Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Ambiguity, Confusion, Contradiction, and License of Universal Church Practice

Catholic means universal.  The Catholic church came out of an allegorical, neo-platonic interpretation of scripture, convenient to amillennialism.  The Reformers protested a chunk of Catholicism, not all of it.  Among some other doctrines, they kept catholicism itself.  They kept a state church mentality too.

Protestants almost exclusively believe that the true church is a universal, invisible entity made up of all believers.  Not surprisingly, of those rejecting the state church, of those remaining separate, Baptists, believe that the only church, so the true church, is local only.  It's an assembly.  Some Baptists consider themselves Protestant, and they're usually also the professing Baptists who believe that the true church is universal and invisible with a local church being a mere visible manifestation of the true one.

It's easy to understand how that local only ecclesiology works itself out in the real world.  God is one.  Nothing in the Bible denies anything else in the Bible because it's God's Word --- when the doctrine is true, that's how it works.  This is not how universal church doctrine works.  You will die by a hundred paper cuts of contradictions.

I come to this subject today because of reading a post entitled, "Should Bible colleges have women serve as chapel speakers?"  "Chapel speakers" is careful wording, because it was reported (I didn't listen or watch) that she preached, it seemed like.  I'm not really attempting to make a point about women preachers at this point.  Setting aside whether she was preaching or not, a big question or discussion about this was "is it OK for the woman to preach in chapel, since that's an educational institution and not church, and such?"

She could preach because it isn't a church and those restrictions about preaching relate to the church.  But what is the church?  Well, in this case the church is local.  That allows women preachers in the educational context.  On the other hand, training preachers in the educational institution can come because the true church is all believers.  Preachers are being trained in the universal church, of which the Bible college or university is a part, unless a woman is preaching, at which point it's an educational institution.

You actually get the same kind of discussion about separation.  You can bring in speakers you otherwise wouldn't have in your church, because of separation, to your college or seminary, because that isn't a church, being that at that point it is an educational institution.   I bring you the universal church, which makes this all possible.  You train preachers there because of the universal church and you don't separate because it is an educational institution.

If you like music and you're really good at it -- maybe not good enough to earn a living playing it in the world -- you could play it in the universal church in a Christian concert.  Christians will pay you to come and worship in the church, the universal church.  It might not be something the pastor of the church approves of, but it's hard to question whether it is worshiping God in the universal church.  You might even feel more unity there than you do in your own church with the breakdown of denominational lines and such.

The universal church justifies a lot out there.  It also causes a lot.   There are so many holes in the universal church that it can easily allow unsaved people -- ironically -- almost requires it.  Many overlook doctrine because keeping unity in the church, the catholic one, is necessary.   The universal church has room for continuationism, amillennialism, rock music or sacred, long skirts or short ones, infant sprinkling or adult immersion, etc.  Don't get me wrong, there are certain things that the local church and the universal church sometimes can't put up with, like King James Version only.  Both "churches" can get picky about that.  Maybe not women preachers or chapel speakers though.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Is It That You're Really Missing Something? Forms of Second Blessing Theology, pt. 4

The last comment under the last post in this series read:

It was interesting - a friend and I were discussing how to live a victorious Christian life, and it reminded me of viewing this blog post earlier today. I'm a little confused though; are there not practical steps to living a victorious Christian life? I know there isn't a "second blessing," a feeling, or something like that. But it is also clear that not all (or even most) Christians, who are truly saved, live a spiritual Christian life. Instead, they live carnally, or Laodicean-like at best. What is the key to being an overcoming, spiritual Christian?

All Christians will live a victorious Christian life.  Many places in the New Testament say that, but I'm reminded of 1 John 5:1-5:

1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world.  It's a guarantee.  Overcoming characterizes the Christian.  Romans 8:28-30 promises it.  Everyone God justifies He has predestined to conform to the image of His Son.  This is the message of Jesus at the end of every one of His messages to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3.  People who are saved will have victory.

The problem today is that there are many, many unconverted people in churches, because they have heard a false gospel that either did not present scriptural faith or a biblical Jesus.  They can't live a victorious life because they are not born of God.   The person has no victory because He does not have the love of God in his heart.  This is a test of faith.

The comment itself smacks of second blessing theology.  The anonymous comment person said he didn't believe in second blessing theology, but he manifested his second blessing theology when he said that most Christians do not live a spiritual Christian life.  He divides Christians into carnal Christians and spiritual Christians.  There are no carnal Christians, only spiritual ones.  The carnal Christian doctrine was popularized in 1918 by Lewis Sperry Chafer in his book, He That Is Spiritual, that was then eviscerated by B. B. Warfield in 1919.  No Christian will live in a perpetual state of carnality, waiting for a higher life or second blessing or the baptism of the Spirit or fresh oil.  He has everything he needs the moment he is justified.

He also talks about a Christian being Laodicean.  That's another marker of second blessing and keswick.  Those at Laodicea were unsaved.  That church is an apostate church.  The "lukewarm Christian" is another "carnal Christian" that is part of the second blessing theology.   Lukewarm is not referring to a saved person, but someone who is most likely never to be saved.  God spews him out of His mouth.  Language like lukewarm and backslidden and these types of terms have become the currency of keswick and second blessing. They explain "Christians" who very likely are not Christian.  The Bible doesn't explain these people as saved, but they are labeled so by this new theology.

In 2 Corinthians 12:21-13:10, the Apostle Paul reveals requirements of sanctification.  When someone is sinning, he should repent.  If he doesn't, he should be disciplined.  When he is disciplined, he should submit to authority.  If he won't, then he should examine himself as to whether he really is a Christian.  The goal, however, is someone not doing evil, but doing right without anyone having to discipline.  Paul didn't want to do that, but he would if they wouldn't repent.  If Christians are doing right, then they don't need to repent and won't need discipline.

Through the new covenant, a believer already has victory through the Lord Jesus Christ.  He will experience that victory through obedience, by just doing right.  Doing right will characterize his life, because that is the nature of the grace of God.

Paul teaches in Romans 7 and 8 that sanctification is a struggle against the flesh.  If you are going to point to anything as a "key" in sanctification it is mortification (Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5).  A tremendous, old work on this is by John Owen, entitled, Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers, and I recommend every Christian to read it.  It's tough sledding, but if you go slow, it will be tremendous edification.  It is simply Owen's fine exegesis of the applicable passages in Romans.

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

I decided to deal with the "carnal Christian" issue here in the main text and not the comment section.   The title of Chafer's book, He That Is Spiritual, comes from 1 Corinthians 2:15, and this is where Chafer gets it wrong, I believe, under the influence of Oberlin, where he graduated and where Finney had been long time president, and that of Scofield (read Mark Snoeberger's journal article, including the footnotes).  Chafer divided people into three categories:  the natural man, the carnal Christian, and the spiritual Christian.

Chafer fails in that 1 Corinthians 2 presents two categories of people, the natural man and the spiritual man.  The natural man of 1 Corinthians 2 and the carnal man of 1 Corinthians 3 are the same person.  The natural man in 2:14 is psuxikos, a person controlled by himself, by his own soul (The -ikos ending says "controlled by" or "pertaining to" or "characterized by").  The natural man is in control of his own life and destiny.  The spiritual man, 2:15, is pneumatikos, so the Spirit controls him.  These are the unsaved person and the saved person respectively.

So, in chapter 3, Paul says he could not speak to them "as" unto spiritual, really referring back to the spiritual man of chapter 2, but plural, spiritual men.  He's saying he couldn't talk to them like they were saved people, that is, people who could understand spiritual things.  "But" (alla, strong contrast, on the contrary) "as" carnal (sarkikoi, people controlled by the flesh).   Paul couldn't talk to them like they were saved, but like they were unsaved.  Paul is talking to Christians, so he says, "as."  If he was actually talking to the so-called carnal Christians, he could just say, 'speaking to carnal Christians,' not "as."

He also says "as babes in Christ."  He is talking to Christians, but "babes" doesn't have to be a Christian.  It isn't in Hebrews 5 and in Galatians 4.  It doesn't universally mean "saved person."  Paul isn't creating a category of carnal Christian.  He isn't differentiating the two like they are two types of Christians.  These Corinthians are behaving like unsaved people.  He's having to talk to them like they are unsaved.

Parallel with this is Romans 8:5-9:

 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Is the carnal in this text a Christian?  Of course not.

With that being said, Paul is talking about position.  Every saved person still has the flesh, so he can behave carnally.  He isn't carnal, but he can obey his flesh and not the Holy Spirit.  Practically, he isn't living spiritually.

Some reading, I'm sure, would ask, "So what's the difference?"  The difference might seem minor, but it isn't.  There is no category of carnal Christian.  Christians sin.  That's not spiritual.  That's fleshly.  However, it doesn't mean that there are those two categories of Christians, meaning that there are three natures for people and not just two.  When we're saved, we receive a new nature and the old nature is gone.  We still have the flesh, but we aren't natural or carnal anymore, speaking of position.

In keswick or second blessing theology, the carnal Christian is the Christian who accepted Jesus as Savior, but hasn't been dedicated or hasn't received Jesus as Lord of his life.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Is It That You're Really Missing Something? Forms of Second Blessing Theology, pt. 3

When you compare a historical, biblical view of sanctification with forms of second blessing theology, what are the differences?  People usually want to know the practical results of whatever belief one takes, and that's understandable, but it is also often a trap, because the first difference is that one is biblical, that is, it obeys God, and the other one doesn't.  They can't both be true.  The Bible presents one way, not a buffet of various choices.

Many who believe in some form of second blessing theology likely do not know that there is some other view.  It's all they've ever heard.  However, it isn't the historic and biblical view.  If I were to characterize the forms of second blessing, they would be either a perversion or misunderstanding of the eras of miracles, making them normative for today.  To understand the difference though, we should first consider the historic view.  The following is the gist of it.

A man has one nature only, first born with a sinful one.  When he is converted, however, the old one passes away and he receives a new redeemed nature, united to Christ.  He still has the flesh, human fallenness found in his not glorified body.  A Christian struggles with his flesh, the fallen impulses that yet remain in his body.  His old nature is crucified and new nature now reigns in his inner man, giving him a desire for righteousness.  Sanctification is the mortification of sin while at the same time learning practical righteousness.  He must reckon himself dead to sin and alive to God, meaning he should count his old nature as dead, having a new nature in Christ and cooperating with what the Holy Spirit is doing in him through the Word of God.

It's tough to write an exact second blessing description, because there are varied forms of it, as I've said.  Technically, second blessing says sanctification begins at one's justification but is perfected afterwards at a single moment.  John Wesley taught this, which later Charles Finney adopted.  One nuance involves what some will call "baptism of the Spirit," in which someone is given new or greater power or even more of the Holy Spirit.  It involves steps.  Step one accepts Jesus as Savior.  Two comes with a decisive moment of surrender to Christ as Lord, which effects victory over sin and attainment of a higher level of Christian living.  The second step might be where he stops being carnal. In my experience, he doesn't ever need to stop being carnal, but can skip straight from one to three, which is glorification.  If lordship comes in, it's in step two, and this is a complete surrender where someone starts getting success over his sin.

Historic Christianity says sanctification is a struggle and is a gradual, day-by-day process, and second blessing is a modern innovation, that is a decisive post-conversion act of surrender to a higher life of spiritual living.  If someone is looking for the latter as a biblical point of view, he's going to have trouble.   At most, he'd have to be a Charismatic, which would say that the sign gifts were for today.  The Charismatic movement doesn't look like the Bible, but the revivalist version of it brings some sort of powerful experience that falls even further short of biblical sign gifts.

A historic, biblical Christian believes he isn't missing anything.  He's going to struggle.  He already has the victory in Christ, but he needs to cooperate with what the Holy Spirit is always doing.  He isn't going to get any more power than what he already has, because He has all of it.

The second blessing in most cases is always looking for some higher level of Christian living.  He might call it revival.  After he's saved, he's got to act in any number of ways to get there.  By behaving in a moral way, he can help himself along to get there.  He can exchange a certain kind of dedication to get more spiritual stuff.  God doesn't just give it to him, but he buys it by praying more or fasting more or aligning himself with more moral standards.

An irony to second blessing, as I've witnessed it, is that the power gotten as a second blessing isn't the reason for the growth.  The growth justifies it.  The growth says that he must have more power. However, the growth comes from man-made, man-designed techniques used to manipulate people.  Then when the strategies or techniques "work," they say that this came because of the power.

Another example of the last paragraph is the use of architecture and music and preaching style, even color.  They cause an environment, a feeling.  People want a feeling.  They say it's the Holy Spirit, but it is in line with ecstasy, an excitement.  The speaker calls it unction.  At the end of the sermon, music and emotion are used to get these decisions that are what second blessing is all about.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Please Stop

"Please Stop" is going to be a periodic series of posts in which I talk about things that I wish would stop.  I'll get back to my series about second blessing theology later.  My family and I are on vacation.

"Please Stop" could apply to a lot of different areas, but I'm mainly going to deal with cultural, ecclesiological, theological, and spiritual issues.  The beauty of "Please Stop" is that I can write about whatever it is that I want, as much or as little.  I won't come back unless something has motivated me to do that.

Obviously, I could say, "Christian" boys wearing skinny jeans, please stop, and maybe I will, but that's not primarily where I'm heading with this series.  Once some of you start to read, you might be saying, "Please stop 'Please Stop.'"

Churches that put superficial, very shallow lyrics to either carnival music or Texas honky tonk, Please Stop.  I spent 45 minutes deciding where we would stop for church on the road.  What makes it tough?  You want a scriptural sermon, actual Bible preaching.  There is more than a 50% chance that you won't get that an independent Baptist church today.  The doctrine and practice of the church is important to me.  So we did all we could do to stop for worship on a Sunday night.  The pastor is sick.  He couldn't preach so he invited a friend to entertain his congregation.  I could describe to you what I saw, but it was the epitome of disrespect to God.  It centered right on men, what would please them.  The body language is all about "look at me."  Please Stop.

The word "celebrate" with church.  Please Stop.  I drive by a church with a banner for Easter.  It says to the world "celebrate the resurrection with us."  I saw this for a reformed Baptist church.  Who in the community, that isn't already going to church, is actually going to celebrate the resurrection?  Is this something you do on the spur of the moment?  And what is "celebrating"?  Where is "celebrate" in the Bible.  We celebrate our birthdays and anniversaries, but this word "celebrate" makes church sound like a party.  A party is what people in the world want church to be.  Everyone wants a party.  But celebrate?  Please Stop.

One more.  Ironic t-shirts.  I dream of a world without the t-shirts with the ironic statements.  Let's get serious before we get ironic.  The epitome of cleverness purchased by someone who isn't clever. Don't make baklava your first course when you can't boil a potato.  Please Stop.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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

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

In order.

1 Corinthians 1:4-7:

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

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

Ephesians 1:3:

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

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

Colossians 2:9-10:

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

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

2 Peter 1:1-4:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More to Come

Monday, April 14, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More to Come

Friday, April 11, 2014

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

Note: This composition has been moved to the FaithSaves website. The text from "12.) The true church ...  "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?” (Rom 9:20) was originally in the text of this post. Read the complete composition by clicking here.



Monday, April 07, 2014

Who Can Say Who's Wrong?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**********

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 04, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TDR

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

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

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

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

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

44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things.

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

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

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

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

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

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