The believer who trembles at the Word of the Lord can learn much from the examination and critique of Keswick theology. First, since charity rejoiceth in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6), such a believer can greatly delight in the blessed truths retained by the Keswick Convention from the older orthodoxy. Does Keswick seek to exalt Christ? Hallelujah! Does not the heart of the upright child of God cry, “Oh that the Lord Jesus would be exalted the more—in my own life, in my congregation, in my city, in my country, and in the world!” Does not such a one long for the day when every knee shall bow before the Son of God, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father? Jesus Christ cannot be too highly exalted, and the feebleness the Christian recognizes in his own exaltation and glorying in Christ is exceedingly grievous to him. Does he not look with expectant joy for the time when the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea, and his own heart will be free from indwelling sin forever? “Come, come Lord Jesus!” is the upright’s cry.
Furthermore, the blessed fact that Jesus Christ is full of truth and grace—that He is an overflowing treasury of grace who fills His dear redeemed and upright ones with the communicable Divine attributes by His Spirit, based on His purchase of them at infinite cost, is an unspeakable consolation. The Lord’s purchased people marvel at their Father’s infinite power, exerted on their behalf to sanctify them. They rightly renounce all self-confidence, self-dependence, and self-righteousness, to wait in an active faith upon their God in Christ, and upon Him only. He alone must receive all the glory for their sanctification, for it is only His power that can affect that supernatural transformation from glory to glory into the image of their Head, Christ Jesus. To whatever extent the Keswick theology has led believers to such spiritual motions, to that extent they can thank God for the truth within its Higher Life system. If Keswick preaching has led them from backsliding to being right with God—if it has led them to the immediate renunciation of sin—if it has led them to renounce all self-dependence—if it has led them to greater communion with the Holy Spirit—if it has brought them to greater fervency in prayer—if it has led them to proclaim the sweet name of Jesus Christ with greater passion, so that the world is more filled with the savor of His name than it would have been otherwise—can any not rejoice at these things and praise the Lord?
Indeed, those precious elements of truth emphasized at Keswick are what make the Convention’s system appealing to the Christian heart. Reader, do not by any means turn away from these blessed truths because your renewed mind cannot bear any longer the corruptions and errors mixed with them at Keswick. Some critique Keswick because of a fervent zeal for the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, rejoicing in the truths affirmed by Keswick but deploring its errors. Others critique Keswick because they have no zeal for the truth and use the corruptions of the Keswick theology as an excuse to live a life of carnal self-pleasing. Do you reject the errors of the Keswick theology? You do well—but the devil knows that Keswick errors are false also, and such knowledge does not make Satan a whit more holy. Are you, in your opposition to Keswick errors, yet carnal, worldly, selfish, self-dependent, faithless, non-evangelistic, false-worshipping, careless, cold, and unspiritual? Then you are a vile hypocrite, and you need to get right with God. Now. Do not use the mote in your Keswick brother’s eye as an excuse to smack people on the head with the two-by-four protruding from your own. Do not think you please the Lord if you yourself downplay God’s white-hot holiness, diminish the immense loathsomeness of sin—of all sin, even the least—shrink from making pointed and specific application of Scripture to your life and the lives of those you are responsible to guide, dabble with Pelagian or humanistic ideas, live by sight instead of by faith, and are openly and rebelliously ecumenical or are merely softly separatistic, happy to coexist with the Amalekites instead of putting them all under the ban and hewing Agag in pieces. Indeed, consider the warning of the Lord Jesus to the doctrinally sound church at Ephesus:
I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. (Revelation 2:2-5)
You do well to labor and work for God, and you do well to expose false apostles, such as those who originated the Keswick theology—but have you left your first love? Woe to you! Without love for Christ, all your works profit you nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Or are you even worse, so that you do not even labor with patience, expose false apostles, and serve the Lord without fainting? Will you then presume to take the Lord’s statutes into your mouth, criticize Keswick, and speak about spiritual things, when you are a weak and worldly compromiser and a desperately backslidden and wicked sinner? It is not enough to reject pseudo-spirituality—you must have a genuine and living Christian piety. Do not think that the Lord will be pleased with you if you reject, or fail to live, the truths affirmed at the Keswick Convention because of the errors also propagated there. Embrace and passionately love the truth, all of it, for the sake of He who is Truth Himself, and despise and passionately hate error, all of it, for the sake of Him who is Truth Himself.
Recognize that the ineffably precious gospel of Christ is a priceless jewel filled with beauties that the angels desire to look into (1 Peter 1:12). Consequently, all aspects of the gospel, in all its revealed fullness as the mind of Christ revealed to us in the Scripture, must be treasured and defended at all costs. You cannot be too precise with the gospel. Consequently, every one of the many errors and corruptions of the redeeming and sanctifying gospel propagated at Keswick must be absolutely and uncompromisingly rejected. Reject Keswick’s Pelagianism. Reject Keswick’s divorce of justification and sanctification. Reject Keswick’s confusion on saving repentance, saving faith, and true conversion. Reject Keswick’s practice of giving Christian assurance to the unregenerate and making them into two-fold children of hell. Reject Keswick’s ecumenical embrace of wolves who devour God’s flock. Reject Keswick’s weakness on the efficacy of sanctifying grace, its shallow and often incomprehensible or contradictory theology, its corruption of the revealed truths about the work of the glorious Holy Ghost, its perfectionism, its eudemonism, its Quietism, its neglect of the role of the Word in sanctification, its Spirit-grieving and Bible-twisting experiential hermeneutic, and its denial of the mortifying and vivifying work of God the Spirit in progressively eradicating indwelling sin. Purge all the unbiblical influence of Keswick from your mind, and cast out any affection for Keswick theology from your heart. Keswick’s false teachings are vile trash. Let them stink in the garbage bin and no longer corrupt the savor of Christ in the temple of the living God, whether the individual temple of the believer or the corporate temple of the congregation of Christ. We are not talking about the ideas of men, but the truths of God, the rejection of which constitutes sin for which the Lord Jesus had to shed His blood. Reject the Keswick theology for the Biblical and historic Baptist doctrine of sanctification.
The sufficiency of Scripture, and the abundance of Christian literature presenting truth on sanctification that is free from Keswick influence and error, makes it entirely unnecessary for believers to read or recommend Keswick authors. Keswick ideas should be purged from the heads of Christian preachers. Keswick theology should be purged from the seminaries, Bible colleges, Bible institutes, and all other teaching institutions of the churches—and all such teaching institutions ought themselves to be ministries of particular churches (1 Timothy 3:15). Keswick books should be purged from Christian bookstores, as the massive and easy-to-read devotional literature of Keswick has been wildly successful in propagating Keswick spirituality. Hymns propagating Keswick theology should be recognized and dealt with appropriately. Keswick advocates of the past and present should be warned about, not set up as models of Biblical piety. Your soul, and the souls of those whom you influence spiritually, can be filled with a deep longing for revival, a zeal for evangelism and missions, a confidence in the power of the Holy Ghost, and, most of all, a love for Jesus Christ and His Father, with a resultant passion for holiness, without filling your head and the heads of others with Keswick theology. Pray and preach against the Keswick theology, that it may be abolished from the earth and be found only in the eternal dwelling place of the gospel-rejecters who hatched it.
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