If Lancaster Baptist Church stood alone sort of minding its own business, then I probably wouldn't be writing these posts on its salvation doctrinal statement. I wouldn't like it, but there are many churches in the United States preaching something less than a true gospel. However, it is one of the most influential churches in America, churches all over America sending thousands of students to West Coast Baptist College and hundreds of pastors imitating the Lancaster way of doing things.
Here is the aforementioned salvation statement again:
We believe all men were born with an inherited sin nature received from our common ancestor, Adam. We believe that because of his nature, man is a sinner by choice, and he is totally incapable of reforming himself or ceasing from his sin by his own power. We believe the only hope of deliverance for man is a total change of mind concerning his sinful condition and inability to change it, and a turning to Jesus Christ as the only Saviour. We believe that only through the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross can a man be delivered from his sin. We believe that all those who reject Jesus Christ as their Saviour are already condemned to an eternity in the lake of fire. (Genesis 5:1-5; Acts 4:19; Acts 16:31; Romans 3:10-23; Romans 5:6-12; Romans 6:23; Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-6; Revelation 20:11-14)To be even more complete, here is the fourth part of the Lancaster gospel presentation on its website:
In order to have a relationship with God and an eternal home in Heaven, we must stop trusting ourselves, our works, and our religions, and place our full trust in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of our sin and eternal life. In Roman 10:13 the Bible says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That is a promise directly from God that if you will pray to Him, confess that you are a sinner, ask Him to forgive your sins, and turn to Him alone to be your Saviour; He promises to save you and give you the free gift of eternal life. You can make that decision today by praying from your heart, something like this:
Dear God, I know that I am separated from you because of sin. I confess that in my sin, I cannot save myself. Right now, I turn to you alone to be my Saviour. I ask you to save me from the penalty of my sin, and I trust you to provide eternal life to me.—AmenWhat's missing here?
It seems amazing, not having the words "believe in Jesus Christ" or "believe on Jesus Christ." LBC says "trust in Jesus Christ," which is part of what it means to believe in Jesus Christ, but it is not believing in Jesus Christ. It involves knowledge, assent, and trust. You've got to know the facts of salvation, which scripture mentions again and again, the knowledge of Jesus Christ used as synonym with salvation (2 Pet 1:2,3,8). You must assent to those facts, which is an emotional aspect, where the sinner is drawn to what he knows. They get this wrong too, because they don't reveal sufficiently the identity of Jesus Christ. It is obvious the importance of this when you go through the book of John. The book is convincing us that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ.
Most importantly is the commitment. Commitment is found in saving faith, even as seen in the terminology, "obey the gospel" (2 Thess 1:8, 1 Pet 4:17). When John the Baptist says, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (Jn 3:36), the second "believeth not" is the Greek word that literally means, "obeys not" or "disobeys." Trusting in Christ in the sense of depending on Christ for salvation is part of the volitional aspect, but not all of it.
In part one, I wrote that repentance is missing. There are three primary ways today that repentance is abused or corrupted. One is to reduce it to merely a change of mind. This turns salvation to only head knowledge. The word means more than head knowledge. A second is to say that it is repenting of unbelief, so someone who was not believing is now believing, and that is repentance. Nowhere is repentance portrayed like this in scripture. Third, someone says repentance is a work, so it isn't required for salvation, but comes after salvation. Scripture shows clearly that biblical repentance isn't a work (Acts 11:18, 2 Tim 2:25) anymore than faith is (Philip 1:29, Eph 2:8-9). We're not saved by works.
Related to the exclusion of actual belief in Jesus Christ and repentance is omission of Jesus as Lord. Believing in Jesus Christ is to believe in the Jesus Christ, Who is God and Lord and Savior. Confessing Jesus is Lord is not just saying words. It is relinquishing the control of your life. This is part of what it means to believe in Jesus Christ. If you believe that He is Lord, then you want to and are committed to do what He wants. If you believe that He is Lord, you are prepared to or planning on going His way and not your own.
When I preach the gospel, I have found the gospel breaks down for people mainly in three ways, One, people think they are good. They know they are sinners, but they still think they are good people. They very often won't admit that they aren't good. Two, they won't admit they deserve Hell. They know they are sinners, but they don't think they are bad sinners, so they don't deserve Hell either. Where the plan of salvation breaks down the most is when you bring up Lordship and repentance. People want to be saved, but even more so they want to keep going their own way. They don't want a boss. This is what we read about the apostates of 2 Peter. They have a problem with being told what to do, so they reject Jesus.
When I say someone can't be saved and remain in rebellion against Christ, I'm saying that a person must believe in Jesus Christ, and Jesus is Lord. Someone is not saved if He will not commit to Jesus as Lord. People have the biggest problem with that because they want to be saved and yet still hang on to their lives. They need to know that they have to give up their lives. This is repentance. This is faith.
You can read for yourself that what Lancaster expects. It expects that people will confess that they are sinners, they will ask for forgiveness of sins (something not once said in the Bible for salvation), and then turn to Jesus as Savior. Scripture teaches to believe in or on Jesus Christ, but nowhere to turn to Jesus as Savior. Nowhere.
Lancaster either just doesn't believe in or has eliminated crucial teaching or preaching of the gospel. People are making a decision, but without everything they need to know to be saved. I'm not saying that everyone there is lost. Lancaster is, however, corrupting the gospel and preaching a false gospel when it leaves out what it does.