April 22, 2014

A Woman Preaches in Northland’s Chapel

If not for all the other disappointments that have previously transpired at the former Northland Baptist Bible College, this might have been a jaw dropper. Here is a link to the NIU site with the chapel video of a Miss Lina Abujamra preaching the chapel message.


Miss Lina Abujamra- NIU Chapel

You’ll hear in the first minute that Miss Abujamra is not the first female to speak in NIU’s chapel. Later, at 3:20 she says,

“...I work part time in the ER. The rest of the time I teach God’s Word, and I write. I didn’t see that coming, but ya know that’s kind of the sexy part of saying it- like you’re, you know, I teach God’s Word, I write, an author, teacher, Bible speaker, whatever you want to call it.

The Bible says, “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve,” (1 Tim. 2:11-13).

Yours faithfully,



Archival Series: New Calvinism’s Upside-Down Gospel

Dr. Rob Congdon recently published a new book, New Calvinism’s Upside-Down Gospel. From the preface,
This booklet is the first in a series on New Calvinism that is intended to assist you in understanding the movement rapidly spreading throughout Christianity and dividing many churches and even families….
In light of New Calvinism’s impact and influence, especially on Christians between the ages of twenty and forty, it is hoped that a careful clarification and examination of the teachings and beliefs of New Calvinists will reveal why they are in error. After several years of studying this movement, the author desires to explain why New Calvinism appeals to the next generation of Christian leaders and how older men, such as John Piper and Al Mohler, are providing what appears to be deep biblical teaching, but what, in reality, is traditional Reformed/Covenant theology that has been repackaged in post-modern “wrappings.” Unfortunately, these new “wrappings” are cloaking the errors of traditional Calvinism as well as introducing some new doctrinal deviations.
You can read the preface in its entirety at the ordering page, link below.  Here are select excerpts from New Calvinism’s Upside-Down Gospel.
Instead of a gospel that leads individuals to salvation and spiritual growth, the gospel of New Calvinism is a distorted gospel that is setting a path to a mechanical, robotic, fatalistic, and corporate Christianity that offers only a false hope of salvation. Already, New Calvinism is creating a generation of twenty to forty year-olds that lacks a sense of direction, a sense of responsibility, a sense of holiness, a sense of God’s will, and a sense of God’s plan and purpose for creation. According to Time Magazine, New Calvinists are proclaiming a God who is a “micromanaging deity,” totally controlling a “sinful and puny humanity.” 
Because Calvinists do not fully comprehend or understand God’s plan to reveal characteristics of His nature through the redemption of human individuals who have the freedom to accept or reject His offer of salvation, they cling to and promote the doctrine of “Irresistible Grace” for the chosen or “elect” only. How can God be glorified for redeeming a pre-programmed “robot?” 
“Revelation History” as opposed to “Redemptive History” provides both the time and the “stage” necessary to reveal all of God’s attributes, not just His attributes relating to man’s redemption. To limit God’s purpose of history as New Calvinists do is to limit the revelation of God’s Person unnecessarily. 
The New Calvinist’s view of history is an outgrowth of a modified Reformed/Covenant theology called “Biblical Theology” or “redemptive historical hermeneutics,” first proposed in the 18th century.Men like Anglican clergyman Geoffrey Paxton, Geerhardus Vos, and former Seventh-day Adventist, Robert Brinsmead, have clarified and refined it. New Calvinists have repackaged this view of history to make it culturally relevant and have given it various labels such as: “The Centrality of the Objective Gospel” (COG); “The Gospel-Centered Theology;” (GCT) or simply, “Gospel-Driven.”* 
New Calvinism’s “gospel-driven life” may sound biblical, but upon closer examination, one finds that it is not one that is based upon the… “faith [that] cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). We are not talking merely about semantics, definitions, or a fad movement; we are talking about the eternal destinies of many for whom Christ died—Heaven or Hell! 
For those who are genuinely saved but have fallen under the teaching of New Calvinism, there is also concern. They, along with unsaved New Calvinists, are being led down a path that quite possibly is leading to a re-unification of Protestant churches with Roman Catholicism. Eventually, this union will spawn the worldwide religion described in Revelation. 
It is reasonable to wonder how earnest individuals can be deceived if leaders urge them to read their Bibles. This question leads to the second great danger of New Calvinism: it denies the power of the Word of God to change lives by relegating it to a minor mystic role…. What was going on is called Lecto Divina, which is a mystic Roman Catholic monastic practice of Scripture reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation that supposedly promotes communion with God. The focus is “not a theological analysis of biblical passages but to view them [the Scriptures] with Christ as the key to their meaning.” In other words, this is Christo-centric meditation, now being practiced by both Emergent Church movement and New Calvinist leaders. 
To counter the “shifting sands” of today’s world and to provide authoritative leadership that young adults are seeking, New Calvinism offers a micromanaging God who controls every event, experience, or circumstance in a person’s life, down to the minutest detail, apart from any individual accountability for choices and acts. To a generation seeking stability, direction, security, and authority, a God who controls every aspect of life is welcome. 
John Piper, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, Mark Driscoll, and other New Calvinist leaders influence these young adults through their speaking, writing, and Internet blogs. They also encourage their followers to read the writings of past authority figures such as Augustine, Jonathan Edwards, and John Owens, as well as other influential Reformers or Puritans. While some of these writings provide useful spiritual insight, they also contain false biblical teaching. It is these and other writings that encourage mysticism, signs and wonders, and a continual looking back to the cross. Instead of complacent Christianity, New Calvinism seems to offer a sense of passion that is experienced through meditation on the majesty of God and the cross.
Dr. Congdon closes his book with a section of Suggestions for Countering New CalvinismI encourage each of you to purchase this powerful and compelling exposure of, and biblical response to the dangers of the New Calvinism. Click on New Calvinism’s Upside-Down Gospel to order your copy.


PO Box 1785, Greer, South Carolina 29652

*Note:Gospel Driven” is a preferred term of Dr. Dave Doran. In 2009 Dave wrote, “My goal through these posts on gospel-driven separation has been to lay out what I believe are the biblical obligations regarding separation that are explicitly stated in or implied by clear biblical texts.” (Starting at the Right Spot, Nov. 2009) Just days later it was learned that Dr. Al Mohler compromised the gospel by signing the Manhattan Declaration (Nov. 2009) with Roman Catholic priests. Mohler had given Christian recognition to the deadly “enemies of the cross of Christ,” which he (Mohler) has never apologized for or biblically repented of. Instead of making an application of his “gospel-driven biblical obligations” Dave elected to excuse Mohler’s ecumenism. Dave Doran dismissed the incident as merely, “a wrong decision based on bad judgment.”  Kevin Bauder suggested it was nothing more than a, “single episode...an occasional inconsistency.”


Al Mohler Joins Hands With the Mormon Church

Al Mohler: So Much for Sola Scriptura

April 14, 2014

Northland Takes Giant Step Toward Closure

Northland and Central Seminary will not survive having abandoned their fundamental heritage, disdain for those who have gone before, and pursuing a path toward [so-called] ‘conservative’ evangelicalism.” (Closure of Calvary Baptist Seminary: Predictable and Repeatable, Aug. 2013)
On April 7 NIU President Daniel Patz made an announcement to the student body.  You can read his announcement in its entirety under April 2014 Announcement1 at the NIU website. 
“…It’s clear that we need to make more changes in order to live within our means…. reduce and eliminate programs and schools…the Discover. Develop. Deploy. program, our music department, and our education department, as well as our 5 school/outcome-based approach.”
In the article it is plain that NIU is taking a giant step closer to closure.  The closure of NIU, and its camp ministry, has been predictable and is IMO imminent.  The only question is when will NIU be shuttered.  A key contributor to NIU’s closure was the betrayal of clear statements of doctrine and practice stated in Northland’s Academic Catalogs and Articles of Faith. See, Is NIU “Opposed to the Modern Day Charismatic Movement?”
We have three statements from the Northland Graduate School Academic Catalog that unequivocally opposes and rejects the Charismatic Movement signs and wonders teaching.  The academic catalog explicitly rejects cooperation with the Charismatic Movement.  Yet, Matt Olson has honored the men and embraced the ministry of a church within the Sovereign Grace, Charismatic Movement.
The “NIU is unchanged” changes Matt Olson instituted at Northland alienated a vast swath of the Northland Baptist Bible College alumni and core base of support.  New enrollment fell sharply and some existing students transferred out because of Olson’s changes to the school.  For example see, Dr. Matt Olson, “I Apologize to You for…” What?
No, we do not doubt Matt Olson’s sincerity – we doubt his wisdom. He brings in Josh Beers and other men, possibly including Jason Janz for a “Day of Prayer.” Matt leads the young people to mix, that which is most holy (Prayer) with that which is profane (the world’s CCM/Rock music) and then renders an apology. Why doesn’t he inform and apologize to their parents and pastors? The students who are learning how to be involved in mixed-worship may not want to come home to the old ways.
Does Matt Olson believe he can succeed where others have failed? Matt Olson’s hard left turn put NIU on a trajectory to suffer the consequences, which began with losing most of the alumni. Significant numbers of alumni have already seen enough of Matt Olson’s leftward turn to decide they’re not going with him. (What Do Pillsbury, Tennessee Temple & Northland Have in Common? Oct. 2012) 
Northland is moving toward realizing the same fate that Pillsbury Baptist Bible College did in 2010, only NIU has been brought to ruin far more quickly. It was the radical changes that Matt Olson brought to NIU that has brought the once fine fundamental Baptist separatist school to ruin.  Those who never wanted to see the historic and biblical foundation of Northland Baptist Bible College dismantled have been affected.  Pray for these as they are or soon will be in transition to another place of service in God’s good will and timing for them. (Isaiah 65:24; Phil. 2:12-13)


LM

Footnotes:
1) Daniel Patz, April 2014 Announcement

Related Reading:
It is my belief that the closure of Calvary Baptist Seminary was predictable and will be repeated. Calvary joins Pillsbury Baptist Bible College and Tennessee Temple in their demise. I also believe we will see the closure of Northland International University (NIU) and Central Baptist Seminary (Minneapolis, MN). For drifting far from their original markers as fundamental Baptist separatist schools NIU and Central will not survive. NIU and Central will not survive having become non-separatist, evangelical schools. They will not survive having alienated their base and alumni! NIU and Central cannot compete for students with the star personalities of and/or high-profile schools in the so-called “conservative” evangelicalism.  Northland and Central will not survive having abandoned their fundamental heritage, disdain for those who have gone before, and pursuing a path toward [so-called] “conservative” evangelicalism.
Is NIU “UnChanged?”
Has NIU remained unchanged? In 2010-11 school year would NIU hand the Northland Baptist Bible College Position Statement on Contemporary Issues in Christianity to a visiting pastor and/or parent and state that the university still abides by the philosophy and practice it defines? Is the NBBC Position Statement still in force, or has it been set aside to allow for what has the appearance of a change in direction for NIU?
With the imbedded video and accompanying pages at NIU’s web site the downward spiral of compromise of a once fine school continues. For some NIU has hit bottom. It’s one thing (not a good thing) for NIU to be participating in CCM/Rock concerts, which I have documented. It is quite another to have officially brought the CCM/Rock genre to the campus itself.
This video is another sad revelation of what happened to the remaining faculty and student body once Northland’s leadership took a tolerant view toward CCM and RAP, yet tells the public NIU has not changed. The students know the real position of the administration on such matters….  And it is only a matter of time until this kind of behavior is seen in the chapel hour and on ministry tours.

April 7, 2014

Understanding Carl McIntire: Important Insights into Our Present World

“Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the king of the Jews?  Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?  Pilate answered, Am I a Jew?  Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?  Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.  Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then?  Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king.  To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.  Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.  Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?”
(John 18:33-38)
Dr. Rick Flanders
Many Christians today have never heard of Dr. Carl McIntire, but back in the 1960s he hosted the most widely syndicated independent religious radio program in the country.  It was called “The Twentieth Century Reformation Hour,” and the thrust of its message was that there needed to be a new reformation, with churches that are true to historic Christianity withdrawing from the mainline denominations because of their tolerance of “liberal” false teachers.  Dr. McIntire was the pastor of the Bible Presbyterian Church of Collingswood, New Jersey, but his voice was heard regularly by millions who never darkened the doors of his local church.  His broadcast was carried by more than 600 stations at the peak of its influence, which is roughly the same as the number of stations that carry Rush Limbaugh today!  It was a daily (weekdays) half-hour program put on the air by thousands of contributors stirred by its message.
Those who heard Dr. McIntire knew that his no-nonsense talk show (only he did the talking—there were no phone calls taken) focused on many more topics than heresy in the churches.  He was known as a “right-wing” political voice, and was targeted by several administrations for special persecution by the F.C.C. for his conservative influence.  Eventually government pressure put McIntire off the air.  To say that he was controversial would be to understate the situation tremendously.  He named names and accused both religious and political leaders of socialist views, softness on communism, treasonous activities, and antagonism to the true Christian faith.  Many were converted to the rising conservative movement in American politics through Dr. McIntire’s influence, as well as to fundamentalist Christianity.  No one can deny that his influence was felt in the ‘60s and ‘70s, although whether his influence was for good or for ill is an issue that has been debated hotly.
Both liberal and conservative churchmen found McIntire’s message and methods disturbing.  The “new evangelical” element rising in the conservative churches joined the liberal leaders of the mainline churches in denouncing, castigating, and even ridiculing him.  But now, with the passage of time, we can get a better perspective on the man and on what he was telling us, and he doesn’t look as crazy as he did to some back in his heyday.
Dr. McIntire Marching
Carl McIntire died in his nineties, in 2002.  It really wasn’t until after his death that a few evangelical spokesmen acknowledged the accuracy of some of his seemingly radical opinions.  This is particularly true of the charge he made repeatedly that clerics of Soviet-bloc churches that had been welcomed into the World Council of Churches were actually KGB agents.  Communist influence in the church councils was a regular theme of his radio addresses, but his direct charge against the Russian Orthodox and other Soviet churchmen seemed to be based on information he received from his contact with the persecuted “underground” churches behind the Iron Curtain.  These claims were mocked by liberal media and liberal clergy alike, and disregarded even by conservative writers both religious and political.  But it turns out he was right.  Intelligence released after the collapse of the Soviet Union confirms that the clerics in question were indeed Red agents.
Upon news of McIntire’s death, Richard Mouw of Christianity Today, wrote, “In the world of ecumenical Protestantism, some owe Carl McIntire an apology for dismissing his warnings.”  He went on to say, “To my knowledge, no one in the world of ecumenical Protestantism ever apologized to McIntire for the cavalier manner in which they dismissed his charges.  I, for one, believe we owed him an apology.”
Many Christians who agreed with McIntire’s Christian fundamentalism did not agree with his strong emphasis on the radio and in public addresses on the danger of Communism and on predominantly political issues.  I was one of those who wished he would focus more on preaching the Gospel and on the exposition of the Bible.  Carl McIntire was skilled in Biblical exposition and was effective in evangelistic preaching, but so often his subjects were the Red menace and the evils of the liberal trend in the government.  Why was he doing this?  It may well be true that McIntire’s approach was imbalanced in some ways, but it is more and more clear that he saw something many of us missed about the connection between doctrinal heresy and political error.
The relation between one’s perception of eternal truth and his civil and political viewpoint is taught in the Bible and especially clarified in the interrogation of Jesus Christ by Pontius Pilate.  This conversation is recorded in the book of John, chapter 18, verse 28, through chapter 19, and verse 16.  The governor was supposedly seeking to determine if the Nazarene were guilty of treason.  “Art thou a king then?” he asked and pressed for an answer.  “My kingdom is not of this world,” replied the Son of God.  “Thou sayest that I am a king.  To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.”  The governor responded with a telling comment in the form of a question, “What is truth?”  The governor did not believe in absolute truth.  Like many leading our world today, this politician lived by the assumption that all matters of principle are really matters of opinion, and that one opinion is as good as another.  No principles, political or moral, are set in stone.  No God above determines the difference between right and wrong.  A political decision will be made on the basis of its probable effect, and not based on absolutes.  Pilate’s politics were determined by his spiritual bankruptcy.  What he did in the case of Jesus of Nazareth reveals how his actions as governor were affected by his attitude toward truth.  The man who denied the existence of truth found a man innocent of any crime, but then had him scourged and eventually crucified.  He did not have the moral fortitude to do anything else.
Men in authority have always become benefactors or oppressors based upon their attitude toward eternal truth.  This is repeatedly taught in the Bible book of Proverbs.
“Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.  Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.”
(Proverbs 25:4-5)
“For the transgression of a land many of the princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged.”
(Proverbs 28:2)
“Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.”
(Proverbs 28:5)
“The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor: but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days.”
(Proverbs 28:16)
“When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase.”
(Proverbs 28:28)
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”
(Proverbs 29:2)
“If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.”
(Proverbs 29:12)
Our understanding of the times will improve as we factor in the principle that theological bias is behind political ideology.  And it is.  Socialism arose as a philosophy to oppose the Gospel assertion that man is innately sinful.  As the great revivals spread the truth of man’s depravity, those who rejected it and the salvation offered by God on the basis of it, developed explanations of where evil originates if it does not “proceed” (as Jesus taught) “out of the heart of men” (Mark 7:21-23).  Socialism and the various forms of communism insisted that evil came from our economic system.  Replace the competition-based system mankind has always used with a system based on cooperation, and evil will disappear.  Utopia will be created.  The politics of the left is based on theological heresy.  Psychology and evolution also arose to oppose the teachings of the Gospel.  Every political “ism” that believes that society can save itself is really a false Gospel. 
Rejection of God as the Lawgiver is behind the gay-marriage and abortion-rights movements in the political field.  The “social issues” debated in every political campaign today are really religious issues.  Traditional Christians find themselves under more and more pressure from the government, not by the accident of changing social mores, but because of specific and deliberate opposition to what they believe by those who are gaining political power.  Many who are seizing power in the country hate the God of the Bible and the laws by which He says we must live.  They are not neutral to Bible Christianity; some of them are sworn to destroy it.
Christian doctrine cannot be divorced from politics, if both of them are understood correctly.  The theological apostasy of the churches had everything to do with the political shift in America from the protection of individual freedom to the total collectivism we can all see coming.  Dr. McIntire recognized and exposed the role liberal churches and church councils were having in socializing the country, but his taking the Bible to the heart of American politics was for deeper reasons than labeling the culprits that were taking us down the road to tyranny.  It happened because the perversion of our politics comes from our departure from the Christian faith.  When the churches failed to be guardians of the truth, the whole of our society was affected.
To understand this fact is to discover another compelling reason for God’s people to speak the complete truth about what God has said and how it applies to all areas of life today.  Caution about getting too political or offending people with our old-fashioned morals, or standing up on controversial issues may not be as wise as we once thought.  Dr. McIntire was called a kook, but he may well have been right in ways that we must note in our day. Christians are largely derelict in their role as salt and light today, and must face that fact, confess their sin, and step up to the plate.  The response of men to the truth of God ultimately determines the nature of their politics.  Christians have the duty to say something about that.

Dr. Rick Flanders

March 24, 2014

Lordship Salvation: A Misuse of Scripture, 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10



For they themselves show 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.


There is one passage of Scripture that virtually always comes up in the discussion of repentance with advocates of Lordship Salvation and needs to be carefully explained. How does John MacArthur, for the Lordship view of repentance, interpret the first verse of this passage?

As metanoia is used in the New Testament, it always speaks of a change of purpose, and specifically a turning from sin. In the sense Jesus used it, repentance calls for a repudiation of the old life and a turning to God for salvation. Such a change of purpose is what Paul had in mind when he described the repentance of the Thessalonians: “You turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). Note the three elements of repentance: turning to God, a turning from evil, and the intent to serve God. No change of mind can be called true repentance if it does not include all three elements. The simple but all too often overlooked fact is that a true change of mind will necessarily result in a change of behavior. Repentance is not merely shame or sorry over sin, although genuine repentance always involves an element of remorse. It is a redirection of the human will, a purposeful decision to forsake all unrighteousness and pursue righteousness instead. 9

What is the gospel, after all, but a call to repentance (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30)? In other words, it demands that sinners make a change—stop going one way and turn around to go the other (1 Thess. 1:9). 10

Those quotes represent Lordship’s classic misuse of 1 Thess. 1:9. MacArthur starts by addressing the Greek word metanoia as it is used in the New Testament, and then quotes a verse that does not even contain the word metanoia. The Greek word for “to turn” is completely different; it is epistrepho (epistrephō) and means simply “to turn, turn to or toward.” Epistrephō does not mean “to repent.”

Through the balance of this section I am going to draw from the Inspired Commentary, the Word of God, to bring out the meaning and context of 1 Thess. 1:9. Before we can draw a conclusion on 1 Thess. 1:9 we need to begin by reviewing Paul’s initial evangelistic ministry to the Thessalonicans. In Acts 17:1-4 we find Paul arriving at Thessalonica and, “as his manner was,” preaching the gospel. He was preaching Jesus who suffered and rose again. He said, “…Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.” He is exhorting the Thessalonians, in their unsaved condition, to change their mind about Jesus. In verse four we see that some were persuaded, “some of them believed,” but some “believed not.” What was it in Paul’s preaching that some were persuaded of and believed? That Jesus, who suffered, died and rose again, was the Christ. In Paul’s evangelistic appeal to the Thessalonians is there any call or exhortation for “turning from evil” or the “intent to serve” for salvation? No, there is not! MacArthur is forcing “turning from evil (sin) and the intent to serve God…to forsake all unrighteousness” into the narrative of Paul’s sermon.

Those who “believed not” set in motion a wave of persecution against the new believers (Acts 17:5-9). The events at Thessalonica set a pattern for what we find in Paul’s two epistles to the Thessalonian believers.

In 1 Thessalonians 1 Paul acknowledges and praises them for their “work of faith” and “labor of love.” They set an example for others on what Bible Christianity should look like. Their fine example was being set with “patience” (v. 3) in the face of “much affliction” (v. 6; Acts 17:5-9). They were setting the right example for fellow believers (Macedonia and Achaia, vv. 7-8) to emulate how to go through persecution. The reputation of the Thessalonian church preceded Paul in his missionary travels; therefore he did not need to speak of it (v.8). Their testimony of faith and patience in the face of persecution was a living example and a sermon without words. With respect to Lordship Salvation, this raises a serious problem. If the example of the Thessalonians in their willingness to change their behavior after they believed is considered the necessary condition of true saving faith, then in what way were the Thessalonians “examples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia” (v. 7)? How could they be the example to all other believers when all believers in Christ will necessarily live and behave just like the Thessalonians as Lordship advocates insist?

1 Thess. 1:9 opens with, “For they… .” The “they” is their “faith to God-ward,” which became known abroad. The Thessalonians “turned to God,” which put them in a position for the capacity to serve God. The example they became to other believers was the result of their believing the message Paul preached unto themthe One who suffered and rose again is the Christ. The “patience of hope” (v. 3) is defined in verse 10, “And to wait for his Son from heaven.” While they expected and patiently waited for Him to come they kept working out their faith and labored in love. Today when so many are occupied with His coming, we would do well to learn from the Thessalonians that we should keep occupied (doing something for Him) until He comes.

Lordship advocates who use this passage as an illustration of repentance only quote verse 9, “and how ye turned (epistrepho) to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” Grammatically, however, there are two parallel infinitives of purpose, which are found in verses 9 and 10. The sentence structure, therefore, if breaking it down into main points and sub points, could be visualized this way:

v9, 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 (douleuein) the living and true God
v10,             and 
                 - to wait (anamenein) for His Son from heaven,
                              -whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus,
                              - which delivered us from the wrath to come.

There is a major problem for the Lordship position in claiming that 1 Thess. 1:9 is making the intent “to serve” a necessary description (thus condition) of genuine repentance/faith. If “to serve” is a condition/necessary description, then syntactically so must the phrase “to wait” be as well. Wait for what? “His Son from heaven,” i.e. the Second Coming of Christ. There is no other passage in Scripture that conditions the reception of eternal life on believing in Christ’s Second Coming or waiting for it!

There is simply no way the two infinitive clauses can be separated. They are both present tense, active voice, infinitives, and they are both subordinate, dependent clauses that are parallel to one another and dependent upon the main, independent clause of 1:9, “how ye turned to God from idols.”

To be born again do the lost need to believe in the Second Coming of Christ? If we accept MacArthur’s view that the Thessalonians were saved by “turning from evil and the intent to serve,” then the Scriptures also demand waiting for the second coming of Christ as a third condition for conversion.

There is, however, an even larger point with 1 Thess. 1:9-10. This passage is not even describing their initial, saving faith. The emphasis of the passage is clearly upon describing their faithful example in following the Lord subsequent to their initial, saving faith. In 1 Thess. 1:9 Paul is not speaking of how to become a believer; he wrote to them about their growth and testimony as believers.

This interpretation fits perfectly with Paul’s introductory description of these Thessalonians in 2 Thess. 1:3-4. Notice there too they are described not as to their initial, saving faith, as if Paul is saying to them there, “Your conversion was genuine.” No, he is pleased with the fact that their “faith groweth exceedingly” (1:3) and that they were exercising “patience and faith” amidst the trials they were enduring (1:4).

This interpretation, furthermore, fits perfectly with the Inspired Commentary on the Thessalonian Epistles that we have in Acts 17, where the Thessalonians’ initial, saving faith is described in 17:1-4, esp. v. 4 “persuaded” (peitho) or “believed” (KJV) and v. 5 “were not persuaded” (apeitho) or “believed not” (KJV). The content of their faith is described in v. 3, that is, they believed in Christ’s substitutionary death and bodily resurrection, which were according to the Scriptures (1 Thess. 4:14; 1 Cor. 15:3-4). There is no mention of turning from idols, serving the living God, waiting for the Second Coming, etc. Instead, what we see is that immediately upon believing, these baby Christians in Thessalonica were persecuted for their faith (Acts 17:5-9), particularly by Jewish unbelievers (1 Thess. 2:14-16).

From the Scriptures we can firmly conclude that 1 Thess. 1:9-10 is a post conversion passage. Paul is addressing the things that followed their conversion. He was teaching them post conversion truth. In verse ten he concerns himself with their growth in light of the Lord’s imminent return. At the time of their persecution Paul and Silas were ministering to them as new believers (1 Thess. 2:8). In both epistles to the Thessalonians Paul is ministering to them as new believers. Every chapter in 1 Thessalonians ends with Paul referencing the Second Coming of Christ, which is a vital truth for believers. In 2 Thessalonians 1 we find Paul speaking of their growing faith, charity toward one another and patience in persecution. Paul is commending them for their faith that grew out of their believing the gospel.

Lordship’s repentance, as MacArthur defines it, is to “stop going one way,” i.e. stop sinning and replace sinning with the “intent to serve,” i.e. do the “good works” (Eph. 2:10) expected of a born again believer. MacArthur changes the gospel from repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to a man-centered message that conditions the reception of eternal life on the lost man’s, “purposeful decision to forsake all unrighteousness,” which is an upfront commitment to certain expected levels of behavior. Believing the gospel should result in some form of a change in behavior as one grows in grace. However, nowhere in Scripture is the gospel for the reception of eternal life defined by a sinner’s intention, commitment or resolve to change his behavior.

In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, from the chapter, What is Biblical Repentance, pp. 133-138.

Footnotes:
9) John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus: What is Authentic Faith,
p. 178.

10) John MacArthur, Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles, p. 33.