Thursday, March 18, 2010
The Theology of Deliverance by John MacArthur
One of the great words in the Bible is the word "deliverance," though it is not commonly used in the Christian vocabulary. Sad to say, rarely do you hear theologians talk about, rarely do you read theologians write about the truth of deliverance, and yet it is nonetheless a profoundly important term for understanding God's redemptive work. God is in the business of deliverance. And deliverance may be the best, it may be the most clarifying and it may actually be the most comprehensive word to explain God's gracious and powerful work in our lives. We were prompted to this discussion by the fact that Jesus came with a ministry of deliverance. And when we began to see that in the case of Jesus, it drew us into the greater theme of deliverance which covers really all of God's redemptive purpose.
In Romans 11:26 Paul writes, "The Deliverer will come and He will remove ungodliness and He will take away sin." The Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ is there identified as the Deliverer. In fact, every time in the Bible you see the word "save, saved, salvation, or Savior," you can translate it with some form of the word deliver. Essentially it means the same thing. But deliver communicates well to us because we understand in the English the meaning of deliverance.
The theology of deliverance and understanding of deliverance is a critical area of truth. And it becomes critical at the point of understanding who is a true Christian. And that, I pointed out, is absolutely essential to the health and well-being and effectiveness of the church. If the church blurs the line between Christians and non-Christians, it then invites the enemy into the camp, totally distorts its own identity and allows Satan to gain a foothold. It is a matter of being content or even inviting the tares to be sown among the wheat. And yet that is exactly what is happening in evangelicalism today.
The evangelical church is inviting non-Christians in and then redefining them as Christians. I told you last week, the greatest failure of professing Christianity in this day and for this century past has been the failure to distinguish between true Christians and false. And it's worse now than it's ever been. It's been going on all through the century and it's now worse than it's ever been. The true church is the society of the delivered and we have to keep that distinction very clear because the Lord wants a pure church, He wants a chaste bride and He wants a bride without blemish and without spot. The church must be made up of true believers and it must be clear who is a real Christian and who is not so that we protect the church from the encroachment of Satan, and also so that we protect the lost from being deceived. Not only when we allow non-Christians to be defined as Christians do we pollute the church, but we also aid and abet the deception of Satan and people live as though they were Christians when in fact they are not.