Friday, March 31, 2017

Applications from Keswick Theology--an Analysis and Critique of So Great Salvation by Stephen Barabas, part 2 of 2

The believer who trembles at the Word of the Lord can learn much from the examination and critique of Keswick theology.  First, since charity rejoiceth in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6), such a believer can greatly delight in the blessed truths retained by the Keswick Convention from the older orthodoxy.  Does Keswick seek to exalt Christ?  Hallelujah!  Does not the heart of the upright child of God cry, “Oh that the Lord Jesus would be exalted the more—in my own life, in my congregation, in my city, in my country, and in the world!”  Does not such a one long for the day when every knee shall bow before the Son of God, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father?  Jesus Christ cannot be too highly exalted, and the feebleness the Christian recognizes in his own exaltation and glorying in Christ is exceedingly grievous to him.  Does he not look with expectant joy for the time when the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea, and his own heart will be free from indwelling sin forever?  “Come, come Lord Jesus!” is the upright’s cry.
     Furthermore, the blessed fact that Jesus Christ is full of truth and grace—that He is an overflowing treasury of grace who fills His dear redeemed and upright ones with the communicable Divine attributes by His Spirit, based on His purchase of them at infinite cost, is an unspeakable consolation.  The Lord’s purchased people marvel at their Father’s infinite power, exerted on their behalf to sanctify them.  They rightly renounce all self-confidence, self-dependence, and self-righteousness, to wait in an active faith upon their God in Christ, and upon Him only.  He alone must receive all the glory for their sanctification, for it is only His power that can affect that supernatural transformation from glory to glory into the image of their Head, Christ Jesus.  To whatever extent the Keswick theology has led believers to such spiritual motions, to that extent they can thank God for the truth within its Higher Life system.  If Keswick preaching has led them from backsliding to being right with God—if it has led them to the immediate renunciation of sin—if it has led them to renounce all self-dependence—if it has led them to greater communion with the Holy Spirit—if it has brought them to greater fervency in prayer—if it has led them to proclaim the sweet name of Jesus Christ with greater passion, so that the world is more filled with the savor of His name than it would have been otherwise—can any not rejoice at these things and praise the Lord?
               Indeed, those precious elements of truth emphasized at Keswick are what make the Convention’s system appealing to the Christian heart.  Reader, do not by any means turn away from these blessed truths because your renewed mind cannot bear any longer the corruptions and errors mixed with them at Keswick.  Some critique Keswick because of a fervent zeal for the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, rejoicing in the truths affirmed by Keswick but deploring its errors.  Others critique Keswick because they have no zeal for the truth and use the corruptions of the Keswick theology as an excuse to live a life of carnal self-pleasing.  Do you reject the errors of the Keswick theology?  You do well—but the devil knows that Keswick errors are false also, and such knowledge does not make Satan a whit more holy.  Are you, in your opposition to Keswick errors, yet carnal, worldly, selfish, self-dependent, faithless, non-evangelistic, false-worshipping, careless, cold, and unspiritual?  Then you are a vile hypocrite, and you need to get right with God.  Now.  Do not use the mote in your Keswick brother’s eye as an excuse to smack people on the head with the two-by-four protruding from your own.  Do not think you please the Lord if you yourself downplay God’s white-hot holiness, diminish the immense loathsomeness of sin—of all sin, even the least—shrink from making pointed and specific application of Scripture to your life and the lives of those you are responsible to guide, dabble with Pelagian or humanistic ideas, live by sight instead of by faith, and are openly and rebelliously ecumenical or are merely softly separatistic, happy to coexist with the Amalekites instead of putting them all under the ban and hewing Agag in pieces.  Indeed, consider the warning of the Lord Jesus to the doctrinally sound church at Ephesus:
I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 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. (Revelation 2:2-5)
You do well to labor and work for God, and you do well to expose false apostles, such as those who originated the Keswick theology—but have you left your first love?  Woe to you!  Without love for Christ, all your works profit you nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).  Or are you even worse, so that you do not even labor with patience, expose false apostles, and serve the Lord without fainting?  Will you then presume to take the Lord’s statutes into your mouth, criticize Keswick, and speak about spiritual things, when you are a weak and worldly compromiser and a desperately backslidden and wicked sinner?  It is not enough to reject pseudo-spirituality—you must have a genuine and living Christian piety.  Do not think that the Lord will be pleased with you if you reject, or fail to live, the truths affirmed at the Keswick Convention because of the errors also propagated there.  Embrace and passionately love the truth, all of it, for the sake of He who is Truth Himself, and despise and passionately hate error, all of it, for the sake of Him who is Truth Himself.
               Recognize that the ineffably precious gospel of Christ is a priceless jewel filled with beauties that the angels desire to look into (1 Peter 1:12).  Consequently, all aspects of the gospel, in all its revealed fullness as the mind of Christ revealed to us in the Scripture, must be treasured and defended at all costs.  You cannot be too precise with the gospel.  Consequently, every one of the many errors and corruptions of the redeeming and sanctifying gospel propagated at Keswick must be absolutely and uncompromisingly rejected.  Reject Keswick’s Pelagianism.  Reject Keswick’s divorce of justification and sanctification.  Reject Keswick’s confusion on saving repentance, saving faith, and true conversion.  Reject Keswick’s practice of giving Christian assurance to the unregenerate and making them into two-fold children of hell.  Reject Keswick’s ecumenical embrace of wolves who devour God’s flock.  Reject Keswick’s weakness on the efficacy of sanctifying grace, its shallow and often incomprehensible or contradictory theology, its corruption of the revealed truths about the work of the glorious Holy Ghost, its perfectionism, its eudemonism, its Quietism, its neglect of the role of the Word in sanctification, its Spirit-grieving and Bible-twisting experiential hermeneutic, and its denial of the mortifying and vivifying work of God the Spirit in progressively eradicating indwelling sin.  Purge all the unbiblical influence of Keswick from your mind, and cast out any affection for Keswick theology from your heart.  Keswick’s false teachings are vile trash.  Let them stink in the garbage bin and no longer corrupt the savor of Christ in the temple of the living God, whether the individual temple of the believer or the corporate temple of the congregation of Christ.  We are not talking about the ideas of men, but the truths of God, the rejection of which constitutes sin for which the Lord Jesus had to shed His blood.  Reject the Keswick theology for the Biblical and historic Baptist doctrine of sanctification.

               The sufficiency of Scripture, and the abundance of Christian literature presenting truth on sanctification that is free from Keswick influence and error, makes it entirely unnecessary for believers to read or recommend Keswick authors.  Keswick ideas should be purged from the heads of Christian preachers.  Keswick theology should be purged from the seminaries, Bible colleges, Bible institutes, and all other teaching institutions of the churches—and all such teaching institutions ought themselves to be ministries of particular churches (1 Timothy 3:15).  Keswick books should be purged from Christian bookstores, as the massive and easy-to-read devotional literature of Keswick has been wildly successful in propagating Keswick spirituality.  Hymns propagating Keswick theology should be recognized and dealt with appropriately.  Keswick advocates of the past and present should be warned about, not set up as models of Biblical piety.  Your soul, and the souls of those whom you influence spiritually, can be filled with a deep longing for revival, a zeal for evangelism and missions, a confidence in the power of the Holy Ghost, and, most of all, a love for Jesus Christ and His Father, with a resultant passion for holiness, without filling your head and the heads of others with Keswick theology. Pray and preach against the Keswick theology, that it may be abolished from the earth and be found only in the eternal dwelling place of the gospel-rejecters who hatched it.

See here for this entire study.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Everybody Separates: It's Just Why and How

A major feature of the 2016 campaign was separation.  The wall separates the United States from Mexico.  The red states divide from the blue states.  Nationalists separate from globalists.  Brexit is an exit from the EU.  The Supreme Court represents a split vote.  Not everyone will be happy.

Noah got onto the ark and separated himself and his family from the whole world.  Others could have joined him, but they had separated themselves from him.  Both sides were practicing separation.

I would be known as a separatist by many, but I have noticed that everyone separates, it's just why and how. Junior high girls might alienate a classmate for her incoherent dress style.  Other children in a church might separate from the pastor's kids because they are afraid their own behavior might be reported to the pastor.  The modest female sticks out like a sore thumb on a state university campus.

Some beliefs about separation find commonality.  As it stands, I think most Americans don't want pedophiles working with small children.  Almost everyone practices that form of separation.

When I go door to door evangelizing in an urban area, I've found that very often people will self segregate.  A particular neighborhood will fill up almost entirely with one ethnicity.  Very often there are practical reasons:  they speak the same language.  However, in those neighborhoods, there will also be businesses and markets unique to the people who live there.

You've probably noticed that a Trump supporter can't show that support in certain locations across the United States without threat of violence.  You will not be allowed in a classroom in the United States if you express a certain point of view.  Educators or maybe demagogues won't allow you to stay.

Atheists would never darken the door to our church building.  Sure, I won't visit a United Methodist Church either, but both of us are practicing separation.  If atheists had a church, I wouldn't attend. What I've found very often is that I'd be glad to give a civil and reasonable explanation for my separation and the atheist screams and curses at me. We both separate though.

Scripture teaches a doctrine of separation.  It is a very defined and specific doctrine.  All sorts of separation are required.  The reasons are given and how it is to be done.  Separation keeps a person pure, a family pure, and a church pure.  Out of love, a church might separate from one of its members, for the purpose of discipline.  The discipline is meant to help.  That's how it is meant to be done.

Sometimes you aren't attempting to separate.  You shine the light and it repels those in darkness, who love the darkness.  You keep shining the light and those people will remain separate from you.  If you uphold the darkness, you'll have company.  Jesus talks about two roads too.  Those who travel down the broad road aren't taking the narrow one.  They are separating themselves from the narrow road, whether they intend to or not.

On the other hand, the Bible forbids certain types of separation, which it calls, causing division.  God doesn't want factions to develop based upon non-scriptural or even unscriptural issues or reasons.  If it is scriptural separation, it should be scriptural and the scriptural reason should be able to be stated.  If you just divide from people with no stated reason, really no helpful reason, then you are causing division.  People may quibble over what they should separate over, but when they do separate, they should show respect and love to the ones with whom they separate, so they will know why it is occurring.

Pushing the eject button is a form of separation, but it isn't a biblical form.  You don't just take off like a Judas or a Diotrephes, having loved this present world.  You should have a good reasons to separate.   

You've heard of mean girl syndrome.  My observation has been that most evangelicals separate like mean girls.  It is an effeminate form of separation, that I call "cold shoulder separation."  Have you ever been in a situation where you were getting the cold shoulder?  You didn't know what was wrong, but you knew something was wrong.  That's how mean girls separate from other girls.

A courageous and loving form of separation will at least state and at least briefly prove why they are separating.  When I talk to many various evangelicals and fundamentalists, they won't even answer me.  They will not allow me to comment on their blogs, which is their right, but they don't explain why.  I could respect them if they explained why and then were consistent with the practice.  I have to guess what the problem is.  My guess is that it is for one of three or four reasons.  These same people can comment on this blog any time.  They know it.  They might not come here, and that is also a form of separation, one which they will not explain.

Some people are so afraid to be identified with this blog, that they comment anonymously.  More than half of those who comment here won't state their name.  They don't want anyone to know that they even read me or even think that they read me, even if they don't.  This is not biblical separation. It isn't biblical behavior.  I understand that some people can't be allowed to comment at a blog. However, a biblical way of handling that is explaining why.  I think someone should even be given multiple opportunities to change.

I have to admit that it is humorous to me when evangelicals treat other evangelicals like mean girls, and they don't like it when they receive the same treatment.  At The Gospel Coalition blog, conservative evangelicals will criticize in the comment section and often their comments will go unpublished without explanation.  I've seen those excluded make a huge show over it, even operate their own twitter campaign against it.  I agree that it is an unbiblical way of dealing with someone, but it is how almost all evangelicals do separate (when they separate).  They seem incapable of practicing separation in a biblical way.

Much more could be said than what I've written above, but I wanted you to consider this thought that everyone really does separate.  Everyone is some kind of separatist.  The truth is that you are either a scriptural separatist or an unscriptural one.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Muslim Covering of Women Isn't a Good Argument against Islam

The United States has become a cesspool as it relates to the covering of women.  However, the nakedness of women seems also to be a symbol of Americanism today as much as apple pie, kind of like the following, "Our women take their clothes off, and we're proud of it."  As this relates to Islam, we're not like those nasty Moslem countries that force their women to cover themselves either with the burqa or the hijab.  The hijab brings an American gag reflex and the burqa induces all out vomiting.  On the other hand, flag waving and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue now parallel one another.  The patriotism of this goes back to wartime pinups of women, I guess, to motivate these men to sacrifice themselves or at least to provide distraction from their fears or anxieties.

The hijab and burqa are distinguishing garments in Islam.  They reflect Moslem teaching on modesty for women.  They don't have identical rules for men, because they distinguish between men and women.  Is this good?  It's not wrong for sure.  You could argue from the Bible that it is right to do so.

As I think about what scripture says about female dress, the following is how I see these two articles of clothing.  One, the Bible doesn't require the hijab or the burqa.  Two, the Bible doesn't say that a woman would be superior or a better person or more moral because she wore a hijab or a burqa. Three, the Bible doesn't forbid the hijab or the burqa.  Four, there are similar principles in the Bible for the hijab or the burqa as there are in Islam.  Five, the biblical principles themselves don't require a hijab or burqa, but they do require something for women similar to the hijab or burqa.

I'm saying here that the hijab or burqa are not a good argument against Islam by Americans, either liberal or conservative.  Neither of these are forbidden in the United States.  Women can wear them if they want.  Men can't force women to wear them in the United States.  However, in European countries, those bastions of freedom and expression, that's what they want to outlaw.  They don't want the burqa or the burqini, the Moslem beachwear.

Permit me to digress for a moment.  I don't like the burqa as apparel.  It reflects a perverted belief and culture.  As a result, I attach the hijab to the burqa, because they both come from the same source.  I get a feeling of repulsion, looking at them, because I know from which they come.  If I can separate myself from the religious aspect, the hijab can look nice, feminine and modest.  As I tamp down the religious repulsion, as an item, I see it in a good way, because of the distinguishing nature of it.  The hijab looks attractive to me when I get past what I see it represent.  On the other hand, the burqa looks like something Cousin It would wear in the Addams Family.  It would look stylish maybe on a weeble.  I'm not for a hazmat suit as regular apparel.

I don't think that Muslim covering on women should enter the argument against Islam.  Why is it used?  There's nothing wrong with it.  You shouldn't use what's not wrong as an argument.  It presents a weak argument.  There is something right about it's underlying philosophy, distinction and modesty. I believe it is used as an argument because it's emotional.  Women will feel emotional about it.  Men want to look at women's bodies, so it works for them too.  If the burqa took off as a fashion, men wouldn't see anything except in the bedroom, and they don't want to wait for that.

The burqa argument also works in the matter of men and women's roles.  What makes America great is that our women are free and equal to men -- sure, after 1920.  Before that, women couldn't vote. Read the federalist and anti-federalist papers.  Women's vote didn't come up once in those books.  It wasn't even up for debate.  Big laughter from Jefferson, Adams, and Hamilton on the woman's vote. Are. you. kidding. me?

The cultural degradation of America follows a trajectory that matches the dress of women.  The more they dress like men and the more they take their clothes off, the more that things fall apart.  We're not better off from those activities.  This is the slouch or slide toward Gomorrah.

Masculine and immodest dress on women are not better for intimacy.  They are not better for solid marriages. They are not better for family cohesiveness. They are not better for family solidity.  They are not better for role accomplishment.  They are not better for protection for women from all sorts of crimes.  Women are not better off because they can dress like men and take more clothes off.

People feel more American for opposing the burqa and allowing for the shredding fad, allowing for big rips in clothing to see through.  Lingerie used to be bedroom wear alone, and now it is a regular feature of outer wear.  If we replaced all of the masculine, immodest dress on women with the burqa, we wouldn't be worse off.  I'm not arguing for either. If we're going to point the finger at one, we should be able to point the finger at the other, except that the burqa in and of itself isn't wrong.  Only women wear it and it is modest.  Obviously modest.  The only thing more modest are those moving blankets at UHaul, but not wrong.  What I'm saying is that we're wrong, and they're not wrong.  I'm not saying they're right, but they are at least not wrong.  We are wrong, and wrong in a big way.

The burqa isn't what destroys Moslem society.  They suffer for many other reasons.  We are not helping them by using lame and hypocritical arguments against their covering of women.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Use Tax, Sales Tax, the Bible, and Other Financial Matters

As tax day--April 15--is quickly coming upon us, I thought it was appropriate to remind readers of their specific Biblical obligation to pay all the tax (although not a penny more) that the government legally requires, even if, as in the Roman Empire, many of the things the government does with the money are wicked and foolish:

 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. 8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

 "Pay ye tribute also" and "Render . . . tribute" are not options, but commands.  This includes use tax.  Only c. 1.6% or so of Americans pay use tax, but probably close to 100% are supposed to.  If you buy anything online and are not charged sales tax, you are required to keep track of that purchase and report it on your state tax return.  (NOTE:  I am NOT a tax advisor and the information below is NOT official tax advice.  It has absolutely no official legal standing whatsoever but is an exhortation to obey Romans 13 and is thus speech protected by the First Amendment, rather than official tax advice.)

Examples Where You Need to Pay Use Tax

You go to an online retailer that does not have a branch in your state and you buy a book for $20.  You pay no sales tax on that book.  You are supposed to pay use tax on that book.  Let's say the use tax rate in your state is 5%.  Then you need to report $20 x 5% = $1 in use tax on your tax return.

You buy a large base package from Logos Bible Software for $4,000.  You pay no sales tax because Logos is not in your state.  If your use tax rate is 5%, you need to report $4,000 x 5% = $200 in use tax on your tax return.

Examples Where You Do Not Need to Pay Use Tax

You go to (or, better, so you can pay exactly the same price and give 0.5% to a good Baptist charitable organization).  You buy household supplies that cost $100.  You are charged sales tax on your purchase because has a facility in your state.  Since you were charged sales tax, you do not need to pay use tax.

You go to and buy a bike for your son.  You have the bike shipped to your local store and pay sales tax on the purchase because the store is in your state.  You do not need to pay use tax on this purchase because you paid sales tax.

What Should You Do?

Many readers of this post have probably never heard of use tax in their life.  Whether you have heard of it or not, Romans 13 teaches you should pay it.  You should keep track of everything you need to pay use tax on and pay it.  If you did not pay it in previous years you should amend your tax return and give extra money to the government, not so that it can waste your hard-earned money (which it will certainly do), but because God commands you to do this in Romans 13.  Find out what your use tax rate is online, with tax software, or with a tax advisor.  Start paying use tax yourself and also encourage other people you know to obey the law and pay use tax.  Not paying your taxes is a sin, and sin is what put the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.  Stop sinning and start paying use tax.

A few other financial things you should also consider doing:

1.) Make sure you don't just deduct your charitable donations but also other things you give to your church for the glory of God.  If you drive your car to go soulwinning, deduct the miles.  If you make food for a church fellowship meal, deduct the cost of the meal.  You are donating the food.  Don't give the government a penny more than you need to.

2.) If you don't have a Roth IRA, open one.  The government will pay you to save money in a Roth IRA depending on your income bracket, so you can get up to $1,000 simply for saving your money. Find out more on my website in the appropriate article on Biblical financial stewardship here. Furthermore, a poor person making a small salary can become a millionaire simply by investing in a Roth IRA.  How?  Illustration:  If an 18 year old invests $5,000 in a Roth IRA, and never touches the money again until he is 65, and makes about the average stock market rate of return (c. 9%) in that time, the $5,000 will have become more than $287,000.  Try plugging in some more numbers in the Roth IRA calculator on my website to get more information.  That is just $5,000 and some time.  The Christian mutual fund called the Eventide Gilead Fund has made an average rate of return of 13.58% since it was started in 2008, as of the time this post was written.  That same 18 year old who put his $5,000 in a Roth IRA at age 18 and made 13.58% until he was 65 would have over $1,986,000.  While past performance does not guarantee future results, do you see how a poor person can become a millionaire?

3.) Lay up more treasure in heaven by making sure that you are tithing (or, since we are under grace, not under the law, maybe giving double the tithe--20%--or more of your income) not just on your gross income, but also on your investment gains (and you can deduct investment losses).  If your 401k went from $100,000 to $150,000 this year, you have gained $50,000 that you should tithe on.  You should also tithe on the value of your health insurance premiums, etc. if those things are covered by your employer.  How much? The equivalent amount of what it would cost you if you had to pay for it out of pocket.

If you owe a lot of use tax (or do not tithe on your investments), whether you will obey God is a good test of whether you really believe Matthew 6:19-21:

 19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

If you invest in a Roth IRA and become a millionaire, that will also test whether you believe Matthew 6:19-21.  God is blessing you financially as you make wise decisions for His glory so that you can be generous with what you have and lay up treasure in heaven.  Do not set your heart upon the money in your IRA, but set your affections on things above, not the things on this perishing earth.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Church Membership and the Marriage Covenant

Marriage is a covenant that cannot be dissolved by any human authority.  Jesus said in Matthew 19:6, "Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."  The condition of a marriage might not be good.  He or she or both might neglect, disobey, or fail, but the covenant of marriage is not broken by these.

Marriage isn't a contract.  Contracts are broken when one or more parties fails to keep its promise. Scripture compares a covenant to the ties between a parent and a child.  Isaiah 49:15-16 reads:
Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
Parents are committed unconditionally to their children, even when children misbehave.  In a marriage covenant, vows are exchanged "for better or worse."  In a contract, if one side doesn't follow through the obligation ends -- not in marriage, because marriage is a covenant.

Scripture compares church membership to the marriage covenant.  I'm writing this because I don't think most people think that way about the church.  Joining a church is not like joining a gym or a golf club.  Ephesians 5:23 says, "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church."  In Ephesians 5, you read how Christ sees that covenant from His end.  Verses 25 through 27 read:
Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
The covenant into which Christ entered results in His giving Himself and sanctifying and cleansing for the good of His bride.  Jesus isn't in it for Himself.  He's in it for us.  As the bride, we've entered into that covenant freely and voluntarily.  I'm sure that people don't often get what that means and don't see it as the same.

As you've read this so far, I'm guessing that some of you have a hard time with this idea, that is, that your church membership is like a marriage covenant.  When you read the New Testament epistles, that's how it reads.  This is why love of the brethren is such a big deal in 1 John.  It's why Jesus commands His disciples to love one another in John 15.

The marriage covenant changes the identity of two people.  There are now one flesh.  Everything they see, they now see through the perspective of the other.  In a church covenant, a member looks at His life through His church.  Covenantal commitment is the norm through all of scripture.  There is an in and an out to it.  You are either in or you are out.  Noah and his family were in and everyone else was out.  In 1 John 2:19, John writes:
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
This is obviously church membership.  When someone takes off, it just proves that he was never there in the first place.

When people take off from a church, they are not taking their covenant seriously.  They are not looking at the church like Jesus describes it (her).  It's very common today, that people decide they are going to go, and then they expect the church to approve.  They are treating their relationship to the church as something worse than a contractual relationship, but closer to a contract than a covenant.  I say closer to a contract, because when the church isn't everything they want it to be, they think they are permitted to leave the contract.  Those terms are set by them and they can stay or leave however they want.  Scripture takes this covenant way more seriously.

I say that people take it less serious than a contract, because the people very often do not obligate themselves almost at all.  They don't see there being that kind of authority in a church.  I think that most people treat their credit card contracts more serious than they do church membership, which is a stronger relationship, because the one in and with the church is a covenant.  People don't take the church seriously, like Jesus takes it, because they are not taking Jesus Himself seriously.  They don't take what He says seriously.  They are very superficial in their relationship to the church and much more serious about other temporal and less meaningful relationships.  This shows their disrespect to the church and the church covenant.  This also reflects on their salvation as seen in 1 John 2:19 above.

In Matthew 18:18 talks about church membership like being bound and church discipline as being loosed.  It's very serious.  Someone loosed by a church is someone not regarded as saved.  It's like the person was never a member in the first place.  He's not viewed any longer in the covenant community.

The church possesses the ordinances, baptism and the Lord's Supper.  Christ gave those to the church. Neither of these save someone, but they do show the strength of this covenant.  Someone doesn't get baptized unless he is saved.  He gets baptized to say he is saved.  In so doing, he joins the church. The Lord's Table is communion with the Lord's body, as pictured by the elements.  At the point of communion, everything is to be aligned with Jesus Christ and His body.

Baptism and the Lord's Supper are not just rituals.  They are symbolic of the covenant that someone has.  They have entered into the church and are continuing in the church, in its communion. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are signs of the covenant.  Baptism is a sign of a death of the old life and a new life.  At His Table, when Jesus said, "This is my body," He wasn't saying it was literally His body, but symbolically, His body as a sign.  These are both signs of this covenant that we have.  They are not the covenant, but they symbolize the covenant.  Baptism brings someone into the church and the Lord's Table keeps someone in communion in and with it.

The covenant is so serious that when someone takes of the symbol unworthily, he is guilty of the body of Christ, and he could die because of it.  That's what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11.  People should take church membership seriously.  Leaving a church should not be an easy thing to do.

Monday, March 20, 2017

En Protois and 1 Corinthians 15:3: First of All, First In Order

Having received John MacArthur's new book on the Gospel, The Gospel According to Paul, I opened and leafed through to see what he would cover in his 217 pages.  One could write 1000 pages on that subject, so he had to make choices.  His first chapter after his introduction he titled, "Things of First Importance."  This terminology seems to be almost sacramental to evangelicals, taking a major point, and in this case his first chapter, from a modern translation of Greek words that appear only once in the New Testament.

1 Corinthians 15:3 in the King James Version reads:
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.
You can read here "first of all," which translates two Greek words, en protois.  Some new late 20th century translations and their translators have changed that to "of first importance," also changing the meaning of the verse at that point.  En is the often used Greek preposition and protois is the dative of a very often used Greek adjective, protos.  You can see proto in a lot of English words, like "prototype," "prototypical," and "protocol."  The understanding of "proto" within each of those English words, is "first in order."  A "prototype" is a first model of something, the first to come along of something.  "Protocol" is the original draft of a diplomatic document.  Something "prototypical" denotes the first, original, or typical form of something.

En protois is found only here in the New Testament.  Both words are used a lot, but only here together, so this is what is termed hapax legomena, once said.  With a hapax legomena, you can't discern it's meaning by looking at other usage in the New Testament.  You must go outside of the New Testament to get a larger sample size.  It is also quite helpful to go back in history to see how others have used this phrase.

When you go back to the fourth century, you have John Chrysostom commenting on this phrase in his Homilies, and he says:
But what is this, "For I delivered unto you first of all?" for that is his word. "In the beginning, not now." And thus saying he brings the time for a witness, and that it were the greatest disgrace for those who had so long time been persuaded now to change their minds: and not this only, but also that the doctrine is necessary. Wherefore also it was "delivered" among "the first," and from the beginning straightway.
Chrysostom says en protois is about time or chronology, as in first in order.  That's how the text reads to me too, but that's how he viewed it way back, probably late fourth century.  He doesn't understand en protois as "of first importance."

Plato used en protois in his Republic (7:522c):
“What?” “Why, for example, this common thing that all arts and forms of thought and all sciences employ, and which is among the first things that everybody must learn.”
"Among the first things" translates en protois and Plato saw that exact phrase as first in order, that is, subject matter that was "among the first things that everybody must learn."  The death, burial, and resurrection was "among the first things" that the Apostle preached when he was in Corinth, because it was foundational to everything else that he would teach them in Corinth.  You've got to hear the gospel first for obvious reasons.  Plato predates the Apostle Paul by around 400 years.

Aesthenes in Against Timarchus uses en protois (speech one, section four):
I am aware, fellow citizens, that the statement which I am about to make first is something that you will undoubtedly have heard from other men on other occasions.
Here is another ancient Greek usage and it the meaning is first in order again.  This was around the same time as Plato.

Aristotle in Metaphysics (book 3, section 997b) uses en tois protois with the addition of the definite article tois:
In what sense we Platonists hold the Forms to be both causes and independent substances has been stated in our original discussion on this subject.
Aristotle uses en tois protois twice in his Nicomachean Ethics (bekker page 1125b):
It appears however that honor also, as was said in the first part of this work . . . . as we said in the first part of this work.
He also uses en tois protois in his Rhetoric (book 2, chapter 25):
Signs and enthymemes based upon signs, even if true, may be refuted in the manner previously stated.
Aristotle came after Plato, so he was a little closer to New Testament times.  In all of these usages, we see the understanding of first in order.

You can find twenty more usages of en protois in the Septuagint (Rahlfs edition, 1935).  The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Old Testament Hebrew, but the way that en protois is seen to be used there is helpful.  The Brenton English translation of the Septuagint (1844) translates the first usage of en protois in the Old Testament in Genesis 33:2:
And he put the two handmaidens and their children with the first, and Lea and her children behind, and Rachel and Joseph last.
It's obvious that the handmaidens and their children were not first in importance to Jacob, but first in order in the welcoming committee of Esau.

The following usages are all the Brenton translation of the Septuagint, a standard translation, the next usage in Deuteronomy 13:9 (the translation of en protois underlined):
Thou shalt surely report concerning him, and thy hands shall be upon him among the first to slay him, and the hands of all the people at the last.
Again, this can't be understood as any other way than, "first in order."  The next usage, Deuteronomy 17:7, is an identical situation as Deuteronomy 13:9 with the first people stepping up to execute someone who has broken God's law.

As you work your way through the usages of en protois, it could be used in the way of prominence. That is a usage of protos in the New Testament as well.  Since the most common usage by far of protos is order, one should expect an obvious usage of prominence.  You get that in just two of the twenty usages of en protois (1 Sam 9:22, 1 Chron 11:6) in the Greek Septuagint.  Brenton translates both, "among the chief."  The only two usages of prominence in the Old Testament are identical usages that are not at all like the reading in 1 Corinthians 15:3.  They speak of the most prominent place for chief men to be sitting together.

If someone is looking for the clues for meaning, he starts with what I have done above.  He looks for the usage of language like the Septuagint.  He looks at ancient usage.  He moves forward from there, but usage in actual language buttresses meaning.  Then you start looking at commentaries.  You can look at Chrysostom with special favor because he doesn't have centuries of commentaries to bend his thinking.  If you are going to take a meaning that is an exceptional meaning, based on the usage, you better have a clear, plain, persuasive basis.  It should stick out of a usage that is typical of that specific usage.  "Of first importance" doesn't fit what we see in the way of evidence.

Thomas Edwards adds in 1886 in his commentary on 1 Corinthians concerning en protois, "among the things to be stated first."  H. L. Goudge in 1915 writes, "these facts formed the foreground of my gospel."  James Morison in 1841 writes, "Amongst the very 'first' things that the Apostle delivered to the heathen Corinthians , after he entered their city was this -- 'Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.'"

When I read commentators on en protois, they rarely give their reasoning behind the decision.  They just give an opinion.  It's so infrequent that they give any explanation that you could say that they don't explain.  Above, I've given you evidence.  This is how someone should deal with a hapax legomena.  In the few instances in history with a "first importance" understanding of that Greek phrase, it is very clear.  I saw one historical usage, and it referred to the ranking of people, identical to the two examples in the Septuagint.  This forms a precedent.  You would look for en protois to mean "foremost" or "of first importance," when it relates to the ranking of people, such as chief men or kings in their chief places.

The King James says, "I delivered unto you first of all."  The Bishops, Great, Tyndale, Geneva, and Coverdale Bibles all five read, "For first of all I delivered unto you." John Wycliffe in the fourteenth century translated, "For I betook to you at the beginning."  Young's Literal Translation (1886) reads, "For I delivered to you first."  This is how God's people took the meaning of en protois.

A gigantic new doctrine comes out of the "first importance" translation, that is, ranking doctrines and a modern evangelical and fundamentalist reductionism.  I see it as a basis of fake and unbiblical unity in disobedience of biblical teaching on separation over these doctrines that they say are not "of first importance."  The basis of the gospel coalition is this new translation and new understanding.  It's such a big deal to John MacArthur, this one phrase, that he gives it as the title to the first chapter of his new book.  His explanation is the following:
Verse 3 would be better translated, "I conveyed to you the principle matters."  That's the true sense of what he [Paul] is telling them.  Both the English Standard Version and the New American Standard Bible say, "I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received."  What Paul clearly has in mind here are the elements of the gospel truth that come first in order of importance.
That's all the explanation for that particular point.  It is zero exegesis.  It in no way gives any hint that he's basing this entire point on one phrase that he does not prove.  It is classic reading into the text. He places his meaning in so that he can get it out. He uses buzz words like "true sense" and "clearly has in mind."  He also relies on translators who have departed from the historic understanding of this terminology and without explanation.  When you look at the Greek works, it isn't better translated, "I conveyed to you the principle matters."  It is literally, "I delivered unto you among the first things." Paradidomi doesn't mean "to convey."  It's much stronger than that.

The first thing Paul entrusted them with was a gospel that included bodily resurrection. They were saved based upon that preaching and teaching that he gave to them right away and foundational to everything else he had taught them.  How could they eject from that now? They are betraying the gospel when they do that.  Paul is not saying, "This is the most important thing that I conveyed to you."  No.  It's important, no doubt, but Paul isn't introducing a new and monumental teaching of ranking doctrines.

This first importance teaching has done much damage to the faith and work of God.  It has resulted in widespread acceptance of false doctrine and greater disobedience to God's Word.  All of that is justified by many by this one little phrase that doesn't mean what they say it does.  Don't believe it.

You can read a few other posts I've written on this text are here, here, and here.  This post is a one stop shop on the fallacy of ranking doctrines.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Weekend Observations: Musical Meaning and Geert Wilders and Racism

Thomas Ross posts on Fridays here, as another reminder to you.  I appreciate what he does.  You would be hard pressed to name another independent Baptist or unaffiliated that has done the work and the kind of work that he has done.  I'm happy if you commend him for it.  If you want to know the sheer magnitude of what he's done at such a young age, look over at his Faithsaves.Net.  Use his resources.  They're good.

Sometimes I want to post something here at my own blog, but I don't want to stomp on or preempt something else either Thomas or I have written.  I want them to get two days of consideration before moving to something else.  There are seven days in a week, as you know (because God created the seven day week -- see Genesis 1), so three posts doesn't divide up evenly at two days a post.  For that reason, on late Saturday night, I have used and will use to offer something I've seen that I want others to consider.  It might not rise to a full post, but it is a kind of partial post (I wonder if you can send a partial post through the mail -- probably using the Partial Post division).  Some of the time, I believe I will start calling these posts, Weekend Observations.  They might be one observation or more.  Today it is two, and I start with Musical Meaning and then I go to Geert Wilders and Racism.

Musical Meaning

Sentient beings, those who breath and interact with what's happening outside of them, know that music has meaning.  History doesn't show a "music doesn't have meaning" position.  In general, no one attempts to prove music has meaning through history, because something above a butterfly larvae knows that already.  It would appear next to "insult to the intelligence" in the dictionary.  Now we have to insult the intelligence, because now appearing for the first time in history, music doesn't have meaning.  It was considered first by the people who are supposed to have the most discernment on planet earth, Christians, as being amoral.  Music is amoral, music itself can't be judged, according to Christians. Paper or plastic, yes, music, no.  This is the world we live in today, so I'm going to talk about it.

People have moved even further than music doesn't have meaning to "if you says it does, then you are a racist" (which dovetails actually with my second observation).  People do become very angry when you say that music means something and it means something bad, that is, when you judge their music.  They don't want activity that might result in their music being taken away.  I've seen fisticuffs break out in a gym over the choice of music, grown men wrestling and punching over musical choice, at the same time, of course, everyone all around denying that music has meaning.

Of course, music has meaning.  People like music because it has meaning.  People are attracted to music because it has meaning.  It has meaning regardless of the words.  Of course, it does.  Pillbugs (rollie pollies) would be nodding in agreement right now if they could nod.

CNN recently did a big news piece against Vladimir Putin, not because of some special dislike of Putin, even though they are posing like they hate Putin.  They are showing the Putin story because they want to keep the Trump-Russia narrative alive to discredit his presidency.  It's not news.  It's propaganda.  To combat that, RT, a Russian news agency mocked the CNN report.  RT shows how that CNN uses music.  You tell me what you think, starting at about :15 and ending at 1:15.

The change in music totally changes the meaning of the documentary.  The music changes what you think of Putin.  What do you think music does to God?  People get a different view of God and lyrics from the music.  It influences their view of God and perverts their affections.  They have a god in their imaginations that doesn't match the God of the Bible.  Music does that.  Everyone again knows what I'm writing here, but I thought the clip above would at least offer an illustration.  I wish I could say things are going to change, but churches are addicted to their tunes.

Geert Wilders and Racism

Every time I heard Geert Wilders it was something negative from the media.  The United States media wanted him to lose.  He was pictured like a flaming radical, right winged fascist type.   Anymore you can't trust the media when it says that, but right before the Dutch election, Wilders debated Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister.  Watch this clip to get a taste of Wilders.

He is different than the way the U.S. media pictures him.  This is why people are using the terminology, "fake news," and for all the "lies" people claim for Trump, the lies come from the media like one big lie, the equivalent of water from a hydrant in sorting through them.  Wilders speaks in a reasonable way.  He makes sense with his points.  He proves what he's talking about with facts.  The Prime Minister doesn't treat him in a disrespectful way.  When the camera roams into the audience, you see people who are listening in a careful, unemotional way, even while Wilders speaks.

What you hear from Wilders is the truth about Islam, the Quran, and its effect on the Netherlands. He's just telling the truth.  Listen closely to the stats he uses.  It is his goal to protect his country, to keep his country Dutch actually.  By the time you call something an Islamic country, that means it's not going so well and people have died and are dying.  That's why people in Europe can sit there and listen soberly, because they know it too. Even the present Prime Minister, who has since won the election, could understand the point.

The U.S. and British media call Wilders a racist, as if a religion is a race.  This is a new development in race.  Transgender is a race now.  Hispanic is a race, even though there are black and white Hispanics.  Now religion is a race.  People don't blink at these kinds of designations.  They are lies or fake news. The militant Moslems in Northern Nigeria, Boko Haram, are black Moslems killing and kidnapping black Christians in the South.

I return you to the thought that Wilders is just telling the truth about a religion.  Based on media reports, you'd think Wilders was crazy, but what he says sounds like sound and defensible policy for his nation.  If you read his biography at Wikipedia, you don't get the impression that he is off-the-wall at all.  Case-in-point as to his validity, because of Wilders positions, his life is more threatened than almost any politician in Europe.  His life is so in danger, that his wife can't be with him, his office must be away from all other people and politicians, and he is under non-stop guard.  The message is that you are not free in the Netherlands to criticize Islam.  Wilders is who our media calls out and not the Moslems in the Netherlands.

As an aside, a President Obama appointed federal judge in Hawaii blocked President Trump's second attempt at the travel ban.  Judge Watson based his ruling on the first amendment, not on the law itself, but based upon campaign statements made by Donald Trump in order to judge motive.  Even if it were a "Moslem ban," the establishment clause doesn't apply to foreign citizens.  I bring this up because the religious liberty of Christians, who are citizens of the United States, is very often not protected by liberal U.S. judges, but Moslems from foreign countries are protected by them.  These activist judges do not become active in protecting rights of American Christians, but they protect what are not rights of foreign Moslems.  I'll write more about this perhaps in the future.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Applications from Keswick Theology--an Analysis and Critique of So Great Salvation by Stephen Barabas, part 1 of 2

                             Learn, by the example of the unhappy worldwide spread of the Keswick theology, the unmistakable fact that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9).  Keswick theology has profoundly influenced world-wide Christendom and corrupted the doctrine of sanctification confessed by countless churches of Christ, because of a failure to mark, reprove, and separate from unrepentant advocates of Keswick errors.  Whether deliberately or in ignorance, Barabas’s sugar-coating of the deadly poison propagated by the wolves that originated the Keswick theology is inexcusable.  Do not follow his example.  Carelessness by God’s pastors in protecting their flocks, and preachers’ unthinking appropriation and propagation of unbiblical ideas wrapped in the tinsel of high-sounding testimonies, have contributed tremendously to the spread of Keswick. Many sincere preachers have unknowingly adopted, are proclaiming, and are imparting Keswick ideas to the next generation of church leaders, because such ideas were passed on to them by their ministerial forefathers.  Now is the time to end this cycle of ignorance and error.  Exercise great discernment as you hear the preaching of others.  It is proper to exercise Biblical judgment when you hear the Word brought forth (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:29).  Furthermore, if Biblical passages on separation would be violated by attendance at a meeting, fellowship with some person, or in any other way whatsoever, follow Scripture and remain separate.  It does not matter if the speakers you will not hear are dynamic.  It does not matter if it appears (in the short term, which is all that finite men can effectively gage) that great results arise from their work.  The unscriptural work of Mr. and Mrs. Smith seemed to have glorious results in the short term; but in the long term the doctrine of sanctification in countless churches has been corrupted, hindering the holiness of vast numbers of God’s people.  Furthermore, entirely new heresies have arisen in Christendom, in large part because of the Smith family’s continuationism.  Ecumenicalism—and all other disobedience to Scripture—is never the right course, and never, in truth and in the long term, the most effective or even pragmatically the best course.  However, the world, the flesh, and the devil can make tremendous harm seem beneficial by pointing to the short-term benefits and pleasures of sin.  Oh man of God, have you failed to protect the people over whom the Holy Ghost has made you an overseer from unscriptural Higher Life theology, either by its promotion, its toleration, or by communion with its unrepentant propagators?  Today is the day to repent and to determine, by God’s grace, that you will no longer dishonor your Lord by such carelessness, but will allow only the uncorrupted truth on sanctification to be taught to the flock of God.
               Recognize that the simple fact that someone is non-Keswick in his theology of sanctification does not mean that his teaching is automatically reliable.  In addition to the errors on sanctification of non-Keswick perfectionisms, whether Roman Catholic, Quaker, Wesleyan, or Pentecostal, be on guard against the errors of Reformed, non-Baptist theology propagated by Puritanism.  Do not move from accepting everything that Hannah Whitall Smith believed to accepting everything that John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, B. B. Warfield, or J. I. Packer believed, simply because their writings obliterate the errors of Keswick.  Follow Scripture alone, and find refuge in the protection offered by the pastors and teachers of the sound, separated, historic Baptist church of which you are—or ought to be—a member.  The church is the place of the corporate manifestation on earth of the wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10).  How important it is to carefully exegete Scripture in the context of a true church, where the special presence and blessing of the Lord and the protection of church leadership is found!
               Rather than hoping that you will come to a point where you will be satisfied with your spiritual progress, recognize that the more Christ-like the Spirit makes you, the more dissatisfied with your indwelling sin and your remaining unlikeness to God you will become, and the more you will be dissatisfied with your spiritual progress.  Satisfaction with your spiritual state is not a sign of superior holiness or of the entrance into a Higher Life but of severe spiritual myopia.  God punishes those that are at ease and settled on their lees (Jeremiah 48:11; Zephaniah 1:12).  Do not seek for satisfaction in your spiritual attainments but for speedier progress in mortification and vivification, while finding sweet consolation and refreshment in communion with Jesus Christ.  Very frequently people turn to Keswick theology—and other errors and false teachings—because they have not themselves truly tasted and seen the goodness of the Lord in their Christian experience.  He who genuinely walks with God will see the shallow and trite writings of a Hannah Whitall Smith for what they truly are.   Do not look within for happiness through ease and quietistic rest, but look to Jesus for blessedness and true joy and run the quicker and with the greater endurance the race that it set before you.  Reject the Keswick siren song and false promise of perfect, undisturbed, perpetual, and carefree happiness, peace, and rest before heaven.  Yes, God calls you to “rejoice evermore” (1 Thessalonians 5:16) and wishes you to pray and cast your burdens on Him instead of being full of care, so that you can experientially know “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7; cf. Isaiah 26:3-4).  Nonetheless, indwelling sin will always be lusting against the Spirit as long as you are in this body of death.  Greater fellowship with the Triune God in Christ, greater degrees of His grace, greater experience of His transforming power, and deeper eyeing of His beauty and glory, are intimately conjoined with greater self-abhorrence and deeper repentance over sins of commission, omission, and of the pervasive corruption engendered by the sin of your nature itself.  Embrace and seek for, rather than rejecting, the “negative” side of Christian spirituality, for it is the necessary adjunct of the positive side.  The lower down you fall in humility before the Lord, the higher He will lift you up—and the higher He lifts you up, the more dissatisfied you will be with what you yet lack, and the deeper down you will abase yourself in shame.
               Finally, recognize that, while the battle will be prolonged, as a child of the living God, you are on the winning side.  Glorious growth in Christ-likeness is possible for you now, and perfect conformity to your Lord’s perfect standard is your coming and certain blessedness.  Enabled by the Spirit’s grace, and trusting in Christ alone, strive mightily against and mortify your indwelling sin and all its manifestations.  Diligently use the means God has appointed for your growth in grace.  Read, study, meditate on, talk of, hear the exposition of, and practice the Word.  Remember and hate the remaining coldness of your heart.  Be watchful, pray, and humbly eye Christ in faith and love, relying on His Spirit to transform you.  Rejoice that your loving Father has decreed that your progressive sanctification, while not automatic, is certain; and fight the harder, recognizing that you are indeed judicially dead to sin, and that He who works in you both to will and do of His good pleasure will continue His good work in you until the day of Jesus Christ.  Hallelujah!

See here for this entire study.