Monday, September 24, 2007


A week ago I called another pastor not in our area to check him out for the purpose of other people attending church there. I have found that I tend toward questioning a man about the gospel very first. I want to know what he believes about salvation. In order not to set off any buzzers with him, I asked whether he believed repentance was necessary for salvation. He answered something like: "Repentance is an issue people are discussing and I'm looking at it very, very closely." I didn't like that reply. I quoted to him Luke 13:3, 5. He hesitantly agreed that repentance was necessary, but then he gave it a definition that was very close to "changing your mind about belief." I don't like that definition. It leaves out the will. That led me to the crux of this issue, regarding the identity of Jesus Christ. I inquired: "Must someone receive Jesus as Lord in order to be saved?" He responded: "I have a problem with what people call Lordship Salvation." I have a problem with his view of the Gospel. That doesn't mean he can't change. I hope he will.

A man is justified by faith (Rom. 5:1). A man is justified by faith in Jesus Christ alone (Gal. 2:16). We must believe in Jesus Christ for eternal life (John 3:16, 36). The Jesus we believe in and receive must be the one and only Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible. If He isn't, then we haven't believed in Jesus. Jesus is Lord. Lordship is the biggest issue in the identity of Jesus Christ. Men may want Him as Savior, but the same men often do not want Him as Lord. In Acts, Jesus is Lord one-hundred ten times and He is Savior twice. What do you think the emphasis of the apostles was in their preaching? It was Lordship.

Lordship and repentance dovetail. We turn from our way to His way. We give up our life for His life (Jn. 12:25). We get off the throne; He gets on it. No one can remain in rebellion against Jesus Christ and be saved. You haven't received the Jesus of the Bible if you haven't received Him as Lord. What I am describing is Lordship salvation. We turn from idols to serve the living and true God (1 Thess. 1:9). We confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in our heart that God has raisedHim from the dead (Rom. 10:9).

The thorny ground wants to do what He wants in the world, not what the Lord wants (Mt. 13:22). One who keeps that attachment to the world will not receive the goodness of God (Rom. 2:4), does not sufficiently see God as a rewarder (Heb. 11:6). His friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4). Lordship is a problem to those who even recognize that God has bought them (2 Peter 2:1). They like Jesus as Savior but not as their Boss. They want to keep charge of their lives. God resists that proud person (James 4:6). The meek shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).

Here's how non-Lordship advocates support their view. They define Lordship salvation as surrendering to the Lord every single area of your life. In their definition someone must give up every disobedient act and every sin in order to be saved. I've never even heard that taught anywhere. It's a straw man. No one who believes in Lordship salvation believes that someone must frontload works in order to be justified. They believe that we must frontload allegiance. God is God. We must believe He is God and that we are not. True Lordship salvation is about an accurate knowledge of Jesus Christ. Someone won't follow Jesus Christ Who doesn't know Who He is nor trusts Him. A person can't believe in Him and not want to follow Him (Jn. 10:27).

So I openly and gladly profess to believe in Lordship Salvation. I do. Lordship and salvation are mutually inclusive. You can't have the one without the other. Anyone who preaches otherwise is preaching a false gospel. And if you keep believing in it, we won't be in fellowship either (Galatians 1:6-9).

Saturday, September 22, 2007


I thank those people who have shown interest in the Word of Truth Conference that we had tentatively scheduled for the end of October. This would have celebrated our 20th anniversary as a church as well. However, we have postponed it for several reasons of which our church is aware, but you may have not been. I hope you can still come to the conference when we schedule it in the first half of 2008. Some of my blog readers (of which I am thankful) may have decided to come to this, but did not let me know. I will have details for this hopefully in the next two weeks on the blog. Until this, again, thanks for considering coming, and we hope to do this conference right in the new year. We have more time to plan as well as to let people know what is happening.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Fundamentalists and evangelicals say that we don't separate over everything in God's Word. Evangelicals hardly to never teach separation. Fundamentalists argue about what doctrines and practices are worth separating over. Conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists become angry if you say that they don't want to practice all of God's Word.

Think about it this way. Does God want us to do everything that He said? Of course. He repeats that dozens of times. Here are a few, just to remind you:

Exodus 15:26, "And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee."

Exodus 24:3, "And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do."

Matthew 4:4, "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Matthew 28:20, "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."

There isn't anything that God told us to do that He doesn't want us to do or that He will allow us not to do. So if we don't do something that God wants, what is that? It is sin. Do we have liberty to sin? Again, of course not. When we sin and will not repent, we are to be disciplined out of the church. We are to be separated from.

So, fundamentalists and evangelicals say that certain sins are not worth separating over. Based on what they say and write, we understand that we must rank the teachings to determine which ones are worth separating over. Some say that it is only the gospel. Others add other Scriptural teachings that necessitate separation---a few more than the gospel, perhaps the "fundamentals." With this being their practice, is their anger justified when they say that they really do believe that every doctrine and practice in Scripture is important? I don't think so. Until they are ready to separate over everthing that God says, they should stop showing their faux indications of anger when we say that they don't want to believe and practice all of God's Word.

The Consequences of Contradicting the Doctrines of Separation and Unity

The inconsistency in the belief and practice of separation and unity, due to the wrong ecclesiology, is bad enough, but what are other consequences of these contradictions?

More Rampant Sinning

"Evil communications corrupt good manners" (1 Cor. 15:33), that is, evil companions corrupt good behavior. When we do not separate over those "less important" doctrines and practices, we become the companions of the violations of those doctrines. Churches will become more sinful and more worldly when they won't separate over sin and worldliness

Corruption of the Gospel

We are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. However, we must have the proper understanding of grace and of faith and of Christ. We know we can have a fraudulent grace, faith, and Christ. God's grace saves from sin. Faith is not merely intellectual acknowledgement of facts. Jesus is holy. All the doctrines and practices of the Bible are consistent with the gospel, so also with the right view of grace, faith, and the Lord Jesus Christ. A grace that doesn't change someone is a fraud, perhaps mere license. A faith that doesn't work is dead. The Jesus that Heads the church wants His church kept pure. The Lordship of Christ and repentance have us turn from something to follow someone. We turn to His way, which is represented by all His Words. He is Lord, which means we follow everything that He said. The gospel connects to all of this. Corruption of these also corrupts it.

Devaluation of Doctrine

Ephesians 4:5 says our unity is based on faith. When faith is not the basis of unity or for separation, then the doctrines that God told us to believe and practice are devalued. Something else will take the place of doctrine---politics, feelings, and experiences are three common new priorities.

Misrepresentation of God

God is pure. His doctrine and practice is pure. God does not deny Himself. His doctrines and practices will not deny each other. When we are not pure and our doctrines deny themselves, that reflects on God. Israel was God's glory. Churches are also His glory. When they won't align with Him, He is tainted by their belief and practice.

Elevation of Unscriptural Institutions

When we take separation and unity away from their place of Scriptural practice, the church, we elevate unscriptural institutions. They begin to wag the church. Churches have taken a back seat in deciding why and how we separate and unify. The unscriptural institutions (colleges, boards, publishers, seminaries, conferences, associations, schools) wield more influence than churches. The Head of the Church, I'm sure, is jealous. You know what happens when He's jealous.

Disobedience to the Great Commission

Matthew 28:20 tells us to teach to observe all things that Christ commanded. The new unity says "observe the important things." We can't fulfill the Great Commission with that alteration, so we don't make disciples, true ones anyway.

Loss of True Separation and Unity

True unity and separation can be had in a church if the wrong view would quit interfering. God wants that purity and that togetherness, that holiness and one accord. The contradiction results in something entirely different. I like to say that the unity looks more like what we see at most family reunions. The separation would probably look like what happens on a plate when the gravy escapes the mashed potatoes and invades the jello.

These consequences should get someone's attention. We are living, as many have noticed, in a narcissistic culture and age. Men are less interested unfortunately in obedience to Scripture as having a niche in some peer group. I'm hoping that this will help some to reconsider and others to be strengthened by God's truth.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Whoever is reading this I might assume believes in one God in tune with Deuteronomy 6:4: "The LORD our God is one LORD." We don't worship two gods, but One. Consistent with the unity of the Godhead is the unity of the teachings of Scripture. God doesn't contradict Himself; neither does His Word. Among all the tenets of the Bible, the doctrine of separation will not contradict the doctrine of unity. If it does, then we know that an interpretation of one or both of those doctrines cannot be correct.

The Correct Teaching on Separation and Unity: It Will Not Contradict Itself

The key to a consistent belief and practice of separation and unity is ecclesiology. The Scriptural, exegetical, grammatical-historical view of the church is necessary for a correct and consistent position on separation and unity. Someone who believes the true church and the body of Christ is all believers must allow for no division with any believer--1 Corinthians 12:25: "There should be no schism in the body." And yet we have those passages on separation that instruct us to separate from other believers (2 Thess. 3:6-15; Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 5:9-11). You cannot practice Scriptural unity and separation if you believe that the church is all saints.

The Crux of Consistency

Something must be wrong. What is it? The church or the body of Christ isn't all believers. The church is an assembly or congregation as is the body of Christ. We find the term ekklesia ("church") 117 times in the New Testament. In over 110 of those usages we have a particular congregation in view. Sometimes we know it is an individual congregation.

Acts 8:1, "And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles."

Acts 11:26, "And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch."

1 Corinthians 1:2, "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth. . . ."

Thirty-seven times ekklesia ("church") is used in the plural ("churches") to refer to several assemblies or congregations.

Acts 16:5, "And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily."

1 Corinthians 7:17, "But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches."

A singular noun, according to the rule of grammar, is either particular or generic. In a very few usages in the New Testament, ekklesia is used as a generic. A generic, representative of a particular noun, always assumes the particular. When ekklesia is used generically, it still represents a particular church in reality. We see this usage in Ephesians 5:23-25:

23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Since ekklesia means "assembly," the Ephesians would have thought of their assembly. They certainly would not have contemplated some sort of unassembled, universal, invisible entity. A universal church is a contradiction in terms. The Ephesian church would have thought of the church in the same sense they would have thought of "the husband" and "the wife" in v. 23. They wouldn't have thought that "the husband" or "the wife" was a universal, invisible husband or wife. That understanding would defy Greek grammar. Instead, those Ephesians would have understood ekklesia like people in that day would have understood it and like the other 110+ times it is used and like the 23 times that Jesus uses it in the New Testament (read Rev. 2 & 3).

Instead of interpreting "church" according to grammar and usage, most fundamentalists and evangelicals read a "universal church" into the text. Here is how their typical doctrinal statement reads for "church":

We believe that the true Church is composed of all such persons, who through saving faith in Jesus Christ, have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and are united together in the body of Christ of which He is the Head.
The doctrinal statement of the Central Baptist Theological Seminary says:

We believe that the Church, the Body of Christ, is composed of all true believers who are placed into that Body by the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit.
This view of the church, not taught in Scripture (without reading into it), makes impossible a New Testament practice of separation and unity. They're view of the church can't be true. Scripture cannot contradict itself. Their view requires contradictions.

Consistent Practice of Unity

On the other hand, how does the correct position on the church, the exegetical one, result in a consistent practice? First, a church (the only one, the local one) can practice Scriptural unity. God has given His assembly the ability to maintain no schism in the body. How? A church should and can have one doctrine ("one faith," Eph. 4:5) and practice church discipline based upon that. A church member may think differently than the rest of the church, but he cannot cause division ("heresy," Titus 3:10, 11) based upon differences. The church is the "pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15), so the church agrees on its doctrine. Each member unifies with that church by means of the ordinances of baptism (1 Cor. 12:13) and the Lord's Table (1 Corinthians 10:16, 17) and the office of the Pastor (1, 2 Timothy, & Titus). A member who will not fit into the church thinks more highly of himself than he ought to think (Rom. 12:3).

Someone may ask, "What about soul liberty?" Soul liberty is not the right to cause disunity in a church. Everyone can read the Bible on his own, can understand it on his own, and is free to help the whole church come to the right position. God wants "one accord" and "one mind" (Acts 1:14; 2:46; Philip. 1:27; 2:2) for His church. Ten times the phrase "one accord" is applied to the church in the New Testament. Since the church has One Spirit, it isn't likely that you are right, but the whole church is wrong. On issues of liberty, they are exactly that, issues of liberty. A person has liberty to practice differently where the church had decided it is an issue of liberty.

Christ's assembly can and should have perfect unity. Fundamentalists and evangelicals do not have perfect unity in their body. They stay perpetually disobedient with their schisms in the body. Instead of unifying, they separate with other believers in their body.

Consistent Practice of Separation

Second, the only right doctrine of the church will result in a Scriptural practice of separation. We have already seen in the separation passages that we are to separate over any and every doctrine of Scripture. In those separation passages, where does separation occur? It occurs at the church. A church separates from those in it with a different doctrine (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; Romans 16:17). A church follows a pattern set in Matthew 18:15-17 and Titus 3:10, 11 of warning and patience (1 Thessalonians 5:14, 15). A church allows its members to grow and change. When members fail, a church works at restoration (Galatians 6:1-3).

A church follows the same principles of separation with other churches as it does with its own members. A church separates over its agreed-upon doctrine and practice, giving other churches and their members the opportunity for change, repentance, and growth. The church itself chooses the terms of separation; however, separating over all of the doctrines of Scripture, especially since man is to live by every Word of God (Matthew 4:4).
Some might ask, "So do you separate over every single teaching of Scripture?" The way our church practices is to separate over everything that Scripture teaches, the actual doctrine and practices of Scripture. For instance, we don't separate over the interpretation of the vow of Jephthah, of the identity of the sons of God in Genesis 6, or other matters of interpretation like these. We don't separate over every aspect of the issue of divorce and remarriage. With my leadership, our church makes the decision about where we draw the line, and it is at the opposition to divorce. We expect another church to hate divorce. Regarding the Lord's Supper, we expect another church to protect the purity of the Lord's Table whether they be closed or close. We will not fellowship with a church which practices open communion. We will separate over music and dress and the doctrine of preservation. We could go through every doctrine over which we break fellowship, but our goal is to affect other professing brethren toward our faith and practice. We will only separate once we have given ample opportunity for consideration of what we believe and teach. The goal, like it is with those in the church, is restoration.
In order for fundamentalists or evangelicals, who believe universal church, to attempt to retain a sense of unity, they give up on a Scriptural practice of separation. They must go through the tortured taxonomies and ranking of doctrines in order to figure out what it is that they must separate over. They look for common ground around a certain number of doctrines and practices. What I have observed is that the chief considerations become political---the doctrines have become more politically correct than theologically. These churches often attempt to fit into a particular circle of influence, usually orbiting a Bible college or seminary. It is difficult to discern who evangelicals officially separate from. An evangelical pastor will write a book about a doctrine he thinks is being considerably abused, but then he will fellowship with those presently involved in perverting the doctrine. All of the actions mentioned in this paragraph combined make for great confusion among fundamentalists and evangelicals on separation and unity.
The pivotal doctrine for Scriptural separation and unity is ecclesiology. When someone has the wrong view of the church, he won't be able to practice separation and unity consistently. The teachings will contradict each other. I call on all fundamentalists and evangelicals to turn to the ecclesiology that results in consistency, the doctrine of the church that comes from the plain teaching of Scripture. I ask you to please stop devaluing doctrine by unscriptural unity. I beg of you to rely on the Bible alone as a basis for separation.

The Consequences of Contradicting the Doctrines of Separation and Unity

This paragraph does not officially continue this essay. Call it an aside. I am planning on finishing this with a very practical ending. I want everyone to know that I have not had more enjoyment and peace since practicing separation and unity based on an exegesis of Scripture. I'll tell you sometime about how I got started. Our church and I began a little over ten years ago.

Part four to come soon.