Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Is It That You're Really Missing Something? Forms of Second Blessing Theology, pt. 2

At the moment of one's conversion, simultaneous with his justification, someone receives in that instance everything he needs to live the Christian life.  Every genuine believer is a have.  There are no have-nots.  Nothing more is necessary than what he already possesses from that moment on.

In order.

1 Corinthians 1:4-7:

4  I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift

These are the members of the church at Corinth, and they are enriched by Jesus Christ in every thing -- in all utterance, and in all knowledge.  They come behind in no gift.  They do not lack anything spiritually.

Ephesians 1:3:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ

Those in Christ are blessed by God with all spiritual blessings.  All.

Colossians 2:9-10:

 9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 

In Jesus dwells all the fulness of the Godhead, and since you are in Him; therefore, you are complete in him.  Complete.  Full.  Lacking nothing.

2 Peter 1:1-4:

1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Everyone justified has obtained like precious faith.  No believer's faith is different than any one else's. And faith is not quantitative.  You either have it or you don't.  It isn't that at the moment of your justification, you have a faith tank that is at ten out of a hundred and it can move up toward that goal as long as the tank continues to be filled.  No.  The faith tank is full, at one hundred, right at the instance of conversion.  And then His divine power has given unto believers all things that pertain unto life and godliness.  All things.  No thing missing.  Converts are partakers of the divine nature.  The divine nature.

The message of the New Testament isn't that we need more resources of any kind after we are saved.  We have the Holy Spirit, God Himself, indwelling us (Romans 8:9), and God is infinite in every way.  We can't be missing anything if God owns everything and we're in God and God is in us.

If we have everything, if we possess all that we need to be everything we need to be and do all that we need to do, then what is the problem or what is the issue?

It isn't that we don't have what we need.  It is that we must yield what we have to Him.  It's that we hold things back and so we don't experience the blessings that we possess.  We have those blessings, but we don't experience them in our disobedience, our lack of yieldedness to the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the first post of this now two part series, I spoke of the consequences of a higher spiritual plane of existence or greater enduement of the Holy Spirit or more power or revival being the result of begging for it or fasting for it.  You shouldn't be confused by those thoughts, that somehow I mean that you shouldn't pray or fast, even pray for a long period of time or into the night.  The point I made was dealing with doing these things for a consequence of a second blessing.

You don't have to sacrifice to get anything you need to live how you should live.  You have all of that the moment you are converted.  What you need to do is yield to God what you have been given.  Presenting your body a living sacrifice results from the mercies of God (Romans 12:1).  If you read Romans 1-11, you see the completeness of everything that a believer possesses in Christ.

Alright, but if we have everything that we need the moment we're saved, then how can we grow?   Let's consider 2 Peter 3:18:

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Aha.  We need grace and knowledge.  Those things we don't have.  No.  We have both of them.  We grow in the sphere of grace and in the sphere of the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Our growth is in that grace and in that knowledge.  We are already in that grace and knowledge.  So, again, the resources are already there, already available to us.

All the grace comes from God, in whom are believers and believers are in.  The Holy Spirit who indwells believers is the author of scripture.  The growth is within the sphere again of having everything.  Do we need to learn it and do it?  Yes.  But that is, again, yielding. 

Keswick or second blessing says that you've got to keep doing and doing and doing certain things or you won't have available the resources you need for living at the height of your Christian life.

What do these two different approaches, one scriptural and the other unscriptural, look like?  How do they differ?

More to Come

Monday, April 14, 2014

Is It That You're Really Missing Something? Forms of Second Blessing Theology

When I was in college, because of what I heard in chapels, special meetings, and other assemblies, it occurred to me that I might be missing something that I needed to be a success in the Christian life.  Sure I was saved.  That was by grace through faith.  But being saved was not enough to guarantee me success in my Christian life.  For that, I needed more.  Others who had been a success got there because they attained a higher plane of spiritual existence.  They wanted it bad enough.  They prayed for it more.  They worked harder for it.   They sacrificed to obtain it.   It was the secret, and I wanted it too.   Why would anyone settle for mediocrity or mundane or regular, when he could have great or greatest?   What was it?

There are all sorts of descriptions I heard through the years to describe a post-conversion necessity for spiritual success.  Some of them were from the Bible.  I'm not saying they were taught in Scripture, but you could find the verbiage there.  Not necessarily in this order, but I needed "vision."  Without it, the people perish, so if I had it, well, they wouldn't.  I didn't want to be lacking in this, and risk a whole bunch of perishing.

Vision is something you might have if you had "unction."  There was an unction from on high, where you were drawn into some kind of super Christian existence.  There was non-unction Christianity and then there was unction Christianity.  Without unction, you were merely "word only," while with unction, you could be Christianity with "power."  And power meant success.

Power was fresh oil.  It was the "fulness of the Spirit."  It was ability beyond what you could ask or think for spiritual success.

Power is like extra voltage.  You are operating in your Christian life at a certain amperage, but you could increase your amps if you kept asking and asking for it.  And in so doing you could get "revival."  Revival meant that everything was aligned spiritually to channel the blessings of God that you would not have heretofore obtained.

Being saved was like functioning somewhat beyond the normal capacity of your brain.   Post conversion, with this higher level of spirituality, it would be sort of like using a greater amount of your brain, tapping into abilities that you didn't even know you had.  You could see longer, further, higher, and in greater detail.  A whole new world could open up to you.

The idea that I have so far described would say that at the point of your conversion, your justification, you got everything accomplished that would get you to heaven.  If you wanted more, at some point in the future, you needed also to be dedicated.  Sometime after being saved, you could become sold out.  And then the power of the Holy Spirit would flow through you, and you could then see great things happen from God based on the dedication.

Some have portrayed the first step, the one in which you are saved, to be accepting Jesus as Savior.  After accepting Jesus as Savior, you are ready to die, because you would go to heaven.  However, if you want to get the full benefits of your salvation, there is another experience and that is the accepting of Jesus too as Lord at some point in the future.  When you're saved, Jesus is your Savior.  When you are dedicated, which is post conversion, Jesus becomes your Lord.  At the moment of salvation, Jesus is in your life, but at the moment of dedication, you give him a seat on the throne of your life.  When He is on the throne, then you will get the special blessing from God to be greatly used of Him.

When you see someone is really a success, that is, he experiences many professions of faith from the lost or he has a bigger and numerically growing church or when he preaches, the aisles and then the altar is filled up front, that is because he has done what is necessary to receive the "unction."  Others could have it too if they were willing to pay the price.  He has done that, and that's why he's been a success.

What kind of price does it cost to reach this elevated spiritual state?  It's hard to say.  It isn't measurable.  You get your power cord plugged into the source and keep it there until it's obvious that you are fully charged.  The results will tell the story.  You'll start seeing pretty amazing things.  I say pretty amazing, because they won't convince everybody, just enough people to indicate that you've got something that other people don't.  The power you have, sort of like, I don't know, Simon the sorcerer, won't work on everyone.  Why do they work on the ones they do?  I don't know that either.  But they will work better.

Is there any objective, quantitative target to put someone over the top on this?  Not really.  It could take days, months, years, or decades.  You've got to keep trying.  It seems that some never get it, and likely because they didn't have the faith.  They couldn't believe enough.  They can't believe enough.  They'll never be this super Christian and are relegated to perpetual mediocre Christian status.

However, the people who do have it, as seen in their superior numbers and reaction, will say that it took a lot.  They prayed and prayed for it.  Some say that it takes praying to the Holy Spirit.  He wants to be prayed to, and when you pray to Him particularly, you get a better relationship with Him, and then you have better access or possibility of His piling on with the power.  Fasting can help.  Most don't know exactly how much---a week maybe, once a week for the unforeseeable future, or maybe twice a week.  Number of hours in a row of prayer, especially getting into times when you would ordinarily sleep have seemed to be a key to get this.  If you are dead tired from praying, God might favor you with an extra dose of power to get more results and more success.

Everything that I have so far written explains what I have seen to be what is sometimes called "second blessing theology."  It has a historical name in certain instances:  "keswick theology."   In this system, there are two categories of Christians, the spiritual haves and have-nots, the spiritual Christian or the carnal Christian.  By some descriptions, you go through two crosses, the cross of salvation and then the cross of dedication.  Both crosses are necessary to which to come in order to have a supremely successful Christian life.

With second blessing theology, the lack of results or success are essentially because you don't want it bad enough.  Salvation is free, but the second blessing is going to really cost you something.  You'll have to sell out for that.  And if you haven't got it, it's because you haven't sold out.

I understand that what I'm describing might seem close to the Charismatic movement and to Charismatic experiences.  Often, second blessing people talk about God speaking to them or telling them things.  They operate according to these speakings, like they were God talking to them.  God tells them to build buildings, begin special promotions, start outreach campaigns, and what to preach on.

Another name for what I have so far explained is revivalism.  It isn't revival, but revivalism.  Revivalism is a good technical name for it, to differentiate it from its close relation, Charismaticism.  Revivalists very often, if not always, are, like Charismatics, a form of continuationism.  Sign gifts continue today in certain respects, and occurrences of the eras of miracle can also continue today.

I never fully accepted any form of second blessing theology, primarily because it clashed with what I believed from the Bible.  I believed revivalism or keswick theology contradicted a grammatical historical interpretation of scripture.  However, over twenty years ago, I rejected it outright.  Today I view it in all its forms to be one of the most dangerous teachings in Christianity.

Forms of second blessing theology cross over into the fellowship churches.  It doesn't seem to be a deal breaker between churches.  A church that has it will still affiliate with one that doesn't and vice-versa.  Keswick sermons will mix with non-keswick ones.  One passage of scripture will be given two different interpretations:  one revivalist and one not.  They can't both be right, but there is the sense that both are considered to be so.  Does this matter?

I have seen this division among independent Baptists, independent, fundamental Baptists, or even unaffiliated Baptists.  I am pretty sure it is also very common also among Southern Baptists and Bible chuches and other non-denominational evangelical churches.  Should it just be accepted?  Does it matter?

More to Come

Friday, April 11, 2014

Bible Truths for Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA), part 6; SDA denial of eternal torment in the lake of fire for the heresy of "soul sleep" or annihilationism

12.) The true church teaches that believers are immediately and eternally in the presence of the Lord upon death, while the lost are immediately and eternally separated from God in conscious torment.[1] As soon as believers are “absent from the body” they are “present with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8); for them death is to “depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Phil 1:23). The godly are currently conscious as a “great cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:2; 11:1-40), even before their future bodily resurrection (1 Th 4:13-18), because from the moment they trusted in Christ they possess eternal life (Jn 6:47), and “life eternal” is to “know . . . the only true God, and Jesus Christ” (Jn 17:3). Just as spiritual life is being in fellowship with God, not simply existing, spiritual death is not non-existence, but being separated from and out of fellowship with God (Eph 2:1-10). Physical death is also not non-existence, but the separation of the soul and spirit from the body (Gen 35:18; Ac 7:59), and the second death is not non-existence but being eternally separated from God in the lake of fire. The unsaved are not annihilated, but “dwell with the devouring fire . . . with everlasting burnings” (Is 33:14), “where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mr 9:44, 46, 48), in “outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt 8:12). They “shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and . . . shall be tormented with fire and brimstone . . . and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night” (Rev 14:9-11). The human political and spiritual leaders (the “beast” and the “false prophet”) of the one-world religion and one-world government will be “cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” when Christ returns, will stay there while Christ rules the earth for “a thousand years,” and “when the thousand years are expired . . . the beast and the false prophet are” not annihilated, but are still in conscious misery in “the lake of fire and brimstone, where . . . [they] shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” This same “lake of fire” is where the unsaved “dead” are cast: “whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire . . . which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev 19:20-21:8). The Bible is crystal-clear about the sobering reality that people who are in the lake of fire for a thousand years are still experiencing conscious punishment at the end of that period, and that they will be continually tormented “for ever and ever,” the just punishment for their infinite crimes against an infinitely holy God.

Seventh-Day Adventism denies that believers are immediately with the Lord upon their death and denies that the lost experience eternal conscious torment. Although the Bible uses the “sleep” metaphor only for the saved dead,[2] because they only have entered into everlasting rest with Christ, while the unsaved dead are not in rest but in torment, Adventism teaches “that [every] soul sleeps in the grave until the resurrection . . . the Christian, when he dies, does not go immediately to heaven, nor the sinner to hell . . . the sleep of the dead . . . [and] no . . . eternally burning hell . . . [is] the truth.”[3] Mrs. White blasphemed God by stating that if He, in His holy justice, makes the lost suffer “eternal torment,” then He is “a revengeful tyrant.”[4] Rather than blaspheming God because of dislike for the plain teaching of Scripture, SDAs ought to consider the question: “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?” (Rom 9:20).



[1]              A variety of passages of Scripture are twisted by those who deny immediate, conscious, and eternal bliss for the saved and immediate, conscious, and eternal torment for the lost. For more on this subject, and an examination of the passages that allegedly support “soul-sleep” or annihilationism, visit: http://faithsaves.net/do-the-lost-suffer-forever-in-hell/.
[2]              Mt 27:52; Jn 11:11; Ac 7:60; 13:36; 1 Cor 15:6, 20; 1 Th 4:13-15, etc.
[3]              Pgs. 39-41, Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White. See also An Examination of the Scripture Testimony, “The State of the Dead,” pgs. 45ff.
[4]              Chapter 33, Great Controversy, Ellen White.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Who Can Say Who's Wrong?

A confluence of one nationally renowned event and then a personal one got me thinking about the question:  "who can say who's wrong?"  Rather than attempt to describe the former, here's the first paragraph of a breathtaking Los Angeles Times article on it:

Brendan Eich's 10-day reign as CEO of Mozilla, developer of the popular Firefox web browser, ended Thursday. He was done in by the news that he had donated $1,000 in 2008 to support Proposition 8, the anti-gay rights measure on the California ballot that year.

Companies now require unmitigated support for same-sex marriage as a job qualification.  Less than eight years ago, you could oppose it and become president.   Who can say that Brendan Eich is wrong?  Same-sex marriage advocates say it's them who know.

Going door-to-door last week at some townhouses, there was a big window at the end of one walk, no curtains or blinds, and a fifty-or-so woman there in the kitchen looking out at us (my daughter, her friend, and I) and signalling, no, don't come to the door.  I waved and said that we didn't have to be religious people, just friendly people from the same town.  She opened the window and our conversation kept going.  She was ultra-liberal and didn't want a religious conversation, but what was nothing became about a 30 minute talk.  With secular humanists like this, pagans really, I tell them that I don't want to talk to them about God or the Bible if they don't want to hear it -- only if they want to hear it.  The Bible even tells me not to do that.

Everyone looks at life through a presuppositional grid, but I acknowledge it fully.   There is only one truth -- there can only be one truth -- which I presuppose, and I never stop judging what I see and hear by that one truth.  My view of the world is very clear and very consistent.  About thirty minutes in, a voice came from above.   I'm not Charismatic.  It was the husband, a 57 year old audio tech professional, who finally exploded.  He had been listening to the whole thing in the upstairs window and was very angry with me.   He insulted and ranted as much as anyone could, looking down from the upstairs window.

The man was incensed with all people like me, the darkness who caused most of the problems on earth.  That interested me, because I wanted to know why he thought that way, but I never heard a single coherent point in what he said, including why he didn't like us and thought we were delusional and the like.  He mentioned our arguments were old and shallow and that kind of thing.  Uh-huh.  How did he know that?  I had just been talking to his wife about how we know what we know.  Can we say we can know someone is wrong?

To know that you know, there must be absolute truth.  The man and his wife are selective relativists, a terminology I first heard Robert George use related to the ethics of ivy league schools.  They knew we were bad, were darkness.  They knew that.  They knew that same-sex marriage should be allowed, that homosexuals should have all the rights as everyone else.  Why are we against two people who love one another?  Why not let them love one another?  You know the only acceptable answer at that moment is, "You're right."

Homosexuals don't love each other; they can't.  They can't know what love is. They pervert it to suit their purposes, into what is actually just lust.   Rather than disagree, I challenged the mere idea of random chemicals, two accidents, judging anything wrong about different random chemicals.  To judge, you must borrow a Christian worldview.

So those were the two examples why I'm asking "who can say who's wrong."  Now for homosexuals to be "good winners," they allow the losers, anti same-sex marriage, to have the freedom of their point of view.  It's true.  It's not consistent for homosexuals to be intolerant.  They can't say anything is wrong.

On the other hand, I've never advocated for tolerance on moral issues.  Ever. I can say who is wrong.  Very few people can tell others they're wrong.  Very few.   Very few true absolutists exist.

Absolutists don't agree to disagree.  Absolutists don't make up a list of non-essentials for which multiple positions exist.  Absolutists praise uniformity of doctrine and practice.  Absolutists believe there is one truth and that you can and should know it.  God expects only absolute unity.

Only one reality exists, not two.  Two assertions about reality can't both be true -- only one can be true.  In the Bible, God says what is true about reality -- that is the truth.  Whatever disagrees with the Bible is false.  God's Word is truth.

One has jettisoned from truth and absolutism when he denies inerrancy of scripture.   One has vacated absolutism when he allows for any change in what scripture says.  God said He would preserve every Word for every generation of believer.  When you deny that, you have left the fold of absolutism.  You are now left with some degree of relativism and any degree will end in full blown relativism.  Men can call love whatever they want because they have no basis for absolute truth.  They have abdicated that with the acceptance of error in the Bible.

The one reality is represented by three transcendentals.  There is one truth, one goodness, and one beauty.  You are not an absolutist when you believe there is more than one goodness or beauty.  What is true and good and beautiful is one, because God is One.

If you abandoned one beauty, but still believe in a perfect, error-free Bible, you have still surrendered truth.  You are not an absolutist.

Absolutism is the only love of God.  God has only one way.  His way.

Who can say who's wrong is an absolutist.  Are you one?

**********

I know that there are those, even professing conservatives, who say that this absolutism is what's wrong.  It's wrong because it pushes away young people.  It's wrong because it sends people into postmodernism.  The idea is that you've got to allow some kind of adaptation, some kind of balance or middle ground or compromise, or you'll lose everything.  None of these are actually arguments.  They don't answer the fundamentals.  The Bible presents absolutism.

There are three other faux arguments that I have heard.  One, liberty.  But absolutists believe in liberty.  Liberty is an absolute.  Fail.  Two, diversity of gifts.  Diversity is gifts, not truth.  You don't have diverse truth, goodness, and beauty.  You have one.  Fail.  Three, Christianity has allowed for diversity of positions historically because of things hard to be understood.  I've argued against this several times here with no answer.   Fail again.

There are no actual, legitimate arguments against what I'm saying.  The argument is ultimately a form of pragmatism for coalitions and numbers.

I understand that because of sin there will be more than one position that different Christians will take.  However, absolutism is still the base position.  You start with one meaning, one interpretation.   That has been given up, and that's why we're to the acceptance of same-sex marriage in evangelicalism.  They see it as a non-essential like amillennialism and infant sprinkling.  When you give up absolutism, you get relativism, which, like I said, ends in all out relativism.  We're on the steep decline in the downward slope that ends in a big splash or the crunch position.

Friday, April 04, 2014

The Historic Baptist Doctrine of Receiving Christ as both Savior and Lord and the So-Called Lordship Salvation, or the So-Called Free Grace Gospel

What have Baptists historically believed about how a sinner receives the gospel?  Have they thought that repentance and faith involve turning from sin to Christ and receiving Him as both Lord and Savior, or have they believed that one receives Him first as a Savior from the penalty of sin alone, only becoming free from the power of sin later at the time of a post-conversion consecration when one for the first time surrenders to Christ as Lord? Have Baptists boldly preached and taught that surrender to Christ's Lordship is part of coming to Him for salvation, or have they denounced this idea as salvation by works?  Let us see.

“Unfeigned repentance is an inward and true sorrow of heart for sin, with sincere confession of the same to God, especially that we have offended so gracious a God and so loving a Father, together with a settled purpose of heart and a careful endeavor to leave all our sins, and to live a more holy and sanctified life according to all God’s commands.” (The Orthodox Creed, Baptist, 1679)

"This saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, does, by faith in Christ, humble himself for it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrancy, praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavor, by supplies of the Spirit, to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things." (London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689)

“This saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, doth, by faith in Christ, humble himself for it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrency; praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavor by supplies of the Spirit to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things.” (Philadelphia Confession of Faith, Baptist, 1742; as illustrated here, many later Baptist creedal statements simply reproduce the statements found in earlier statements such as the London Baptist or New Hamphsire Baptist Confessions.)

"We believe that in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated, or born again; that regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind; that it is effected in a manner above our comprehension by the power of the Holy Spirit, in connection with divine truth, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the gospel; and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance and faith and newness of life . . . We believe that repentance and faith are sacred duties and also inseparable graces, wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God; whereby being deeply convinced of our guilt, danger and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ, we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession and supplication for mercy; at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Prophet, Priest and King, and relying on him alone as the only and all-sufficient Saviour. . . . We believe that sanctification is the process by which according to the will of God, we are made partakers of his holiness; that it is a progressive work; that it is begun in regeneration . . . real believers . . . endure unto the end . . . their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes them from superficial professors." (New Hampshire Confession of Faith of 1833).

Baptists have historically taught that coming to Christ involved repentance, and repentance includes "a settled purpose of heart . . . to leave all our sins, and to live a more holy and sanctified life according to all God's commandments."  They taught that "saving repentance" includes "a purpose . . . to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things." They confessed that saving faith involves "receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as . . . King," that "sanctification" begins at "regeneration," not at a post-conversion crisis where one for the first time receives Christ as Lord, and that "real believers endure unto the end" in "their persevering attachment to Christ."  No Baptist statements of faith ever denounced these extremely widespread and widely adopted confessional statements as teaching works salvation, as front-loading works to the gospel, or anything of the sort.

Thus, it is very clear that Baptists have historically believed that coming to Christ for salvation involves receiving Him as both Lord and Savior. Baptists have, of course, also historically believed grace is free and undeserved, but the so-called "free grace" or anti-Lordship position invented in modern times is a historical deviation and corruption of Baptist teaching.

While the point of this particular study is a an examination of Baptist historical theology, not Biblical exegesis, the Baptist confessional statements above are entirely Biblical;  they correctly define and defend repentance and faith, as the Biblical studies of these ideas here and here demonstrate.

Individuals and congregations that repudiate the historic Baptist doctrine that conversion involves receiving Christ as both Lord and Savior for the modern-day corruption of gospel in the so-called "free grace" movement ought to either repent of their sinful perversion of the gospel or ought to be honest and repudiate the designation "Baptist." If you, dear reader, call yourself a Baptist, but you cannot give a hearty "Amen!" to the confessional statements above, you ought to repent of your error and return to the gospel proclaimed by your forefathers in the true churches of Christ. If you are unwilling to do so, but prefer to continue within the so-called "free grace" movement, please stop confusing people by calling yourself a Baptist. Either leave your Baptist church, or if the entire church has been infected with your views, please re-name your religious organization. Become "Another Gospel Assembly" or "New Teaching Congregation" or "Dallas Seminary Memorial Community Church" or "Ryrie and Hodges Memorial Chapel" or "Curtis Hudson Community Church" or "First Church of Hyles." You aren't a Baptist, and you don't preach the Baptist gospel.  Why pretend that you are what you are not? Admit that you have repudiated the historic Baptist and Biblical gospel, leave the true churches of Christ alone, and go on your own separate way in your new and false perversion of the blessed gospel of Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior.

TDR

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

What Gospel Did Jesus Say to Preach as Part of the Great Commission?

Can we agree that the Great Commission at least includes preaching the gospel?  In John 20, Jesus said that He sent us as the Father sent Him to do something.  There is the assumption that you know what the Father sent Jesus to do.  In Mark 16, Jesus commanded to preach the gospel to every creature.  He doesn't say what the gospel is, as if they knew what it was already.  Let's park a little longer at Matthew 28:19-20.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

I've written about this before here.  You've got one verb and three participles.  The verb, the point of the sentence, is "teach all nations," and "teach" is matheteusate, a plural aorist imperative, "make disciples."  As a side note, but important, I believe that the plural pronoun "them" refers to the disciples made.  Certainly one should see no problem with baptism as a part of discipleship, but those baptized are already disciples.  However, even Matthew 28:19-20 doesn't tell us what the gospel is that is preached.  That leaves us with Luke 24.  I think we should look at vv. 44-48.

44 And he said unto them, 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. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things.

In v. 44, Jesus said these were the words that He had spoken while He was with them.  He also says that this is the message of the Old Testament.  What Jesus spoke was New Testament, but it wasn't anything different than what could be preached from the Old Testament.  Jesus opened the disciples' understanding to the teaching about Himself in the Old Testament, because scripture is what they would preach, which included the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ.   The Christ would save them by His death, burial, and resurrection.

To carry on the work of the Lord, to preach the gospel, to make disciples -- all parallel ideas to this -- what were these men to preach?  What was the gospel response?  "Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name" (v. 46).  This is the one place that says what to preach -- Repentance and remission of sins in his name.  The one Great Commission passage that tells what to preach says preach repentance.  This repentance would be like Jesus preached it all through the gospels, because Jesus said that repentance was included in the words which He spoke unto them.  What Jesus preached was repentance.

There is no doubt that Jesus included faith or belief in this message to preached, but He doesn't actually say it in any of the Great Commission passages.  The disciples we know heard, "Preach repentance."  They also heard "remission of sins."  Men needed remission of sins.  Their sins were the problem.  Do you think that they were thinking, when they heard that message, that they could just keep sinning?  Of course not.

Another point.  We shouldn't leave out "in his name."  "His name" is what represents Jesus.  It is Who He is.  Part of preaching Jesus from the Old Testament makes sancrosanct certain attributes of Who Jesus is -- He's God, He's Lord, He's Savior.  He's the King.  He's going to rule the world. He's going to judge the world.

One last point.  Part of the Great Commission was being witnesses of these things.  What things?  The things Jesus just talked about from what He said during His ministry and from the Old Testament.   Jesus taught them from the Old Testament because that's how people are saved, by hearing the preaching of the Word of God.  This is what He wanted them to talk about.

What I am hearing from the "free grace" men, from their position, is that if you preached what Jesus said to preach in His Great Commission, you would be adding works to grace or frontloading works.  I think we're safe with sticking with what Jesus actually said to do.  Let's do that.



Monday, March 31, 2014

A Major Part of What's Wrong with Fundamentalism (and Evangelicalism)

I want to allow this post to stand, but my heart felt apologies to the man whose name I thought was Paul J., because I was told that the quote below was his.  I was wrong not to have made sure.  He may not even know his name was up for 2-3 hours.  I've removed his name and inserted the rightful owner of the comment, whom I actually don't know, but the message stands.


*******************

What is valuable?  To start, eternal value far outweighs temporal value.  Paul wrote that bodily exercise profited little, but godliness was great gain.  Jesus said seek first the kingdom of God and all these other things, temporal things, would be added.  What is of eternal value?  This is simple, but stay with me.  Only God, the Bible, and the souls of men are eternal.  Of those three, we've got the Bible to judge whether something is eternal.

With that being said, for awhile the Bible hasn't been of chief value to fundamentalists.  What is more important, and you reading know it, is whether something is bigger or not.  Second to that is what kind of degrees or credentials someone has.  As you read those two and you start thinking about who in the Bible was similar to that, you might think the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin or apostate Israel.  You would be right.  Whenever something is great in the Bible, it is someone keeping the commandments of God.  When it is bad, it is someone doing what he wants, no matter how successful it might seem.

For instance, among the Old Testament kings, you had those who were great at building up the defenses in the further regions, but did little to sustain the worship of Israel.  They aren't said to be any good.  You've got the ones who did that which was right in the sight of the Lord and they're great.   Disobeying God brought kings down.  Obeying Him resulted in blessing.

A friend of mine, Bobby Mitchell, pastor of Mid-Coast Baptist Church in Brunswick, Maine, has started writing at apurechurch.com.   Some of his articles have been linked at moderately leaning fundamentalist blog forum SharperIron (SI).  SI linked to an article he wrote on why independent Baptist churches might be losing their children.   It was a good article.   An SI member, Paul J., wrote the following, entitled "Why Are You Giving Him a Voice?":

I've seen several posts from this individual over the past few weeks and am wondering why SI feels what he has to say is important? Out of the hundreds of blogs why is this one that gets represented?  It doesn't seem like he has and credentials to merit that.  Small church in the backwoods of Maine, no educational credentials listed for jr or sr. 

There is the extent of evaluation of the article.   Why is anything that anyone says important?  According to Paul J., it is obvious -- why?

  1. Feelings
  2. Meritorious credentials
  3. Big Church
  4. Urban
  5. Educational credentials
If you are a fundamentalist (and probably an evangelical), then you feel something is important because it comes from the pen, the word processor, or the mouth of someone with meritorious credentials, which happens to be someone with educational credentials, who pastors a big church in an urban area.  Correct me if I misunderstood what Paul J. said.

Question:  Is that why God knows that anything is important?  First, in 1 Corinthians 3, Paul says that the one who sows and waters is nothing, in essence irrelevant.  Paul J., of course, is saying that Bobby Mitchell is irrelevant.  We can surmise that Paul J. would say that Mitchell would be relevant, important, worth listening to, if he had advanced degrees and a big church in an urban area.  Where is that in the Bible?

I've preached through 2 Corinthians almost twice now (I'm into chapter 13 next week).  Paul J's criticism sounds identical to the false teachers at Corinth who Paul defends himself against for many chapters, and especially the last two.  They said Paul wasn't worth listening to because he lacked in credentials.  I'm not going to get into the details, but the false teachers would have accredited the same credentials that Greek philosophers would have touted, bereft of any eternal truth.

Second, what did Paul take as his credentials?  The beginning of 1 Corinthians 4 would be a good basic look at it.  Paul was a galley slave who was faithful with the mysteries of God.  Would that characterize Bobby Mitchell?  Does Paul J. know?  No.  He doesn't care.

Paul J was looking for advanced degrees.  I was a double major at Maranatha.  I majored in pastoral studies and biblical languages.   Maranatha told me I was Mr. Maranatha my senior year.  I was honored as top Greek student, Who's Who, winner of the preaching contest, and the students voted me student body president.  I was president of my Freshman and Sophomore classes, VP of student body my junior year.  I was given high honors, wore the gold cords.  I was appointed student activity director and sat on the administrative cabinet next to Dr. Cedarholm while I was still in graduate school.  I could keep going, but I saw how the sausage was made at college and graduate school and it often wasn't very pretty.  It was a lotta, lotta, lotta politics, jockeying for positions by trying to please people.  You continued on that path at your own peril.

But I was credentialed!!!  I is maybe worth listening to.  I coulda been a contender.

Make a scriptural argument.  Crickets.  Tell people the size of your church and your credentials.  Big time listening.  It's true.  You see it in evangelicalism as well.  My son graduated from West Point.  That should make him a bit of a celebrity as a Christian.  That's where Eisenhower and Grant and Patton and Douglas MacArthur graduated from, people who made history.  And I'm his dad!  Listen to me, folks.  I've got credentials!  I wonder if Paul J. could have made it into West Point.  Harrumph!  Nose looking down.  Oh my.

Here's the thing.  Robert and his son Bobby Mitchell went to very, very difficult Brunswick, Maine, and both were faithful to preach a true gospel.  People were evangelized, discipled, trained.  They continue moving out from there preaching the gospel faithfully in the other communities, like who?  Like Jesus did.   Judea.  Samaria.  All the towns in Galilee.  Caesaria Philippi.  Tyre and Sidon.  Perea.  For the Mitchells it's up in Portland, in Lisbon, Bath, Freeport, and Lewiston.  They've built the most beautiful church building you can imagine.  They have a great church.  They've been faithful.  He preaches the Word of God. He's worth listening to.  Listen to Bobby Mitchell!

Bobby Mitchell has been faithful to the mysteries of God.  He's been a galley slave.  He's been a servant of Christ.

Do you know who has credentials?  Clarence Sexton.  So he preaches at BJU and at the FBFI.  Is he the model for church that we want men to follow?  Really?   Jack Trieber there at Sextons, Jack Schaap.  That level of discernment?  This is what bigness gets you.  The Charismatics have 500 million.  Mark Driscoll could buy his way on to the New York Times best seller list.  How do you get into the office of the president?  Be a Billy Graham, who agreed on universalism and a metaphorical hell.

Paul J. is pushing pragmatism.  When size and degrees become preeminent, you get pragmatism.  You'll also get discouraged preachers.   Then they start looking for a way to succeed.  You can find it.  And finally you'll get to where the local evangelical pastor is, a five week series on the Walking Dead, where you find out if you are a biter or a walker.  His church is biiiig.  It's growing faster than anyone around here, so he has a voice.  He's worth listening to.  Thanks Paul J., because that's what those ideas get you.

Paul J. should be thanking God for Bobby Mitchell, but no.  Looking down his nose at him.  Shame on you Paul J.  Flush your credentials.  Shame on fundamentalism.  Shame on evangelicalism.  Turn from this type of activity.   Turn against it!


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Preaching the Gospel to New Evangelicals?

In one of our Word of Truth conferences, for the panel discussion someone asked a question about evangelizing new evangelicals.  Recently on a blog forum, out of the blue, someone criticized that question as strange enough that he stopped listening anymore, even though he thought the answer wasn't bad.  Why would anyone ask about evangelizing new-evangelicals?

As an interesting sidebar, have you read the recent popular fad by evangelicals of "preaching the gospel to yourself"?  I guess it's good to new evangelicals to preach the gospel to themselves, but bad if someone else preaches the gospel to them.  Just way too much preaching of the gospel today, I guess, really offensive -- gotta stop doing that.  Why?  Why not?

Don't new-evangelicals like hearing the gospel?  Aren't they gospel centered?  It's interesting how dogmatic fundamentalists can get about not doing something, like there's a Bible passage that says, "don't preach the gospel to someone."  Do you know one?  So this person, a pastor, is basing his idea on something non- or even unscriptural.


I was listening to a bit of the Word of Truth Conference, which is an annual conference these men put on. During the Q & A, I was a bit shocked to hear this question:

How would you share the Gospel with new evangelicals? 

The response (by somebody) was fine, but the bare fact that the question could be asked, quite honestly, shocked me greatly. I have seen this trend before; the suggestion that unless somebody is aligned with your particular ecclesiology, they may not be "real" Christians. To be clear, this question was asked by an audience member, not a panelist. I am not impugning Bro. Brandenberg or anyone else on the panel. However, again, the fact that the question needed to be asked is disturbing. I stopped listening shortly thereafter.

First, I don't imagine anyone at our conference saying "share the gospel," because it's not the kind of language we use, so I wouldn't think it's an exact quote, although presented as such.    The title of the comment was "A Bit Disturbing," and then you can see that he said he "was a bit shocked."

Second, he said this was an annual "conference these men put on."  Men put this conference on?  Bethel Baptist Church would find it interesting to find that some men put on their conference.  Our church pays for the conference.  Men don't put it on.  This is an entirely fundamentalist perspective, where groups of men put things on.  Is there something like that in the Bible?

And then he judged the question to be because new-evangelicals are not aligned with a particular ecclesiology.  That is untrue, and at the level of a bold-faced lie.  It is patently untrue.  It is bare speculation fabricated out of whole cloth.  It is typical fundamentalist style, mean-spirited guess-work.  That question HAS NOTHING TO DO with our ecclesiology.  Just.  Wow.   I guess with fundamentalists there are bad questions.  Inform your membership that you need to be careful what question you ask a fundamentalist, because he might become disturbed.  He did get part of it right.  The reason we evangelize new evangelicals is because we have found that most are not in fact real Christians.  Should that surprise anyone?  It has nothing to do whether they are universal church, local church, local church/universal body, or whatever ecclesiology they have.  That never comes up.  Never.  Again, wow.

I can't judge why this comment was made.  It was mean.  It was untrue.  It was typical.  We're concerned for the lost.  New evangelical pastors, which I know, because I actually talk to them face to face and on the phone, will tell me that over 50% of their people are not saved.  They know it.  So when I hear door-to-door someone goes to The Adventure or The Rock, I should just say,  according to this disturbed pastor, "Praise the Lord, you must be saved!"  Really?  Wow.  What ignorance.  This is an ignorant AND mean comment.  Is this acceptable?  Are these people preaching the gospel to anyone?  Get out a little.  Get out into the real world and minister a little.  What is going on?!?!

But he says that he stopped listening because the question itself was disturbing.  Guess what?  It's more disturbing that he thinks it's disturbing.  It shows a woeful lack of knowledge.  Hopefully, he'll learn.  I recently read a post at The Gospel Coalition, which is mainly new-evangelical if not completely, and it was a very good post about why rejection of same-sex marriage is at the level of an essential to the gospel.  You read the comment section and many, many were opposed to the post.  These are new-evangelicals.  Do you think that some of them might not be converted?

We also evangelize fundamentalists.  Know why?  A lot of the Hyles types, the promotion types, practice 1-2-3 pray with me and don't preach repentance.  I preach the gospel to all of them too.  Disturbing?  Are we disturbed?  Are we shocked?  Are we tongue-snapping and rolling our eyes?

Everyone at this blog forum, SharperIron, just accepted this comment.  They assumed it to be true.  Then there was a pile-on from other commenters, assuming way, way too many things.  One guy commented on our book A Pure Church, as if it were a book about chain-link Baptist perpetuity.  Not only do I not believe that position, but there is nothing in this book on that.  It is a book with exegesis on separation and unity passages.  It's a great book.  But he smears it as that, which is a lie, and everyone chirps in, as if someone said something good.  This is fundamentalism.  It is mean and it is in so many cases inaccurate and it doesn't give due process.  There seems to be little curiosity as to their own possible ignorance.  This is why fundamentalism is dead or dying.

But I digress.  This post is about preaching the gospel to new evangelicals.  I don't know how we answered in the conference, but I know what I would do.   I would hear that they go to Bay Hills or Valley or whatever, and I would likely say something to the effect that attending church won't get you to heaven and then preach the gospel, the true gospel.  I would in effect do the job that new evangelical churches often don't do.  They are often into attracting a crowd through various means and preaching a very watered down gospel presentation.  Often they leave people twice the child they once were.  You preach the gospel to the person because you love him and you want him to be saved.

Preach the gospel to new evangelicals.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Bible Truths for Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA), part 5; SDA teaching on an Investigative Judgment and salvation by works; SDA rejection of eternal security and Biblical assurance of salvation; and SDA teaching that the Sabbath, not the Holy Spirit, is the seal of God

9.) The true church teaches that sinners are justified by grace alone through repentant faith alone in Christ alone, apart from any works that they have done in the past, are doing in the present, or will do in the future. The very moment one turns from his sin to Christ, he is legally declared perfectly righteous because of Jesus’ work, not his own works, and is saved by Christ’s merit, not his own merit. The perfect holiness required by God is not met by the inward holiness of sinners who have somehow reformed themselves to perfection. It is met but the holiness of Jesus Christ Himself, freely credited to unworthy sinners by their perfectly holy Savior because of His substitutionary work on the cross. “He that believeth on the Son hath [present tense] everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (Jn 3:36). “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Ac 16:31). [B]y the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified [declared just or holy] in [God’s] sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested . . . even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [an appeasement of God’s wrath through His sacrifice] through faith in his blood . . . that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. . . . Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. . . . Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. . . . David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth [credits] righteousness without works” (Rom 3:20-28; 4:4-6). Saving grace is not God helping someone to do works to save himself; rather, for justification, grace and works are opposites: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph 2:8-9). [I]f by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Rom 11:6). Because salvation is received by faith alone in Christ alone, every wrong word, act, unfulfilled duty, and secret sin of believers has been washed away in Jesus’ blood, and God swears He will never remember them again: “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins” (Is 43:25).

Seventh-Day Adventism teaches that in 1844 Christ began an Investigative Judgment through which He is going to save or damn Christians based on their works. Even one sin that has not been repented of will bring damnation. “The terms of salvation for every son and daughter of Adam are . . . plainly stated. . . . [T]he condition of gaining eternal life is obedience to the commandments of God.”[1] “Each one of you needs to . . . [be] working with your might to redeem the failures of your past life . . . to see if you will be found worthy of the gift of eternal life.”[2] In “the work of investigative judgment . . . [e]very man’s work passes in review before God[.] Opposite each name . . . is entered with terrible exactness every wrong word, every selfish act, every unfulfilled duty, and every secret sin, with every artful dissembling. . . . [T]he lives of all who have believed on Jesus come in review before God. . . . Names are accepted, names are rejected. When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life. . . . All who have . . . characters . . . in harmony with the law of God . . . will be accounted worthy of eternal life. . . . At the time appointed for the judgment . . . in 1844—began the work of investigation[.] . . . Angels of God witnessed each sin and registered it in the unerring records. . . . Our acts, our words, even our most secret motives, all have their weight in deciding our destiny for weal or woe . . . they will bear their testimony to justify or condemn . . . permit nothing to interfere with th[e] duty to perfect holiness[.]”[3]

10.) The true church teaches that God keeps all His people from hell, so that once one is saved, he is always saved. The Father has predetermined that all the justified will be with Him in glory, and nothing can separate them from Christ’s love: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. . . . Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? . . . For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:28-39).[4] Because they are eternally secure, believers can know that they are saved: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (1 Jn 5:13). Christians have sweet peace and rest (Mt 11:28-30), because they can say that God their Savior “hath saved us” (2 Tim 1:9), so that “we are saved” (Rom 8:24), and “we shall be saved” (Rom 5:9).

Seventh-Day Adventism teaches that “[t]hose who accept the Saviour, however sincere their conversion, should never be taught to say or to feel that they are saved. This is misleading.”[5] “The willful commission of a known sin[6] . . . separates the soul from God.”[7] “We are never to rest . . . saying, ‘I am saved.’ . . . No sanctified tongue will be found uttering these words till Christ shall come, and we enter in through the gates into the city of God. . . . As long as man is full of weakness . . . he should never dare to say, ‘I am saved.’”[8]

11.) The true church teaches that the Holy Spirit is the seal of God, the blessed “earnest” or down payment in the believer that guarantees that he will receive ultimate salvation, so that once he is saved, he is always saved. Those who do not have the Holy Spirit in them will be damned (Rom 8:9), but those who “trusted in Christ . . . were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Eph 1:12-14). “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph 4:30). “God . . . hath . . .  sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (2 Cor 1:22).

Seventh Day Adventism teaches that worshipping on Saturday, not the Holy Spirit, is the seal of God. Damnation comes to those who are not sealed by worshipping on Saturday, not to those who are not sealed with the Holy Spirit. “[T]he seal of the living God . . . is the Sabbath.”[9] “Those who desire to have the seal of God . . . must keep the Sabbath.”[10] “The . . . seal of God is revealed in the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath. . . . [E]very one who is a child of God will have His seal placed upon him.”[11]The soul who keeps the Sabbath is stamped with the sign of God’s government . . . God will never, never allow any man to pass through the pearly gates of the City of God who does not bear . . . His government mark.”[12]


[1]              Review and Herald, October 26, 1897, Ellen White.
[2]              Pg. 530, Testimonies of the Church, vol. 3, Ellen White.
[3]              Pgs. 480-488, The Great Controversy, Ellen White.
[4]              For further evidence for the eternal security of the believer, please visit: http://faithsaves.net/once-saved-always-saved/.
[5]              Pg. 155, Christ’s Object Lessons, Ellen White.
[6]              Note that the believer’s failure to perfectly obey commands such as Mat 5:48 or Mr 12:30 and the constant battle between the believer’s new nature and indwelling sin (Gal 5:17; Rom 7:14-25) should constantly be acknowledged and recognized as known sin, so that Christians can always pray, as Christ taught them, “forgive us our sins” (Lu 11:4). Indwelling sin is always present, and claiming that one is free from “known sin” is nothing but self-delusion that reduces the believer’s ability to watch, pray, and strive against sin in the strength of the Holy Spirit out of an upright heart (Mt 26:41; Heb 12:4; Rom 8:13; Ps 32:11). Greater holiness does not lead the godly to think that they are now free from known sin, but to greater hatred of and watchfulness against the sin that is still in them (cf. Rom 7:14-8:4; Isa 6:1-8). The Christian-killer Saul of Tarsus was “free from known sin” while persecuting the church (1 Tim 1:13), but the holy Apostle Paul counted such ideas “dung” as he recognized that he was still a sinner (Phil 3:3-14).
[7]              Pg. 51, Counsels for the Church, Ellen White.
[8]              Pg. 314, Selected Messages, Book 1, Ellen White.
[9]              Present Truth, January 31, 1849; “To Those Who Are Receiving the Seal of the Living God,” Ellen White, January 1849. Note that Mrs. White, early in her career as a prophetess, said that people were receiving the seal of God right then, but later in life she contradicted her earlier predictions and made the sealing only for the future; compare Present Truth, August 1, 1849; Letter 10, 1850, 2SM 263 (sealing going on now) with pg. 605, Great Controversy (sealing yet future).
[10]            Pg. 423, Selected Messages, vol. 3, Ellen White.
[11]            Pg. 212, Maranatha! Ellen White.
[12]            Pg. 123, Medical Ministry, Ellen White.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Does 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 Describe Conversion or Some Post Conversion Sanctification Experience?

In our discussion here about Lordship Salvation (LS) or biblical or historical salvation and the free grace (FS) presentation, one text mentioned was 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10:

For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

Here at What Is Truth, we say that text describes conversion, but the FG say it is or might be some kind of post-conversion sanctification experience.  I have found they fail in an attempt to describe how this actually occurs after someone is saved, but still they must have this be post-conversion in order to keep FG intact.  FG here reads like a desperate conforming of a passage to a predisposed position, not any kind of plain exegesis, letting the text speak for itself.   You hear hoofbeats in the text, but FG hears zebras, not horses.  They can't have obvious horses be there because it will contradict their zebra position not found in the Bible.

"Ye turned" translates an aorist, indicative, active from epistrepho.  FG try to make a point out of 'this isn't the word metanoeo,' the verb "repent."  It would seem that anyone in his right mind would say, "So what?"  Epistrepho is salvation, yes, repentance terminology, that is, if when you hear hoofbeats, you go with the obvious, plain horses and not zebras.  Here are some other places where epistrepho is used (I'll italicize and underline the English translation of the Greek verb):

Matthew 13:15 -- For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 
Mark 4:12 -- That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. 
Luke 1:16 -- And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 
Acts 3:19 -- Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. 
Acts 11:21 -- And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. 
Acts 14:15 -- And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: 
Acts 15:19 -- Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: 
Acts 26:18 -- To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. 
Acts 26:20 -- But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

That's enough.  There are more.  In Acts, it is the operative word for describing Gentiles turning to God from idols.  And then you read 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 and see that it is the word that Paul used to describe Gentiles turning to God from idols in Thessalonica.

Lou Martuneac (FG) writes that we don't see Paul talk about "turning" in Acts 17, when he went to Thessalonica.  The verses at the beginning of Acts 17 are not exhaustive to what Paul preached when he went to Thessalonica.  Acts 17:1-4 and 1 and 2 Thessalonians should be harmonized to know more.  Harmonization is the historic means of interpreting parallel passages, not forcing one into the other.

Lou says that the "they" of "they themselves" at the start of 1 Thessalonians 1:9 is "their 'faith to God-ward,' which became known abroad."  "They," plural referring to people, doesn't refer to singular "faith," which is not a people or person.  This isn't that hard.  "They themselves" in v. 9 refers back to "all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia" back in v. 7.  The testimony of the saints of the other churches in Macedonia and Achaia about the conversion of the Thessalonians had been received by Paul, because that story had spread all over the place.

The report of v. 9 is "what manner of entering in we (Paul) had unto you."  This is talking about right when Paul arrived, first encountered the Thessalonians.  It's similar to Paul saying at the beginning of 1 Corinthians 15:3, "For I delivered unto you first of all."  The report was that at the time Paul first interacted with them, preaching the gospel, they "turned to God from idols."  "Turned" is aorist, which is completed action in the past.  It's not talking about a practice or a lifestyle characteristic of sanctification, but a particular act at one point in time that was completed, which describes salvation, not sanctification.  When you look at those other usages of epitrepho in Acts and elsewhere, you find agreement.   The words "repent," "turn," "be converted," and even "believe" are all interrelated as seen in the usages of epitrepho, speaking about nuances of the same act.   We're talking about something that is at one point in time, not some ongoing activity.  The Macedonian and Achaian churches were showing to others the conversion of the Thessalonians.

FG proponent Lou Martuneac writes that somehow the clincher that this has got to be talking about something post-conversion is the grammatical usage of the two infinitives at the end of v. 9 and the beginning of v. 10, "to serve" (doulein) and "to wait" (anamenein).  Rightly, he says they both express purpose and that they are parallel, that is, they go together.   Lou makes it sound like some conspiracy that LS advocates don't want people to know about v. 10, leave that out on purpose to cover their tracks.  Lou says "to wait for his Son from heaven" cannot be, must not be, salvation or conversion language, because "[t]here is no other passage in Scripture that conditions the reception of eternal life on believing in Christ’s Second Coming or waiting for it!"

I have to admit that I stand with mouth agape in amazement at the above type of game-playing.  Lou is saying "turn to serve" might be salvation, but if you add "turn to serve and to wait," then no, it can't be, because 'believing in the second coming of Christ is required nowhere to be saved.'  First, he's wrong.  Believing in Jesus is believing in the Second Coming.  The apostates' big problem was with the second coming and Peter preached that to them (2 Peter).  Their rejection of the second coming was their rejection of Jesus.  The Jesus of the Bible is historic, He's real, He died and was buried and rose again and ascended into Heaven, and He will be coming because of all those and setting up His kingdom.  Read Peter's sermon in Acts 2 -- he includes it to the lost there (vv. 34-36).  Why did they want to know how to respond to the sermon?  Because they were afraid of the One who had risen from the dead and who would come back and judge.  He preaches it again in Acts 3:19.   Read what Paul preaches to the Gentiles in Acts 17:29-32 -- same thing.

Eternal life is as opposed to what?  Eternal death.  And when is that going to occur?  What is the kingdom of God that people are to believe in now that Jesus has ascended into heaven?  You can't reject the second coming of Jesus and believe in Jesus.  Why believe in Jesus if He's not coming back?  What is salvation if it's not Jesus coming and saving us in the end?  When do people call on the name of the Lord to be saved in Joel 2?  It's when Jesus comes back.  Is someone who receives Jesus Christ waiting for nothing?   Of course not.  Receiving Jesus Christ is wrapped up in waiting. None of this is new.  Spurgeon preached on this passage on October 26, 1884, and said:

What comes next? Well, the second stage is conversion. "They themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned from idols to serve the living and true God." There came a turning, a decided turning. The man has come so far in carelessness, so far in sin and unbelief; but now he pauses, and he deliberately turns round, and faces in that direction to which hitherto he had turned his back. Conversion is the turning of a man completely round, to hate what he loved and to love what he hated. Conversion is to turn to God decidedly and distinctly by an act and deed of the mind and will. In some senses we are turned; but in others, like these Thessalonians, we turn. It is not conversion to think that you will turn, or to promise that you will turn, or resolve that you will turn, but actually and in very deed to turn, because the word has had a true entrance into your heart. You must not be content with a reformation; there must be a revolution: old thrones must fall, and a new king must reign. Is it so with you?

He says much more in the sermon, but of course Spurgeon sees it as conversion, because it is conversion.  It's an easy call.  It is sad that the FG are so caught up in their own viewpoint to wrestle such an easy description of conversion and turn it into something else, only to keep "turning" out of the requirement for conversion.  How dangerous is this?

Is there anything post-conversion to 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10?  Sure.  Someone who turns at one point in time to a life of serving and waiting will serve and wait.  They were surely still serving and waiting.  But Paul is talking specifically about his entering in to Thessalonica.  When he entered in, they turned.  This is not talking about the testimony of their present Christian life, but about the testimony of their past turn at a point in time from idols.  This is repentance and conversion.

The FG twist passages such as 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 that are really easy to understand, convoluting them for their own purposes.  Shame.