Monday, March 31, 2014

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Preaching the Gospel to New Evangelicals?

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

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

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


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

How would you share the Gospel with new evangelicals? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preach the gospel to new evangelicals.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Two Book Approach and English Separatism

Some most trumpeting sola scriptura batter it with the greatest zeal.  They pervert doctrine with the ram of a two book approach.  They accommodate the academy with integration of the historico-critical, scientific method with the Bible.  The two book approach says that God reveals truth in two ways, the first, non-propositional truth injected by God in the natural order, which must be unearthed by human discovery, and, the second, scripture.  In this, the former is just as valid as the latter, even as God discloses all truth.   Of the many, one field where this two book approach has been applied is church history.   Pre-enlightenment, God's Word was good enough as an interpreter of church history, but no longer.  In so doing, the gates of biblical authority have been splintered.  Let me explain.

Baptists of the nineteenth century, the populace, rank-and-file members of the churches, believed in the perpetuity of the church.  They believed there were always New Testament churches from the time of Christ up until their day.  That was based on biblical presuppositions and taught in their assemblies by their pastors.  They read their own Bibles and saw the same.   The Southern Baptist Convention was started in 1845 and that's what people in those churches believed.  Then the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) was started in Greenville, SC in 1859, closed almost immediately because of the Civil War, and then reopened in 1865.

For the 1869-1870 school year at SBTS, Crawford Howell Toy, a graduate of the University of Berlin in 1868, became a professor.  Toy brought liberalism into the SBTS and the Southern Baptist Convention, influenced by European higher criticism of the Bible and scientific advancement and shaped by the historical-critical method of studying scripture popularized in Europe by Julius Wellhausen.  Toy left SBTS for Harvard in 1879, ending as a Unitarian.

In 1872, another recent graduate of the University of Berlin, William Heth Whitsitt joined the faculty as a professor in ecclesiastical history.   His first year, he was roommate with Toy, and there was almost no one for whom Whitsitt held more admiration.  Whitsitt had taken the theological method of Germany, which was to apply the scientific method to the interpretation of history.  In 1880, Whitsitt took a trip to Great Britain in which he formulated the view that today is called English Separatism.  In his time there, he met with C. H. Spurgeon and writes about the conversation in a letter:

He was very charming and very interesting, but does not think much of my notions about Baptist history.  We locked horns pretty much.  I am not afraid of him anymore.

The Whitsitt view was not the rank and file view of Baptist history.   It wasn't the C. H. Spurgeon view of Baptist history.   In my opinion, Whitsitt suffered what I've noticed from a lot of men through the years who are in places of academia -- they think they must make their mark in the world with some new discovery.  By doing so, they show themselves to be deep and scholarly and independent in thought.   Through his "scientific research," Whitsitt determined that baptism by immersion had been lost among the Anabaptists until 1641, introducing this as the valid teaching on the subject.  In essence, according to Whitsitt, there had been a total apostasy in the matter of scriptural baptism to the extent that no authoritative baptism any longer existed.

New Testament churches didn't accept Whitsitt's findings.  When Whitsitt became the president of the SBTS in 1895, there was an uproar from the grassroots and in order to preserve the seminary, Whitsitt resigned in 1899.   Today revisionist historians chalk up his resignation to the forces of Landmark ecclesiology in the Southern Baptist Convention.  This didn't occur in a corner.  Almost every Bible-believing Baptist rejected Whitsitt's view at the time.  Many works were written in refutation and they weren't written by just the typical names quoted -- Pendleton, Graves, and Dayton.  Whitsitt's was a two book approach.  Baptists, based primarily on biblical presuppositions, believed that baptism by immersion for believers had been handed down from generation to generations of believers.  Whitsitt's position was that this could not be accepted without the unequivocal proof of extra-scriptural documentation.  This undermined the faith of Christians in their New Testament assemblies.

Whitsitt himself was a strong supporter of ecumenism.  It wasn't unusual for him to speak in the congregations of other denominations.  He liked it.  He wanted this unity.  He had motive for looking for something to dump the apple cart of Baptist baptism for the acceptance of alien baptism.  When Toy went to Harvard, that didn't hinder his relationship with Whitsitt.  These two were of similar mindsets.

It is not untypical today for men on the one hand to trumpet sola scriptura, but on the other hand expect extra-scriptural evidence to back up what the Bible prophesies will occur.  In 2 Chronicles 13, we read an unexpected defense of Abijah, the king of Judah, for a war against Jeroboam in the northern kingdom.  Despite his own personal ungodliness, Abijah depends on the biblical teaching of worship in the law for his victory over Jeroboam.  And that was a winning argument.  God did in fact deliver victory to the massively outnumbered and surrounded army of the south over her northern adversary.  Abijah's expectations for the future were presuppositional, and, therefore, true.

The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.  God didn't promise to preserve history. Whatever Whitsitt could find was not the final word on the perpetuity and authority of New Testament churches and baptism.  In the many answers to Whitsitt's progressive declaration found in preserved and archived letters, papers, pamphlets, and books, again most not written by those labeled "Landmarkers," we read other "evidence," but most of all a dependence on the promises of God, the contents of the one book.

You can't be sola scriptura and two book in your approach, but this is so conveniently characteristic of so many even in fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism.  I'm pointing it out here in church history.  Baptist perpetuity was the position, the only position.  If these were true churches and true Christians, how could they all be wrong only to be corrected by a man who had an axe to grind?   This doesn't ring of the Holy Spirit's work.  This clashes with a rejection of total apostasy.

Men have taken off on Whitsitt's work, revising almost an entire century of Baptist history in American and church history in general, by depending on the second book.  They mock their opponents as fideists.   This has supported an agenda.  It supports a larger evangelicalism and fundamentalism.  It sets aside differences for a bigger tent with an idea that there is even greater influence.  And then it's pro-intellectual.  It is operating like the big boys in academics.  Actually, it's elitist and even more, it's not true.  God is not pleased, because without faith it is impossible to please Him.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Most Divisive of All Independent Baptists: Let's Think about It

Some men are the most interesting men in the world, but someone tagged me with the moniker, "the most divisive of all independent Baptists."  I should be happy, because he called my friend Bobby Mitchell a "lackey" in the same comment.   In the spirit of many fundamentalists, he went personal, mean, hateful, and condemnatory -- not divisive though -- that title is mainly reserved for resolute doctrinal stands, not schoolyard name-calling.  But I'm happy, because it started some thinking about "divisiveness," which was a brief theme in a comment thread last week too.  Postmodernism has featured new definitions of terms, like Isaiah prophesied the calling of "good evil and evil good."  "Divisive" is one of these.  I can't help but think of George W. Bush's, "I'm a uniter, not a divider," using the buzzwords for political advantage.

In present American culture, "divisive" labels the worst possible malfeasance against relativism.  If you "divide," you're saying something is right, and let's stop wasting time, because you're actually just saying that you're right and everyone else is wrong.  Can you believe that?  Somebody might be wrong out there.  The "divider" thinks he's right, which means not everybody is right.  This is where we're at now with "divisive," and hardly anyone blinks.  They just accept it as so.

Let's say you had a whole nation of boot-licking, goose-stepping unity, not that it has ever happened before.  Then you had this small group who thought different, like an Apple designer or something.   They would be divisive.  Bad, huh?   No, good.  Why?  Of course, because the majority is wrong.  Wrong.   Someone is wrong.  People are wrong.  The majority can be wrong.

Being consistent in a relativistic culture means consistently allowing everyone to be right without saying they're right.  If they say they're right, then they're divisive, which is the one wrong, so it's only their opinion (IMO).  The only dividers are people confident they're right.  Hail doubt!  Uncertainty brings people together, ya know.  No one could be bothered with like a lack of conviction.  Only like, because there isn't anything settled about my lack.  I only might lack.  Actual lacking might offend some non-lacking person.  It can be tough being relative all the time, er, some of the time.  Uncertain.

I realize that to stay the most divisive of a small division of a division, that I have to break the relativist's manifesto of unity and his logo, the question mark.   This thought does bring me to the idea of unity, which is as important as division in the discovery of definitions.  I can't understand division without understanding unity.  You've really got two choices for unity.  So as not to offend, let's consider the choice of the relativist first.  His unity is built around toleration.  Toleration is the one absolute.   Everyone believes in toleration.  If you want to offend the relativist, burn the question mark in his lawn.  The other choice is absolute truth.  You unify on absolute truth, which is, um, absolute.  It's certain.  Why do I feel this urge to apologize?  I'm just presenting like the two possibilities.  Come on!

Just want to digress for a moment.  The growing population of effeminate men directly relates to the nuance of relativism.  Part of manhood is decisiveness.  Decisiveness is a violation of relativism, of unity.   Modern manhood can't make up its mind and gets a standing ovation for this.  Not knowing is a new strength.  This is a reason why a big segment of America doesn't understand Putin, which is a digression of a digression.  So I am saying that I think someone is calling me a man.   That doesn't bother me.  I recognize that it should today, but I'm really fine being a man.

Let's assume for argument sake that the above is the wrong usage for "divisive," even if it seems to be permissible at least as a form of propaganda.   How should we understand divisive?

Someone who is divisive is dividing off of something.  He isn't continuing to unify.  Should someone unify around error, even a certain amount of error?  If there is absolute truth, which the absolutist believes, does he do well to continue to unite on error?  This is where we get to differing views of the world, and this relativist-absolutist argument.  What's happening today is that the relativists are nibbling, nibbling, nibbling, until the absolute is a small list.

I don't get offended with someone dividing with me over truth.  I'm actually not offended with any kind of dividing from me, because I'm secure in my position.  I don't like to be called names, but it's something I should expect in this culture.  I want to be right, and I do believe that it is possible to be wrong.  However, if I believe I'm right, I have no problem standing on that.  I would await some argument from the Bible.  Name-calling isn't going to persuade me.

Let's digress again.  I understand the usefulness of name-calling.  It is the chief argument of the apostate.  He is a mocker walking after his own lust.  He traffics in ridicule.  If he argues, he's got to admit truth and error, so he doesn't -- he mocks.  His point isn't doing right, but doing what he wants.  He doesn't want rules or authority.  He wants his own way.  He's a rebel at heart.  He doesn't like absolutes, because it appoints some big brother to watch over him.  He doesn't want to be watched over.  He wants acceptance.  He's insecure.  He wants approval.  If he doesn't get it, he calls names.  I see him as a loser.  He can't argue, so all he's got is name-calling, because he's already lost.  There will be people, other losers, who will think he's made a point.

When I go door-to-door evangelizing, I often tell people I'm willing to be a Buddhist or  Hindu.  I mean it.  To be truly open-minded, you have to be willing to believe something.  I am.  I am willing to believe, not just to taste, but to swallow.  I just never get a good reason to be either a Buddhist or Hindu, and I never run into either who wants even to tell me why to be one.  They're fine with my being myself.  That's not good enough.

The Bible satisfies me.  I'm sold on it.  I'm certain of it.  I'm too certain of it for a growing number of people.  I get that.  Men like minded with me divide from error.  We believe someone is wrong and that the truth is worth keeping.

All the relativist has for unity is uncertainty.  The proponents of relativism unify around doubt.  Is that really unity?  Is that what we're talking about?  If we don't bow out of absolutes, out of certainty, we're dividing from the ethic of relativism?  Then we're divisive?  Perhaps in the world, but not God.

If the truth is unity, then the greatest unifiers are those who unify on the truth and the truth alone, not on some degree of uncertainty.  That isn't unity.  For that reason, I actually don't believe that I'm a divider.  I believe with great certainty that men like me are the greatest forces of true unity, the only unity, on earth.

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Who is the most intolerant in the whole universe?

The NBA?  They divide 300 or so people from everyone else.  If you don't play basketball like they do, you are not welcome.  Their fans are similar.  They stop watching if they don't play very well.  No one calls them divisive.

Medical school?  They have this standard that relatively few can meet.  If they do, they're doctors. The expectations are very high.  They're very intolerant.  Their patients are similar.  They want medical schools to be tough and keep people out.  No one calls them divisive.

And then there is God.  He divided the whole world from eight people with water.  He'll divide the whole world of the future from just a few with fire.  Those who don't take His way, He sends to Hell forever.  His intolerance brings more pain for more people than anyone.  No one is more divisive.

And then there is evangelicalism and fundamentalism.   Division bad.  Tolerance good.  Almost anything goes.  They're intolerant of bad entertainment and bad food -- totally divisive there.  They are very tolerant of their own comforts and conveniences.   God can take whatever kitsch, sloppy seconds.  That's tolerated.  And if you won't, you're divisive.  Go figure.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Learn Hebrew Online-An Update

Dear brethren,


The first class lectures for Biblical Hebrew will take place on Saturday, April 5, from 8 -11 am, Central Standard Time. Class will be held every second Saturday (that is, every two weeks). It is possible to take the class without watching the lectures live. The cost for the three-credit course (1st semester)  will be $150. The class can be audited for $75. The class lectures will be posted on the Internet and can be viewed online for free, but only those registered for the course will be able to ask questions, engage in classroom interaction, take tests, etc. Scholarships for those who are genuinely unable to afford it (e. g., some who wish to learn Hebrew in very impoverished countries in Africa) are available. To register for the course, contact Mukwonago Baptist Church.   More information is also found here. The second semester will follow, Lord willing, after the first semester credit hours are completed. I would encourage you to pray seriously about this special opportunity.  If you are going to take the course, please both register and order the textbooks soon, so that we have a good grasp of who is going to be taking the class and so that you will have the required books for the first day. You can find out about the course schedule, get the textbooks, register and pay for the course, etc. at: http://faithsaves.net/hebrew-courses/.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Free Grace and Lordship Salvation: Rival Hermeneutics for a Biblical Soteriology

For awhile, I've known that even within what some will call independent, fundamental Baptists, there have been several views of salvation and for sure sanctification as well.  Many just want to leave it alone, not make a big deal about it, sort of treat the views as welcome inhabitants of a bigger tent as a part of a view on unity.  The idea, I think, is that we be generous, sort of accepting of several views in a general way, and sort them out at a lower level.  One question that some might be asking is, "At what point has the plan of salvation been altered to be a false gospel?"  Or perhaps another, "When is the difference great enough that it means separation?"

I know some don't know on which side of this debate they fall.  Both sides make points that sound good to them.  They might not want to offend either side.  If they do come down on a side, they do it by inviting only one of the sides to preach for them or for a conference.  They will promote only one of the sides of which they prefer.  They might think that one of the sides just has a few quirks or some over emphases of certain aspects of salvation, but besides that is OK.

Does the Bible give latitude on the plan of salvation?  Is there any hint that some variety is acceptable within permissible boundaries?  There is only one Bible and one plan of salvation.  God is clear.  How did we get to where there is the present degree of difference between those who might generally identify with one another?

For the sake of this one post, and since this is what I've written about the last three posts, I want to keep it to these two points of view that have disagreement coming from each side, those two being what some call Lordship salvation (LS) and another that some label free grace (FG).  We'll leave "works salvation" or legalism and universalism, those types of extremes, out of it.  Relating to what I've recently written about, I take the side called "Lordship salvation."  Someone here is wrong-- both FG and LS cannot both be right.  Where we get the difference is an approach to scripture, the interpretation of the Bible, what is called "hermeneutics."

My credentials for writing this and reporting my conclusions are that I have studied the entire New Testament verse-by-verse in the original languages and I'm very proven independent.  I've studied exegetically and preached expositionally for decades.  I'm more of a biblical theologian than systematic.  I'm widely read on both sides of the salvation issue.  I am less biased than most.  I don't think I'm biased at all, but at the same time I think everyone is biased at least some.

With all that being said, I read the "free grace" (FG) position as a proof text position, influenced greatly by the outside and by pragmatism, and the "Lordship salvation" (LS) view as contextual, grammatical, and historical.  That evaluation is my being as straightforward as possible, not holding back.  To put it the most simply, the FG side "proof texts" and the other doesn't.

How I am reading this is that FG has a particular perspective of free, freedom, or grace, coming as it has out of a position of pragmatism that likely arose out of a wrong view of man's nature, and then everything else has to fit into that.  All the passages have to fit into that, even if they have to be forced to do so.  True interpretation doesn't work like that.  Everything in the Bible fits naturally.  There is one God, who doesn't deny Himself, and so the harmony of scripture is not forced.

Rather than finding the message of the whole New Testament, FG finds verses that might teach what it wants the Bible to teach, then adjusts the rest of the New Testament to it.  It is a method similar to Campbellism, which finds a few verses that Campbellism purports the teaching of baptismal regeneration and then makes the rest of the New Testament conform to them.   Alexander Campbell has a big influence on those who say they're just trying to teach what the Bible teaches.  The Church of Christ says that it speaks where the Bible speaks and is silent where the Bible is silent, but actually they're just morphing Campbell.  Their views are part of a Campbellist tradition, that fit the Campbell hermeneutic.  They are easily exposed, but there is still a lot of emotion and angst that can turn into hours of argument.

FG saturates evangelicalism and fundamentalism, arising out of a tradition of Keswick, Finney, Moody, Torrey, Chafer, and then Campus Crusade, among others.   Its plan of salvation was reduced to a kind of pragmatic presentation, like a sales pitch, everything fitting on something that you could carry in a shirt pocket.  It was repeated again and again and again.  There were professions and results, all of which were an assumed validation of its truth.  A few verses took on major importance in the tradition.   That message, however, over a period of time also eroded and began to disintegrate to something easier and simpler.  When it is challenged, it is as if the Bible is being disputed, but it really is a tradition propped up on years of repetition.

The latest iteration of FG is less a biblical theology of salvation as it is an attack on LS.  FG has to defend itself after years of a free pass.  It doesn't look pretty.  Rather than prove its point, it essentially just attempts to debunk LS.  I read it as sending LS into one rabbit trail or wild goose chase after another without providing actual proof itself, beside pulling out its typical proof texts and red herrings.  One of the red herrings is:  salvation and discipleship ARE NOT THE SAME.  I write that in all caps, because either yelling that or reciting it again and again is what gives it authority.  Some of the other red herrings are "make Jesus Lord" or "frontload works" or "commit to changing every aspect of your life ahead of time."  LS must stop itself from dealing with the red herrings, which is difficult.

LS is a read of the New Testament within the arch of the entire biblical narrative.  Lordship is the story.  You take that out and you don't have the same story.  In a sense, you don't have the Bible or the New Testament.  You have in the beginning "God."  Lordship starts there.  Nothing is here without him.  Everything is about worshiping Him.  LS isn't a lense.  It is the entire landscape.  Revelation ends with Lordship.

Chronicles is the last of the Hebrew OT, which has a long genealogy.  Matthew is the first of the NT, Greek and English, and it starts with a genealogy.  You make the connection and it is Jesus is Lord.   Luke starts with saying that it is proving something and what it proves is Lordship.  I can pick out any of the New Testament books and see the same.  Almost every Pauline epistle starts with Paul speaking about Lordship.  I think of 2 Peter.  What do the false teachers have a problem with?  The second coming.  Why?  Jesus is Lord and they want to be.  I think of why people are not saved in Romans 1 -- they hold fast (suppress) the truth in unrighteousness.  They like doing what they want to do and so they suppress the truth.  They like things their way, so they suppress the truth.

If the entire New Testament is the gospel, the message is the Lordship of Christ.  Sure, we can be saved, but we're saved to worship.  We're saved as a love gift to the Son to worship Him forever.  Jesus is exalted, why?  That every knee would confess that He is Lord.  Even Jesus as Savior is tied into Lordship.  How?  Man is in rebellion against God and He can't do what the Lord wants Him to do without being saved.  He can't get into the Kingdom where Jesus is King without being saved.  Unless He is born again, He can't be in the kingdom.

Tell-tale in the whole discussion is the FG taking of "commitment" out of belief.  When you take commitment out of belief, you leave belief as merely intellectual.  You are left with intellectual salvation.  This smacks against the very idea of belief, which might be why they often prefer "accept" instead of "believe," even though "accept" isn't in the Bible.  You can't believe in Jesus and not be committed to Him.  Moses asked, "Who is on the Lord's side?"  Answer of FG, "I am, but I'm not committed to His side, just acknowledging that His side is right."  Moses:  "Fine!"  No, not fine.  Hebrews 11, faith chapter, it's obvious commitment is part of believing.  Commitment is the message of faith there.  If you believe in Jesus, and He is Lord, what is the commitment?  If He is Lord, how could there not be commitment?  Of course there is commitment, but taking commitment out is indicative of a strategy here.

FG was allowed, it seems for many years, to operate with little to no criticism, probably in part because there was a particular view of unity that allowance would support.  They were orthodox on the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, bodily resurrection, inerrancy -- those types of so-called fundamental doctrines.  On those, FG and LS are identical.  Now that there is criticism, probably because salvation has been so watered down to become almost a form of universalism, there is little to nothing to defend FG.  Of the few attempts, the faulty hermeneutic of FG has been exposed.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lordship Salvation for "Dummies"

As a pejorative, inventors of a new doctrine of salvation have titled what is the historical and biblical plan of salvation, "Lordship salvation."  The terminology doesn't sound bad to me, so I own it.  However, all sorts of garbage have been dumped on it to where it must be defined.  One risk is cherry-picked quotes taken out of context.  Lordship salvation isn't hard to defend, just avoiding tortured sound bytes.  The pejorative nature of "Lordship salvation" is that "Lordship" is added to salvation.  I still like the label because it distinguishes from a deficient doctrine of salvation most common today in professing evangelicalism and fundamentalism.

When I evangelize the lost, I often make four points:  (1)  we are all sinners [none of us are good], (2)  we deserve a penalty for sin, (3)  Jesus died for us, and (4) we must believe in Jesus Christ.  That fourth point is most difficult for folks.  In order, the degree of difficulty has been 4, 2, and 1, with 3 being no problem at all --  people accept Jesus died for them.  Almost every religion and every person I ever talk to agrees with number 3.  From the non-Lordship position, that means that almost everyone in America is already saved, because 80 plus (probably 85 plus) percent of the people I talk to agree that Jesus is Savior.  They accept Jesus as Savior.  That would also make me one of the most successful evangelists in the history of mankind, because I've talked to thousands and thousands of people with them agreeing with #3.

We'll park on point 4:  we must believe in Jesus Christ.  And I elaborate that it is faith alone, separate from works.  Wow, that sounds like salvation by faith.  It does, because it is salvation by faith, and, therefore, by grace.  Whatever doctrine someone believes will agree with everything else in the Bible if it is true.  If it's by works, it's not by grace.  If it's by faith, it's by grace.  Faith is not a work.  An interesting aspect to opponents of "Lordship salvation" is their sometimes teaching that faith is a work.  They target "Lorship salvation" for frontloading works -- which it doesn't -- but they themselves then teach salvation by works, because they teach faith itself is a work.  I wag my head over that.

The two major parts to "believe in Jesus Christ" are, first, "believe," and, second, "Jesus Christ."  If "believe" isn't biblical believe and "Jesus Christ" isn't biblical Jesus Christ, then you don't have salvation.  I can believe in Jesus, but if Jesus is a jar of peanut butter, he won't save me.  If Jesus is the spirit brother to Satan or just the archangel Michael, he won't save me.  So I spend time when I'm evangelizing talking about "what believing means" and "who Jesus is."  I say that "a lot of people are confused about what it means to believe in Jesus Christ, so I'm going to explain to you what that means."  Even non-Christians believe this.  They know many professing Christians are not Christian.

It seems that non-Lordship people aren't so concerned about the identity of the Jesus people believe in.  He only needs to be Savior for the proper outcome to their conversation.  Many also exclude "repentance" and if they don't, they often define "repentance" as merely a change of mind.  It's very, very important, they say, that people understand that salvation is free.  Language of "Lord" and "change of direction" or "turning from sin" would make salvation then become by works, according to them.  As a result, the non-Lordship people return from "evangelism" regaling of dozens and dozens saved, very few baptized, and even fewer to none joining.  I don't know if "conversion" is proper language, because it might hint of a different kind of life, which might smack of works.

Is it true that a lot of people say they believe in Jesus Christ, but don't believe in Jesus Christ?  Of course so.  And people are more messed up about that than ever.  The Bible reveals a faith that cannot and will not save (Acts 8, 1 John 2, James 2) as well as "another Jesus" (2 Corinthians 11).   The doctrine of "faith" and the doctrine of "Jesus" can both be perverted and often are today.  So both those, "believe" and "Jesus Christ," must be explained from scripture.

The two biggest ways that both "believe" and "Jesus Christ" are perverted or corrupted today are related to one other.   The gospel is corrupted when "believe" does not include repentance and "Jesus Christ" does not include Him as Lord.  Jesus is the way to the Father (John 14:6).  You can't get there going your way, and your way happens to be idolatrous until then (see Rom 1).  Jesus said that if you did not repent, you would perish (Luke 13:3,5).  He said if you believe, you won't perish (John 3:16), so part of what it means to believe is to repent.

Why don't people turn to Jesus' way?  Because they don't believe in Him.  When you believe He is Lord, you start to follow Him.  You come after Him, as Jesus put it (Luke 9:23).  You seek Him, as Isaiah 55:6-7 puts it.  Before someone repents, he's going down the broad road that leads to destruction, but when He repents (and believes), he's now going down the narrow road that leads to life eternal.  Jesus' call to go down the narrow road was to "enter ye in at the strait gate" (Matthew 7:13-14).   All of this is defining repentant faith, which is not a work (Philip 1:29).

We are saved by God through the Lord Jesus Christ.  We are saved by believing in Jesus Christ.  2 John 1:9-11 (cf. 1 John 2:22-24) teach that you cannot be wrong on the identity of Jesus Christ and be saved.  It's a doctrinal test of faith.  The identity of Jesus Christ more than any one point in the New Testament is His Lordship.  I have mentioned in some of my comments that this is a major part of the New Testament.  The New Testament starts with a genealogy to show that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant, the King who will sit on the throne forever (2 Sam 7:16ff).  Some were looking for that King, even as you see the testimonies of Zacharias, Elizabeth, Simon, Anna, Joseph, Mary, and the magi.  Of course, they too needed to believe He was a suffering Messiah (Luke 24, Isaiah 52-53), but to start, He was the Messiah.  He was the King, which means that they needed to give in to His demands.

Paul talks about Jesus being confessed as Lord (Romans 10:9-10).   He includes before that a quote of Deuteronomy 30:11-14, which is part of the covenant of Deuteronomy 30.  Israel could be blessed through obedience and cursed through disobedience.  The blessing of the covenant is found through the seed -- this is the new covenant.  We couldn't keep the law without Jesus Christ.  Our faith in Jesus Christ is relinquishing our life to Jesus as Lord, which is believing that He is the Messiah, that is, the King.  Or as Peter put in Acts 5 in His sermon there, both Prince and Savior.   In Acts 2, he was warning them that day that the resurrected one would come back as Lord, which was a warning to them to turn to Him, to repent.

God's people are a covenant people.  They became this people, His people, by entering into a covenant.  The ground for the New Covenant is faith.  The covenant is made between someone and someone else.  One side is the LORD, and the other side is a vassal.  The faith inextricably intertwines with Who Jesus is.   According to the covenant, Jesus is God and Lord and Savior and the vassal, provided for by the death and shed blood of Christ, recognizes His authority and acquiesces to Him.  Paul said he was an able minister of the New Covenant (2 Cor 3:6).  Of course, God does all the saving. Deuteronomy 30, a covenant passage, is quoted in the context of Romans 10.  This agreement is akin to that agreement made between the mount of blessing and the mount of cursing.  It is not a work that saves, but there is an agreement that involves the whole person, his intellect, emotion, and will, in belief in Jesus Christ.

These non-Lordship say that turning to the Lord is a work, making salvation not by grace.  Repentance is not a work.  God grants repentance unto life (Acts 11:18).  That is "unto life," not "after life."  Sinners don't get eternal life and then repent.  They repent unto eternal life.  That repentance is granted unto them -- it is not a work (the usual fare here in comments is to ignore this).

The true plan, Lordship salvation, is not complicated, except explained by those who oppose it.  When I talk to unbelievers, they can understand it in 30-60 minutes from start to finish if they are apt to listen.  They also know that Lordship is the truth.  Many times, these are people who in the past have had the kind of experience that non-Lordship advocates are urging people to have.

To maintain their position, anti-Lordship advocates must make a passage such as Luke 9:23-25 into a "discipleship" passage and not a salvation passage.  According to them, Jesus is instructing already saved people how to be better Christians, rather than teaching what salvation is.  That idea just doesn't work -- here's the text:

23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

This is so obviously salvation that anti-Lordships force into some "decision" subsequent to salvation.  To "come after" Jesus, a man must deny himself.  This is an aorist imperative, which calls for a specific, definite choice -- do this now, at once, once for all and in one quick action (in contrast to present imperative which commands a habitual action).  It is akin to the "poor in spirit" in Matthew 5:3 and Paul counting all things as loss and as dung in Philippians 3:8-9.  Jesus elaborates in v. 24.  To save your life (psuche, soul), you must lose it.  It's obvious from v. 25 that Jesus is talking about salvation.  It wouldn't be worth it if you gained the whole world, but lost yourself, your soul that v. 24 talks about.  Being cast away is akin to going to Hell forever.

The anti-Lordship teachers turn this Luke 9 text into a discipleship passage to preserve the idea that no one gives up anything to be saved, since it doesn't cost anything to be saved.  [Hint:  You're giving up nothing to be saved, because your life is altogether vanity until you're saved.  Are Lordship advocates saying there is something more to you than either nothing or loss before your salvation?]  To them, a potential convert doesn't need to lose his life, deny himself, or any of that to be saved.  He only denies himself and loses his life to be dedicated, to reach a higher plane of spiritual existence after his salvation.  How does he get "dedicated"?  This is where revivalist second-blessing teaching comes in.  He's got to sacrifice, really mean it, suffer for it, fast for it, or let go and let God.

The anti-Lordship proponents must turn the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46) into dedication, greater dedication, or discipleship.  Since the man is trading something in, all that he had, for the pearl, the pearl can't be salvation.  Trading everything in would mean that salvation isn't free, that it costs us something.  When Paul traded everything in, according to Philippians 3, he said it was dung and loss that he traded for gain.  He traded in his false religion for knowing Jesus and the power of His resurrection.

In the parables of Jesus in Matthew 13, a man trades in everything to buy a field, which is the kingdom.  He trades everything for the kingdom.  Then a man trades in everything for a pearl of great price, which again is the kingdom.  This is the same teaching as "no man can serve two Masters."  You have to choose your Master.  When you know the value of the kingdom, you would trade whatever is necessary to get it.  In Luke 9, that is to trade your self, your soul.

I've talked to several Hindus in my evangelism.  I've found that they almost always are willing to accept Jesus.  They will gladly add Jesus to the shelf with all their other idols.  According to the anti-Lordship men, does the Hindu have to give up His idols to turn to Jesus Christ alone?  No, because that would be works.  For it to be a free gift, the Hindu just accepts Jesus as Savior.  These Keswick men have wreaked havoc all over India with that plan, proclaiming all their salvation decisions.  At some point in the future, the Hindu man will perhaps become dedicated and then Jesus will be Lord.  At that time, Jesus might be alone in the man's worship.

In Lordship salvation, belief includes repentance.  Repentance includes self-denial.  Repentance means turning from idols to serve the living and true God.  Belief is more than just intellectual and emotional, but also volitional.  In Lordship salvation, someone believes in Jesus Christ, and sacrosanct to a belief in Jesus Christ is that Jesus is God, Lord, and Savior.  All sin is against Lordship.  If someone turns from sin, that means he wants to do what the Lord says.  That means that He wants the righteousness, which is in Christ alone.

The problem is sin. Sin sends to Hell.  Sin is against Lordship.  The Lord says something and man doesn't do it or He says not to do something and man does do it.  As far as I can gather, the anti-Lordship say that a man accepts Jesus as Savior and no thoughts about sin need to be a part of that.  God is saving him from hell, where he's going because he isn't saved.  Why does he need to be saved?  Because he isn't.   He doesn't even have to know that sin is what is sending Him to Hell.  He just has to want to be saved and believe that Jesus is Savior.  If he thinks that sin is sending him to Hell, he might think about wanting not to sin later and frontload works and ruin the plan of salvation.  That mixes works with grace for all that I can gather.  I'm just going to say it:  it's crazy.

Some at times have asked me, "If I didn't receive Jesus as Lord when I got saved, am I saved?"  I don't like just to answer, "Yes."  I think someone could be saved because he wasn't denying Jesus as Lord when he believed on or received Jesus Christ.  He believed in Jesus Christ.  He didn't believe in Him as Lord, but the person knew He was Lord and he wasn't denying that.  He didn't want to be in rebellion any more against Jesus.

I'm sure I'll still have to answer many other comments about what I've presented above.  What I wrote is just the tip of the iceberg.  To do Lordship salvation justice, I would like to go page by page through the New Testament to show how it teaches it all over.  There are proof texts for Lordship salvation, but the best proof is that this is the salvation of the entire New Testament.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Unbiblical Salvation Language, pt. 1

Either Thomas Ross or myself have written "Lordship salvation" related posts in the past and if you want to get caught up on at least what we've already posted, then please do [his will be TR and mine KB, both with numbers to differentiate):  KB1, KB2, KB3, KB4, KB5, TR1, TR2, TR3.  Here are articles either he or I talk about Keswick theology:  TR1, KB1, KB2, TR2.  I haven't written on Keswick perhaps as much as I should.  Thomas Ross is preparing a 1000 page doctoral dissertation on sanctification that will surely break down Keswick for someone.  Until then, but without further delay, read this post.

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A lot of salvation language gave me trouble in both my early and middle childhood.  It was the normal salvation-speak in evangelical, fundamentalist, independent Baptist, and other groups of churches galore.   In the Nye-Ham debate, Nye mentioned the game of telephone.  Perhaps this lingo for churches developed like the game of telephone.  At one time the language used was biblical and, therefore, legitimate, but it degraded like something that has eroded over time.

This will not be the depth of historical study to explain to you exactly where this language came from.  I want to make an educated guess, i.e., say what makes the most sense to me.  The Bible presents only one way of salvation, and not everyone likes it.  You say it how a person would more like to hear it and it catches on -- it works.  It sticks.  You want salvation to be easier for people because you want it to be that they're saved, so you say it in a way that it will be easier and they accept that.  Because it works, you keep doing it.   A paraphrase is made of a paraphrase of a paraphrase and the last iteration becomes accepted as what the Bible actually says.  The talking points no longer reflect the Word of God, but they are treated as if God said them.  In some cases they're slightly off, but key words or thoughts are either missing, added, or a combination of both.

Before I get into the ones I have heard the most, I want to clarify that someone can elaborate or expose the words of the text in a helpful way.  Just because different words are used, that mean the same thing, doesn't mean that the doctrine has been twisted.  When you're trying to get across a verse or phrase in the Bible, you might restate in a way to help people understand.  That's all fine, and it's not what I'm talking about with unbiblical salvation language.

Accept Jesus as Your Savior

Everyone should "accept Jesus as his Savior."  I'm thrilled if someone does that.  Some who use those words in their gospel presentation might be using them in a biblical sense.  I say that, because I've read these words in the midst of a lot of others in a way that doesn't leave it as the only or main point.  Let's be honest and accurate here though.  These words should not stand alone as a saving response to the Lord Jesus Christ.  They shouldn't stand as the crucial, most practical point in a salvation presentation.  They are not biblical salvation language.

"Savior" is found 24 times in the New Testament.  That might sound like a lot, but it isn't compared to the value that is being placed upon it in these plans of salvation.  The terminology itself isn't found in the Bible, but you'll get 88,700 of those exact words on the worldwide web (334,000 of "accept Jesus Christ as your Savior" and 210,000 of "accept Jesus as Savior," and those only with the Americanized spelling of Savior -- the latter gets 187,000 more results with the Anglicized version).  This language is very popular.

The term "Savior" is found only 3 times in the gospels and twice in Acts.  It is used more times in Titus than those combined (6).  And that's before we ever get to how the title "Savior" is being used.  In its second usage, one of the very earliest of the gospels, Luke 2:11 reads:  "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."  You remember that verse?  City of David -- think Davidic Covenant, then Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  He's the Lord, which would hearken to all those Old Testament promises of the Lord, like Psalm 2:2, as one of many, many, many examples:  "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed."  Lord is used three more times in Psalm 2, more times than Savior is used in all four gospels.

When you start looking through those 24 uses of "Savior" in the New Testament, you get to the first in Acts (one of only two), and that usage in Acts 5:31 reads:  "Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins."  If you were hearing that verse that day, you might think that you also should "accept" Jesus as "Prince," since He had risen from the dead and ascended to heaven, after hanging on a tree.  He's going to come back as Judge, because he is "Prince," and you might have some time to turn to Him, to follow Him, and get forgiveness of sins, since He's Saviour.  Sure, that's harder to say than "accept Jesus as Savior," but it is much more complete, gives a fuller picture.

If "accepting Jesus as Savior" were such important language, then why doesn't that occur once in the Bible?  If the concept of "Savior" were so important, or even the word, then why didn't the apostles use it all the time in their preaching?  Now, believe me, I am for using the title "Savior," but definitely not in exclusion of "Lord" in the presentation of Jesus, and not even as the main point, since it isn't the main point.  Will He save?  Yes.  But He won't save while your mind is still made up that you're going to do what you want to do.

As you keep looking at the title "Savior" in the New Testament, you'll see it used almost exclusively on behalf of and directed toward believers, because Jesus is being described as their Savior. But why is He their Savior?  Is it because they've accepted Him as Savior?  It doesn't say that.   The tone of those passages is that He's been so good to them, as their Savior, that they owe Him a lot.  Savior isn' being used in a presentation of the plan of salvation there.

Four of the 24 times "Savior" is found, it is found in the following way, all in 2 Peter:  "Lord and Savior," Lord always coming first.  Eight of the 24 times "Savior" is found, "Lord" is also found in the same verse.  If we count "Prince" in Acts 5:31, that goes for 9 of 24.  Even when "Savior" is used, it gets used with "Lord" over one-third of the time.

Romans is the great salvation book.  Do you agree?  45 times in 39 verses, "Lord."  Zero times, "Savior."  As Paul explains the great doctrine of salvation so much in that book, he doesn't mention "Savior" at all.  Does this mean anything?  It does.  But you won't find "accept Jesus as Saviour" in the book of Romans.  You can't.  So how does it appear as the clinching point in so many plans of salvation for churches -- in their tracts and on their websites?

We have something preached by an angel, who flies around the earth so everyone can see him, in Revelation 14:6 called the "everlasting gospel."  It would be interesting, wouldn't it, to know what the everlasting gospel is?  The next verse begins that everlasting gospel:  "Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters."  Does anyone wonder why the angel doesn't just say, "Accept Jesus as your Savior!!!"?  Perhaps he's talking to people who are already believers, since "fear God" and "worship him" are only sanctification concepts that can't be done until after someone is saved.  Should we accuse the angel of preaching works salvation?  But, of course, I speak in jest.

If someone wants Jesus as his Savior, He's not going to get that by merely "asking Jesus to be His Savior."  If He doesn't want Jesus as Lord, Jesus won't be His Savior.  If He won't fear God, repent of His sin, deny Himself, and turn to Jesus Christ for Who Jesus really is, He won't be saved.  Is that so hard to add to the equation in the explanation?  But won't people find "accept Jesus as your Savior," much easier to accept?  Sure.  But is that what Jesus our Savior gave us as an example to do?

Romans 6:23 says that "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."  Eternal life is a gift.  So how we get that gift is by simply accepting it, right?  It doesn't say, but we could listen to Peter, on the day of Pentecost, who said, "Repent . . . and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).  He said, "Repent and you get the gift," not "accept the gift and you get the gift."  Eternal life is through Jesus Christ our Lord.  "Through.  Our Lord."  You get to that gift through Jesus Christ our Lord.

More to Come.