Biographical Sketch of Dr. Stuart E. Lease / Bible Messages by Dr. Stuart E. Lease
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VALUABLE FUNDAMENTALS OF THE FAITH
FATHER How great You are! We do not have words to tell You, except from Your Word how marvelous and great You are! We thank You that You are great in creation, for You have created the entire universe. Were thankful that You are great in salvation, in that You sent Your Son into the world to save us. Were thankful that You are great in our sanctification, in causing us to grow in holiness and to develop more and more like Your Well- Beloved Son. Were thankful that one day, maybe soon, well see Your greatness in glorification when we are changed, when we put off these bodies that continually humiliate us and receive those new glorified bodies. What a wonderful day that will be! But Lord, we want to be involved until our Savior comes. We want to be found faithful and fervent in our witness, in our walk, and in our worship; so that we will indeed be pleasing to You. Bless Your Word as we open it together. May the Spirit of God speak to hearts. I pray in Jesus Name. Amen.
The title of this book and the message that I have chosen has to do with the Valuable Fundamentals of the Faith. If your home was to burn and you could save only a very few things, what would be the most valuable things in your home that you would want to preserve? Suppose that you had only a few minutes to go in and grab up what you need or what you dont want to do without? You know, I venture to say that most of us would pick up those things that have to do with relationships, rather than with wealth itself.
I want to talk in these messages about valuable fundamentals of the faith, but Im not going to be exhaustive in that, because we dont have time nor do I have the ability to exhaust all the fundamental of the faith; but now as I share about the fundamentals of the faith, I want to say those things I believe are essential if were going to lay hold of Truth in the Word of God. I have four points that were going to use.
The first basic prerequisite is An absolute Assurance of Salvation. Without an absolute assurance of salvation, nothing else can really have meaning for you. In writing his gospel, John says in John 20, verses 30 and 31 [speaking of the Lord Jesus], And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written [Notice, the Written Word of God], that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His Name. Its believing what the Word of God says about the Son of God, in that He came into this world to save sinners of which you and I are all one. We are one in Adam, in our sin and separation from God. God alone could and did provide a sufficient salvation for us in and through His Son, and what is presented in the Book of John as well as in the other gospels is that we have the completed, finished salvation when Jesus cried [in John 19:30], It is finished! Thats one Greek word tetelestai. This has been used in a number of ways in the Greek language, one of which is used to indicate a bill that is paid in full. [Some of us wish when our bills came each month that they come that way with that stamped on them Paid in full.] But, there is one bill that you and I will never pay. With all of our effort, with all of our wealth, whatever we have, you and I can never pay the debt of our sin. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. If it is a gift, you cant work for it. You simply receive it. [I often try to press upon people that there is no way that you and I can add to or take from our salvation without destroying it.] Our salvation is so perfect that if we seek to add anything to it or take anything from it, we ruin it. All that we can do is receive it, and its all bound up in the Son of God. As many as received Him, to them gave He the authority, [literally] to become the born-ones of God born into the family of God. Its by the Word of God that we are born again. Those of us who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ are born into a large family, in fact we havent met all our brothers and sisters yet, but one day we will. God has made us accepted in the Beloved [and thats a capital B] One, the Lord Jesus. Thats what enables us to enter in. Its by believing what God has said in His Word concerning His Son. Thats the basis of it all the Word of God.
The benefit is from the work of God. [Through the years I have had the opportunity and challenge to deal with many of the cultists, and I remember pointing out a portion from Romans, chapter four; and these men were telling me how that there have always been declensions and apostacies throughout mans history going all the way back to the beginning, and that men have even been falling away from the gospel of Jesus Christ; and so weve had to have the gospel restored through Joseph Smith, and by that doing what he said, you would be saved. So I had them turn to Romans 4:1, What shall we say, then, that Abraham, our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto Him for righteousness. It wasnt what Abraham did by his works, but it was the One in Whom he believed that enabled him to have a justifying faith. Notice verses four and five Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned by grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith [his confidence in God] is counted for righteousness. Then he goes on to say that David had the same type of experience. There is no other way to be saved than by faith, by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now there are some in our area who try to say, Well, yes thats right; and if at any point or for any point of time or period of time you stop believing or if you dont feel well and youre not really able to talk to the Lord, then youre out. You know, there is a precious truth thats found in Acts 16:31, and its not on the surface. It says, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. That word believe is an aorist imperative. It means that it takes place in a point in time and remains so. [I tell you folks, thats important. There may come to you as there has come to me through some circumstances in which you have neither strength nor the stamina to pray or to hold on. But, thank God if you have ever truly believeth, its something that took place in a point of time and it remains so.] Now it is possible that some of you may think you believed when you didnt and thats something else. I believe that if you have truly believed, there is going to be a change on the outside. I dont believe that you just come to the Lord and do as you please. You come to the Lord to do as He pleases, and youre changed. II Corinthians 5:17, Therefore, if any man be in Christ, hes a new creature [literally, a whole new creation]; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. That whole thing is the work of God. It is Gods work, based on His Word.
Then the blessing that comes forth from that of the assurance of salvation is the working of God. [I was brought up in a tradition that taught that you could loose your salvation, and having come to know the Lord early in life, at the age of nine, I was afraid that sometime during the years that passed, I may have lost my salvation. I even had people try to explain to me from John 10, which is supposed to be an assurance passage, that where it says that no man can pluck you out of my Fathers hand, or that you can jump back out on your own. I was afraid that maybe somewhere along the way I had jumped out, and I wasnt anymore in the hand of my heavenly Father. It was years later as I studied this passage [and I invite you to turn to John 10] beginning at verse 27, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life [How long is that? Eternal life!]; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, Who gave them to me, is greater than all. [Having dealt with Jehovahs Witnesses for many years, this is one of their favorite passages to try to derogate the Lord Jesus, and they point out, He said, My Father is greater than all.] Now let me assure you that that is right and that is true, not only during the incarnation, but throughout all eternity. You say, Why? Because there is authority in the Trinity. You will never read that the Father submits to the Son or to the Holy Spirit; but that both the Holy Spirit and the Son submit to the Father and each to each other. So, in authority, the Father is always greater, but not in essence or substance. People in our culture, especially in some of the clamor that is made these days, are trying to say that as soon as you submit to somebody, that makes you less not necessarily. Not when you willingly submit, as our Lord Jesus willingly did. Now, My Father, which gave them me,...no man is able to pluck them out of my Fathers hand. What the Lord Jesus is teaching is that we are placed by the Father into the hand of the Son and then I believe that when you have in verse 30 relates not just to the structure of the Trinity as such, but to our security in salvation. He says, I and my Father are one. I sincerely do not believe that you can even jump out, if you are properly placed there we stay there eternally; and we are sealed by the Holy Spirit unto the day of redemption. Thus the first and foremost thing that I believe we must have, which is fundamental to life and understanding of scripture, is absolute assurance of salvation, because I Corinthians 2:14 says, The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither an he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. Unless you are born again, born of the Spirit, you cant understand what the Bible has to say. Unless you have the absolute assurance of your salvation, you can never wholeheartedly serve the Lord. [You cant paint, if you have to hang onto the ladder with both hands.] You cant serve wholeheartedly unless youre sure in your salvation.
Secondly, we need Basic Beliefs of Scripture. Let me emphasize that Jesus Christ is the central subject of the Word of God. When Luke introduces his gospel, in Luke chapter one, beginning in verse one, he says, Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the Word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed. And then he proceeds to tell of the length and ministry of the Lord Jesus. When it comes down to the twenty-fourth and last chapter of his gospel, the Lord Jesus in speaking to the two on the road to Damascus, beginning in verse 25, Then he said unto them, O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures [What?] the things concerning Himself. Later on, to His disciples, He then told them [verses 44 and 45], These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.
The central subject of the Word of God is the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. So both in the Old Testament and New Testament, our Lord Jesus Christ is set forth. Now the sacred source of our Basic Beliefs is the Written Word of God. In II Peter, chapter 3, verses l and 2 Peter says, This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you, in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance, That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets [I believe that it centrally refers to the Old Testament], and of the commandment of us, the apostles. [That I believe refers essentially to the New Testament: The Old Testament and New Testament the apostles of the Lord and Savior]. These are the things that we are to be mindful of the Written Word of God. Turn also to II Timothy, chapter 3 and speaking to Timothy, Paul says, beginning at verse 15, And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect [or complete], throughly [or completely] furnished unto all good works.
Now the Roman church in seeking to derogate our use of the New Testament and using it as authority over the church, would tell us that it is not the scriptures but the church that is the pillar and ground of the truth. In fact, they would tell you and they are right in saying this, that the church did not have the completed New Testament scriptures until the second century; and then not all the church had it. And so they said, Where did authority rest? It rested as Paul said to Timothy in I Timothy 3:15, But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And so they say for us the church is to pass on the scriptures, not for the scriptures to be judged over us, because we were the ones who brought forth the scriptures and we are the ones who decide on them. Now the falicy on that is, that we are not born again through believing what the church says. Were born again by believing the gospel, and the gospel is set forth in I Corinthians 15:3 and 4, ...how that Christ died for our sins [How? According to the church?] No, it says, ...according to the scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according [to what?] the scriptures so even the New Testament believers based what they believed and taught upon the Written Word of God which obviously at the beginning was only the Old Testament. But, that was still the authority over them and the authority over the church. Dont ever let anybody tell you that the church was greater than the scriptures. There are only two things on the face of this earth that are eternal. The one is this Word The Word of the Lord endureth forever. The other is the eternal souls of men. Your soul and mine are going to live on eternally, either in Gods presence, or apart from His presence. And you know what makes the difference? what we believe from this Word. It is by this Word that we are born again, Being born again [the Greek is really having been born again], not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the Word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
It was quite a few years ago now that the Lord made very clear to me, that everything else is going to pass away. Heaven and earth [not may pass away but] shall pass away. II Peter 3:11, Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be... and the only things that remain are the Word of God and the souls of men. Therefore the greatest work in all the world is taking this eternal Word and imparting it to the souls of men! [By the way, you first have to impart it to yourself.] The tragedy of our day is that so few people are storing up the Word of God in their hearts, ...that ye might not sin against the Lord. Sacred source is the Written Word of God.
Now Spiritual Sequence is set forth in Hebrews chapter 5, and theyre set forth in the Word of God the fact that in the entire human race there are two classifications of people. There are those who are saved, that is having believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. There are those who are lost, who have never believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. But, among believers there are two classifications. There are those who are carnal Christians, who are ruled by the flesh; and there are those who are spiritual Christians that are ruled by the Spirit. Lets begin by reading verse 11 in Hebrews 5, Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the Word of righteousness: for he is a babe. [Right away some of you know your Bible, say, Doesnt it say in I Peter, chapter 2, that were to desire, just as a baby desires milk, so we should desire the Word of God?] But here it is pointing out the fact that the immature Christian, the carnal Christian, can only handle or deal with the very simple things of the Word of God. Theyre unskillful. But, strong meat belongs to them who are of full age, even those by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both the good and the evil. So, the Spiritual Sequence is from immaturity to maturity. That doesnt always depend on years, although I agree with my friend, Malcom Cronk who said, You dont get holy in a hurry. And I think that thats true in the actual practical outworking. But the grace of God can speed up the process of maturity in the child of God. So basic beliefs are essential after absolute assurance.
Then I believe that we need careful convictions. This is the third emphasis Careful or Confirmed Convictions. I think that one of the problems that we are facing in some of our institutions in Christian higher learning is that students are getting a lot of concepts and not too many convictions. Theres a lot of differences between concepts and convictions. Now, Paul in dealing with the Ephesian elders when he met with them in the last time [Its recorded in Acts 20], Paul was referring to himself as a believer who had matured in the faith, and he was a man of convictions in three ways by example, by exhortation, and by expectation. Turn to Acts 20, beginning at verse 17, From Miletus he [that is, Paul] sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem. Theres a great controversy there over that word spirit whether thats a capital or a small s at the beginning of the word. One might say, What does it say in the original? Well, the original was all capitals, so it doesnt help you a bit. You just have to discern it yourself. Now if it is a small s then it is Pauls spirit, his human spirit. If it is a capital S then it is the Holy Spirit; and good men differ on this. Some believe that it is Pauls human spirit, and in fact he even in spite of his convictions or maybe because of some of them he ended up in Jerusalem. I do want to say this, that I believe that there are some people that have convictions about things that they shouldnt have convictions about. [We had a young men come to a church for a while, and he had a conviction against wearing a necktie. That is a conviction. Now I dont know where he got that in the Bible. I cant find that. Maybe you can. Let me know. And, I told him pointedly. I said that I think that you have a conviction about something that you shouldnt have a conviction about.] But, Im not sure that thats the case with Paul here, whether he had a conviction about going to Jerusalem that he shouldnt have; but Ill tell you one thing, Paul had a conviction to serve the Lord and he never lost that desire to serve.
Im saddened to hear that many young people today in our Bible schools are loosing the desire to serve the Lord. I heard that just recently and it bothers me. I had opportunities to do other types of service; but when God got hold of me to serve Him, nothing else would do. And woe is me if I preach not the gospel! I believe that Paul was such a person that no matter what, he was going to serve the Lord!
Some of you knew my father-in-law and knew that verse 24 was one of Jim Rudisills favorite verses. In fact, the year before he died, we had entered him in the hospital because of his cancer; and they had these tubes down his nose and throat; and I said, Pop, looks like your cancer is acting up again. He looked up at me and said, But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And thats the way he lived. And right before he died, he said, Stuart, I think the Lords going to take me home. I said, Why do you think that, Pop? He said, Well, here in the front of my Bible Ive been writing the names of people Ive led to Christ, and Im running out of space. Now that takes a man of conviction, not just some kind of concepts that you can share with people; but the conviction that people need to be born again. Apart from that, there is no life. Theres no salvation. Apart from the Lord Jesus, and Im sure that Paul had great convictions about that. He also felt that he had to share and declare all the counsel of God. Notice verse 27, For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. The easy things are the difficult things he shared with them.
Now he gives them Exhortation beginning at verse 28, Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers [That word is bishops, rarely refers to the elders for they are that in verse 17] to feed [or shepherd] the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood. Now the Chief Shepherd is in heaven; and He is coming back and He is going to reward those who have been faithful in their service. But, I believe that shepherds, that is pastors here on earth have a three-fold task. I emphasize it again and again. A shepherd is to lead the sheep, he is to feed the sheep, he is to take heed to the sheep. Lead, feed, take heed to the sheep. I believe that the shepherd role is not just for one individual shepherd. I think that the leadership role in a local church is to be shared by men in that church with the pastor and they with him are to lead, feed, and take heed to the sheep. Thats exactly what Paul has in mind here, For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. [There are some men who at one time who spoke the sacred Word as a fundamentalist, even called themselves that, who wont call themselves that anymore and have utterly departed from the faith; and Ive known some of them personally. I could name their names, but I wont. From among us are those that will rise and depart and teach error to the sheep.] Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
Then, his Expectation, and now brethren, I commend you to God [He knew that he wouldnt see them again.] and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up. I say, Amen! Ive heard Dr. Strauss say many times, You will never ever be a spiritual Christian unless youre studying and taking in the Word of God. [You need to be taking in the Word which is able to build you up] ...and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. For that, you need confirmed convictions.
Now my D point Diligent Defense. Not going into detail in this, I want to site some of the apostles and what they have said. Jude urges us to contend. In Judes little epistle in verse 3 he said, Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once [and you can add in the margin once for all] delivered unto the saints. Now please notice, he doesnt tell us to be contentious. He tells us to contend. That means to defend the faith, be a servant who is willing to fight for what he believes. Frankly, until recently Ive been a little bit disturbed over the administration in Washington. They didnt seem willing to fight for anything. Im not saying that were to go out and beat up everybody; but I tell you, if you dont have something thats worth fighting for, you dont have anything; and I believe, as believers, we need to contend for the faith once for all delivered unto the saints. Then Peter says that we are to defend. I Peter 3:15 [a great apologetic text, not in the wrong sense for apologetics, but in a sense of the biblical use of that word of contending for the faith. Verse 15, But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts [The Revision reads, But sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord making Him Lord indeed.]: and be ready always to give an answer [thats the Greek word apolodia, a reasoned defense] to every man for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. If someone asked you, What do you believe? Could you go down the line and tell them what you believe? I had the privilege back in 1958 of leading a lady to Christ who had been with Jehovah Witnesses for only six months, and she knew every one of their major doctrines with scripture. Six months! The average Christian whos been in a church some six years, some of them sixty years could not do that, but you ought to be able to to give a reasoned defense. Paul writing similarly, in II Corinthians chapter 10 [and I believe there is an important teaching here in this passage about contending; and by the way, its not beating someone up. Its not a carnal warfare.] Notice beginning at verse 3, For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
In Galatians chapter six we are told that we who are strong should help the weak and even if a brother be overtaken with a fault, [What are we to do? Beat him up?] No remind him. I think sometimes we spend more time fighting other Christians and hurting them than we do striking out against the enemy. Men and women, these things ought not so to be. We need a diligent defense, but its not to fight each other. Its to fight the enemy. I came across an interesting thing from a message I heard that disturbed my people a little bit. Its found in I Timothy 3 where it refers to women, the wives of deacons not slandering. You know what that word is in the Greek? I was surprised too. It is diabolis. Not devils. You know you can be a devil as a Christian? That word diabolis means to throw through and it is to throw through somebodys testimony or through their character. I studied that, and it is disturbing. I pointed out that it is not only for women, its for men too in the book of Titus. So, dont be fighting each other.
We have three ABCs: Absolute Assurance of Salvation, Basic Beliefs, Confirmed Convictions, and then Diligent Defense. We need this. These are Valuable Fundamentals of the Faith!