Friday, October 30, 2015

The Dean Burgon Society and King James Bible Research Council: Would I Join Them?

The Dean Burgon Society and King James Bible Research Council are both significant organizations defending the preservation of Scripture.  They stand for the Old and New Testament Textus Receptus, specifically the Hebrew Masoretic Text that underlies the King James Version, essentially the 1524-1525 edition of Jacob Ben Chayyim, and the Greek Textus Receptus ed. Scrivener, as well as the Authorized Version itself.  These are noble goals, highly to be commended.  

Reasons to Join

The Dean Burgon Society's doctrinal statement affirms:

Acknowledging the Bible to be the inerrant, infallible, plenarily and verbally inspired Word of God, among other equally Biblical truths, we believe and maintain the following:

    A.  THE BIBLE.
We believe in the plenary, verbal, Divine inspiration of the sixty-six canonical books of the Old and the New Testaments (from Genesis to Revelation) in the original languages, and in their consequent infallibility and inerrancy in all matters of which they speak. The books known as the Apocrypha, however, are not the inspired Word of God in any sense whatsoever. As the Bible uses it, the term "inspiration" refers to the writings, not the writers; the writers are spoken of as being "holy men of God" who were "moved," "carried" or "borne" along by the Holy Spirit in such a definite way that their writings were supernaturally, plenarily, and verbally inspired, free from any error, infallible, and inerrant, as no other writings have ever been or ever will be inspired.

We believe that the Texts which are the closest to the original autographs of the Bible are the Traditional Masoretic Hebrew Text for the Old Testament, and the traditional Greek Text for the New Testament  underlying the King James Version (as found in "The Greek Text Underlying The English Authorized Version of 1611").

We, believe that the King James Version (or Authorized Version) of the English Bible is a true, faithful, and accurate translation of these two providentially preserved Texts, which in our time has no equal among all of the other English Translations. The translators did such a fine job in their translation task that we can without apology hold up the Authorized Version of 1611 and say "This is the WORD OF GOD!" while at the same time realizing that, in some verses, we must go back to the underlying original language Texts for complete clarity, and also compare Scripture with Scripture.

We believe that all the verses in the King James Version belong in the Old and the New Testaments because they represent words we believe were in the original texts, although there might be other renderings from the original languages which could also be acceptable to us today. For an exhaustive study of any of the words or verses in the Bible, we urge the student to return directly to the Traditional Masoretic Hebrew Text and the Traditional Received Greek Text rather than to any other translation for help.

This statement is commendable.  So is the portion on Bibliology in the doctrinal statement of the King James Bible Research Council:

As a council of Fundamental, Bible Believing Christians…

We believe the HOLY SCRIPTURES, the 66 canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, are given by inspiration of God, and are able to make men wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

We believe that God has providentially preserved His Word, including the very words of Scripture, in the traditional texts of the Bible.

We believe the King James Version preserves, by accurate translation, the inerrancy of the Greek Received Text and the Hebrew/Aramaic Masoretic text for English speaking people.

While I prefer the doctrinal statement here as a more precise statement on preservation than either of the formulations above, they are both commendable and something that members of true churches should be able to agree upon and defend.

Furthermore, both organizations publish useful material on the topic of the KJV and Bible preservation.  The Dean Burgon Society in particular sells a large number of very valuable books.  They have a very extensive catalog with some great works defending the preservation of Scripture.  Dr. D. A. Waite's Fourfold Superiority of the King James Version is a classic on the topic that is worth reading.  The Defined King James Bible is a great resource that defines at the bottom of each page the words that can be misunderstood in the KJV because of changes in the English language since 1611.  It makes a great Bible for a pew and for the home use of the saints in the pew.  The publications of both the Dean Burgon Society and the King James Bible Research Council on preservation are worth reading.  While I believe that the DBS's unwillingness to call translated Scripture "inspired" in any sense of the word is an overreaction to Ruckmanism (see, for example, my exegetical study of 2 Timothy 3:16 in relation to this question and my review of H. D. William's book The Miracle of Inspiration), their opposition to Ruckmanite error is highly commendable and, indeed, essential for the truth about the perfect preservation of Scripture to continue in the long term among the saints.

Furthermore, as far as I can tell, both the president of the Dean Burgon Society, Dr. Donald A. Waite, and the president of the King James Bible Research Council, Dr. David Brown, are fundamental Baptists pastoring independent Baptist churches.  This, of course, is also a very good thing.

Reasons Not to Join

Regrettably, despite all of the wonderful things about the Dean Burgon Society and the King James Bible Research Council, fidelity to Scripture and its Author impels me to refuse to join either organization.  Why?  First, because neither organization takes a clear stand on a pure gospel.  Neither organization's doctrinal statement says a word about repentance.  The DBS statement simply affirms:

We believe that salvation accomplished by Christ is experienced only through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit by the Word of God, not by works, but by God's sovereign grace through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour.

The King James Bible Research Council statement affirms:

We believe that men are justified by faith alone, and are accounted righteous before God only because of the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Those statements are, of course, entirely true, but they are insufficient when the modern damnable heresy of Hyles and others that repentance does not involve turning from one's sins is spreading its hellish leaven through many fundamental Baptist churches.  As this blog has noted recently, confusion on repentance is even present among some Fundamental Baptist Fellowship leaders such as John Mincy (see here and here).  Others who do not overtly adopt the heresy publish contradictory and confusing ideas that muddy the clear Biblical truth (e. g., the truth mixed with horrible error in such statements as: "If repent means turning from sins, why did Jesus die?" here).  All of this is clearly contrary to the plain Biblical teaching that repentance does indeed involve turning from one's sins to Christ as Lord and Savior, as well as the teaching of every major Baptist confession of faith on this topic (for exegetical and historical proof, see here).

So where do the Dean Burgon Society and the King James Bible Research Council stand on the gospel, specifically on the nature of repentance?  I was greatly grieved to learn that the KJBRC's annual meeting this year is going to be at the grounds of a religious organization that officially opposes the Biblical doctrine of gospel repentance, namely, the Quentin Road Bible Baptist Church  in Lake Zurich, IL, which runs the Dayspring Bible College.  The college's doctrinal statement affirms:

Repent (metanoeo) means a change of mind. Repentance in salvation means a change of mind from any idea of religion that man may have and to accept God’s way of salvation. Repentance does not in any sense include a demand for a change of conduct before or after salvation. Matthew 21:32, Acts 20:21, II Corinthians 7:8-10. One of the counterfeits Satan is using today is the misuse of the word repent. To insist upon repentance that in any sense includes a demand for a change of conduct either toward God or man is to add an element of works or human merit to faith. Penance is payment for sin. Penitence is sorrow for sin. Works add something of self in turning from sin. But repent (metanoeo) means a change of mind. Repentance in salvation means a change of mind from any idea of religion that man might have and accepting God’s way of salvation. Nowhere does Scripture use the phrase, “repent of sin to be saved.”

Not only does this statement adopt the heretical and corrupt doctrine of repentance absent from Scripture and all Baptist confessions, it even calls it a counterfeit of Satan. Is that acceptable to the King James Bible Research Council?  I asked the president, Dr. Brown, concerning this matter. What I sent him (in part) was the following:

Contrary to this [Dayspring] statement, and in accord with the Biblical evidence covered at and in many other places, I agree with every classic Baptist confession of faith (and every Koine Greek lexicon that defines metanoeo, for that matter) and believe as follows:

[S]aving 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 endeavour, by supplies of the Spirit, to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things. (Zechariah 12:10; Acts 11:18; Ezekiel 36:31; 2 Corinthians 7:11; Psalms 119:6; Psalms 119:128) (2nd London Baptist Confession of Faith, Article 15)

 “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).

As the modern idea that repentance does not involve turning from sin/sins, and the Biblical and Baptist truth that repentance does indeed involve turning to Christ from one's sin/sins, are two radically different ideas, and one of them is highly displeasing to God, according to Galatians 1:8-9, I was wondering if the King James Bible Research Council took a stand on the true gospel and, with the Triune God and those who love Him, passionately love the true gospel and loathe, detest, and expose false gospels, or if two radically different views of how the lost appropriate salvation are acceptable to the council, as long as one has a nice view on the preservation of Scripture.

My sincere hope is that somehow the horrible statement on the Dayspring website is an oversight which will immediately be removed once it it brought to the attention of the sincere people who put it there, and/or that the King James Bible Research Council had no idea that such a rejection of the gospel was found in the Dayspring website, and will hold its meeting elsewhere where Christ's true gospel is embraced, if the dear people at Dayspring are unwilling to renounce the corruption of the gospel presented on their website.

Sadly, Dr. Brown indicated that the KJBRC had no intention whatsoever of doing anything about the corrupt gospel promulgated by Dayspring.  It was not something to make an issue, so it seems.  I would reproduce his exact words to me in his e-mail, but when I asked him about this, he did not give me permission to do so; I will therefore refrain from giving you his exact words.  It is sufficient to say that the KJBRC is still planning on meeting there.  A corrupt gospel is not a problem for them; two utterly contradictory views of repentance, at least one of which is Satanic, are fine as long as one believes in the KJV.  Paul stated that "no other doctrine" was to be allowed in the church (1 Timothy 1:3), and when Peter confused a lesser issue that only indirectly related to the gospel--eating with Gentiles rather than only with Jews (Galatians 2:14), Paul withstood him to his face (Galatians 2). For Paul, those actually promulgating a false gospel were not tolerated, "no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue" (Galatians 2:5).  Sadly, for the KJBRC, a corrupt gospel is to be tolerated, and with such an attitude, the truth of the gospel will not continue.  Vast multitudes are screaming in hell today because of the abominable rejection of repentance taught by Quentin Road Bible Baptist Church and Dayspring Bible College, and vast multitudes more will adopt and teach their heresy, leading to the damnation of multitudes more, if such apostasy is tolerated.  Anyone who cares about the purity of the gospel, loves the holy Lord of the church who wants a pure Bride for Himself, or who believes in Biblical separation, should avoid KJBRC meetings and membership in their organization.

What about the Dean Burgon Society?  I asked Dr. Waite the following question:

Good day!  I was looking over the Dean Burgon Society articles of faith here:

and I just wanted to confirm that in the article on "salvation" here:

We believe that salvation accomplished by Christ is experienced only through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit by the Word of God, not by works, but by God's sovereign grace through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour.

That it allows for the following:

a.) Both advocates of what is called "Lordship salvation" and what is called "Free Grace" theology could be DBS members (as long as they agreed to everything else in the doctrinal statement, of course)


b.) Both Calvinists and Arminians could be DBS members (as long as they agreed to everything else in the doctrinal statement).

Dr. Waite's response (which he did give me permission to post) was, in part:

Though "free grace theology" is not defined, the above DBS doctrine of SALVATION is totally and completely opposed to "LORDSHIP SALVATION."  Those who believe in this as defined by John MacArthur and others could not HONESTLY sign our DBS doctrinal statement. . . . Our doctrinal statement does not address either "Calvinists" or "Arminians."

Thus, it appears that so-called "Free Grace" soteriology is acceptable at the DBS, although contrary to Scripture (see here), as well as both Calvinism and Arminianism, but not Lordship salvation.  While it is possible that Dr. Waite takes the view that Lordship salvation is some form of salvation by works, an (inaccurate) view in which he is joined by other sincere and godly men, the very minimum one can say is that the Dean Burgon Society is not clear on repentance, allows for errors on that topic, and even allows people who think you can lose your salvation to be members, but those who take a strong stand for receiving an undivided Christ who is both Lord and Savior are not accepted.

There are other reasons not to join the King James Bible Research Council and the Dean Burgon Society, such as weak ecclesiology.  One does not need to be a Baptist, but can be a baby-sprinkler, and the organizations themselves are parachurch.  I wanted to emphasize the view of the gospel, though, in this post.  Thus, sadly, despite the many wonderful books published by the DBS and the sound stand on preservation contended for by both organizations, the answer to the question "Would I join them?" is an indubitable "no," for the reasons listed above.  I would not join them, and neither should you.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

God Designed Roles, Their Symbolism, and Sodomy

God designed male and female.  He also designed each for a different role.  Being male and female looks different because they are made for two different purposes.  Sure, there is similarity.  They are both human being, man and woman.  They are both made in the image of God.  They are both equal in essence.  Their roles are different.  God designed them different and designed their bodies different for the two distinct roles.

The two roles, male and female, are equal in value.  The male role isn't more important than the female one.  Role does not determine worth. Worth is found in the essence of each.  God made man, both male and female, of equal value in essence.  The two roles are equal in value, but they are not equal in authority.

The roles are modeled in the Godhead.  The Father and the Son are equal in essence, but each Person has a different role.  The Father is in authority over the Son, but that does not make the Son less than the Father.  Their roles are different, but equal.  However, the Son always fulfills His role, as does the Father.

To acknowledge, support, and even celebrate the distinct roles, to rejoice in one's particular role, God also designed differences in appearance, symbols of manhood and womanhood.  Male and female look different.  It's not a matter of looking different.  They look different.  God expects designed distinctions in appearance.  These are symbols of the roles God designed.  This is how Christians have believed and practiced through history.

The world doesn't recognize roles designed by God.  It doesn't recognize God as Designer.  The world doesn't want to obey God.  The world wants to do what it wants.  Christians are different.  True Christians, the only Christians, recognize God's designed distinctions and support them.  Like Jesus received His role, followers of Jesus receive theirs.  The world doesn't acknowledge, support, or celebrate the roles God designed, and a difference between Christians and the world is the former's embrace the roles in such fashion.

Bruce Jenner says he's a woman.  How does he show that?  He wears the female symbol -- the dress, the skirt.  Everyone knows that.  When you break down the roles, you break down the symbols.  This is why 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 is given such space.

The world, as of its Father the devil, hates God and hates His design.  So-called Christians today want a Christianity that gets along with the world.  They even explain it as an evangelistic strategy.  They call it incarnational and missional.  They are relating to the world by dressing like the world.  They are even more godly because they don't look different than godless pagans, who reject God's design.

A symbol in Corinth was the head covering.  The symbol in most places for much of history, and especially in cultures that recognize God's design has been men wearing pants and women wearing skirts.  This isn't fundamentalism.  It has been the entire Western culture.  This was a good thing, just like the head covering was in Corinth.  The culture began eradicating the symbol in rejection of the designed distinct roles.  Most everyone knew that.  Most still know it.

Sodomy links a man with a man in intimate ways.  Men using each others bodies.  That is a deviation from God designed distinction.  It starts with other deviations, confusing the symbols.  Our culture never replaced the symbols, and it doesn't recognize the distinctions in role.  Christianity has followed suit.  Now Christians are mocked if they believe and practice like Christians did for the entire history of Christianity.  And even now sodomy is accepted in churches.

You might reject Sodomy, but principally you don't if you reject distinct roles and you principally don't if you reject the symbolism. You rebel against the role distinction when you rebel against the symbols.  God wants public support.  Not supporting, not advocating, not celebrating, is going against.

Truth is antithetical.  You can't love truth if you don't hate error. Those who reject the symbols support the error of role reversal.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Greater Works: What Are We to Expect?

You've got a Bible, and now it must look like you represent it.  Anyone reading the Bible will see that Jesus said the following in John 14:12:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

Earlier in John 5:20, He had said the following:

For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.

These are the two places anywhere in the King James Version of the Bible where you get the terminology, "greater works." A lot of expectation for a person and a church has been woven by teachers from these two English words from the King James.  I know Jack Hyles got much distance out of "greater works," enough that I remember thinking about those two words especially as they related to him.  He got thousands.  Others got thousands.  I mean, we're supposed to experience "greater works."  Should I expect it?  I just googled Hyles and "greater works," and here's something he wrote (dictated to his secretary) in Exploring Prayer with Jack Hyles (you've got to love that title):

I find myself not wanting to do greater works than Jesus, but it is in the Bible, and I must face it. I must confess that I never understood that verse completely until recently when I was on an airplane. I had no commentary; I had no books with me except the Bible/ I was reading this passage. Suddenly it hit me! I shouted, "I know what that means! Praise the Lord!" 
The fellow beside me said, "What did you say?" 
I said, "Praise the Lord! Glory to God! I think I just found the meaning of John 14:12." 
With a puzzled look on his face he scratched his head and went back to his reading. 
Now let us examine the petals of this lovely orchid.

Then he examines the orchid.  It couldn't be a tulip, like the 6 points of the orchid -- actually four points here.  He's a four point orchid man.

Also, if he shouted on an airplane today, authority would likely get the marshal involved and turn the plane around.  Shouting, as you know, is a sign of 'Holy Spirit filling.'  Good exegesis "just finds the meaning" like that earnest pastoral candidate.  No process.  No study.  The Holy Spirit just tells you, you dictate it to your secretary and how could it be wrong when you have 100,000 in Sunday School?  His seat mate just scratched his head after he screamed on a plane (yawn) -- just an everyday occurrence.  Something short of a one year old screaming is annoying, but when a grown man screams, I look for the oxygen mask to fall out and I'm searching for the flotation device.

 I've never been in the Charismatic movement and I haven't ever looked for its theologians, but the "greater works" terminology works like the elastic clause, the necessary and proper clause, of the Constitution to a Charismatic.  You drive through a mack truck load of signs and wonders through "greater works."  Reinhard Bonnke (not in my opinion a very Charismatic name) wrote a book length work, greater than other works on greater works, entitled, Even Greater.  Greater works, of course, to Bonnke are the signs and wonders that he and others are "doing" today.

On the other hand, Hyles couldn't say they were the same thing that Bonnke would say, even though if you read him and others like him, you would find that they claimed miracles too.  Hyles focuses his miracles on numbers, the great number of souls "won," which translates to the size of your Sunday morning crowd.  That's a miracle, like Pentecost to them.  Guys like Hyles throw their numbers at you and when you question, their greater works make them safe from criticism   Many knew he was a fraud then, said it, and were criticized. I understand it.  It still happens today.  It doesn't seem different to me.  Much is out of a false view of unity too, which we've exposed many times here.

So, what are "greater works"?  You'd think the Bible talked about this a lot, the emphasis the Charismatics and revivalists put on it.  When you look at John 5:20 and 14:12 in the original language from which the King James Version was translated, you see that the word "works" isn't even the word.  "Greater" is the Greek word mega, which has a wide range of meaning.  It doesn't have to refer to power.  It doesn't even mainly refer to power.  Then you have toutos, the near demonstrative pronoun, so the literal translation is "greater things."  If you look up the two Greek words, it's not twice those occur, but six of them (Mk 12:31, Jn 1:50, 5:20, 14:12, 15:13, and 3 Jn 1:4), five obviously by John the Apostle.

In Mark 12:31, love God is the greater thing.  In John 1:50, Jesus said Nathaniel would see greater things than seeing him under the fig tree.  In John 5:20, Jesus said that the Father would show greater things through Jesus than that crowd was seeing.  John 14:12 mentions the Apostles doing greater things than the works that Jesus had done.  If you go through John, Jesus refers to His own works, the antecedent of "things" in John 14:12, several times.  Jesus' work in John 4:34 is the Father's will, and after that, that is what Jesus' work is in John 5:36, 9:4, 10:25, 10:32, 37-38, and 17:4,   In John 6:29, Jesus says God's work is believing on Jesus.  As the Father sent Jesus to do His work, so Jesus sent us to do it, which is evangelism or discipleship.  In John 15:13, the greater thing is love.  In 3 John 1:4, the greater thing is God's children walking in the truth.  We can't assume that "greater things" was greater miracles or greater numbers of conversions.

When Jesus said the Apostles and then believers would do greater works, that didn't nor does it assume signs, wonders, or miracles.  It doesn't assume greater numbers.  Hyles doesn't make any clear explanation that it is a gigantic or bigger church.  If we would assume anyone, it would be that there would be a greater extent of obedience, more wide-ranging and more of it.  We shouldn't assume it is miracle.

Early in John, John 4, Jesus said in verse 34:  "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work."  In John 10:25, "Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?"  The works for which they were willing to stone Jesus, we know, were not the miracles.  Jesus said they loved those.  They wanted to stone Him for His claims, for His testimony.  He said He was the Messiah.  He preached the message of the kingdom.  The work of God that the Father sent Jesus to do, Jesus passes on to His own in John 20:21, "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you."  There is so much to say here, but Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:17 writes to that church, "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect."

The Apostle Paul was sent to preach the gospel.  At the end of Jesus's physical life, He told His followers, preach the gospel to everyone.  Jesus got to Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Perea -- really amazing for three years, very diligent.  He told us to keep going to the uttermost parts of the earth. Paul said that he worshiped God in the gospel (Rom 1;9).  The Great Commission was make disciples, going, baptizing, and teaching.  As far as Jesus got, much more has been done since then, greater works.  Jesus worked Himself out of a job.  He left the work for us to do.  You are doing greater works if you in your 50 year ministry you go further than Jesus in his three years.  Will you do that?  That is something that you can do, and it has been done, we know.

Don't be discouraged.

Friday, October 23, 2015

You Need Filtered and Accountable Electronic Devices, part 1 of 2

Nobody who is reading this post should be doing so on a device that has neither an Internet filter and/or accountability.  Christians especially should never use a personal computer, phone, or other device with Internet access that is not protected from the evils the world, the flesh, and the devil make easily available on the Internet. The best route is to have both filtering that keeps the bad stuff away and accountability that sends all one’s websites to an accountability partner or two (or more), such as a spouse, pastor, parent, discipler, etc.  You need a filter and Internet accountability because:

1.) Scripture sets the positive pattern: “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me” (Psalm 101:3).  Pornography is without doubt a wicked thing which you must resolve to never, ever set before your eyes.  Holy Job said:  “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” (Job 31:1).  Furthermore, the Lord Jesus Christ warned:  “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).  The fearful connection of lustful looks with ungodly actions was manifested even in the godly king David, the man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).  Even this righteous king, after looking on the nakedness of his neighbor’s wife, committed physical adultery after spiritually committing the sin in his heart (2 Samuel 11).  You should by no means think that you are stronger than King David.

2.)  God warns that sexual temptation is extremely powerful.  Listen to His warning about the “strange woman,” the heathen, pagan, or immoral lady, who has ruined the lives of innumerable godly men and has brought innumerable worldlings to hell:  “Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.” (Proverbs 7:24-27).  Is not an unfiltered computer one of the primary ways today that men go in the “paths” of the immoral woman and are cast down to hell by their own inflamed lusts through her?

 3.) Christ’s model prayer includes the request:  “ And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13).  You cannot honesty and sincerely ask God to not lead you into temptation if you refuse to protect yourself from being a few clicks away from an incredibly vast library of pornography.  Furthermore,2 Timothy 2:22 commands:  “ Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”  Would you say that remaining a handful of seconds away from a bloodthirsty beast that wanted to pounce on you and devour you would be “fleeing” from it?  Genesis 4:7, in the first instance of the word “sin” in Scripture, pictures sin as a bloodthirsty beast with a passionate desire to devour you.  If you have an unfiltered, unaccountable computer or smartphone, you are constantly a handful of seconds away from incredible evil that can permanently ruin your life, your family, your testimony for the Lord, and can have immeasurable eternal consequences.  You are simply and flatly disobeying the command to “flee” lust and “follow” after righteousness if you have an unfiltered device with Internet access.  You are failing to be on guard and watch against that devouring beast of sin, remembering that your flesh is weak (Mark 14:38) and you are giving place to the devil (Ephesians 4:27).  God does not allow the believer to encounter a temptation that he cannot gain victory over by Christ’s enabling grace (1 Corinthians 10:13), but “the way to escape” is regularly to “flee” it, not to keep it around (1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Timothy 2:22; Genesis 39:12).  God commands concerning the way of the wicked:  “Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away” (Proverbs 4:15).  If you have an unfiltered phone, the fact is that you are entering into temptation (Mark 14:38).  Do not be surprised if you fall into it.

4.)  The Lord Jesus also taught: “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.” (Matthew 18:6-8)  It is better to significantly change your lifestyle than to cause one Christian to stumble into sin or one non-Christian to not embrace Christ and the gospel (1 Corinthians 8:13).  If it would be better to have your body parts hacked off than to either sin yourself, lead one of your heavenly Father’s beloved children to sin, or lead one of your fellow men to eternal torment in hell by your bad example, how necessary it is for you to have a filtered computer and Internet accountability!  Vast numbers of Christians have fallen into terrible sin, and vast numbers of unbelievers reject Christ and are eternally damned because their hard hearts are too in love with pornography and other sexual sin to repent and trust in that Savior who always delivers from both the penalty and power of sin when the lost come to Him to be justified by repentant faith alone.  If you are one of the rare people who, by God’s utterly undeserved mercy, does not yourself fall into sin when you have unaccountable and unfiltered Internet access, you are certainly being a terrible example and are causing others to stumble.  If having an unaccountable and unfiltered Internet meant that your right arm and left leg would be chopped off, would you spend a few dollars and get a clean Internet connection?  Who would not?  But it would be better for you to lose your limbs than to cause even one person to stumble by your bad example.  Clearly, today is the day to make sure that you, your family, and everyone you are responsible to God for has clean, accountable, and filtered Internet access, or no Internet access at all.

Note:  For a short time (the next 12 days), using the code FAITHSAVES gives a 60 day free trial of Covenant Eyes instead of the normal 30 day free trial.  Use this link if you want more information or sign up.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Review of Kevin Bauder's Article on 1 Corinthians 12:13

In some previous very recent posts, I talked about an article that relied on almost no exegesis to declare a doctrinal position, and now I'm going to write about one that does the very rare and pleasant act of dealing with a text in order to come to one.  I applaud Kevin Bauder for looking at words and syntax in his approach to 1 Corinthians 12:13.  I would even call his essay the best I've ever read in arriving at the still wrong conclusion to the proof text for universal church advocates.  He falls short of proving his point, but he at least examines the passage in the process -- as I said, a rarity.

The title of Bauder's article on 1 Corinthians 12:13 doesn't inform us of the point of his post, but you'll see it is his argument for a universal, invisible church, reading Spirit baptism into the verse, a commonplace Protestant view.  If Bauder succeeded at showing the passage taught what he says it does, we should all believe what he says, so I think we all should enter into his presentation with an open mind.

As you can read for yourself, Bauder uses the entire first half for writing about the overlapping nature of cases of the noun in New Testament Greek as his launching pad to the meaning of the preposition en (en heni pneumati) in 1 Corinthians 12:13.  The goal here, of course, is to know what 1 Corinthians 12:13 means, not to defend a particular theological presupposition.  If you want a verse or word to mean what you want, you can turn a Greek case or preposition your way.  Bauder argues for an exceptional meaning of en, translated "by" in most of the English translations of 1 Corinthians 12:13, understanding it as the exceptional "agency."  It's root, normal, or foundational meaning is "in," locative (location).  As any Greek student knows, however, there are exceptional usages of Greek prepositions, part of the difficulty of Greek syntax.

In his sixth paragraph, Bauder moves into his purpose.  He provides a list of occasions when en is used in the New Testament communicating agency, and spends two paragraphs writing about the ambiguity, the complexity, of the meaning of en in the New Testament, identical forms translated "in" or "by."  All of this is to argue for the meaning of "by," as in "by one Spirit." He is treating "by" as if it is a major feature to buttress a universal church, invisible body, interpretation of 1 Corinthians 12:13.  It doesn't.

Anyone who reads here knows that Thomas Ross and I have a minor disagreement on the meaning of en in 1 Corinthians 12:13.  We've gone back and forth for years now.  He says "by" and I say "in," and yet we have identical positions on 1 Corinthians 12:13 because the meaning of en is not the major factor for understanding 1 Corinthians 12:13.  I have admitted there are good reasons for "by" in agreement with Thomas Ross.  I don't think of myself as 100% sure that it is "in," and would probably characterize myself as 55% "in" and 45% "by."  Either way, the body is the visible assembly of the Lord, both at Corinth and the one Paul joined by immersion.  Regeneration and immersion are both prerequisites to unify with any one body of Christ.  The meaning of en doesn't change that.  I'm not going to review my reason for believing that en means "in," but Bauder doesn't deal with it in his article.

Bauder's argument that pneuma is Holy Spirit and not the human spirit goes along with his argument for "by" and is the same as Thomas Ross's, a fine one, but it doesn't buttress a universal church position.  Bauder also hints that "we all" means "all saints."  He doesn't explain why "we all" must mean all saints in the entire world.  "We all" doesn't have to mean every believer on earth.  The normal usage has Paul referring to his audience at Corinth and then himself.  There is a lot that Bauder assumes here, perhaps believing that he's not persuading anyone, just preaching to the choir.  I would still be waiting for evidence that "we all" includes every saint on earth.  If I said to you, "we all went to the park," you wouldn't assume that meant everyone in the world went to the park.

I want to digress a moment to observe that those, who see 1 Corinthians 12:13 like Bauder, do believe that "by one Spirit," agency, is an important argument for the universal church.   They would be saying that the Holy Spirit doesn't water baptize people into a visible assembly, so this must be Spirit baptism, a kind of baptism they would say "places people into the invisible body of Christ," the true church in their surmising.  So, if it can't be water baptism, it must be Spirit baptism, they say, and so the body must be a spiritual body.  Bauder assumes that point, as if it is so obvious that it needs no argument.

In contrast to what Bauder assumes, 1 Corinthians provides plenty of basis to believe that, even if en pneumati means agency, that the Holy Spirit is also the agency of water baptism into a single assembly.  A lot of activity in 1 Corinthians by believers is accomplished "by the Spirit," even with the en pneumati construction.  Two earlier general examples of this are found in 1 Corinthians 6:6 and 11 (underline provided):

By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, . . . And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

However, even more telling is the usage right in the very context of which Bauder speaks, something he doesn't even mention.  It's poor to assume something that is the opposite of what the actual context shows.  It starts with 12:3 (underlining provided).

Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

Then look at 12:8-11 to see everything in those verses considered the work of the Spirit within which the ordinance of immersion would qualify (underlining provided):

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

Everything that a believer does in obedience to the Bible is equal to and in addition to his submission to the Holy Spirit, His filling, so that the Holy Spirit enables that obedience.  Bauder didn't show at all why his agency position also means 1 Corinthians 12:13 isn't talking about water immersion into a visible assembly.  He just assumes what he doesn't prove.

In the last two paragraphs, Bauder then writes like the argument is over, almost entirely resting on the meaning of en as "by" or agency.  When you read what other universal church advocates write about 1 Corinthians 12:13 and "by one Spirit," you get quite a bit of disagreement even among themselves about what Bauder speaks as already proven.  It is far from proven, and let me give a few reasons (of many, many in addition to these) that Bauder doesn't deal with, that are real trouble for him.  Since this is only a blog post, I'm not going to belabor them too much.

Not necessarily in this order, but, first, as much consideration as Bauder gives to the preposition en, he should look at the word "baptize," because it's only water baptism in 1 Corinthians, the entire epistle, unless 1 Corinthians 12:13 is "Spirit baptism."  Baptizo is used 11 times in 1 Corinthians and the other ten are water, so why Spirit here?  Baptism being Spirit is more exceptional than en being agency.  Baptism in 1 Corinthians is never Spirit, always water.  If it were to be water here, one would expect some announcement this was the case.  That's how it works in proper exegesis, so this is classic eisogesis.

Second, Bauder says that the Holy Spirit is the agency of Spirit baptism.  Is that true?  That's not the model of Spirit baptism prophesied or predicted by Jesus and John the Baptist in the gospels and Acts.  John said in Matthew 3:11, " I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost."  Every case of Spirit baptism has Jesus as the Administrator and the Holy Spirit as the medium.  Bauder writes, "The body is the medium and the Holy Spirit is the agent of this baptism." If the Holy Spirit is the agent of the baptizing, then it isn't Spirit baptism.  This is a Protestant invention. Jesus is the agent of Spirit baptism.

Third, if the body of 1 Corinthians 12:13 is all believers, then Paul excludes himself as a believer later in 12:27, when he defines the body by writing, "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."  If the body of Christ is all believers, then Paul would have at least written, "we are the body of Christ."  Since it is a visible assembly of immersed believers, Paul wrote, "ye are the body of Christ."  "The body" is definitional with the definite use of the noun, "body." The unity Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians 12 is found in a church, not between all believers.  As you read the whole chapter, it's obvious he's addressing the unity of the church of Corinth, not something hypothetical between all living saints.  The latter is just strange.

In anticipation of a few questions, why does Paul write "we" in 1 Corinthians 12:13?  Answer:  Paul was also baptized into the body of Christ. He was immersed into an assembly just like they were at Corinth.  However, when he writes, "ye are the body of Christ," that clinches the point that each true church is the body of Christ.  If I write, "we all applied to one college," that doesn't mean that we all applied to the same college or applied in the same location.  However, if I wrote, "ye are the college of Harvard," that does exclude me and everyone else except those to whom I write.

Why does Paul say "one body," if he's talking about more than one?  Answer:  "One" is not always numeric one.  Certainly, when someone is water baptized, he is immersed into that numeric one church, but that is not the sense communicated in 1 Corinthians 12.  Each body (church) is one, like the human body is one.  Paul mentions that earlier in the chapter.  The nature of the body corresponds to the unity of a church.  Like a human body, Christ's body is one.  A human body isn't "two."  So even though there is diversity of parts, there is oneness in the body.  Each church has various members, who are still one body. The unity Paul describes is found in a church, not in all believers.

In conclusion and as a practical matter, the quest for unity between all believers spawned by the wrong view of the church has eroded the truth.  The desire to get together and get along has exceeded the desire to know, believe, and obey the truth.  The fools errand of worldwide unity brings the collateral damage of diminishing of and minimization of the truth.  This is one of the more significant dangers, a byproduct, of what Bauder pushes here.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Corrupting Gospel Repentance: the FBFI and Minci's Response

In response to Pastor Brandenburg's article here, John Mincy engaged in an interview where he gave a weak response, available here.

The response begins by stating:  "A blogger [Pastor Brandenburg] has since picked up on it with an article demonstrating a poor understanding of Dr. Mincy’s point."  I assume that he is referring to Pastor Brandenburg's critique of the original Mincy article, but since the statement is a vague one to "a blogger," perhaps some different blogger is referred to, one that does not show up on Google anywhere and which gives no evidence of his existence, since as far as I can determine, Pastor Brandenburg is the only author who critiqued Mincy's original post.  I will go on the assumption that the unnamed "blogger" who allegedly was "demonstrating poor understanding" is a reference to Pastor Brandenburg.

In the Mincy response, not a single instance of "poor understanding" was proven.  Not even one.  Making such an affirmation is easier than dealing with the content of Pastor Brandenburg’s critique.

In the first section of Mincy's interview, Mincy says that his "article is no denial of the need for personal repentance."  Great.  But what is repentance?  Zane Hodges could say the same thing Mincy does.  Just about any antinomian could make such a statement too.  Sadly, everything Mincy says about "justification repentance" could also be said by Zane Hodges. 

Mincy declares that he does not like the phrase:  “‘You must repent of your sins in order to be saved.’  Such a statement raises questions: how many of my sins, what if I forget some, what if I commit that sin again, and so on.”  He engages in zero exegesis of Scripture to show that his dislike of the fact that the lost must repent of their sins is Biblical.  Instead he just creates doubt with questions.  Sadly, that is the best one can do if one does not like an essential element of the gospel, namely, that one must repent of his sins.  Presumably his dislike of repentance for sins applies only to what he terms "justification repentance."  But could we not ask the same questions of his "sanctification repentance"?  "I don't like the phrase you must repent of your sins as a Christian to be right with God.  Such a statement raises questions:  how many of my sins, what if I forget some, what if I commit that sin again, and so on."  There.  I have now proven that neither the unconverted nor the Christian must repent of his sins--all without citing a single verse from the Bible.

The answer to Mincy's “how many” question is “the wicked turn from all his sins which he hath committed” (Eze 18:21).  That does not mean that one has to name them one by one down the list of one’s entire unconverted life.  Nobody believes that.  Are there significant bodies of Baptists who teach that if a lost person forgets to name a specific one of his sins, he isn’t saved?  Can Mincy give a single example of anyone who has said this?  Does he give any examples of this as a widespread teaching?  No.  What about “what if I commit that sin again?”  The answer is that the dominion of sin is shattered in the Christian so that Romans 6:14 is a blessed promise:  “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”  The old man is crucified with Christ, and that always makes a difference (Romans 6), although indwelling sin still remains, so that there is a struggle.  Does Mincy really not know this?  Why is he raising these questions, and using them to undermine the essential Biblical fact that the lost must repent of their sins?

Mincy also affirms that there is a "difference between sin and sins which in my view is crucial in understanding the difference between justification and sanctification repentance."  "Justification repentance" apparently does not involve turning away from sins, while "sanctification repentance" apparently does.  However, Scripture does not anywhere establish this allegedly "crucial" distinction.  It may be a crucial distinction to Mincy, and it may be one made by people with confused views of the gospel associated with Dallas Seminary, such as Chafer, and Wiersbe, whom he cites in his two discussions, or Ryrie and Hodges, who share his opposition to the lost turning from their sins, but it is not one found in the Bible.  Consider Matthew 12:41 (the material below is from my larger study Repentance Defended Against Antinomian Heresy—A Brief Defense of the Indubitable Biblical Fact that Repentance is a Change of Mind that Always Results in a Change of Action):

The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

Christ refers to what took place in Jonah 3:5-10:

So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

When the Lord Jesus spoke of repentance for the lost, he spoke of the kind of change of mind or heart of the kind that took place at Nineveh, when the Ninevites “believed God . . . and . . . turn[ed] every one from his evil way,” where “their works” were evidence that they had “turned.”

Consider also Luke 15:7, 10. Christ said "unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. . . . Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”

In the single parable (Luke 15:3) of Luke 15, Christ illustrates the conversion of publicans and sinners (15:1-2) by the restoration of a lost sheep, coin, and son, while the unconverted and self-righteous Pharisees who thought they did not need to repent (Luke 15:2; cf. 5:31-32; 19:7-10) are illustrated by another son (cf. Exodus 4:22; Hosea 11:1; Romans 9:4) who was not willing to enter his father’s house but greatly dishonored his father because of his perceived superiority to the restored lost son (15:25-32).  When Christ spoke of repentance, he spoke of the attitude expressed by the words of the son that was lost but then found:  “I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants” (Luke 15:18-19).  This is the repentance of the unconverted sinner.

Consider what the Apostles preached in Acts:

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.

When the Apostles preached repentance, they preached that repentance results in “works meet for repentance.”  They also connected repentance with turning or being converted;  cf. Acts 3:19, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.”  To turn or be converted is to “change direction, turn around . . . to change belief or course of conduct . . . to change one’s mind or course of action . . . turn, return.” [Epistrepho, in A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian Literature (3rd ed.), W. Arndt, F. Danker, & W. Bauer. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000.]  Paul explains what takes place when men repent, are converted, and are born again:  “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” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).  Conversion is to turn to God and to turn away from idolatry and other sins.  It is to turn to God from sin with the purpose of serving the living and true God and waiting for the return of His Son.

The idea that only in an alleged “sanctification repentance” limited to the saved do people turn from sins is false.  The repentance of the unconverted and of the converted involve turning from sins and evil deeds.  Mincy, in his original article, argues that Revelation 2:5 refers to the “sanctification repentance” of the believer when it states: “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”  Here one who has repented will “do . . . works” as a result.  But what of the lost?  In Revelation 2:21-22, employing the same Greek word and appearing later in the same chapter, Christ commanded that the lost “repent of [their] fornication” (Revelation 2:21) and warned that those who do not “repent of their deeds” would enter “into great tribulation” (Revelation 2:22).  That is, those unsaved people who do not “repent of their deeds” will miss the Rapture and enter into the “great tribulation” (Revelation 7:14; Matthew 24:21) with the rest of the unsaved, those who “repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts” (Revelation 9:20-21), those who “blasphemed the name of God . . . and . . . repented not to give him glory. . . . blasphemed the God of heaven . . . and repented not of their deeds” (Revelation 16:9, 11).  There is not the slightest hint of a distinction between a “justification repentance” which does not involve turning from one’s sins and a “sanctification repentance” which does.  The Apostle John taught, through the inspiration of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, taught the doctrine of repentance in every standard Baptist confession, the doctrine of repentance weakened and attacked by Mincy, namely:

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, 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). 
“Repentance is an evangelical grace, wherein a person being, by the Holy Spirit, made sensible of the manifold evil of his sin, humbleth himself for it, with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrence, with a purpose and endeavor to walk before God so as to please Him in all things” (Abstract of Principles, Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, 1859).

The view that is Mincy is advocating is not Biblical.  It is also not Baptist.  It is absent from all Baptist confessions of faith.  Yet both the true gospel, which involves the lost repenting of their sin and receiving Christ as Lord and Savior, and the confused gospel proclaimed by Mincy and others in the FBFI, are apparently acceptable in that organization, demonstrating that the FBFI is not truly Baptist, nor truly fellowship, and not something Biblical Baptists ought to be a part of.  Countless multitudes are already weeping and wailing in hell because they accepted the downgraded perversion of the gospel being advocated by Mincy, Zane Hodges, Charles Ryrie (in a less extreme way than Hodges), Jack Hyles, and so on.  Yet, so it seems, it is not an issue that will break the “fellowship” in the FBFI.  My sincere hope is that Dr. Mincy’s actual belief is better than what his articles have taught, and better than the corruptions of Hyles, Hodges, and so on, and that he will repent of his false teaching in these articles and return to the Biblical and historic Baptist gospel.  Paul did not allow Peter to corrupt the gospel for even one hour (Galatians 2).  Neither must Mincy's corruption of repentance be tolerated in Baptist churches, no, not for an hour.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Keswick Christ-life-other alleged Scriptural support: part 4 of 4 in Does Christ live the Christian Life for the Christian? The Keswick View of Galatians 2:20 Examined

            A few other passages can be employed to attempt to support the doctrine that the Lord Jesus Christ lives the Christian life instead of the believer.  However, no text in Scripture actually affirms such a proposition.  2 Corinthians 4:10-11 refers to “the life . . . of Jesus.”  However, the reference is to spiritual life produced by and sourced in the Lord Jesus, not to the Lord Jesus Himself personally living the Christian life instead of the Christian.  Paul speaks of the spiritual life produced by the Lord Jesus in him in connection with the renewing of his inner man (2 Corinthians 4:16)[1] and associated with the physical suffering and persecution through which he was troubled, distressed, and persecuted (4:8-9), was being always delivered to death (4:11), had his outward man perishing because of affliction (4:16-17), and thus bore in his body “the dying of the Lord Jesus” (4:10).[2]  The believer’s spiritual life is unquestionably produced, sustained, and increased by Jesus Christ.  The Lord Jesus, and the entire Godhead, alone receive the glory for all the believer’s spiritual life and growth, as the Author and Sustainer of all; “the excellency of the power [is] of God, and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).  This fact is weighty and wondrous truth.  It differs, however, from the unscriptural affirmation that the Lord Jesus Christ actually lives the Christian life instead of the Christian living the Christian life.
            Colossians 3:4 speaks of “Christ, who is our life.”  Again, the passage makes no reference whatsoever to Christ living the Christian life instead of the Christian living the Christian life.  The verse indicates that all believers, not a minority only that have found a secret Higher Life, but all who will “appear with Him in glory” (3:4),[3] are in union with and identified with Christ, have their lives hid with Christ in God (3:1-3), and will consequently be with Him when He returns to bring in the Kingdom.  The Lord Jesus is the One who guarantees them eternal life, and is the Author of all spiritual life and blessings to them, and, indeed, the One who gives them all blessings and good things of every kind whatsoever.  However, Colossians 3:4 does not teach that Jesus Christ lives the Christian life instead of the believer, much less that Christ lives the Christian life for an elite minority of believers that have discovered a Higher Life. 
Parallel passages illustrate the sort of eisegesis required to make Colossians 3:4 teach the doctrine that Christ lives the Christian life while the Christian does not.  Deuteronomy 30:20 states:   “The LORD thy God . . . is thy life, and the length of thy days, that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers.”  Does this passage affirm that the Lord lived the Jewish life instead of the children of Israel, and that He also lived out the length of their days in Canaan instead of them (whatever that could possibly mean)?  Or does the passage rather teach the obvious truth that God was the One who gave the children of Israel life and length of days?  Deuteronomy 32:46-47 commands:  “Set your hearts unto all the words which I [Moses] testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land.”  Does this passage mean that the children of Israel did not live the Jewish life, but the law lived the Jewish life instead of them, because the text says “this law . . . is your life”?  Does it prove that the Jew cannot and must not live the Jewish life, but only the Pentateuch can live the Jewish life?  Or does the text, rather, obviously mean that obedience to the Law of God would lead Israel to live a long time in the land of Canaan?  What exegesis fits the obvious meaning of texts such as Psalm 27:1 (“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”) and Psalm 42:8 (“Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.”)?  The ideas read into—not out of—Colossians 3:4 about Christ living the Christian life are impossible in other Biblical texts that contain similar phraseology.
It is an inexpressibly glorious truth that Christ, as God, possesses self-existent life, and that He as the God-Man[4] is the fountain and source of the believer’s derived eternal spiritual life.[5] Life supplied by Christ and in union with Him (Colossians 3:1-4) is the basis for the mortification of indwelling sin (Colossians 3:5).  It is certainly true that the Lord Jesus is the Author, Preserver, Upholder, and Finisher of the Christian’s spiritual life.  Such life is communicated to the believer by Christ, with whom the saint has come into an intimate mystical union.  Furthermore, the believer must trust in and obey Christ if he wishes to grow in grace.  However, it is false and dangerous to pure doctrine and a holy life to teach that Christ lives the Christian life instead of the believer.  Benjamin B. Warfield correctly wrote: 
[T]he believer . . . is made alive in Christ—and it is he that is made alive. It is not only that he has Christ in him and Christ is living, but it is he himself that is living, for Christ has made him alive:  yes, he has life in himself (John 6:53). It is not true that [t]he believer is portrayed as a man in himself spiritually dead, indwelt through the Spirit by Jesus Christ, who is his spiritual life[.] [Rather, he] is portrayed as a man who is spiritually alive, in whom Jesus Christ the source of all his life, dwells by His Spirit. The man himself is saved, and his new holiness is his holiness. It is a grave error to suppose that the living Christ can dwell within us without imparting life to us. He quickens whom He will: and he whom He quickens, lives.”[6]
Biblical and historic Baptist truth recognizes the glorious fact of union with Christ and the need to seek strength from Him by faith.  The Christian grows in personal holiness as he is quickened by that Divine-human Savior with whom he has been united.  Such truth must not be corrupted by unscriptural additions or subtractions, such as the idea that the believer does not personally become holy as he lives for God, but that Christ Himself actually lives the Christian life instead of the believer.[7]

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[1]              Similarly, the “life of God” (Ephesians 4:18) for the believer is freedom from the sins of the unregenerate (4:16-18), putting off the old man and putting on the new man, having God renew the spirit of his mind, living a holy and righteous life, telling the truth and having holy speech instead of lying and having ungodly speech, and so on (4:20ff.).  The believer does not have the personal life of the eternal Trinity living the Christian life instead of him.

[2]              Note that one who wished to make “the life . . . of Jesus” (4:10-11) into the personal life of the Lord Jesus Christ would have great difficulty in making Paul’s experience of “always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus” (2 Corinthians 4:10) into the Apostle enduring the physical and personal death of the Lord Jesus.

[3]              None of the texts that indicate that the believer’s spiritual life is derived from the Lord Jesus, and abused to affirm that Christ Himself lives the Christian life, support the notion that a certain higher class of Christians lives a “Christ-life” at a higher plane, while another mass that have not learned the alleged spiritual secret live a life at a lower plane.  Colossians 3:4 and Galatians 2:20 are true for all believers, not a special few.  It is true that only some believers experience the kind of persecution that the Apostle Paul mentioned in 2 Corinthians 4, but this fact provides no assistance to those who affirm that Christ lives the Christian life, as they generally study devotional literature promulgating their theological notions to leap to the higher plane of the “Christ-life” rather than seeking to be persecuted.
                It is also noteworthy that Colossians 3 also says nothing about a single faith decision whereby certain believers allegedly access Christ to live the Christian life for them.  Rather, the truth of Colossians 3:4 produces commands to think on heavenly things (3:2), put sin to death (3:5), cease from anger and dishonesty (3:8-9), practice holy deeds (3:12), forgive (3:13), love (3:14), be thankful (3:15), fill oneself up with Scripture (3:16), and so on.

[4]              Compare John 6:57; 14:19; the Theanthropic life of Christ as Mediator is derived from the Father, and, as the Theanthropos, He communicates life to His own.

[5]              “When our Lord said, ‘I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing’ (John 15:5), He certainly meant that the vital union between Him and his people is something more than that which may subsist between disciples and their master, — a union including merely trust, congeniality, and affection. The influence to which the fruitfulness of the believer is attributed is something more than the influence of the truth which He taught; however that truth may be applied or enforced. Their abiding in Him, and He in them, is something more than abiding in the profession and belief of the truth. Christ is the head of the Church not merely as its ruler, but as the source of its life. It is not I, says the Apostle, that live, ‘but Christ liveth in me’ (Galatians 2:20). ‘Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?’ (2 Corinthians 13:5). It is from Him, as the same Apostle teaches us, that the whole body derives those supplies by which it lives and grows (Ephesians 4:16). ‘Because I live, ye shall live also’ (John 14:19). ‘I am the resurrection, and the life’ (John 11:25). ‘I am that bread of life’ (John 6:48). ‘He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me and I in him’ (John 6:56). ‘This is that bread which came down from heaven: … he that eateth of this bread shall live forever’ (John 6:58). ‘We shall be saved by his life’ (Romans 5:10). ‘The first man Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam was made a quickening spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45). ‘As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself” (John 5:26). ‘Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him’ (John 17:2). ‘Your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.’ (Colossians 3:3, 4). The Scriptures, therefore, plainly teach that there is a vital union between Christ and his people; that they have a common life analogous to that which exists between the vine and its branches, and between the head and members of the body. The believer is truly partaker of the life of Christ” (Systematic Theology, by Charles Hodge, part. 3, Soteriology. Chapter 14, “Vocation.”).

[6]           pg. 557, Perfectionism, vol. 2, Chapter 4, “The ‘Higher Life’ Movement.” Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003; reprint of 1932 Oxford ed.

[7]              The idea that Christ’s own personal holiness is imparted to Christians has properly been rejected by Baptists as unbiblical.  In the words of the London Baptist Association in 1704, “It is the opinion of this Assembly that the doctrine of sanctification by the impartation of the holiness of Christ’s nature does, in its consequences, render inherent holiness by the Holy Spirit unnecessary, and tends to overthrow natural, as well as revealed religion” (pg. 171, Chapter 8, Bye-Paths in Baptist History, J. J. Goadby.  Elec. acc. Baptist History Collection CD, ver. 1. Paris, AK: Baptist Standard Bearer, 2005).