Riding This Bull

Wilberforce:

“All who have read the Scriptures must confess that idolatry is the crime against which God’s highest resentment is expressed, and his severest punishment denounced. But let us not deceive ourselves. It is not in bowing the knee to idols that idolatry consists, so much as in the internal homage of the heart; as in the feeling towards them of any of that supreme love, or reverence, or gratitude, which God reserves to himself as his own exclusive prerogative. On the same principle, whatever else draws off the heart from him, engrosses our prime regard, and holds the chief place in our esteem and affections, that, in the estimation of reason, is no less an idol to us, than an image of wood or stone would be; before which we should fall down and worship. Think not this a strained analogy; it is the very language and argument of inspiration. The servant of God is commanded not to set up his idol in his heart; and sensuality and covetousness are repeatedly termed idolatry. The same God who declares: ‘My glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images,’ declares also: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might; let not the rich man glory in his riches.’ ‘No flesh may glory in his presence;’ ‘he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.’ The sudden vengeance by which the vain-glorious ostentation of Herod was punished, when, acquiescing in the servile adulation of an admiring multitude, ‘he gave not God the glory,’ is a dreadful comment on these injunctions” (William Wilberforce).

One day when Herod was giving a public address he spoke with such eloquence that the people shouted, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” Since the king did not see fit to give the glory to God, God saw fit to glorify Himself by devouring Herod’s god, which was his bloated and arrogant belly:

“And on a set day, having been clothed in a regal garment, and sitting on the tribunal, Herod made a speech to them. And the mass of people cried out, The voice of a god, and not of a man! And instantly an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give the glory to God. And having been eaten by worms, his soul went out” (Acts 12:21-23).

If not giving God all of the praise in oratory skills provoked Him whose name is Jealous, how much more in the matter of salvation?

I believe it to be redundantly right and not tediously trite;
To reiterate the truth that Jesus Christ has the majestic might;
To save all those whom He represented, those sheep for whom He died.
For He ever lives to intercede for them till they all be glorified.
Many arrows of gospel truth are in the Scripture quiver;
So I’ll keep on riding this bull like I’m Chris Shivers [1].
In the vain speech of many “grace” has the name;
but “instrumental ‘non-meritorious’ conditions” have the game.
What a self-righteousness establishing shame,
for those who call Jesus “The Mighty God” by name;
Yet in their very next breath this great name is denounced and denied;
When they affirm that for those in hell He was “in some sense” crucified.
They say, “We believe in irresistible grace don’t you know?”
Yet “graciously-enabled-condition-meeting” steals the show.
They must repent of this antichristian and autosoteric heist;
And believe that salvation alone belongs to Jesus Christ!
The antidote for these conditionalists is regeneration;
They have not submitted to the righteousness of the Son.

[1] I’m not necessarily endorsing Chris Shivers or bull-riding in this rhyme any more than the apostle Paul was necessarily endorsing everything that was entailed in the Grecian games in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Just as Paul admonished Christians to be as temperate in imperishable gospel matters as the Olympians were in perishable athletic matters, so I admonish myself and other Christians to continually, untiringly, and zealously keep on “riding this bull” (e.g., keep on preaching, rebuking, exhorting, encourgaging, defending, loving, comforting, etc., etc.):

“For this reason I will not neglect to cause you to remember always concerning these things, though you know and have been confirmed in the present truth. But I deem it right, so long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by a reminder, knowing that the putting off of my tabernacle is soon, as indeed our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will also be diligent to cause you always to have memory of these things after my departure” (2 Peter 1:12-15).

“But it is good to be zealous always in a good thing and not only in my being present with you” (Galatians 4:18).

“Then I solemnly witness before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, He being about to judge the living and dead at His appearance and His kingdom: preach the Word, be urgent in season, out of season, convict, warn, encourage with all long-suffering and teaching. For a time will be when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own lusts, they will heap up to themselves teachers tickling the ear; and they will turn away the ear from the truth and will be turned aside to myths. But you be clear-minded in all, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fully carry out your ministry. For I am already being poured out, and the time of my release is here. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith. For the rest, the crown of righteousness is laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me in that Day, and not only to me, but also to all the ones loving His appearance” (2 Timothy 4:1-8).

“Having made all haste to write to you about the common salvation, beloved, I had need to write to you to exhort you to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).

“Now as to brotherly love, you have no need for me to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. For you also do it toward the brothers in all Macedonia. But, brothers, we exhort you to abound more…For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will also bring with Him all those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. For we say this to you in the Word of the Lord, that we the living who remain to the coming of the Lord will not at all go before those who have fallen asleep. Because the Lord Himself shall come down from Heaven with a commanding shout of an archangel’s voice, and with God’s trumpet. And the dead in Christ will rise again first. Then we who remain alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to a meeting with the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. So, then, comfort each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10, 14-18).

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