and certainly, if Muhammad lived in you, it’s not going to be very nice - you’re going to be killing people, and so forth. But Jesus said, “Because I live, you will live also.” He’s speaking of His resurrection. And this is what separates - one of the many things that separates Christianity from every religion out there. Jesus Christ not only died for our sins and rose from the dead and is alive, but He said if we would open our hearts to Him, He would come and live His life in us. And I think of husbands and wives that get short with one another, you know - I mean have quarrels, have envy, strife of all kinds - how am I going to put an end to that? I’m going to grit my teeth and just somehow overcome it by will power? No, why don’t you just submit to Christ, let Him have His way, and let Him live His life in you.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Dave, this brings us back again to the view of self. Now, you have a quote in here from - could I call him your namesake, Charles Haddon Spurgeon?
Dave: Yes, I was named after him, right.
Tom: Okay. You say, "Where does 'Dave' come in?" Those come after Dave, right? Charles Haddon Hunt. But here’s what Spurgeon writes: “Jesus did not die…” now, this is going to be tough for some people out there, given the influence of the world and the way we think about ourselves, but take it from an old preacher here, “Jesus did not die for our righteousness, but He died for our sins. He did not come to save us because we were worth saving, but because we were utterly worthless, ruined, and undone. He did not come to earth out of any reason that was in us, but solely and only because of reasons which He took from the depths of His own divine love. In due time, He died for those whom He describes not as godly but as ungodly, applying to them as hopeless an adjective as He could have selected.” When have you heard that today, Dave?
Dave: Well, it’s not going to build a big church, I don’t think, although Spurgeon had a large church in those days. There are many people who want to hear the truth. They've had enough of this “build up your self-esteem; you’re really okay; you’re wonderful.” I think of people who have gone to Christian psychologists, Tom: they have been told - literally now - they have literally been told they could cure themselves if they would sit in front of the mirror and tell themselves how beautiful they are, how wonderful they are...that’s the opposite of what the Bible says.
Tom: Well, except in this sense, Dave; it’s prophetic - 2 Timothy:3:1-3: “Mark my words, in the last days there will be perilous times…men will be lovers of themselves.”
Dave: Well, Christ did not come to die for us because we were so wonderful, but because we needed His salvation. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, not to save people who are so wonderful that they have a high self-esteem.
Tom, you know, it takes a big burden off your shoulders when you realize that. Now I don’t have to pretend; I don’t have to somehow deceive myself and others into thinking what a good person I am or how wonderful I am. He’s going to make me good. He is going to live His life through me. I hope that others can see Christ, His character in me, but it’s not my character. I love the way C.S. Lewis put it years ago - and I don’t like everything, so please, folks, don’t write in and say, “Don’t you know this and that about C.S. Lewis?" I know C.S. Lewis had a lot of problems, particularly as death drew nearer for him, but he said some very powerful things, as well.
Tom: Insightful, right?
Dave: Yes, very insightful, and he said, “We are mirrors whose brightness, if we are bright at all, depends entirely upon the sun that shines upon us.” And you could spell that two ways, of course, not “s-u-n” but “S-o-n.” So when the Bible says, “God made man in His image. In the image of God created He him,” that’s a powerful statement, a powerful imagery. “Made in the image” is powerful imagery. It means that I don’t have anything within myself. A mirror has one purpose and one purpose only: to reflect the reality other than its own. What would you think of a mirror that tries to develop a good self-image? It’s ridiculous! If there's something wrong with the image in the mirror, the mirror needs to get back in a right relationship with the one whose image it was designed to reflect. It’s quite simple. God made me in His image. He wants me to be like Him.
It must have been terrific - it must have been wonderful in the garden. Adam and Eve, what a fabulous relationship they had: God’s love, and patience, and goodness, and unselfishness, and all the qualities of God shined through each of them to the other. And then Eve got this idea that she wanted to exalt “self,” something for herself, and that was the beginning. Of course, it was inevitable that that would happen, because we are not God, but He made us in His image, and we’ve got to get back to a right relationship with Him, and that can only happen through Jesus Christ.
Tom: And, Dave, the Scripture that I quoted from 2 Timothy 3 tells us that that’s what it’s going to be like in the last days. You know, we’ve quoted a lot A.W. Tozer. We like to quote old dudes, right, Dave? Sort of. Okay. [Laughs] Because of the wisdom that they had, and, you know, you’re not seeing a lot of this today. Not that people don’t have it and you’re not hearing it, but it’s rare; that’s my point here. But let me quote Tozer: “True faith requires that we believe everything God has said about Himself, but also that we believe everything He has said about us. Until we believe that we are as bad as God says we are, we can never believe that He will do for us what He says He will do. Right here is where popular religion breaks down.”
Dave: Tom, it’s very logical what he says. If I don’t realize how bad I am, then I don’t need His remedy, do I? If I don’t realize that I need a quadruple bypass, I’m not going to appreciate it if the doctor does that for me, or whatever it may be.
You know, I’m trying to go back in my brain here and think of just some lines from Amy Carmichael that I think fit in here very well, and I think we quote them in The Berean Call...
Tom: In the February issue, mm-hmm.
Dave: February issue:
“From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings,
(Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified.)
From all that dims Thy Calvary,
O Lamb of God, deliver me.
Let me not sink to be a clod,
Make me thy fuel, flame of God.”
That’s kind of what we've been talking about, Tom. That’s powerful stuff, and you don’t hear too much of that from popular pulpits today.
Gary: You’ve been listening to a special edition of Search the Scriptures 24/7 with Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. The DVD set Beyond Seduction is available from The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon 97708. Call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our website at thebereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us, and we hope you can be here again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.