Thursday, July 28, 2011

Does Shelton Smith and the Sword of the Lord Teach a True Gospel? part three

Calling something a false gospel is very serious. I take it seriously. Is there a faith that does not save? We know there is. We can see that in James 2. And what is the faith there that does not save? It is the faith that demons have (James 2:19). Their faith is intellectual, that is, mere assent to facts. Demons know who God is, know who Jesus is, and tremble. They tremble like we see demons tremble when Jesus came on the scene in the Gospels and He walked on earth. They cried out in fear. Why? Because they knew who Jesus was. So a change of mind isn't a faith or repentance that saves. It isn't a faith produced by the Word of God.

How do we judge whether a presentation is a false gospel? Is a false gospel one that only adds works to grace? That was obviously the major error of the Galatians. However, Paul also warned against turning grace into an occasion of the flesh (Galatians 5:13). A cheap grace, a less than powerful grace, is also not saving grace. Grace will affect the will toward obedience.

I'm not sure what is a more dangerous false gospel, the one that adds to grace or the one that is merely intellectual. Some could argue that the Galatian false gospel will result in no one being saved, but that you could present the Shelton Smith false gospel and some will be saved. If someone were to believe what Shelton Smith preaches, he won't be converted. He might respond to the Scripture Smith presents and still be saved, but he won't be saved by an acceptance of only what Smith preaches.

2 Peter deals with a Shelton Smith type of false gospel. The lascivious, those walking after their own lusts, have their trouble with having a Lord. They deny the Lord who bought them (2 Peter 2:1). They would receive a salvation that does not include Lordship. And the term "Lord" in 2 Peter 2:1 is a uniquely authoritative term. It is despotes. It is the strongest word for "Lord." These unsaved turn the grace of God into lasciviousness. They want salvation without a Lord. Having that Ultimate Boss clashes with their lust. And this is a denial of the Word of God, which presents Jesus as the King, the Messiah, God, Creator, and the One having dominion, that is, the Son of Man of Daniel 7:13-14.

For someone to be saved, he believes in Jesus, he receives Jesus Christ. The Jesus He receives is Lord, is Savior, and is God. You aren't receiving one or two attributes of Jesus and still receiving Him. You receive Him. If He isn't Lord, then He isn't Jesus. This selective reception of Jesus isn't receiving Him. Leaving out Lordship is turning the grace of God into lasciviousness. That too is a false gospel. It is a grace and a faith that does not save.

When someone confesses Jesus is Lord, he isn't lord anymore, but Jesus is Lord. This isn't mere words. When he confesses Jesus is Lord, he's relinquished control of his life. He loses His temporal life for eternal life.

Many professions of faith will be gotten by means of this Shelton Smith type of gospel. People are willing to get salvation for intellectual assent. They are very fine with that. So what happens? They present this less than saving gospel and get a decision. They call the decision salvation. Getting more professions validates the work and message of these false preachers. They think they're more spiritual and more obedient because they get more decisions. For the leaders, it is easier to get workers, because it reduces preaching to a human effort. You can have an unsaved person present the false gospel. It doesn't take faith to present it, and yet it is given credit as being faithful. It really is a bait and switch. Someone is offered something said to be salvation, but it's actually a placebo. The whole system glorifies man.

We can't react to this Shelton Smith presentation harshly enough. We shouldn't say it is a false gospel if it isn't, but as he presents it, it doesn't save. It is a false gospel. I don't want anyone to stay chummy with it. I don't want anyone relating to the Sword of the Lord as if it is acceptable. I want to see clear division and separation from the Sword of the Lord. If the Sword of the Lord would want to separate from me, that won't be a problem, because I'm already separated from it. Our church will separate from any other church that stays in fellowship with this false doctrine. Unless you are going to make it clear that you will separate from this error, you shouldn't even advertise in the Sword of the Lord. I understand trying to help them divide from the error. But don't act like you have anything to do with it. Don't behave as if it is the least bit acceptable.


There will be a part four. I will show how to present biblical repentance in a gospel preaching opportunity. It's something I've been doing for years. I do it several times a week. It is radically different than what Shelton Smith would do.


philipians2511 said...

Brother Brandenburg,

Why don't you tell us how you really feel?!

I couldn't agree more with your assessment and separation from the SOTL.

I was pretty certain that this was the position they took. I separated from them a long time ago and remain there. Having read what you wrote only confirmed my thought.

I eagerly anticipate part 4 and your presentation.

Respectfully Submitted,

Br Steve

Gal. 2:20

Reforming Baptist said...

finally something that you and John Macarthur agree on! I thought I was reading The Gospel According to Jesus for a moment.

You're right to observe that if anyone truly is converted when presented with the sword of the lord gospel, it is not their response to this message but to whatever Bible is presented in it. I what is a product of this kind of gospel until the Bible truth of lordship arrested my soul to Jesus.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Steve.

Hi Will,

Love rejoiceth in the truth. I rejoice in whatever Bible truth MacArthur preaches. He is a conservaive evangelical. I know that. He's not a liberal evangelical. We're closer than most of the evangelicals and obviously even the fundamentalists, because I'm not as harsh on him as I was in this blog. However, I would like reception on other biblical truth. MacArthur preaches Lordship and grace that changes, but in so many cases cow-tows to profanity and worldliness. We're all inconsistent to some degree because of the flesh, but there is a difference between situational inconsistency and directional inconsistency. An ample portion of the significance MacArthur retains comes from his compromise. I would like him to change, out of love for him.

Charles e. Whisnant said...

I hold heartily agree with you on salvation. Well, only because its Biblical.

Once a preacher understands I believe in Lordship, and sovereign grace, they stop asking me to speak in their fellowship.

Of course once they know I like John MacArthur that is a double reason not to ask me to speak.

On the other hand if the preacher knows I made it a policy to have women were dresses and preach against movies, etc. And preach the KJV 1611 is the very Word of God, then they would want me to preach, while at the same time they are against the teaching of Lordship and agree with Curtis and Shelton on salvation.

I need a new group of preachers you know.

But I totally disagree with you on MacArthur about what you said "An ample portion of the significance MacArthur retains comes from his
compromise." I don't see it at all.