Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Delusional Disconnect and Legitimate Demonstration

The French supported the American revolution.  Then most Americans started supporting the French revolution, until they were revolted by what took awhile to hear across the Atlantic.  The American revolution proceeded from Great Awakening and its resultant natural rights.  The French Revolution was spawned by dead religion and consequential paganism.  We see the French model unfolding and usurping now in America.

After several months of waiting to hear the testimony and evidence in the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, MO, officer Darren Wilson is not indicted of any charges.  You know what happens next. I don't need to describe it, except to add that my daughter was driving back from class and highway 580 here was blocked by protesters in Oakland, and everyone, including her, had to leave the interstate and drive through that city in order to get home.  Via phone, I led her an alternate route to make it back to us a couple of anxious hours later than normal.  Hundreds of people just stood out on a federal highway to make a statement about the Michael Brown verdict.  I do get it.  People aren't happy.

I would rather not repeat what you can read dozens of places elsewhere about government and politicians.  I know that Jesus did not come to change social structure.   From my perch as a premillennialist, we're living for a future kingdom, expecting the Lord to clean up this mess. Christians with a biblical worldview will know in the present what to do too.  They will understand how scripture applies to given situations today and influence others as salt and light.  In the meantime, it is about the gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation.

What I see from many government leaders and political pundits is a delusional disconnect, relating to apostasy and being turned over to a reprobate mind (Rom 1).  The only other options, as I see it, are psychosomatic illness or demon possession.  You might think I'm joking, but those are the only other possibilities.  The symptoms are very similar for all three.  Their vain imaginations exalt themselves against the knowledge of God and have for a long time.

No one in his right mind blames the police officer in Ferguson.  Much could be blamed in the "system," but it wasn't him.  Someone robbed a convenience store of some cigarillos with threat of imminent bodily injury (see here at 1:15 and following).  Someone walking down the middle of a street was asked by an officer to move to a sidewalk and answered with an expletive.  The officer saw him with cigarillos in his hand.  When the officer tried to open his car door, someone slammed it shut on him.  When the officer tried to open the door again, someone hit him in the face.  Someone hit him in the face several times.  When the officer pulled his gun, someone grabbed it and there was a fight that resulted in two shots discharging in the car.  Someone stopped and turned around to face the officer, and at two instances, when he told him to get on the ground, he just kept moving toward the officer.  Then he began charging the officer.  Someone wasn't a victim.

You are not a victim when you have done all the things someone in the previous paragraph did.   If Michael Brown were a victim, he was not a victim of the police officer, but a broken family, city, country, and culture.   He was a victim of the fall, of his own depraved sinful nature, the false teachers in his life, those who would not restrain him.  If anyone led him to his death, it was the people who claimed to have supported him and his family, who represent the entire conniving, charlatan entity that told him the lies that he believed.  If he was a victim, he was a victim of those who are now lying that he raised his hands in surrender and was gunned down like an animal in the street.  Satan is a liar and the father of lies.  Al Sharpton calls him a victim, but he was more a victim of Al Sharpton than he was Darren Wilson or the prosecutor in the case.

The Attorney General of the United States said today:

It is clear, I think, that acts of violence threaten to drown out those who have legitimate voices, legitimate demonstrators and those acts of violence cannot and will not be condoned.

That statement represents a deluded mindset.  The acts of violence are wrong.  They should not be tolerated.  Only the delusional condone them.  Someone vain in his imagination sees acts of violence as a threat to legitimate demonstration.  These legitimate demonstrators, these voices, are demonstrating what?  They demonstrate the moral bankruptcy that exists in the country.  They demonstrate the political pandering.  An entire culture has been legitimized by fawning leaders, who will not tell the truth, because they cannot tell the truth.  They are willing to sink a multitude of people for a small slice of support that will keep them in power.

Even more sad are the churches that have pandered in the name of racial reconciliation.  They legitimize the demonstrators by ignoring the real problem.  The continue to distract from a solution with their bread and circuses.  As a result, they have corrupted the gospel, a pure message of repentance and reconciliation, for a placebo.

Count on more Ferguson in the future, because we live in a country and a world that doesn't even know what the problem is, let alone the solution.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Are the Qualifications for the Office of the Pastor Also Disqualifications?

The Apostle Paul in two of the pastoral epistles lists qualifications for the office of the pastor of a church.  In 1 Timothy 3:2-7, in the form of a list, they are

the husband of one wife
of good behaviour
given to hospitality
apt to teach
not given to wine
no striker
not greedy of filthy lucre
not a brawler
not covetous
one that ruleth well his own house
having his children in subjection with all gravity
not a novice
have a good report of them which are without

Then in Titus 1:
the husband of one wife
having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly
not selfwilled
not soon angry
not given to wine
no striker
not given to filthy lucre
lover of hospitality
lover of good men
holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught

These two lists have been called the qualifications of the pastor.  Pastors know about them.  The context of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 deals with a man entering or receiving the office.  It doesn't say anything about these being a basis for removal from office.  However, I believe that these lists imply disqualification in light of other passages, mainly 1 Corinthians 9:27 and 1 Timothy 5:19-20.

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

The implication is that what qualifies a man to be a pastor can also disqualify him.  It makes sense. "Castaway" seems to mean "disqualified.'  What are the accusations against an elder?  They would again seem to be violations of the qualifications.  1 Timothy 5:22 later says, "Lay hands suddenly on no man."  It seems that once a pastor has been disqualified, he has to prove himself again.  He's not immediately allowed back into the office.  He's got to show he's qualified for a period of time. However, he can be qualified again.  In many instances, he is not permanently disqualified if he's willing to repent of the actions that disqualified him, show that he's qualified again.

Truth is antithetical.  For every right, there is a wrong, for every good, there is a bad, and for every truth, there is an error.  Every qualification is also a disqualification.

This is also the historic position.  You can see that men believed this in the past, so this has been the understanding in Christian history.  Joseph Lathrop writes in 1811 what I believe has been the common understanding of qualifications as disqualifications for those already in the office:

But against one already in office a bare report is not to be received; there must be an accusation supported by two or three witnesses, to eject him from office, or bring him under censure.

You read the following language in 1808:

But before a minister can be justly deposed from office, there must be deduced full and indubitable evidence of his disqualification.

Certain of the qualifications will be violated by everyone.  Keeping all of the qualifications perfectly would constitute a sinlessly perfect life, and that is not what they are requiring.  A pastor might not be in every instance sober.  He might become angry in a sinful way.  He might have his moments lacking love of hospitality.  For the most part, the qualifications are habits, characteristics, or a lifestyle. Someone might violate them (I know I have) and still be qualified.  It isn't that a man participates in one act of self-will, but that he is a self-willed man.  Self-willed men can't be or shouldn't be pastors.

Desiring the office (1 Timothy 3:1) means desiring to live out the qualifications.  Sometimes men desire the office, obtain it, and then along the way stop desiring it, as seen in the lack or loss of a qualified lifestyle.  They had it, but they didn't remain vigilant in it, perhaps just taking the office for granted, and losing the desire.  Some men really want it, and then swerve off the path toward some other desire, perhaps many other worldly desires.   The other desires are what often disqualify.  For every man, it's going to be a struggle.

All the qualifications should be taken seriously.  Every pastor should daily consider them. However, if someone were to regularly, as a lifestyle, and without repentance, break one or some or all of these, he might disqualify himself.  In this way, the judgment of these qualifications is far more subjective.  Men would have to discern a pattern in a man's life in seeing that he isn't qualified any longer.

On the other hand, certain of the qualifications are very objective, like a line drawn, such as "the husband of one wife."  There may be more to this qualification than just marital status, because the Greek words can literally mean, "one woman man."  However, he at least cannot be a polygamist or bigamist.  Others, I among them, would say that he cannot be divorced and then remarried, based on this qualification.  He is married to one woman as long as she lives, if he wants to stay a pastor.

As well, at least one of the sets of qualifications and, hence, disqualifications, brings characteristics of the children of a pastor:  "having his children in subjection with all gravity" and "having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly."  Do these apply only to children in the home?  I don't think so.  If your children are "faithful," that means they are saved.  Once someone is saved, he'll always be saved, so if one of his children depart from the faith, that means that child is not a faithful child.  "Riotous" would also apply to older children.  No matter how well a man obeys the other qualifications, if he has a child, who is one of these, he becomes disqualified, even though the characteristic is true not of him, but of his child.

I believe that the qualifications, as they apply to a man's children, are very fair.  I think the bar isn't high.  While his children are at home, they must submit to his authority and leadership characteristically.  As his children grow up, at some point, they must be converted.  They've got to believe in Jesus Christ like He does.  I recognize that this will bother a Calvinist, but it isn't my job to fit scripture into Calvinism.  If one of a pastor's children is not converted, he can't be a pastor.  Again, I think that is fair.  It's not saying the children are sinlessly perfect or that they might not struggle in their sanctification.  It isn't even saying that they must believe just like he does.  They've just got to be saved at some point. That means he's doing what it takes to evangelize his own family.

From my perspective, I rarely read anything about pastoral qualifications.  They are a sensitive subject. Disqualification means losing your job and maybe your livelihood.  If you haven't been trained or schooled to do anything else, that can be a very tough situation.  However, to protect the office of the pastor, we've got to protect the qualifications.  They must be disqualifications, because the office and the truth of scripture is bigger than any one man.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ask Jesus into your Heart? 14 Reasons not to, part 2 of 3

Do the lost need to ask Jesus into their hearts in order to be saved?  Last Friday we saw five reasons why the answer is "no"!  Here are reasons #6-10.

6.) Asking Jesus to come into your heart confuses the means of salvation with a result of salvation.

            When a lost sinner, enabled by God’s grace, repents and trusts in the Savior, he is spiritually united to Christ, what Scripture calls being “in Christ” (Eph 1:3). He passess from death to life (Jn 5:24), from being unrighteous to being justified or declared righteous (1 Cor 6:9; Rom 3:24), from being without peace to having peace with God (Is 57:21; Rom 5:1), from having no access to God to having direct access to Him through Christ (Rom 5:2; 1 Tim 2:5), from having no hope to having a sure hope (Eph 2:12; Heb 6:19), from being a child of the devil to being a child of God (Jn 8:44; 1:12), from being without Christ to having Christ live in him (2 Cor 13:5; Gal 2:20), from being without the Holy Spirit to being indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9), and so on.  He now has “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph 1:3).  One of the blessings of being united to Christ is that He does indeed make the believer His dwelling place (Col 1:27; Rom 8:10), but that does not mean that a person is saved by asking Christ to come in, any more than one is saved by asking to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit or asking to have all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.  No, the lost must trust in Christ and His saving work on the cross alone, and when they entrust themselves to Him, they receive every good thing on account of their union with Him, whether justification, a sure hope, adoption into the family of God, the indwelling presence of Christ, direct access to the Father, or any of the other glorious blessings possesed by the people of God.

7.) Asking Jesus into your heart can bring false assurance to a lost person and prevent a saved person from having true assurance.

            Since the Bible never promises salvation to a lost sinner if he asks Jesus into his heart, those who perform this human work and think that they are saved because they did it are almost surely just as lost as they were before.  There are literally millions of people who have asked Jesus into their hearts instead of coming to the Lord Jesus in repentant faith.  They were, perhaps, told that asking Christ to come in would guarantee them a happy life, peace, or perhaps financial success and a good marriage.  If none of these things come to pass, they become bitter towards the Lord Jesus and His people, disillusioned with the Bible, and inoculated against the true gospel by the spiritual counterfeit they adopted.  When someone comes to them and tries to show them that, Biblically speaking, they never were saved and they need to submit to Christ as Lord and rely on Him as Savior from sin, they say, “I tried Jesus already and it didn’t work.”  Others ask Jesus into their hearts over and over again, hoping that the prayer will finally stick and they will finally have freedom from sin’s control.  Others rely on the assurance given to them by the convert-maker who told them to ask Him to come in and conclude that they must be saved, although they are just as much in bondage to sin as they were before, because of the supposed Biblical promise that all who ask Christ to come in will go to heaven.  These often remain deluded until the day they die and “in hell . . . lift up [their] eyes, being in torments,” hearing in horror from Christ, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Lu 16:23; Mt 7:23).  Many such people never even come to church, although the book of Acts records that those truly born again not only attended church and submitted to baptism but even stood for Christ despite life-threatening persecution and showed incredible sacrificial love for their fellow believers (Ac 2:41-47).  Others ask Jesus to come in, attend church for a while, and then drop out because they have no root of spiritual life within them from true conversion (Mr 4:6, 17).  Others come to church out of habit, but their carnality, divisiveness, and lack of true spirituality causes their pastors and fellow church members untold heartache.  Others ask Jesus into their hearts as little children and keep coming to church because their Christian parents enforce godly habits in their home.  They outwardly imitate true Christians and perhaps even go to Bible college and end up in the ministry, where they teach others to ask Jesus into their hearts just like they did—but having never themselves personally trusted in the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross, they are just as lost as were the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah.[1]  Such people may be very sincere, but God warns:  “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov 14:12).
            Finally, some people understand the gospel and truly repent and trust in Christ’s substitutionary work on the cross despite being told to ask Jesus into their heart.  Many of these true Christians lack assurance of salvation because they wonder if they were sincere enough when they prayed or if they said the right words.  They constantly think back to the time they asked Christ into their hearts and wonder if they did it the right way.  They can get no assurance of salvation because neither salvation nor assurance of salvation can come from something that is foreign to Scripture.  No one has ever been saved or received Biblical assurance of salvation by asking Christ into his heart.

8.) Telling children to ask Jesus into their hearts is confusing and hinders them from understand the gospel.

            Children do not think the same way that adults do (1 Cor 13:11).  They think very literally and concretely.  If they are told to ask Jesus into their hearts, they are likely to think that the Lord Jesus in His human body somehow comes to be inside of the organ that pumps their blood.  Many adults who are told to ask Jesus into their hearts have no idea what they are doing and what the ritual is supposed to mean;  how much the more are children confused by this non-biblical terminology?  How many children have been led to think about their circulatory system and the beating of a heart muscle, and hindered or prevented from looking away from themselves to rely on the completed work of Christ on the cross, by being told to ask Christ into their hearts?  It is true that a skilful teacher can manipulate many children into doing almost anything, including asking Jesus to come into their hearts.  However, the fact that children can repeat some words does not mean that they understand the redeeming cross of Christ and trusted in the Lord Jesus as their own Substitute, Savior and Master.  There is not one gospel for adults—repentant faith in Christ for salvation—and a different one for children, asking Jesus to come into their hearts.  A child who has not been convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit and enabled to understand and trust in the crucified Redeemer’s Person and work is not ready to be saved, although he may be ready and willing to ask Jesus into his heart so that he can please a convert-maker or so that he can, as he supposes, become ready for heaven by saying a prayer.
            Furthermore, since a sinner must understand the gospel before he can believe or trust in Christ (Eph 1:13), a child who is led to ask Jesus into his heart, but does not understand the true gospel, does not become a Christian if some time later he intellectually assents to the truth that salvation is by repentant faith alone, not by prayer.  One cannot first be born again and then, some months or years later, believe on Christ.  A child who asks Jesus into his heart is fearfully likely to always think, “I’m saved because I did what my godly leaders or parents told me:  I asked Jesus into my heart.”  He may go on to later understand the necessity of trusting in Christ, but unless he rejects his false profession and realizes that he is yet a hell-bound sinner who must come to the Lord Jesus for forgiveness, he will be eternally damned (Lu 5:31-32).  Neither children nor adults grow into salvation—they must repent and believe the gospel after first
understanding Christ’s substitutionary work on the cross.

9.) The Bible gives us many examples of people who were saved without asking Jesus into their hearts.

            The Old Testament records the father of the faithful, Abraham, being saved when he “he believed in the LORD; and [the Lord] counted it to him for righteousness” (Gen 15:6; cf. Rom 4:1-5; Gal 3:6).  King David wrote:  “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Ps 2:12).  The prophet Isaiah proclaimed salvation for those who believed in the coming Messiah, the virgin-born Immanuel, and warned, “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established” (Is 7:9-14; 28:16).  Nobody in the Old Testament ever asked the Messiah to come into his heart, promised blessing to those who performed this work, or warned of judgment on those who do not.  In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus repeatedly told people who had believed in Him, but who had never even thought of asking Him to come into their hearts, “Thy faith hath saved thee” (Lu 7:50; 18:42).  While Christ was preaching “many believed on him” (Jn 8:30; 10:42) and were saved without asking Him into their hearts.  In the book of Acts, the Apostles preached that “whosoever believeth in [Christ] shall receive remission of sins” (Ac 10:43; 16:31), and while they were preaching people would believe and be indwelt by the Holy Spirit without ever asking Jesus into their hearts (Ac 10:44-48).  The Bible records the Apostle Paul’s conversion (Ac 9) and the Apostle’s giving his salvation testimony twice (Ac 22, 26), but never gives the slightest hint that Paul asked Jesus to come into his heart.  There are no examples in Scripture of people who were born again when they asked Jesus into their heart, and many examples of people who were saved but never did any such thing.

10.) Revelation 3:20 is not about the lost asking Jesus to come into their hearts.

            The only text in the Bible that is frequently used[2] to persuade people to ask Jesus into their hearts is Revelation 3:20:  “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”  Supposedly this verse proves that Jesus Christ is knocking at the “heart’s door” of the unsaved, waiting to come in if He is asked.  If a lost person asks Jesus to come into his heart, then Christ comes into him and he is saved.  However, the fact is that the verse has nothing whatsoever to do with asking Jesus into one’s heart.  The words “ask,” “Jesus,” and “heart” are not in the text at all.  The verse actually portrays Christ standing outside the backslidden church being addressed in the passage (3:14) and calling on the members of the church to repent and return to being zealous for Him (3:19).  The “door” in 3:20 is not the “heart’s door” of a lost person but the door of entry into the church.  Furthermore, the Lord does not say that He will come “into” a heart or anything else in the text;  “in” and “to” are different words in the English text.  Christ is not promising to penetrate “into” the heart of a lost person in Revelation 3:20, but to “come in” to “sup with” or have fellowship with the members of a church that would deal with their sin.  The verse employs the Greek verb “come in” followed by the preposition “to,” a different and following word; the word “into” is not found in the Greek text, just as it does not appear in the English.  The Greek construction employed in the passage[3] is always used in the New Testament of entering a building to stand before someone, not penetration into a person’s heart.  Consequently, Revelation 3:20 is a promise that Christ will spiritually come in to stand before and have fellowship with church members who turn back to Him.  It is by no means a promise that He will penetrate inside the heart of a lost person who asks Christ to come into him.

These 14 reasons are a portion of a larger study which will not be reproduced on this blog at this time.  The larger study can be accessed here.

[1]           See, for example, the testimony “The Other Jesus:  Justification by Faith vs. Asking Jesus into one’s Heart,” by Ovid Need (http://faithsaves.net/soteriology/).  The author is a Baptist pastor who was lost because he asked Jesus into his heart instead of trusting in the Redeemer’s blood.  He finally understood the gospel and was born again after years as an unconverted preacher, during which time he lead hundreds and hundreds of others to ask Jesus into their hearts.
[2]           For example, the pamphlet “The Four Spiritual Laws,” distributed by Campus Crusade, never mentions hell and promises people a “wonderful . . . life” on earth (contrary to Jn 16:33) if they say the “sinner’s prayer.”  It concludes by quoting Revelation 3:20, contains a printed prayer for people to recite, and then declares:  “Did you receive Christ into your life by sincerely praying the suggested prayer?  According to His promise in Revelation 3:20, where is Christ right now in relation to you?  Christ said that He would come into your life.  Would He mislead you? . . . Christ is in your life . . . from the very moment you invite Him in.”  This pamphlet had, by 2003, been distributed to over 2.5 billion people and translated into over 200 languages (Congressional Record, V. 149, Pt. 15, July 28, 2003-September 5, 2003, 20379).  It has now been given to billions more people, likely making it the most widely distributed religious booklet in history.  Similarly, Campus Crusade’s JESUS film has been watched by over six billion people.  In its summary of what the organization views as the gospel at the end of the film, hell is likewise omitted, but Revelation 3:20 is quoted, followed by a “sinner’s prayer” to repeat for salvation.
[3]           Eiserchomai + pros.  Besides Revelation 3:20, the construction appears in Mr 6:25; 15:43; Lu 1:28; Ac 10:3; 11:3; 17:2; 28:8.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Honesty About the Historical Position on Preservation

Recently I've taken up the cause of the preservation of Scripture, mainly in view of an edition of Frontline magazine, which has an article by David Shumate, entitled: "The Doctrine of Preservation: The Need of the Hour in the Bible Version Debate."  John Vaughn referenced this same statement, "the doctrine of preservation is 'the need of the hour in the Bible-version debate.'"  He refers to our book, Thou Shalt Keep Them, in his article.

In so many posts through the years, I've repeated the point that this doctrine of perfect preservation that we teach is the biblical and historical doctrine.  I've mentioned that Dan Wallace agreed with this.  I've mentioned that presentation of renowned historian, Richard A. Muller, and his Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 2: Holy Scripture : The Cognitive Foundation of Theology. The position we take is the one found in John Owen and Francis Turretin and the Westminster Confession of Faith and the London Baptist Confession of Faith, and more.  Nothing else was taught as a position.  There was not a debate on this fact.

Men know that it wasn't until we get Benjamin Warfield, reading a new position into the WCF, that we get the modern position.  It's brand new.  Warfield had his reasons for inventing it.  It should be admitted that he did this.  Admit it.

Of course, I know why men don't admit it.  Dan Wallace does though.  And again, we're talking about the doctrinal position on preservation.  This is what Christians believe.  Was there a total apostasy on the correct doctrine?  This really needs to be established if we're going to go with a new doctrine and it should be developed by the theologians.  Where are the developed doctrinal statements with the new position?  And if not, why not?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

MacArthur and Piper and Driscoll: Case Study on God Wanting Ecclesiastical Separation and That It Should Matter

Sometimes you hear evangelicals say that fundamentalists define themselves by the doctrine of separation, when they should be delineating themselves by the gospel. Again, the reference for this that I most often hear is 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, which starts, "For I delivered unto you first of all," which the New American Standard Version (NASV) translates, "For I delivered to you as of first importance," a translation that they use to buttress their point.

Later in the same chapter in verse 33, Paul writes, "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners," which NASV translates, "Do not be deceived:  Bad company corrupts good morals." The reason Paul gives for the doctrine of the bodily resurrection, so foundational to the gospel, being corrupted, was because of evil communications or bad company.  You have to separate from people for the gospel to be preserved.  If you love true doctrine, you have to do something about false doctrine and those who teach it.  If you don't do anything more than talk about the false doctrine, you are not loving the true doctrine.  You have to separate from it.

If separation really was popular, there sure isn't very much of it.  I don't see it in evangelicalism. They don't write about it, except to mock it.  Most of the attention is paid to what evangelicals call "unity," which isn't biblical unity, so it isn't unity.  It's the kind of unity you see at a family reunion, where everyone agrees to keep the conversation on a few non-offensive subjects.  There is far more talk about unity and emphasis on unity, very little to none on separation.  So I talk about separation again, a word that you rarely hear in evangelicalism, except to ridicule.

In one very important sense, the gospel is separation.  Jesus separates you from sin, and that is not just at the moment of justification, but in the ongoing sanctification that proceeds from justification. Noah and his family were saved by separating them.  The wheat and the tares will be separated.  2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 say that those who are not separate are not God the Father's sons and daughters. In the end, salvation is separation of the spiritually dead into Hell and the alive into Heaven.  The church is a place of separation, and that is the community of the gospel.  The Bible separates error from truth, darkness from light, wrong from right, and the profane or common from the holy.  You don't have a gospel that doesn't include separation in it or with it.  Since God separates, we will separate.  You will know that you are saved, because you will do that.

In a recent communication, John Piper, prominent evangelical was asked, "Do You Regret Partnering with Mark Driscoll?"  You can read that Piper wrote, "John Piper has no regret for befriending Mark Driscoll," which is not answering the question.  It is not a good statement, but Piper is not a separatist.  He's being expected by conservative evangelicals to what?  To separate?  Where would he get instruction for doing that or how to do that?  Evangelicals don't separate.  They don't talk about separating.  I think we should assume that "partnering" is "fellowshiping."  If you were to "regret partnering" with another church in ministry, how would you avoid that regret?  By separating.  And for what reason?  Where is this line of separation to be drawn?

At the Strange Fire Conference this year, a panel including John MacArthur and Phil Johnson were asked to comment on statements John Piper made about speaking in tongues.  John MacArhur said (from 46:15 to 48:54):

With someone like John Piper, that is a complete anomaly. That is just so . . . off everything else about him. . . .  It’s not that he speaks in tongues, it’s not that he prophesies, he’s admitted that. It’s just that there is this anomaly in his mind that is open to that. That’s the way he’s always stated that, that he’s open to that, he’s open to that. He’s even made statements like, ‘I don’t know, I’m not sure, I don’t know exactly what to think about all of this.’ That’s a far cry from the propagation side of it and so I look at this with him and even with Wayne Grudem who has made such immense contributions in so many ways, as an anomaly, and I don’t know, and I don’t need to know, where the impulse for this comes from, where the influence comes from. Sometimes it comes from family, sometimes it comes from a spouse, you know we see that, we understand that, I don’t know where these influences come from. But I do know the great body of work that John Piper has done is true to the faith. And John is a friend whom I not only admire but whom I love. And I don’t know why on this front he has that open idea but it is . . . it is not an advocacy position for the movement and he would and he would join us in decrying the excesses of that movement for sure and even the theology of it. So I think if we start shutting everybody down who has got one thing they are not clear on or . . .  you know, we’re going to really find ourselves alone and uh, that’s going too far. I have no fear that John would ever tamper with anything that is essential to the Christian faith, starting from theology proper all the way through to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, he’s going to be faithful to the word of God as he understands it in a historical sense. Uh, how to explain anomalies like this. . . .  I think at this point this is where love comes in to embrace faithful men . . . .

This is in answer to Piper's position on speaking tongues, as seen in this statement (found in a clip played here beginning at 42:22 and ending at 43:44).

But I thought of tongues, and I said I haven’t asked for tongues for a long time.  I just paused, I’m walking back and forth in my living room, Tala is up in her room, Noel is at the gym. And I said, “Lord, I’m still eager to speak in tongues.  Would You give me that gift?”  Now at that point you can try to say banana backwards if you want to.  I used to sit in the car outside church, singing in tongues.  But I knew I wasn’t.  I was just making it up.  And I said this isn’t it.  I know this isn’t it.  But this is what they try to get you to do if you’re in that certain group.  And I just…I did everything to try to open myself to this and the Lord has always said to me, without words, “No.”   No.  But He never just said no, He always said, “John Piper, I have given you a gift, I’ve given you the gift of teaching, of preaching, of shepherding.  You shepherd the prophets.  You shepherd the tongue speakers.  I’m not going to give it to you.”
But I don’t assume that’s His last word, and so every now and then I’m just going to go back to him like a child and say, “A lot of my brothers and sisters have this toy…this gift, can I have it, too?”

I'm only going to comment on this one situation, because I believe it so illustrative.  In other words, this isn't a full fledged analysis, just a break down of this single instance as an example.

Piper does not separate over strange fire.  Does Piper practice strange fire?  From the content of the Strange Fire conference, yes, he does.  Is strange fire a separating issue?  It was and is to God.  It should be to us.  In an analysis of Piper's comments, he's seeking after a sign.  He's allowing for it and encouraging it.  He's praying for tongues, asking God to give them to him.  And then he talks about God speaking to him, saying, "The Lord has always said to me."  The Lord "said" that to Piper.

MacArthur doesn't separate from Piper.  Why?  He explains.  (1)  It's an "anomaly."  (2)  He's not propagating the false position.  (3)  Direct quote:  "if we start shutting everybody down who has got one thing they are not clear on or . . .  you know, we’re going to really find ourselves alone and uh, that’s going too far."  (4) Piper does not deny what is essential to the Christian faith.  And, (5)  Love embraces faithful men.  In a sense, this is the MacArthur code on separation and unity.  Earlier, Phil Johnson argues for fellowship with Piper with the example of Samson -- Samson was in Hebrews 11 -- and he leaves the conclusion up to you on what you are supposed to do with that.

Piper right now is being pummeled directly for not having separated from Driscoll (here and here). Again, how are evangelicals to know how to separate from other evangelicals?  They never talk about what separation is.  They usually mock and attack separation by making it look like separatists mainly are doing 3rd and 4th degree separation and then separating from someone for wearing wire rim glasses and pleated pants.  That's how they frame it.

Piper is not repentant of the false doctrine.  He doesn't separate from strange fire.  Should we ask John MacArthur and Phil Johnson, "Do you regret partnering with John Piper?"  Should that question be asked?

Read the MacArthur code on separation above.  Is any of that scriptural?  Any of it?  Where does he glean those five points from the Bible?  To decide what to do, what scripture is he relying on?  I contend that all five of them are horribly wrong.  It is not an anomaly with John Piper.   Then, he does propagate the position --- that's what he was doing with Driscoll and in the interview where he talked about wanting to speak in tongues, except God talked to him.  And then, would MacArthur really be alone if he practiced biblical separation?  Is being alone really going too far?  MacArthur says it is.  What verse do we have for "being alone," "going too far?"  Jeremiah and Noah were alone. Jesus was often alone.  Paul was sometimes alone.  You don't determine the truth by how many people are supporting it.  And then fifth, it isn't love that MacArthur is describing, but mere sentimentalism.  His sentimentalism is what causes him to embrace this person.

What these men should consider is, "What does God say about separation?"  And, "what does God want from me as to separation?"  God wants it, so it does matter.  Not wanting to be alone, is akin to Baruch in Jeremiah 45.  He didn't want to be alone.  But God told him to stop seeking great things for himself.  Being alone is a form of suffering.  God has called us to go outside the camp.  That's what it means to be a Christian.  MacArthur confuses that, and it does matter.

I'm happy too where these men embrace the truth, but that doesn't mean that we should partner with them and their churches.  More than the essentials matter to God, and He wants to separate over more than them.  Neither does he just want us talking about them, instructing about them, warning about them, but also actually separating from them.  You  have a conference about something really bad and then keep fellowshiping with it -- that isn't what God would do.

For more on separation, order and read A Pure Church.

Friday, November 14, 2014

14 Reasons not to Ask Jesus into your Heart, part 1 of 3

Since the terminology of asking Christ into one's heart in order to be saved became popular in the 1950s, many millions of people have asked Jesus into their hearts and thought that they were saved because they did so. Since the clear truth of the gospel of Christ is that sinners become the children of God by repentant faith alone (Gal 3:26; Jn 3:16, 18, 36; 6:47; Rom 3:28; 4:5; 5:1), the overall teaching of Scripture makes it clear that you do not need to ask Jesus to come into your heart in order to be saved.  However, there are many further reasons why salvation is not based on whether you pray such a prayer.  We are going to cover 14 reasons in three posts;  the first five reasons are below:

1.) The Bible never commands anyone to ask Jesus to come into his heart.

            Despite the widespread use of this phrase in modern times, God’s Word never commands any lost sinner to ask Jesus to come into his heart.  The Old Testament sacrifical system set forth the gospel in picture and pointed forward to Christ’s work on the cross.  God gave Israel many extremely detailed instructions concerning the sacrificial animals and ritual so that the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving work would be properly pictured.  Never once was there a command or a suggestion that any Jew was to ask into his heart the sacrifical animal or the coming Messiah the animal pictured.  Furthermore, there are no examples in the New Testament of Christ telling people to ask Him into their hearts.  Nor are there any examples of the Apostles telling anyone to ask Jesus into his heart.  Someone who simply read the Bible would never conclude that asking Jesus into his heart is the way the lost are forgiven of their sin.

2.) Asking Jesus into your heart is not the way to be saved.

When a lost man asked the Apostle Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” the Apostle did not say, “Pray, ask Jesus into your heart, and you will be saved.”  Paul said:  “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Ac 16:30-31).  Likewise, the Apostle Peter taught: “he that believeth on [Christ] shall not be confounded” (1 Pet 2:6).  The Lord Jesus Himself regularly preached to the lost: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life” (Jn 6:47; 3:16, 18; 5:24; 6:35, 40; 11:25-26, etc.). According to Christ and the Apostles, the lost must believe on Christ to be saved, not ask Him into their heart.

3.) You can ask Jesus to come into your heart without repenting and without believing on Christ.

Scripture commands the lost, “Repent . . . that your sins may be blotted out” (Ac 3:19), and warns that “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Lu 13:3, 5).  However, someone can ask Jesus to come into his heart without understanding his need to repent, without knowing what repentance is, without any desire to repent, and without ever repenting.  If you ask Jesus into your heart ten thousand times, but never repent, you will perish.  If you repent, but never ask Jesus into your heart, your sins will be blotted out.  Likewise the Bible affirms:  “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life:  and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life;  but the wrath of God abideth on him” (Jn 3:36).  Someone who asks Christ into his heart but never believes is still under the wrath of God, while someone who believes on Christ but never asks Him into his heart has everlasting life.  Nor should you assume that you believed on the Lord Jesus because you asked Him into your heart.  A lost man can ask Jesus into his heart without understanding or assenting mentally to the facts of the gospel.  He can also assent mentally to the gospel and ask Christ into his heart without ever “believ[ing]” and “trust[ing] in Christ” (Eph 1:12-14).  Saving faith involves understanding the gospel, assent to it, and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb 11:13), but asking Jesus into your heart does not require any of these three things.[1]

4.) Real salvation involves a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, but no such work is required to ask Jesus into your heart.

            All lost people are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1-3). Since sin has corrupted every part of their fallen nature (Jer 17:9), they have blinded eyes, hardened hearts, and minds unable to submit to God (Jn 12:40; Rom 8:7; 3:11).  They are so utterly enslaved to sin (Rom 6:17) and Satan (2 Tim 2:26) that they are unable to repent or believe (Jn 12:40) apart from God in His grace miraculously drawing them to Himself.  God must supernaturally give the lost the repentance (2 Tim 2:25) and faith (Phil 1:29) that they will never produce in themselves (Jn 3:6)—they will only believe “if God permit” (Heb 6:3).  The Lord Jesus explained: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (Jn 6:44).  The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit must inwardly “teach” and “draw” the lost (Jn 6:44-45; 12:32; 16:8-11);  the Son must supernaturally reveal the Father to them (Mt 11:27), and the Holy Spirit must “renew” them (Heb 6:6) and produce faith in them through the Word of God (Rom 10:17).  Just as God took a world in darkness and miraculously and creatively spoke light into existence (Gen 1:3), so believers can say, “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6).  At the same moment a sinner is enabled to believe by God’s mighty grace, he is born again (Jn 3:5) and made a new creature (2 Cor 5:17).  God miraculously shines His gracious light into his dark heart, renews him and makes him willing to come to Christ, gives him repentance and faith, draws him to embrace Christ, and raises him from spiritual death to spiritual life in a miracle as real as the physical resurrection of the Lord Jesus’ body from His tomb (Eph 2:1-6).  A lost sinner coming to Christ in repentant faith is an astonishing display of Divine power that brings the new Christian into living fellowship with God (Jn 17:3; 1 Jn 1:3), removes his fundamental bent towards sin and creates a new bent toward holiness (Eze 36:26-27), and leaves him radically and permanently changed.  On the other hand, nothing miraculous or supernatural must take place for someone to ask Jesus into his heart.  A winsome personality, emotional music, manipulative salesmanship, psychological techniques, and many other merely human and natural traits have been sufficient to lead millions to ask Jesus to come into their hearts without any work of the the Holy Spirit whatsoever.

5.) Asking Jesus into your heart directs you away from what Christ has done to what you are doing.

            The gospel is the good news that “Christ died for our sins . . . was buried, and . . . rose again the third day” (1 Cor 15:3-4). A lost sinner must not look to himself, his religious actions, or anything he has done, is doing, or will do for salvation.  He must look away from and outside of himself to trust in what the Son of God accomplished in history when He paid the penalty for his sins on the cross and rose victoriously from the grave.  The gospel call is:  “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). The Savior declares:  “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth” (Is 45:21-22).  The “preach[ing] of the gospel” is the “preaching of the cross”;  when “Jesus Christ is evidently set forth [as] crucified,” then one is “preach[ing] the gospel” (1 Cor 1:17-18; Gal 3:1). On the other hand, the sinner who asks Jesus into his heart is very likely to look away from Christ to his own heart and to the fervency, sincerity, and attitude in which he made his prayer.  He is likely to rely on the non-biblical promise, perhaps made to him by some zealous but misguided convert-maker, that if he will ask Jesus to come in he will be saved, instead of relying on the many Biblical promises made by God that all who believe on Christ will be saved.  The best prayers, the greatest fervency, and the most complete sincerity ever found in a fallen man are but as filthy rags before God (Is 64:6)—there is no hope in them.    The gospel is not that a sinner must pray, ask to be saved, and have faith that God will answer his prayer.  The gospel is that Christ died in the place of sinful men, was buried, and rose again, and those that entrust themselves to Him are given eternal life (1 Cor 15:1-4).  The lost must turn from every false hope—including the false hope that salvation is received by faith and prayer, rather than by faith alone in Christ alone—and place their confidence in what alone is a sure ground for their souls—the substitutionary death and shed blood of the Son of God.

These 14 reasons are a portion of a larger study which will not be reproduced on this blog at this time.  The larger study can be accessed here.

[1]           See “Bible Study #5:  How Do I Receive the Gospel?” at http://faithsaves.net/Bible-studies/ for more on the nature of true repentance and saving faith.