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Oswald Chambers' works-based sinlessness salvation heresy

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Author Topic: Oswald Chambers' works-based sinlessness salvation heresy  (Read 2199 times)
Psalm 51:17
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« on: April 21, 2013, 10:01:24 pm »



By "utmost" (in the title of his main book) Chambers means attainable perfection. He actively worked to spread Wesley's emphasis on perfectionism, commenting in 1908:

"John Wesley's teaching has had no hold in Scotland in the past, but it seems now as if it is going to be grasped with a tenacious hold unequalled in the country."

Wesley's teaching was, of course, that Christians could become sinlessly perfect, what Chambers calls "sanctification". I put the word in quotes because this is not the Biblical term, but one that he pours his own meaning into. For Oswald Chambers, sanctification means nothing less than sinlessness. He believes the Christians can be, and should be, sinless. The "new-birth" means "no more sinning":

"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin" (1 John 3:9). Do I seek to stop sinning or have I stopped sinning? To be born of God means that I have the supernatural power of God to stop sinning.

"In the Bible it is never--should a Christian sin? The Bible puts it emphatically: a Christian must not sin. The effective work of the new-birth life in us is that we do not commit sin; not merely that we have the power not to sin, but that we have stopped sinning." (Aug. 15th)

"Have I made this decision about sin--that it must be killed right out of me? Haul yourself up, take a time alone with God, make the moral decision and say, "Lord, identify me with Thy death until I know that sin is dead in me". (April 10th)

"Either God or sin must die in my life. The New Testament brings us right down to this one issue. If sin rules in me, God's life in me will be killed; if God rules in me, sin in me will be killed. There is no possible ultimate but that." (June 23rd)

The Biblical position, of course, is that Christians do sin from time to time. Not to see this is to have a low view of sin and to have an unrealistic, discouraging, frustrating, not to say unscriptural, view of Christianity. "If we say we have no sin, then the truth is not in us." (Ist John 1:Cool. After this verse is the promise that we can get cleansing from our sins by confession to Him. As we grow in grace, we sin less and less, but we are not sinless.

The source of our strength in our walk is in our meditation on Christ's perfection, not our own. When we think of ourselves it should be of our own imperfections and of our falling far short of the divine standard. The resultant humility ("poor in spirit") that this brings draws us nearer to Christ and enables the Holy Spirit to continue His work of Christlikeness in us (2nd Cor. 12:9- 10). Not surprisingly, Chambers does not favor this sort of "defeatist" introspection, insisting instead on attaining perfection by Gnostic/mystical means.

"God will not give us good habits, He will not give us character, He will not make us walk aright. We have to do all that ourselves; we have to work out the salvation God has worked in. If you hesitate when God tells you to do a thing, you endanger your standing in grace (Nov. 12th)."

At first this sounds quite acceptable. We do indeed have to "strive with Him" in our Christian walk. But he goes too far when he insists, as far as character and our walk are concerned, that we "have to do all that ourselves". That just isn't true. Rather we walk in the works that God has prepared for us (Eph 2:8- 10). Neither does hesitation endanger "standing in grace". It is a flimsy grace - and a tenuous (dare I say "fictional") salvation that can be blown away by mere hesitation. Once again Chamber's Arminian misunderstanding of salvation clouds the picture.

The Biblical teaching is that if we are in Christ we are new creatures. All things are new (2nd Cor. 5:17). Yes, we have the responsibility to obey. But if we falter, hesitate, blow it here or there, we do not suddenly become "old creatures" again.

It is through a misunderstanding or devaluation of Christ's "first" work in the life of believers that Chambers posits the need for a "second work" of grace. Here he shows his Keswick roots. (More on that can be found from the URL below).

Am I set in my ways, concerning God? We are never free from this snare until we are brought into the experience of the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire (Jan. 28th).

God does not give us overcoming life; He gives us life as we overcome. When the inspiration of God comes, and He says, "Arise from the dead," we have to get up; God does not lift us up (Feb. 16th). 

Ah, but God does lift us up. Paul says several times that we are raised up in Christ. It may be that we do not know this as we ought. The lack, in that case is not one of experience, but of teaching.

Chambers, in common with many of the so-called "deeper life" advocates, builds up an artificial tension between intellect and mere obedience, as if both are not needed.They are both as essential as two wings on a plane. We cannot be obedient to what we don't understand. God's people die for a lack of knowledge, as the prophet said. Neither do we learn facts in order to just bury them.

In the devotional for Oct. 10, Quoting Matt. 11:25 ("I thank Thee, 0 Father . . . because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.")

Chambers writes:

"All God's revelations are sealed until they are opened to us by obedience. You will never get them open by philosophy or thinking. Immediately you obey, a flash of light comes. Let God's truth work in you by soaking in it, not by worrying into it. The only way you can get to know is to stop trying to find out and by being born again. Obey God in the thing He shows you, and instantly the next thing is opened up. One reads tomes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when one five minutes of drastic obedience would make things as clear as a sunbeam. "I suppose I shall understand these things some day!" You can understand them now. It is not study that does it, but obedience. The tiniest fragment of obedience, and heaven opens and the profoundest truths of God are yours straight away. God will never reveal more truth about Himself until you have obeyed what you know already. Beware of becoming "wise and prudent."

He misses the point that obedience has to be based on knowledge. "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free". At no time should we downplay the further pursuit of knowledge, rather we are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2nd Peter 3:18). We are to dedicate ourselves to a study of God's Word, though not neglecting the inner life of meditation and prayer.By studying Christ's Word we become more Christlike (2nd Cor. 3:18), we "save ourselves" and others (2nd Tim. 3:15; 1st Tim. 4:16) and much more. So doctrine is very important.

A Christian who reads Oswald Chamber for profit will certainly find some things in his writings to benefit from. Like much of what we find in our bookstores and on the Web wisdom is needed. For anyone who feels that I am unfairly criticizing this teacher I would only ask that he be read with Berean discernment. As you read him, ask yourself, "Is he emphasizing the very things that the Bible emphasizes?" "Is he using Biblical terms in a Biblical manner?" "Does he give central place to the foundational Person and doctrines of the Faith?"These are always fair questions to ask of any teacher.
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« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2015, 09:44:53 pm »

The doctrine that both John Wesley and Oswald Chambers pushed was that of Armineanism - which is completely man-centered.


Question: "What is Arminianism, and is it biblical?"

Answer: Arminianism is a system of belief that attempts to explain the relationship between God’s sovereignty and mankind’s free will, especially in relation to salvation. Arminianism is named after Jacob Arminius (1560—1609), a Dutch theologian. While Calvinism emphasizes the sovereignty of God, Arminianism emphasizes the responsibility of man. If Arminianism is broken down into five points, similar to the five points of Calvinism, these would be the five points:

(1) Partial Depravity – humanity is depraved but still able to seek God. We are fallen and tainted by sin but not to the extent that we cannot chose to come to God and accept salvation, with the help of prevenient grace from God. Given such grace, human will is free and has the power to yield to the influence of the Spirit. Note: many Arminians reject partial depravity and hold a view very close to Calvinistic total depravity. (2) Conditional Election – God only “chooses” those whom He knows will choose to believe. No one is predetermined for either heaven or hell. (3) Unlimited Atonement – Jesus died for everyone, even those who are not chosen and will not believe. Jesus’ death was for all of humanity, and anyone can be saved by belief in Him. (4) Resistible Grace – God’s call to be saved can be resisted and/or rejected. We can resist God’s pull toward salvation if we choose to. (5) Conditional Salvation – Christians can lose their salvation if they actively reject the Holy Spirit’s influence in their lives. The maintenance of salvation is required for a Christian to retain it. Note: many Arminians deny "conditional salvation" and instead hold to "eternal security."

The only point of Arminianism that four-point Calvinists believe to be biblical is point #3—Unlimited Atonement. First John 2:2 says, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” Second Peter 2:1 tells us that Jesus even bought the false prophets who are doomed: “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.” Jesus’ salvation is available to anyone and everyone who will believe in Him. Jesus did not just die for those who will be saved.

Four-point Calvinism (the official position of Got Questions Ministries) finds the other four points of Arminianism to be unbiblical, to varying degrees. Romans 3:10–18 strongly argues for total depravity. Conditional election, or election based on God’s foreknowledge of human action, underemphasizes God’s sovereignty (Romans 8:28–30). Resistible grace underestimates the power and determination of God. Conditional salvation makes salvation a reward for work rather than a gift of grace (Ephesians 2:8–10). There are problems with both systems, but Calvinism is far more biblically based than Arminianism. However, both systems fail to adequately explain the relationship between God’s sovereignty and mankind’s free will—due to the fact that it is impossible for a finite human mind to discern a concept only God can fully understand.
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