Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Necessity of Poetry in the Praise of God

Growing up, I didn't like poetry. I thought that a person should just say what he meant in a simple sentence that anyone could understand. "Get to your point," I felt. When in college, I minored in speech and took two semesters of oral interpretation. The first semester was all poetry. We memorized and performed poems. I couldn't wait until it was over. The teacher tried to persuade us of the importance of poetry, but I resisted. The college required two semesters of literature, English and American, a great deal of which was poetry. We called them English and American "monsterpieces." I think you get the picture. I disliked poetry.

I knew that if you were a Christian, you had to like poetry. I want to help you with that, to explain to you the necessity of poetry in the praise of God. We were created for the praise of God and poetry is indispensable to that. Why is poetry necessary?

1. The Psalms Are Poetry and Inspired by God

This is the most obvious reason. If you don't like poetry, you don't like the Psalms, because they are poetry. If God inspired poetry, then He too likes poetry. That would mean that if you didn't like poetry, you don't like something that God does like. None of us should expect God to change His taste, but we should alter ours to conform to His. We could stop here, but we will go on.

There are reasons, I believe, that God inspired poetry and likes poetry. We know He does because of the Psalms, but now I want us to think about why He inspired and likes poetry.

2. God Deserves Greatness and Skill

Four times Scripture says "great is the Lord and greatly to be praised" (1 Chron 16:25, Ps 48:1, 96:4, 145:3). God is great so deserves great praise. God wants skillful praise (1 Chron 15:22, Ps 33:3).

Psalm-like poetry requires skill. It requires great and skillful word choice and meter and metaphor. Poetry asks for more time and thought to put the words together. God is given that effort and He is worth it. We can write non-poetry and spend far less time to put the words together. Poetry makes us stop to get the word order and adjectives and verbs and nouns right. This pause is the essence of waiting on God, not moving ahead to get done, but slowing down to make sure that all the words work together.

3. To Understand Poetry about God, We Must Love God More with Our Minds

God should captivate the thoughts of those created in His image. To comprehend all of what a poem says, we must think over the words again and again. We must mull them over, regurgitate them in our minds, meditate upon them. Our flesh is repulsed by that kind of mental labor, but it will be the discipline of those who love God. We are to cast down imaginations that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God (2 Cor 10:5). On the other hand, we should embrace the imaginations that exalt the Lord God. With the exercise of poetry, we are afforded the opportunity to love God with our minds. The thoughts required to ascertain even one line of poetry will yield more and more truth about Him.

4. The Form of Poetry Mirrors Attributes of God

The symmetry and structure of poetry fits the character of God. God is a God of order. A certain mathematical precision exists in poetry that aligns itself with the nature of God. Since God's Word was settled in heaven before the foundation of the world, God invented poetry. Poetry exists because God exists, and poetry as a form reveals something about God that no other form can.

Poetry and Good Poetry

As I talk about poetry, I hesitate to call all poetry, well, poetry. It reminds me of the debate about culture---does it reflect reality or cause it? We should start with the form and content of what God calls poetry. That would reveal to us something about God and, therefore, about beauty. What is lovely is defined by God (Philippians 4:8). With objective truth, which comes from God, comes objective beauty. Psalm 96:9 says that it is the beauty of His holiness. True beauty is separated unto God, affiliated with His majesty. We would find that represented in His creation and in His Word, God's revelation of Himself.

In biblical poetry, the psalms, we see creation and biblical history used as figures of speech, the descriptors that reflect the symmetry and substance of God. Good poetry will contain those same reflectors of God's majesty. God defines beauty.

In the history of English literature, both British and American, good poetry has strong similarities with the poetry of the poetic books of scripture. They provide the elements of good poetry. We can judge the quality of the poems by their parallel with God's Word.

Poetry that is offered as praise to God should be good poetry. The best English poetry was written previous to the 20th century. Today we might not identify with that poetry. We might not even like it. However, for praise we should change our taste to what reflects what we know God wants to hear. These poems are being offered to God as worship. They should be the best. Perhaps some poems today are like those poems. We do well to consider this.

We shouldn't care what people like. Worship is what God wants. What He wants is the best, and the older English poetry in content and form is superior to almost all of the modern. For this reason among others, our church sings out of the Trinity Hymnal, Baptist edition, and the Comprehensive Psalter. The former has the best English poetry in a hymnal and the latter are the best versification of the Hebrew Psalms.

Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Jerome's Preface to the Canonical Epistles--Ancient Evidence for 1 John 5:7

The preface below, which, besides being on my website, does not appear to have been available easily in English, was translated, by my request, by Thomas Caldwell, S. J. of Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. The translation comes from the Codex Fuldensis (c. A. D. 541-546), one of the earliest copies of the Vulgate. This Latin codex is available at, and the Latin text translated below is found on pg. 399. The preface claims to be by Jerome, the translator of the Latin Vulgate. The preface has textual critical value because it bears on the question of the authenticity of the Johannine Comma, 1 John 5:7 (“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”). If the preface is indeed by Jerome, it would provide evidence that there were Greek copies in his day that contained the Comma, and that Jerome thought that others who seem to have held to heretical doctrine had removed the verse from their manuscripts. Such a belief on Jerome’s part would explain the presence of the Comma in the overwhelming majority of copies of the Latin Vulgate. There is certainly evidence for the Comma in the Old Latin Bible and various other sources before Jerome (see, e. g., the article on 1 John 5:7 by Jesse Boyd on my website--click on the title of this post to get there--I also have the Preface below there, with the Latin text.). If the Preface is not by Jerome, whoever wrote it would still make the assertion that the Comma was originally present but was removed by unfaithful and heretical scribes. Of course, both Jerome and the copyist of the codex Fuldensis died many centuries ago and nobody today can ask them what actually happened. It is certainly true that many opponents of the genuineness of the Comma would dismiss out of hand the possibility that this Preface truly comes from Jerome based on the assumption that there cannot be genuine evidence so early for the Comma, just as they dismiss Cyprian’s quotation of the Comma in A. D. 251 (“The Lord says, ‘I and the Father are one;’ and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, ‘And these three are one.’” On The Unity of the Church, Treatise 1:6. Trans. Church Fathers: The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson.) on the assumption that Cyprian simply cannot have quoted it, since it allegedly did not yet exist. However, the fact that many people dismiss the evidence of this Preface to the Comma from unreasonable biases does not of itself mean that the work did indeed come from Jerome’s hand.

Jerome’s Prologue to the Canonical Epistles

The order of the seven Epistles which are called canonical is not the same among the Greeks who follow the correct faith and the one found in the Latin codices, where Peter, being the first among the apostles, also has his two epistles first. But just as we have corrected the evangelists into their proper order, so with God’s help have we done with these. The first is one of James, then two of Peter, three of John and one of Jude.
Just as these are properly understood and so translated faithfully by interpreters into Latin without leaving ambiguity for the readers nor [allowing] the variety of genres to conflict, especially in that text where we read the unity of the trinity is placed in the first letter of John, where much error has occurred at the hands of unfaithful translators contrary to the truth of faith, who have kept just the three words water, blood and spirit in this edition omitting mention of Father, Word and Spirit in which especially the catholic faith is strengthened and the unity of substance of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is attested.
In the other epistles to what extent our edition varies from others I leave to the prudence of the reader. But you, virgin of Christ, Eustochium, when you ask me urgently about the truth of scripture you expose my old age to being gnawed at by the teeth of envious ones who accuse me of being a falsifier and corruptor of the scriptures. But in such work I neither fear the envy of my critics nor deny the truth of scripture to those who seek it.


Monday, December 20, 2010

The King James Version and the Doctrine of Separation

The Bible version issue will always cause division. Should it? Should believers separate from one another over what English (or Spanish) translation of the Bible they use? The answers to these questions have been percolating for awhile among fundamentalists. Certain recent events have caused the temperature to rise and some bubbling on the surface.

Northland and Matt Olson invited Rick Holland to preach in chapel. Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran are joining Mark Dever on the platform of Tim Jordan and Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary. To explain, Matt Olson sends out a public letter and preaches a couple of chapel sermons, and Kevin Bauder writes a now 24 part series, which publishes at SharperIron. How do these relate to the Bible version issue? That's probably hard to figure out if you didn't know fundamentalist politics. Here's the gist of it: KJVO (King James Version Only) fundamentalists are worse than Holland and Dever, which explains Bauder and Olson's fellowship with Holland and Dever---if fundamentalism doesn't cut out its KJVOists then Holland and Dever shouldn't be a problem. Or stated differently: if they're closer to Holland and Dever than these KJVOists, then they'll just get together with Holland and Dever. If someone is going to criticize them for Holland and Dever, then someone may need to criticize John Vaughn for preaching with Clarence Sexton and Jack Schaap. So there we go.

I don't really care if Northland has Olson or Bauder speaks with Dever. I don't. It doesn't change anything for me as it relates to those two men and their institutions. However, I have to say something about the way the Bible version issue is being represented as a part of their explanation for getting there. I see at least four parts to the problem. Not necessarily in this order, but, first, schismatics, second, bibliology, third, history, and, fourth, stupidity. These events and then proceeding debate indicates the impossibility in fundamentalism to sort out unity and separation.


In the debate that followed the publishing of Bauder's article at SharperIron, the charge of schismaticism against KJVOers was used as a reason for separating from them. In other words, many KJVOers are schismatics, that is, they cause division over the Bible version issue. The correct position would be not dividing over differences in Bible version. According to them, it is permissible to divide over certain doctrines, but not that one. If you do, you're a schismatic.

One wrote this:

The real issue is divisiveness. If a KJVOer mistakenly believes only one translation has value, it is a relatively minor problem. If he is divisive, demanding that everyone agree, etc, the minor problem becomes major. But the problem isn't really his view on translations, but his divisiveness -- a problem of the heart not the head, a problem of pride.

I believe this comment represents what fundamentalists are saying about schismatics over Bible versions. Is what he writes true? He is saying that differing on the Word of God is acceptable, but dividing over it isn't. He is saying that you're not wrong to differ on what the Word of God is, but you are wrong to divide over the differences. He is saying that you can't divide over the usage of the ESV or NIV without being a schismatic. Why? Where does Scripture tell us this? What passage in the Bible do we base this upon? I'd like to know.

From reading Bauder's latest article, I'm supposed to understand that we've got no problem with fellowship despite a different mode or recipient of baptism, but I do if I separate over Bible versions. And none of this is supposed to be confusing? It's only not confusing if you have a handle on fundamentalist politics. Knowing the Bible won't help you at all with getting how they come to make their decisions on separation and unity.

"Schismatic" relates to division, and division is a church (local) issue---period. A heretic, a schismatic, causes division in his church (see Titus 3:10-11). Division in "fundamentalism" or "evangelicalism" or in a certain branch of fundamentalism isn't heresy or schismaticism. They throw schismatic around like the pope threw around the term "heretic" during the Spanish inquisition. These people want to bring people into line with their own sacral society with their use of the label "heretic" or "schismatic," just like the pope did. I suggest that everyone just ignore this concept of division or heresy or schismatic. This fundamentalist false view of unity is much more dangerous than a division over Bible versions. These are men that can't persuade of their position on Bible versions, so they use these labels to frighten people, just like the pope did.


The issue of Bible versions is a matter of faith. #1, does the Bible teach that God would preserve every Word? Answer: yes. #2, does the Bible teach that every Word would be available for every Christian of every generation? Answer: yes. #3, does the Bible teach that God's Word would be perfect? Answer: yes.

If you have the text behind a version with 7% variation from another one, they can't both be the same. With what I see the Bible teach about preservation, I can't overlook the variation. I can't say they are the same. I won't say they are the same. I won't say they are the same like I won't say that rock music and classical music are the same. They are not. I can't say the differences don't matter. God inspired every Word.

There is no way that the text that is the basis for the modern versions could be the Words of God. They can't. They weren't available for hundreds and hundreds of years. That would conflict with what the Bible teaches about its own preservation.

The Bible version issue is a doctrinal one. The modern version people don't believe what the Bible says about itself. At the most, they will say that they believe that God has preserved every Word in the multiplicity of the manuscripts, but upon further investigation, you will find that they don't even believe that. Most, if not all, don't believe we have a manuscript with the words of 1 Samuel 13:1 in it. Mike Harding wrote in God's Word in Our Hands (p. 361):

I believe the original Hebrew text (of 1 Samuel 13:1) also reads “thirty,” even though we do not currently possess a Hebrew manuscript with that reading.

So they don't even believe #1. And they don't believe #2 and #3. And what do #1, #2, and #3 have to do with the authority of Scripture? They would say that the errors in what they possess don't affect authority. They know they do. Everyone knows they do. The uncertainty about the Words takes away from authority.

You get beliefs #1, #2, and #3 from Scripture. So if you don't believe those, where are you getting your beliefs on those? You aren't getting them from the Bible. They get upset if we say they are getting them from rationalism, when there seems to be a load of evidence that say they do. Does it matter how they got them? I think it would be helpful for them to try to connect the dots. I think they are easy to connect, but why not start with placing faith in what God said?

So when I separate, I separate over these doctrines. You can't be a modern or multiple version person and not reject at least #2 and #3. Is less than a perfect Bible a separating issue? Doesn't a rejection of those doctrines reflect on the veracity of God too, since He inspired those doctrines? Will propagating a false doctrine or even just accepting a false doctrine on these have an impact on people? Does it affect the Great Commission, which says that we are to teach the new believers all things that Jesus commanded? If we get blessing from reading all the Words of the prophecy of Revelation (1:3), will people not get the blessing God promised if they read only some of the Words?

Mike Harding cut and pasted this in response to Bauder's article:

The FBFI affirms the orthodox, historic, and, most importantly, Biblical doctrine of inspiration, affirming everything the Bible claims for itself, and rejecting, as a violation of Revelation 22:18-19, any so-called doctrine, teaching, or position concerning inspiration, preservation, or translation that goes beyond the specific claims of Scripture.

The use of Revelation 22:18-19 is clever, especially since those verses warn against adding or taking away from the words of the book, not the doctrines of the book. They misuse a verse, which is actually about preservation of Scripture, against the doctrine of preservation. What they're saying, of course, is that the claim of perfect preservation of Scripture goes against the teaching of the Bible. I just wag my head.

I believe that these bibliological doctrines are more important than my association with modern or multiple version men. What God said is more important than them. They can call me a schismatic. I'm sorry about that. I'm just not going to be able to allow that to have an effect on me. So I won't let it.


Mike Harding wrote this:

Bauder's article pointed out that a significant element in the fundamental movement holds to the KJVO position and that some do so in such a fashion that is doctrinally aberrant or historically misinformed.

I've read this type of comment from many fundamentalists. They are the ones who are either ignorant or rebellious against historical evidence. The modern or multiple version position is the new position. Every word perfection in the apographa is the historical position. It is true that fundamentalism has accepted critical text advocates, but that is a movement a little over 100 years old. That is the historical argument of God's Word in our Hands, of which Harding was one author, and then God's Word Preserved, by Mike Sproul. Their historical, textual arguments go back around a century. That's it. That doesn't present really any kind of historical argument. So they have a doctrine that isn't in the Bible and can't be backed up in history.

Someone else commented later:

Hundreds of young people are continually led astray and given a fraudulent view of history and Christian certainty of truth.

The fraudulent view of history is the modern or multiple version position. It isn't found in Scripture or in history. Neither is it logical---two things that are different cannot be the same. It is true that men have written against the preservation of Scripture. They have also written against inspiration, against the deity of Christ, and against other true biblical doctrines. That doesn't make what they have written to be true. When you speak to Islamics, they are some of the greatest advocates of the critical text and copyist errors in the Bible. Their writings are in books, pamphlets, and all over the internet.


As the part of the context of a previous comment, Harding also wrote:

Enough ink has been spilled on this issue to correct the problem, and yet the problem dogmatically persists. The KJVO movement in its various forms was never a part of historic, biblical fundamentalism.

A regular feature of fundamentalist criticism of KJVO is that KJVOers are stupid. They try and try to explain, but these knuckleheads just don't get it. This is a fundamental aspect to the problem of fundamentalism with KJVO. The fellow KJVO fundamentalists make them look bad with their "fellow scholars." It is more important to fit into scholarship than just to believe the Bible and what it says about preservation. The same kind of criticism comes from scientists about young-earthers, who don't believe in evolution. The issues are very similar in nature. Both critical text supporters and old-earth creationists have altered the historical, biblical views to fit into science. They have changed doctrine in light of new human discovery.

Intellectual pride always causes problems. It's a sin in itself, but it will result in further error, both doctrinal and practical.

Someone else wrote:

The arguments for the KJVO, and some KJVP, positions have now been thoroughly exposed and refuted many times. Yet the Pastors and leaders in the KJVO movement continue to side step common reality and seek to offer the same old mis information and factually wrong history.

Here you get the same history criticism with the addition of a subtle stupidity one. KJVOers "side step common reality," even though their position has "been thoroughly exposed and refuted many times." The reason they don't change is because they need a scriptural position and explanation. They would also like to see where Christians have believed the same further back than 100-150 years. It's not because they are stupid.


Churches will separate over doctrine and practice (Romans 16:17-18). They should. There is nothing more fundamental in the realm of separation over doctrine than "errors in Scripture." If someone says there are errors, our church says that is false doctrine. We will separate over that. We want to preserve and propagate the doctrine of preservation and availability and perfection of Scripture. One of the biblical means for doing that is separation.

Addendum 1

Kevin Bauder wrote a comment after the most recent post in his 24 part series. He wrote:

The most egregious error is the one that Sexton advocates. The New American Standard Version is the Word of God. The New International Version is the Word of God. The English Standard Version is the Word of God. For someone to insist that they are not is to show contempt for the Word of God. I believe that this is grave error, every bit as serious as anything that Billy Graham has done.

In my opinion, this is mere game-playing. I think we have good reason not to share a platform or fellowship with Clarence Sexton that relates to defense of the gospel. However, if we were to say that the NASV was not the Word of God with the explanation that it comes from a corrupt text, a text not received but rejected by the churches, how does that not respect the Word of God? This is where we have game-playing on the part of Bauder. For instance, I would say that the NASV is the Word of God where it represents the text received by the churches, but not so where it has been corrupted. Do we have to call what we think is a corrupt text the Word of God? If not, we disrespect the Word of God? Wow. Who really is disrespecting the Word of God?

I don't believe this is ultimately about the Bible or translations as it is holding together a coalition of men who use a wide variety of translations. Everyone must call each translation the equal, when they are actually not equal. They couldn't be, when they are different words. This is an attack on the inspiration, preservation, and authority of Scripture. Why? Because God inspired Words. Words that are different can't both be inspired. That is obvious, which is why what Bauder is doing is game playing. For instance, what if we added the apocrypha. Is that the Word of God? Are deletions or additions the Word of God? It seems that Kevin Bauder must have a faulty bibliology be the thing that he most seriously disrespects about Clarence Sexton, even though Sexton would probably say something similar to what I wrote about the NASV. And yet, the infant sprinkling of a Presbyterian is a lesser problem for him.

Addendum 2

Several comments to the last two Bauder articles say that the NKJV is the same text, the identical Greek words to the TR. This is an error that should stop.

Jude 1:19, the MV/C text omits eautou ("themselves"), as does the NKJV.

Acts 19:39, the the NKJV follows the MV/C text in "peraiterw" instead of "peri eterwn", subtle but different.

Acts 19:9, the NKJV follows the MV/C text in omitting "tinos."

Acts 17:14, the NKJV omits "as it were" ("ws" in the Greek) and thus once again follows the MV/C text.

Acts 15:23, the NKJV follows the MV/C text in omitting "tade", or "after this manner."

Acts 10:7 the NKJV follows the MV/C text in omitting "unto Cornelius" in the first clause.

Addendum 3

Another error propagated in comments to the last two Bauder articles is that the belief in perfect preservation is the same as believing in double inspiration. One commenter wrote:

There is really no difference between a Ruckmanite and someone who believes that God's Word is preserved perfectly only in one of the TR texts.

This is patently false. I won't call it a lie, just someone trying to say something impressively extreme, in complete ignorance. If you have the same words as the those originally inspired in the Greek and Hebrew, that is called preservation. The words don't need to be given by God again, because they already exist and have been preserved. The false doctrine of double inspiration deals with English words, because God didn't inspire English words. These types of errors are then congratulated and no one points out the error. And this group talks about false bibliology. Can they be trusted?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Join Me in the Campaign against BABEL: Bigotry Against the Bible Executed Legally

We the people must take the offensive against the Bigotry Against the Bible that is being Executed on the citizens of the United States Legally by its government, all three branches, legislative, judicial, and executive. We've got the constitution, history, and, of course, God and the Bible on our side. The former don't matter so much in light of the latter, but we shouldn't stand by without at least being heard. I believe there is a basis in Scripture to take a public stand on these social or cultural issues, namely that God designates for destruction (Ezekiel 9) those who will not stand against these violations of Him.

Babel represents the world system, the Satanic offensive against God and His way. The homosexuals and their advocates say we're the bigots for opposing the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but who really are the bigots? Are the bigots those who stand against perversion of nature, of creation, and of obedience to the Bible? Or are the genuine bigots those who force their own immoral desires upon the majority of Americans? Our government should not be executing the will of bigots against the biblical beliefs of its own citizens.

I know there are many of the readers of this blog who don't agree with some or even much of what I write here, but this may be something with which you agree with me. So I am asking everyone that does, join me, unify with me in a campaign against Babel, the spreading bigotry against the Bible, which is being executed legally. We shouldn't have to tolerate evil. We should not be forced to live and serve side by side in the defense of our country with blatant perverts. This is not fellowship. This is not biblical unity. This is public and democratic. This is We the People.

It's enough that our country allows the practice of sodomy, let alone the endorsement of it by executing laws that require acceptance of it. Stand with me against BABEL. Join the campaign starting here and today.

What does the Campaign against BABEL require from you? It requires public opposition to BABEL. That's it. Bloggers, today join with me in the campaign against BABEL. Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is not the only evidence of bigotry against the Bible executed legally. However, for me it is a kind of final straw. The camel's back is broken.

I want to redefine bigotry in our society. Bigotry is not a stand for the Bible. Bigotry is support for unbiblical behavior, practice, laws, or standards. I will not join BABEL through my silence and neither should you. Those endorsing, supporting, and joining the execution of these attacks on biblical belief and practice should receive the bigot label.

Joseph Lieberman, Susan Collins, Olympia Snow, Linda Murkowski, George Voinovich, and Mark Kirk are bigots, bigots against biblical belief and practice. They are bigots against those who believe and practice the Bible. Today they have showed their hatred of Bible belief and practice---hate speech, hate legislation---and forced their hatred of the Bible on all citizens of this nation. They have protected and propagated their bigotry everywhere.

Join me in the Campaign against BABEL.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Apostle Paul and His View of Unity and "Non-Essentials"

Unity is the subject du jour of evangelicalism and fundamentalism. If you want to move to the head of the line, you've got to push and shove to get in the front on unity today. Important to call your group "Together" or "United" or "Coalition." Like love has been hijacked by syrupy sentimentality, unity has been expropriated by toleration. The Apostle Paul wanted both love (1 Cor 13) and unity. In 1 Corinthians 1:10, he writes this:

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

After thanking God for the Corinthian position in Christ, Paul began addressing consequential behavior, and he starts with unity. Disunity comes first out of all the problems with which the Apostle had begun. Paul desired, and it is no different in any of his epistles, unanimity. His unity was today's unanimity. Today's unity would have been Corinthian disobedience.

First he beseeches. He calls upon their brotherliness. He pleads by the name of their and his Lord. And then he describes what He expects. They speak the same thing. No divisions. Perfectly joined together. Same mind. Same judgment. Wow. They were to agree on everything. Everything. Think the same. Judge the same. Have the same talking points. That is what Paul taught on unity and it is unanimity. Biblical unity is unanimity. It isn't agree to disagree. It is only agree. It seems that about the only thing we've got to agree upon today is agreeing. If you won't tolerate an alternate opinion, you're the divisive one in the contemporary faux unity.

If you want to know the nature of the kind of issues that Paul wanted them to speak the same thing, have no division about, be perfectly joined together, to have the same opinion, to agree upon, then just read 1 Corinthians. That's not so hard, is it? Let's do some of that.

What are some of the subjects on which Paul ordains unity? He wants unity on methods as seen in 1 Corinthians 1-4. They had to evangelize, do ministry, in a biblically prescribed manner, a way that depended on the Lord and brought Him glory. They had to church discipline (chapter 5), couldn't ignore that, and for more than just immorality (see covetousness). They weren't to bring fellow believers to secular courts (1 Cor 6). They were to have one view on divorce and remarriage (1 Cor 7). Fathers had authority over their virgin daughters (1 Cor 7:36-38). No one was to be a stumbling block to a fellow believer (1 Cor 8). The head of the woman is the man (1 Cor 11:3).

When Paul gets to chapter 11 he spends lengthy time on a single dress issue that was based on an application of Scripture. Nowhere in the Bible were women commanded to wear head-coverings until we get to 1 Corinthians 11. So it was based upon principles already written in the Bible. Doesn't Paul know that this is a non-essential? Doesn't he understand that he is majoring on the minors? Isn't he wasting a large amount of space and time that should be used for the deep doctrinal issues, and in so doing actually undermining the gospel? That's what many fundamentalists and almost all evangelicals today would say he was doing, if he he did that today. And to top it off, he deals with hair length on men and women. Doesn't Paul know that God judges the heart? What a legalist!

I know that when I bring up dress issues, fundamentalists and evangelicals say that I'm doing grave damage to the priority of the gospel. I also can't really teach on dress issues with any kind of dogmatism, not anything like what Paul did. That might cause division, hurt some feelings, ruffle some feathers. None of that seemed to be on Paul's radar. He talked about everything without fear of the "non-essential" threat used by fundamentalists and evangelicals. They want to guilt men into refraining from preaching or teaching on subjects especially unpopular with the world. They use this gospel stick to keep men in line. It really is a new kind of left wing legalism masquerading as liberty.

And then Paul spends the second half of chapter 11 on the Lord's Table, communion. And he says that if church members partake of the bread and the cup unworthily, they might get sick or die. Isn't that an overboard reaction for such a minor, tertiary issue?

In 1 Corinthians 12-14, Paul sends people speaking in unknown tongues on a guilt trip. He makes women who aren't silent during church meetings to feel they must be muzzled. Certainly he was at least looking for an exodus of the egalitarian men and women at Corinth, opening wide that back door of the church. Three straight chapters of causing division by bringing up needless non-essentials. I would say he was unloving except for chapter 13. Oops. I guess love is supposed to reconcile with Paul's dogmatism about gifts.

And finally Paul gets to 1 Corinthians 15, where he talks about the resurrection. Shouldn't that have been in chapter 1? And if the gospel really was "first of all," then why is it appearing first in chapter fifteen? If you bring up hair length before you speak of "death, burial, and resurrection," isn't that indicative of a person who sadly majors on the minors? I think we could safely say that Paul's subject order might confuse someone about the importance of the gospel. And to top it off, in chapter 16 he brings up money and giving.

The church was to be of the same mind, same opinion, and same speech on at least this wide array of varying doctrines and practices. In Romans 16:17-18, Paul told the church in Rome that if there were those who would cause division on anything they were taught, they were to be marked and then avoided. Paul required absolute unanimity in the church without mention of essentials or non-essentials. A total everythingist, that Paul.

I call on all true preachers of God's Word to stand against the attack of fundamentalists and evangelicals on the preaching of the whole counsel of God's Word. If it's taught in the Bible, you teach it. If God said it, you say it, and you apply it. The Bible is to be applied. Paul did. You do that too. Essentials, non-essentials, tertiary, primary. All.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Biblical Mandate for House to House Evangelism, part 4

II. Application

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

This record of the final command of the Lord to His church is not an option. While it is certainly a church command, doubtless the imperative of reaching every creature falls upon all those who are members of His assembly. The imperative is repeated in the other gospels: “Go ye . . . teach” (Matthew 28), “repentance and remission of sins should be preached” (Luke 24). The version of the Commission in John is notable: “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained” (John 20:23). When the saints faithfully preach the gospel, men believe, and their sins are remitted them. In this sense, believers do remit the sins of the lost. Compare Jude 22-23: “of some have compassion, making a difference [distinction]: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.” The believer is the subject of the verb “save.” We save people in a certain sense, when we preach the gospel to them; and when we fail to fulfill our duty to do so, we retain their sins. What a responsibility Christ gives His church in John 20:23: “whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained”! They are damned because of us. We are accountable for the fact that they will suffer unspeakable, everlasting torment in unquenchable fire forever and ever. Some, “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” (Revelation 14:10-11), because of us. They weep, and wail, and suffer there, because we would not remit their sins. We were afraid to speak out boldly to them. We had our reasons to not go door to door. We had something else to do, so we did not go out soulwinning—and they will writhe, and cry, and drown in the lake of fire forever because of this something else that we made a higher priority. Paul states this truth as well. Because the apostle had “taught you publickly [mass evangelism], and from house to house [canvassing every person in the area], Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,” because he had been faithful to “testify the gospel of the grace of God,” he was “pure from the blood of all men.” (Acts 20:20-26). He was not responsible for the blood of their eternal damnation. How much better to kill a man physically, yea, to expose him to the worst of earthly torments, than to be responsible for drowning him in everlasting perdition. The physical murder will last only a few moments—his spiritual murder will last forever. Had Paul not been faithful in going house to house, and doing mass evangelism “publickly,” the blood of the lost would be on his hands. Allusion is made to Ezekiel 3:18; 33:8: “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. . . . When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.” If I do not evangelize as God has instituted—publically, and house to house—the blood of the lost will be required at my hand! Will countless souls rise up before me at judgment, and say, as they each pass groaning away before my eyes, “You retained my sins—I am here because of you—I am going to burn forever because you skipped out on door to door that week—I am here because you left early, and did not put in the hours regularly into evangelism that you ought to have—I am here because you did not carry tracts that one time—I am here because you were not filled with the Spirit, and so did not speak as you ought to have, nor been as urgent with me as you should have, when you spoke to me—I am here because you did not know how to deal with my spiritual problem, and did not use the verses you should have—I am here because you used shallow, non-convicting tracts—I am here because you, and your church, did not follow Biblical methodology—how many lost will point at me, and with voices filled with both despair—for it is now too late for them—and just anger, give me the undeniable accusation, “I AM DAMNED, AND MY BLOOD IS ON YOUR HANDS, BECAUSE YOU, YOU FAILED TO OBEY CHRIST’S COMMAND TO REACH ME!” We rightly view the mass-murderer, the serial killer, as one of the vilest of men—what multitudes, oh my soul, have I killed, what multitudes of sins have I retained, what legions of “true worshippers” (John 4:23) have I prevented from coming to know God, and offering Him glory forever, and so what infinite quantities of glory have I robbed from Jehovah?

It is no excuse if others around me are committing the same sin likewise. It is no excuse that many who go house to house also slaughter souls by their failure to properly interpret Scripture, by practicing easy-prayerism and generating false professions, or the like. Do few faithfully fulfill their evangelistic duty in my church? Their disobedience does not justify mine. Indeed, it makes it all the more necessary that I be on my guard to not wretchedly commit soul-manslaughter. It is necessary that I stand in the gap and set the right example, and thus seek to keep my brethren in Christ from having blood on their hands, rather than giving in to general apathy and allowing that to lull me to sleep.

We are very busy. We can convince ourselves—and the flesh will delight in it—that we are really fulfilling our duty when we pass out tracts to people we come across. However, “every creature” is the command, and that requires a systematic method of seeking to reach every single person in our area, which is not possible without going house to house (as well as using the tracts, which is the “publicly” portion of Acts 20). We may even be discouraged from going because of the necessity to perform lesser, though important, goods, from doing chores, doing physical labor for the church, doing non-evangelistic but spiritual work in the church, and so on. We absolutely must not allow these things to prevent us from getting out and reaching “every creature.” The cost is far too high—the awful guilt of having on our hands the blood of lost souls!

Furthermore, not having an organized soulwinning program in a church, with specific listed days and times to go out and preach the gospel, is a very bad idea. It makes many more people guilty of this terrible sin of soul manslaughter. This brings the judgment of God upon the congregation and the individuals guilty of this, instead of His blessing. Since Scripture declares that “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise,” and “they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Proverbs 11:30; Daniel 12:3), it also deprives people of immeasurable eternal reward. One learns how to deal with people’s souls by doing it, so not doing it also prevents parents from knowing how to effectively deal with their own children, making them more likely to bring their offspring to false conversion, and having them lost to the world. It also prevents saved young people—and adults—from developing the spiritual toughness, tenacity, and boldness that comes from having to take a stand for Christ at doors and speak to people there. It is easier to take a stand against the world in other areas when one is regularly taking a stand against it by preaching the gospel to it. Churches that do not go soulwinning should, therefore, expect to lose more, likely many more, young people to the world and to neo-evangelicalism. People are also deprived of ability to do ministry; fulfilling the Great Commission really is the definition of what ministry is (cf. Philippians 2:22; 4:3). Church unity is weakened by not having soulwinning; the saints are bound closer together when they participate in evangelism together, communally face the opposition of the world, and experience their Savior’s consolation in their obedience. It makes it easier for someone who does not want to follow God to feel comfortable in church every week, which is a bad thing. It brings the loss of the power of the Spirit, for He empowers for the purpose of producing boldness in evangelism (Acts 1:8). Revival should not be expected. Fewer prayers are answered. How can men lift up “holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Timothy 2:8) when those uplifted hands are dripping with the blood of damned souls (Ezekiel 33:8; Acts 20:26)? It reproduces a bad model for ministry, as young people who are future preachers and leaders do not learn how to properly win souls, and so will fail to lead churches they will pastor or otherwise lead in the future to obey God in this area, so disobedience and all the ruin it causes will multiply over time. Conviction in soulwinning does not develop in a vacuum—the flesh very easily slips away from obedience in this matter, and pastors very rarely have pressure from the congregation to go door to door—the pressure is almost always to drop or decrease or minimize it, so if passion for reaching every household in a community is not deeply ingrained in young people, they will not do it later. A wrong view of church growth methodology also results—when we do not follow Scripture by reaching “every creature” in the world by going “publicly and house to house,” we adopt a system where inviting visitors becomes the main focus, and church services are changed from being for the purpose of edifying the saints who will them themselves go out into the world to do ministry—the Biblical pattern, Eph 4:11-12 (the pastor/teacher is given to perfect the saints, and the saints do ministry), to a model where church services are designed to evangelize the lost instead of edifying the saved. (Of course, it is not bad for the lost to come to church, nor to evangelize the lost that do come, but that is not the focus in Scripture for the assembly of the saints.) This inviting-the-lost-in model, versus the go-out-and-preach model of the Bible, is the root of the “seeker sensitive” megachurch, Rick Warren, neo-evangelical model that has destroyed many formerly sound churches. Indeed, the distinguishing marks of the two churches in Revelation 2-3 that were not going bad were evangelism and the reciept of persecution (Revelation 2:8-11; 3:7-13)—and the latter tends to come with the former, 2 Timothy 3:12; cf. Acts 7:59; 28:20. In short, when we don’t have organized, aggressive soulwinning going out to reach “every creature,” where we don’t strongly preach that everyone should be going door to door, as well as speaking to neighbors, friends, etc. (and we will be much less effective with the neighbors and friends without the experience from speaking to others), God is not properly glorified, saints lose out on eternal reward, saints do not grow on earth as they should, and the lost are not saved as they could be—it is an unutterable tragedy.

What can we do? First, we must constantly make sure that we as individuals do not become apathetic, and that we put the time into reaching the lost that is requisite to be fully obedient to God. We should not let a week go by without getting out there and putting serious time into that final, great command Christ gave us before He ascended to heaven. Second, we should try to bring as many people along with us, and strive to convey to them a passion for evangelism, as we can. If we are in a leadership position, we can, indeed, we must, make sure that organized efforts for weekly house to house evangelism are going on, must preach strongly the necessity of participating in soulwinning, and must set the example of passionate obedience in this area ourselves. We must make sure we have the love of Christ for the lost in us, the love that led Him to even suffer the horrors of infinite wrath (Matthew 27:46) to save them, and that will move us to do our part to reach them, and convey it to others. If we have “great heaviness and continual sorrow in [our] heart” over the unconverted so that we “could wish that [we] were accursed from Christ” to save them (Romans 9:2-3), we will go out and preach to them. Third, we should fervently pray for, be deeply concerned about, troubled in spirit concerning, and passionately desire a return to and an increase of obedience to the Great Commission in our church and in the kingdom of Christ on earth at large.


Friday, December 03, 2010

The Biblical Mandate for House to House Evangelism, part 3

Commentaries support the concept of house to house visitation in Acts 5:42 and 20:20, rather than church meetings in houses:[i]

“Every day, with great constancy and assiduity, both publicly and privately; in the temple, the place of public worship, where the Jews resorted on that account; and in each of their private houses . . . they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” (An Exposition of the Old and New Testament, by John Gill, Acts 5:42)

“The apostles taught and preached not only publicly in the temple, but ‘from house to house.’ In this they give an example to the ministry of all ages, which is well worthy of imitation. Private instruction and admonition bring the teacher and the taught into closer contact, and secure an individuality of effect not attainable in a public assembly. It can not, therefore, be well dispensed with; but he who employs it most diligently will, other things being equal, employ his energies most successfully.” (Commentaries and Topical Studies by J. W. McGarvey, Acts 5:42)

“Though Paul preached in public, and though his time was much occupied in manual labour for his own support, Ac 20:34, yet he did not esteem his public preaching to be all that was required of him; nor his daily occupation to be an excuse for not visiting from house to house. We may observe here . . . that Paul’s example is a warrant and an implied injunction for family visitation by a pastor. If proper in Ephesus, it is proper still. If practicable in that city, it is in other cities. If it was useful there, it will be elsewhere. If it furnished to him consolation in the retrospect when he came to look over his ministry, and if it was one of the things which enabled him to say, ‘I am pure from the blood of all men,’ it will be so in other cases. . . . His aim was to show the way of salvation, and to teach in private what he taught in public. . . . while public preaching is the main, the prime, the leading business of a minister, and while his first efforts should be directed to preparation for that, he may and should find time to enforce his public instructions by going from house to house; and often he will find that his most immediate and apparent success will result from such family instructions.” (Barnes’ Notes, Acts 20:20)

“It is worth noting that this greatest of preachers preached from house to house.” (Robertson’s Word Pictures, Acts 20:20)

“Did an apostle, whose functions were of so wide a range, not feel satisfied without private as well as public ministrations? How then must pastors feel?” (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, Acts 20:20)

From house to house. Else he had not been pure from their blood. For even an apostle could not discharge his duty by public preaching only. How much less can an ordinary pastor!” (Notes on the Old and New Testaments, John Wesley, Acts 20:20).

The specific illustrations in the book of Acts, given for the saints’ examples and admonition, in addition to the general exhortations found throughout the Bible, including the Old Testament (Proverbs 11:30, Daniel 12:3, etc.), to give the gospel to every creature, and the logical necessity, for those with a Christ-like love for the unconverted (John 3:16; cf. Romans 9:1-3), for aggressive evangelism because of the fact that all without Christ are headed to eternal torment, renders inexcusable the churches and all Christians not bedridden and crippled that do not go house to house in nations such as the United States, where the chances of imprisonment or martyrdom for such a labor of love are essentially non-existent—first century Rome heavily persecuted believers, yet house to house evangelism was still practiced by all members. Saints who do not aggressively evangelize grievously sin against God, hinder the sort of revival found in Acts, and apparently do not esteem the blood of Christ highly enough to simply inform others, in line with the Savior’s command, of the great salvation their professed Lord had to leave heaven and suffer infinitely to make possible.


Exegetical Endnote:

[i] Commentators from Protestant denominations may believe that ministers can celebrate the “sacraments” private with only a few members of their “churches” present, but Baptists recognize that, as the church is the assembly, “private” meetings where baptism and the Lord’s supper are distributed to only a select few who are invited, are unbiblical, and corporate worship is something meet for the whole church. “House to house” does not, then, refer to “cell groups” or meetings of the ekklesia, the church, the assembly, where the members do not actually assemble.

Furthermore, Protestants that believe that only ministers were given the Great Commission and are responsible to preach the gospel may affirm that these text indicate that ministers should go house to house, and may try to explain the plainly evangelistic nature of the texts in question and the command to go to “every” house as a command to bring to salvation those, often essentially an entire community, baptized in infancy and thus part of their “church,” who are, despite this, plainly unconverted; Baptists, who maintain a regenerate church membership distinct from the community and the priesthood of every believer, and who properly recognize the Commission was given to the church and is the responsibility of her members as a whole, will learn from these texts that all church members should go “house to house” to “every house.” Acts 8:1, 4 indicate that all church members—not just the apostles or other leaders—were going out “every where” preaching the word (euangelidzo, evangelizing). Every member of the Lord’s church, unless paralyzed, etc., is responsible to go house to house. Speaking to friends, coworkers, and neighbors simply is not the teaching of Acts 8:4; 5:42; 20:20.

Of course, the fact that these passages teach that church members are to go house to house evangelizing the lost does not mean that they should not as well go to the homes of their fellow believers to strengthen them when they have needs, for discipleship Bible studies, etc.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Cost of Political Correctness: Wikileaks and Fort Hood

What happens when you mix political correctness with the United States military? You get the Wikileaks dump of classified military intelligence, endangering the lives of Americans in harms way. And you already got the death of thirteen at Fort Hood. How so?

The culprit in the Wikileaks treason was Bradley Manning, a homosexual soldier. Of course, Fort Hood was Nidal Hasan, the Moslem psychologist, who murdered our soldiers there. What's happening folks?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Our School: Bethel Christian Academy

Alright, I have to admit that I'm prickly on this, but Yellow Pages, which provided the ad because we pay for a yellow page ad for our school, put a 2 second jingle at the very end, when the screen goes to black, that was not music we would approve. That is an ad for yellow page itself to promote itself. We do not approve of it, did not produce it, so separate that from who we are as a school or from what we would do. We're going to try to get yellow pages to remove that little jingle, but it just is not part of the BCA ad.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Myth of Missional Music

Recently, Matt Olson, the president of now Northland International University (formerly Northland Baptist Bible College), sent an open letter to constituents explaining recent decisions Northland has made. I got a copy of it myself from him in an email. Olson seems to be attempting to convince people that they should not perceive Northland as changing despite its changes. One of its changes, that he would like people to understand is not a change, even though it is a change, is in the music. Here's what he writes:

Philosophically, it (Northland's music) is unchanged. Let me say it again…unchanged. What we have always been trying to do, and will continue to do into the future, is to make sure Northland’s practice of music (as with every aspect of the Christian life) is built principally on clear teachings from the Bible rather than on reactionary, extra-biblical reasoning that has proven to be troublingly insufficient when exported to cultures beyond American borders. We believe the Bible is sufficient to bring us to right and God-honoring positions regardless of time and culture. Even though we haven’t changed our music at a philosophical level, we are changing our music on a missional level. Where you will see changes is in our intent to expand our training to prepare students for worship and music globally. This only makes sense because, as you may have noticed, Northland International University has become more and more an international, global ministry with a passion to take the gospel where it is not proclaimed. Over 41% of the world’s population is still without a Gospel witness. This has become our students’ burden. Our Director of Fine Arts, Kevin Suiter, has recently informed us he does not believe he can take us forward in this way and thus has announced his plans to move on. We wish Kevin and Grace the best and thank them for the investments they have made here.

Among many others, my question is: What does music have to do with a Gospel witness? That is, how does music affect the mission? That is, what is changing music on a "missional level"? I think it is interesting that a lot folks have come out in support of Olson and his "courage" for making this move at Northland. And all of this is for the mission. How could anyone question it or criticize it, if it is for the mission? I'm sure I just don't understand. I can't understand. Oh, I understand. It's clear enough. And the professing anti-Finney crowd is showing favor to what Northland and Olson are doing.

Your choice or style of music, of course, has nothing to do with the mission, unless you don't understand the mission, which, it's obvious, Northland does not. Well, it is a major part of the mission if you read and follow the Purpose Driven, Rick Warren, method of mission. "Missional" is more than a code-word today. Northland is being influenced to a large degree by the modern missional movement, which perverts a scriptural understanding of the incarnation, and it's why Olson thinks the music at Northland must change to be missional. This idea is strongly associated with N. T. Wright, Mark Driscoll, Dan Kimball, Alan Hirsch, Brian McClaren, and others. You will find the following language all over in missional material:

The Missional Church defines itself in terms of its mission—being sent ones who take the gospel to and incarnate the gospel within a specific cultural context. The essence of missionality begins by looking outward.

You'll also read this type of wording:

As missionaries sent by Jesus, every Christian must learn to exegete their surrounding culture, uncovering the language, values, and ideas of the culture. Using this information, they take steps to reach people with the gospel message in the context of the surrounding culture.

At the root of missional is a severe twisting of the doctrine of Christ, especially His incarnation. It corrupts the point of the incarnation, and, therefore, the deity and humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus didn't come to take on our culture. He came for us to take on His. It also deviates a biblical doctrine of salvation. The gospel is not helped along at all by the contextualization of the gospel.

The evangelism part of the mission, after which is baptism and teaching to observe all things Christ commanded (Mt 28:19-20), is preaching the gospel. Evangelism will not at all be aided by acceptance of the music of a particular culture. Evangelism efforts will not be hindered or helped one way or the other with music. Music should not be used in evangelism. It does not have an evangelistic purpose. To bring music into the mission equation shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the effectiveness and sufficiency of the gospel. It is more akin with a Charles Finney "new measure" than it is anything scriptural. Northland is taking something worse than a step of compromise here. And many fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals and other evangelicals are encouraging it.

Northland is also connecting with Grace Community Church and Master's College in Southern California by inviting Rick Holland to preach in chapel. Olson visited with the key leaders there, including Phil Johnson, who has written (an entire series of articles, also consider this Spurgeon quote from him) and preached against the missional movement and strategy. Has it occurred that the new friendship with these above mentioned men and this missional approach clashes with each other, or is it that this particular point is too tertiary to affect their fellowship with one another? I do find it amazing the defense of the language and this movement of Olson. I haven't read anything said in public against this new teaching and direction. Where is the outcry? Where are the Jack Hyles critics?

I believe that it is true that this is likely not a major philosophical shift for Northland, and neither would it be an issue for much of fundamentalism today. Much of fundamentalism has been using music for "evangelism" for a long time. And you've been able to see that with the "evangelists" involved with Northland. The composition (style) and the words of fundamentalist music have long been written with an intent to have some kind of effect on evangelism or revival. Billy Graham and many other Southern Baptists also have fit quite nicely with this idea of missional with their methods and music. Now rap and hip-hop are approved evangelistic methodology even among the reformed in the Southern Baptist Convention (read Mark Dever). All of this ties in quite well with the missional movement.

Some of those praising Olson also would indicate that they are exegetical and theological. If they are fundamentalists at all, they want to be known as the theological fundamentalists as opposed to a kind of methodological or movement fundamentalists. This situation exposes this not to be true. The lack of theological precision here, the sloppiness, and the lack of discernment is astounding. How could this happen? I think it betrays a covetousness for the things of this world. Theology is easily forsaken for what will keep them fitting in with their worldly ways. They think that evangelism, the mission, is at stake if they don't contextualize a little.

Part of the issue with missional relates to urban church planting and foreign missions. America's cities have so far moved away from the reverent and the holy that there is a huge chasm between a biblical culture and that of the city. To the new missional, you don't really care for these inner city folk or for the pagan on the foreign field if you don't take on their culture. You aren't reaching them like Jesus did. You aren't eating with them per se. And you aren't getting in their "sandals." So they ship in their instrumentation and their improvisation and their rhythms, and now, see, they really care like Jesus did. They've been incarnational and missional. The gospel can't get you all the way to these people, so you've got to reach some on your own. Give and take is necessary. You go a little ways, they come a little ways, you go, they come, until you meet somewhere in the middle. That's how it can get done. And if you're not succeeding, not using these methods, this is where you're failing. And it's because you don't love them like the missional people do.

On top of all of this is the deep disrespect for God and the true worship of Him. This movement is so contrived and has targeted the lusts of its audience to work them with their version of the gospel. God is not worshiped in this. He is disgusted with this. It does not at all center on God, Who He is and what He wants, but on what will please people. In so doing, its makers also produce a distortion of true spirituality, leading their adherents into a false measure of their own fellowship with God. True affection for God is at stake. Men with stoked passions mistake those feelings for some movement of the Holy Spirit.

These men involved at Northland have long relied on worldly methods, the ox-carts of men's invention, to reach their religious goals. The ones they used are increasingly either out of fashion or just don't "work" any more. As Olson wrote, now he wants to see "greater things." If you pray for greater things, you don't need the new measures Olson and Northland, among many others, believe are required to have those greater things fulfilled. And the truth is, we already have the greatest thing, the gospel itself.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


We've got the audio figured out for the 2010 conference, so you'll find the sermons and sessions for 2010 HERE now. They'll all be there hopefully by the end of the day.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I mentioned that we have the panel discussion for Word of Truth 2010 online. The whole discussion is now at the link provided in the previous post below. You can start listening to the audio for this year's conference at the conference website, and downloading those sessions HERE. Click on the sermon tab. To go straight to just the 2010 sessions, click HERE. We have a few conference notebooks left at 10 dollars apiece, plus shipping and handling. It has 75 pages of material. Let us know if you want one of those.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Video from Panel Discussion at the Word of Truth Conference 2010

We now have video uploaded on youtube of the panel discussion for the Word of Truth Conference 2010, which occurred from 6:15-7:15pm, Sunday, November 14. Five pastors answered questions on and discussed separation and the purity of the church. At the moment of this writing, four of six parts are uploaded HERE. The sound could be a little better and we will correct that in the future, but if you turn up the volume you'll be able to hear this panel discussion.

The rest of the audio will be available soon for each of the morning and evening sessions for the 2010 Word of Truth Conference, November 10-14. We also may have more video from the sessions as well, so stay tuned. We will give you the link for the conference website and the new audio and video of the conference.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Biblical Mandate for House to House Evangelism, part 2

Apostolic preaching “in every house” must have referred to house to house evangelism,[i] not to holding church meetings in the houses of the already converted. The context of Acts chapter five involves the apostles preaching the gospel to “the people” (from the Hebrew ha’am), that is, lost Israelites, and v. 42 is a continuation of this action; v. 42 involves the type of evangelistic preaching that had just taken place in Acts 5:30-33. In 5:20, the preaching in the “temple” was evangelism, preaching “the words of this life.” Every residence in Jerusalem obviously did not have believers in it, so preaching in “every house” supports bringing the gospel to the residences of the unconverted. The fact that this evangelistic preaching (euangelidzo) took place every single day (pasan te hemeran) and it was continuing to be so (note the imperfect tense of epausanto) also is more suitable to reaching the lost than it is to church meetings every single day of the year for a long period of time. Furthermore, the same sort of preaching and teaching took place in the temple and in the houses; since the temple preaching, contextually, was almost surely evangelistic to reach the lost, the house to house proclamation would have been the same. Finally, “preach” in v. 42 is not kerusso, but euangelidzo, which indicates that specific evangelizing or preaching of the gospel, rather than the simple proclamation of Biblical truths, is in view in this text; they were evangelizing in the temple and in every house.

Acts 20:20-21 also refers to house to house evangelistic preaching of repentance toward God and faith toward Christ to unconverted Jew and Gentile. “Publickly” refers to preaching in the temple, synagogues, and wherever else a crowd can be gathered; it is mass evangelism of large groups at one time, similar to modern street preaching and tract distribution in public areas. The same word in Acts 18:28 refers to “showing by the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ . . . in the synagogue” (v. 28, 26). “House to house” refers to systematically reaching every residence in an area with the gospel. The Greek structure[ii] in the verse is never used for church meetings in Scripture. Verse twenty-one refers to “testifying”[iii] to Jews and Greeks “the gospel of the grace of God” (v. 24). The overwhelmingly majority usage of the Greek word “testify” in Luke-Acts speaks of evangelism (Luke 16:28; Acts 2:40; 8:25; 10:42; 18:5; 20:24; 23:11; 28:23), and Luke never uses the word to refer to preaching in church assemblies. Acts 20:20-21 indicate that Paul taught the elders at Ephesus to practice house to house soulwinning. To attempt to interpret the text otherwise would require it to refer simply to the teaching of Jew and Gentile elder within the Ephesian church the necessity of daily repentance and every-increasing faith in Christ. It would also make this sort of testifying about repentance and faith in the Christian life the essence of Paul’s ministry (v. 24). It would ignore the fact that the “Jew . . . Greek” distinction is contrasted with the church (1 Corinthians 10:32). It would make Paul’s action in the verse be the preaching of repentance and faith, not to lost people who came to church meetings, nor to normal church members, even, but specifically to the leadership, which, one would trust, would have a very high percentage of genuine converts[iv] and would need evangelistic preaching the least, and which is contrary to the emphasis in his letters to pastoral leadership (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus). Paul was “pure from the blood of all men” (Acts 20:26) because he sought to reach all of them, not just the tiny minority that would want to visit Christian church services. He carefully and clearly presented to the lost the counsel of God concerning their souls,[v] house to house, and he taught others to do the same. Going house to house is God’s will (v. 27).


Exegetical Endnotes:

[i] This is not to say that every reference to preaching in houses involved soulwinners getting the gospel out “door to door” in the pattern of Acts 5:42 and 20:20-21. The churches also met in houses at times. However, this is often assumed for a particular text, rather than demonstrated. For example, in Acts 2:46, when the disciples were “continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,” the temple activity was likely church assembly (or could it be evangelism?), while the breaking bread (cf. Luke 24:30; Acts 27:35) and eating their food from house to house was “regular meals at home” (Robertson’s Word Pictures), not the Lord’s supper in house churches. The simple fact that over three thousand would have been in attendance requires that the houses here were not for church meetings, but for meals, unless there were many exeedingly large mansions owned by these early Christians for them to go “from house to house” in for worship. In addition to the problem of size, there is no self-evident reason why they would not want to simply meet for church in one house regularly, instead of skipping around. Furthermore, the word meat (Greek trophes) in Acts 2:46 is never used in Scripture of the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 3:4; 6:25; 10:10; 24:45; Luke 12:23; John 4:8; Acts 2:46; 9:19; 14:17; 27:33-34, 36, 38; Hebrews 5:12, 14; James 2:15). Nor is the verb eat (metalambano) ever used of the Supper (Acts 2:46; 24:25; 27:33; 2 Tim 2:6; Hebrews 6:7; 12:10). Both words are normal meal words. The view that this verse refers to believers breaking up to eat in various houses is far superior to the notion that the Christians were travelling around having church meetings and celebrating communion in many houses. The church of Jerusalem appears to have assembled regularly in the portion of the temple precents known as “Solomon’s porch” (Acts 5:12; cf. the Zondervan Pictoral Bible Encyclopedia, “Solomon’s Porch . . . [it] was here that Christ walked and talked (John 10:23) and that His disciples seem later regularly to have gathered.”), an area large enough to fit “all the people” (Acts 3:11). This explanation is far more reasonable than to think that, with many multiplied thousands of members, the entire church somehow tried to travel “house to house” to meet in the homes of members that could not possibly fit anywhere close to the entire congregation.

[ii] However, the same Greek phrase, kata + oikos, occurs here in 20:20 as in 5:42, indicating their common theme of house to house evangelism.

[iii] (Diamarturomenon, from diamarturomai, a verb primarily used for evangelistic preaching to the lost in Luke-Acts. Note the connection of diamarturomai with evangelism in v. 24: Paul was constantly to “testify (diamarturomai) the gospel (euangelion) of the grace of God.”

[iv] Of course, not all pastors are truly saved, even as Judas was not, but is it not straining all credulity to affirm that Paul was not taking the Ephesian elders with him house to house and teaching them to preach the gospel in this manner to the lost, so that they could teach their people likewise, but that he was, both “publically” and “from house to house,” evangelizing the elders?

[v] The notion that apologetics and the work involved in learning how to deal particularly with the varieties of unbelief, false doctrines, and religions one runs into because all we need to do is give out a one-size-fits-all sort of presentation of the gospel is not Biblical. Biblical soulwinners sought to “persuade” those they evangelized to be Christians (Acts 18:4; 19:8, 26:28; 28:23), “reasoned” with the lost (Acts 17:2; 18:4, 19; 24:25), and “mightily convinced” (Acts 18:28) them of their errors. Cf. 1 Peter 3:15. The “word of God” which is the “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17) must be wielded in a way appropriate to the sort of lost person the Christian speaks to; the specific verses that deal with that individual’s spiritual barriers to receiving Christ must be broken down (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:5). A study of the soulwinning methods of the Lord Jesus and the apostles in the gospels and Acts also clearly demonstrates this truth (cf. Matthew 19:16-21; John 3:1-21; 4:4-29; Acts 2:14-41; 3:12-26; 7:1-60; 17:16-31; 22:1-21—note there Scriptural use of testimony of one’s personal conversion in the evangelism of others; etc.)