January 17, 2019

Archival Series: The Faith of the Gospel Dr. Bob Jones, III

Previously I posted a sermon excerpt from Dr. Bob Jones, III.  That was a continuation of a discussion I had at one of the Gospel Coalition blogs. There was some confusion there over whether or not Bob Jones, Sr., Jr., and the III preach the same gospel message as Dr. John MacArthur. In The Faith of the Gospel, Part Three1 we saw that there is a vast chasm between the gospel of grace and the works based, man-centered message of John MacArthur commonly known as “Lordship Salvation.”2 We saw that Dr. Kevin Bauder is wrong when he says that “fundamentalists and evangelicals believe preach and defend the [same] gospel.”3  Today, I am sharing opening portions from the fourth and final in the series, The Faith of the Gospel. Let’s hear from and read Dr. Bob Jones, III.

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,” (Phil. 1:27).

I hope you students and all university family know that I am preaching this series of messages out of a grandfatherly concern, out of a pastoral concern, for you. Because what you do with your lives after you graduate and leave this place is of immense importance….

The faith of the gospel…is the outflow of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.  The faith of the gospel, which as we have been trying to say in these previous messages encompasses everything about the Christian life.  And this is a verse about behavior, it says so right there in the first phrase…Let it be about the gospel stemming from the gospel.  We have tried to make it clear in these messages that those who say, “Well, it’s all about the gospel.”  If it’s all just about the gospel then we’ve missed the whole point of the gospel.

There is the saving gospel, which introduces us to the faith of the gospel. And if we embrace the philosophy that it’s just about the gospel we can put our arms around about every wrong, unbecoming Christian behavior in all the world. We can put our stamp of approval on counterfeit Christianity.  If they’re preaching the gospel… no matter what else is going on in those ministries, no matter what endorsements and involvements they have with liberal unbelieving religion, no matter what ecumenical reach they may have, no matter what distortions they may have, no matter what tolerance for the intolerable…we can embrace all of that and say that’s fine, that’s good they’re preaching the gospel.  This verse makes it very clear that there is a lot more than that….

I beg you to think about how the gospel is changed when it is conveyed in an unholy conveyance [that] God did not intend…

I encourage all guests to listen to the balance of this message (24 minutes) in its entirety. Dr. Bob Jones, III, The Faith of the Gospel, BJU Chapel, April 21, 2011 can be heard in its entirety at Sermon Audio.

Footnotes:
1) The Faith of the Gospel, Part 3

“First Corinthians 15:1-3, the nutshell of the Gospel, the saving Gospel. There is a difference between the saving Gospel, which starts it all and without which there is no faith in the Gospel. We love the saving message of the Gospel. It’s to be on our lips at all times and in all places wherever we go. But Paul is dealing here [Phil. 1:27] with the governing gospel. That which governs us, as members of the household of faith, citizens of Heaven, AFTER we have received and believed into the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

2) Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page
3) Do Fundamentalists & Evangelicals, “Believe, Preach and Defend the [Same] Gospel?”

January 14, 2019

Archival Series: The Faith of the Gospel Dr. Bob Jones, III

Last week [May 2011] I participated in a discussion at one of the Gospel Coalition blogs. There was some confusion there over whether or not Bob Jones, Sr., Jr., and the III preach the same gospel message as John MacArthur's Lordship Salvation. Below is a transcribed sermon excerpt from Dr. Jones that I posted there to help settle the question. That was followed by my own personal commentary, which I have expanded for this article.

“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,” (Phil. 1:27).
Our behavior as citizens of Heaven is what Paul is dealing with here. Our personal behavior, our worship behavior, everything pertaining to the redeemed Christian life is at stake here in what Paul is saying. Let your behavior as citizens of the kingdom of Heaven be as it becomes the Gospel of Christ, the saving message of Christ. Are you washed in the blood of Christ, His death, His resurrection? The Gospel of Jesus Christ. First Corinthians 15:1-3, the nutshell of the Gospel, the saving Gospel. There is a difference between the saving Gospel, which starts it all and without which there is no faith in the Gospel. We love the saving message of the Gospel. It’s to be on our lips at all times and in all places wherever we go. But Paul is dealing here [Phil. 1:27] with the governing gospel. That which governs us, as members of the household of faith, citizens of Heaven, AFTER we have received and believed into the Gospel of Jesus Christ.1
The crux of the LS controversy is not over the post-conversion issues such as sanctification, discipleship and following Christ. There is very little disagreement over what should be the results of a genuine conversion. The controversy is over the requirements for how to be born again, justification. Is a man born again by faith, believing in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-3) what He did to provide salvation or by faith, plus commitment of life to perform the “good works” (Eph. 2:10) expected of a born again disciple of Christ to become a born again Christian, which is the demand of Lordship Salvation?

In his opening remarks you have all you need to know that the saving message that Dr. Bob Jones III preaches and the Lordship Salvation message of Dr. John MacArthur are not one and the same. Following are just a few of many examples in which MacArthur is teaching salvation, how he believes the lost man must come to Christ for salvation, i.e., to be born again.
Let me say again unequivocally that Jesus’ summons to deny self and follow him was an invitation to salvation, not . . . a second step of faith following salvation.”

And he [rich young ruler] needed to be willing to submit to the Lord Jesus, even if it meant he had to give up all his earthly possessions. He might not ask, but the requirement for eternal life is the willingness to give it all up if he does.”

Forsaking oneself for Christ’s sake is not an optional step of discipleship subsequent to conversion; it is the sine qua non of saving faith

Salvation is for those who are willing to forsake everything.”
Dr. Jones recognizes and articulates the separate and distinct biblical doctrines of salvation (the saving Gospel) and discipleship (the governing gospel). John MacArthur, however, insists salvation and discipleship are one and the same, which is why he frontloads faith with commitment to do the “good works” expected of a born again disciple of Christ to BECOME a born again disciple of Christ.

In an elongated series from 2010 Dr. Kevin Bauder included this statement,
Both fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals believe the gospel, preach the gospel, and defend the gospel.... This mutuality in the gospel leads to a question. Since conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists are united in their allegiance to the gospel, should they not be able to cooperate at the level of the gospel? To put it positively, should fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals get together for the gospel?”2
Many Fundamentalists do not believe, preach and defend the [same] gospel as the evangelicals. Most first year Bible College students would know there is no mutuality, unity or allegiance to a single interpretation of the gospel. The evidence strongly suggests that Dr. Jones and Dr. MacArthur do not believe, preach and defend the same gospel! There is, furthermore, a clear divide in fundamentalism over the interpretation of the Gospel commonly known as Lordship Salvation.


LM


1) Dr. Bob Jones, III, The Faith of the Gospel, Part 3, March 3, 2011 which can be heard in its entirety at Sermon Audio. I encourage all guests to listen to Dr. Jones’s message (27:30) in its entirety. At 13:30 he begins to address the new trend of an “inappropriate conveyance of the gospel.” For example he says,
“We’ve been taking in some of the last messages about the error that can result from those whose credo is, ‘Well, it’s all about the gospel, as long as a man is preaching the gospel I can go to that church…and I don’t have to worry about all the rest of it…. If we take the attitude that it’s only about the preaching of the gospel and that makes everything else acceptable we’re going to embrace a lot of error. How we convey the gospel is a very important part of how we preach the gospel…. Is there a conveyance that is appropriate and is there an inappropriate conveyance to this sacred, holy message sent from the holy God in heaven to save poor sinners like us…? You’re going to have to make your mind up about the kind of Christianity that you practice, the kind of churches you will join, the kind of expression of the gospel that you accept. You see, if it’s only all about the preaching of the gospel and if that is all that matters then you can accept almost any other kind of manifestations of the gospel…then we have formed our own opinions and practiced them more than going to the Bible to see what God says is acceptable.”
2) Now, About Those Differences. Please refer to, Do Fundamentalists & Evangelicals, “Believe, Preach and Defend the [Same] Gospel?”

Related Reading:
Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page

The Fault Line for Fracture in Fundamentalism

John MacArthur’s Discipleship Gospel
Lordship’s “Turn From Sin” FOR Salvation

January 10, 2019

Archival Series: What is Lordship Salvation and Why Does it Matter?

There is an on-going debate over a certain segment of fundamentalists preaching and practicing a new paradigm shift for separation commonly known as “gospel-driven separation” or “gospel centric fellowship.”

“There is today a very subtle shift that, on the surface, is very persuasive…. Rather than base separatism on the Bible, the whole counsel of God, we should use as our test the Gospel. There is a plea that says the only doctrines for which we should contend are those doctrines that impinge directly upon the Gospel…. That [Gospel-Centric separatism] broadens our fellowship incredibly to include organizations and individuals who are patently disobedient to the plain teaching of Scripture and yet are somehow tolerated, vindicated and even honored in some of our circles.”1
In recent articles we have been considering why there should be no fellowship or cooperative efforts with the so-called “conservative” evangelicals. The reasons include aberrant theology such as non-cessationism, amillenialism, ecumenical compromise, embracing the world’s music in the form of RAP, Hip Hop and CCM for ministry. All of these are grounds for withdrawing from and having no fellowship with believers who teach and do these things. All of this, however, is being tolerated, allowed for, excused or ignored by certain men who minister in fundamental circles, men who are forging fellowship and cooperative ministries with the evangelicals and influencing others to follow them. There is, however, one overarching concern that trumps all of these issues with the evangelicals combined. That is Lordship Salvation!
Defined briefly: Lordship Salvation is a position on the gospel in which “saving faith” is considered reliance upon the finished work of Jesus Christ. Lordship views “saving faith” as incomplete without an accompanying resolve to “forsake sin” and to “start obeying.” Lordship’s “sine qua non” (indispensable condition) that must be met to fully define “saving faith,” for salvation, is a commitment to deny self, take up the cross, and follow Christ in submissive obedience. (In Defense of the Gospel: Revised & Expanded Edition, p. 48.)
It is virtually impossible not to know that the evangelicals, almost to a man, believe, preach and defend Lordship Salvation (LS). When the T4G and Gospel Coalition conferences convene they gather around the LS interpretation of the Gospel. Certain men in fundamental circles, however, are drawn together in “gospel-centric” fellowship with evangelicals. They are gathering around a common acceptance of and bond in Calvinistic soteriology, primarily in the form of Lordship Salvation.

Dr. Kevin Bauder published a serious misrepresentation when he wrote that Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, “believe, preach and defend the [same] gospel.”2 Kevin Bauder has never edited or retracted that statement. Following are samples of Lordship’s corruption of the Gospel for justification.
Let me say again unequivocally that Jesus’ summons to deny self and follow him was an invitation to salvation, not . . . a second step of faith following salvation.” (Dr. John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus: What is Authentic Faith? pp. 219.)

That is the kind of response the Lord Jesus called for: wholehearted commitment. A desire for him at any cost. Unconditional surrender. A full exchange of self for the Savior.” (MacArthur, Ibid, p. 150.)

If you want to receive this gift [salvation] it will cost you the total commitment of all that you are to the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ps. Steven Lawson, The Cost of Discipleship: It Will Cost You Everything.)

Salvation is for those who are willing to forsake everything.” (MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus, p. 78.)

This is what Jesus meant when He spoke of taking up one’s own cross to follow Him. And that is why he demanded that we count the cost carefully. He was calling for an exchange of all that we are for all that He is. He was demanding implicit obedience--unconditional surrender to His lordship.” (MacArthur, Hard to Believe, p. 6.)
Based on clear, unambiguous statements from advocates of LS thousands in Fundamentalism reject LS as a corrupt and false interpretation of the gospel.
When the Lordship advocate speaks of “following Christ,” he is speaking of the gospel. When John MacArthur refers to “The Cost of Following Christ,” he really means “The Cost to Receive Christ.” MacArthur believes there is a “Real Cost of Salvation,” or more accurately a “Real Cost for Salvation.” He believes that the gospel demands a commitment of one’s life, and a promise of surrender to the lordship of Christ in an up-front “exchange” for the reception of salvation. (In Defense of the Gospel: Revised & Expanded Edition, p. 82.)
Dr. Ernest Pickering recognized that LS, as MacArthur defined it, was a departure from the biblical plan of salvation. Following are two excerpts from Dr. Pickering’s review of the first edition (1988) of John MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus.
MacArthur laments, ‘Contemporary Christendom too often accepts a shallow repentance that bears no fruit’ (p. 96). This theme recurs over and over again in the book. The recommended cure for this malady is to require more of the seeking sinner than the Bible requires. Instead of ‘merely’ believing on the finished work of Christ the inquiring soul must also be willing to have Christ as Lord over every area of his life. It seems evident upon an examination of this thesis that those who espouse it are adding something to the gospel that is not in the Scriptures. Charles Ryrie was certainly on target when he wrote, ‘The message of faith only and the message of faith plus commitment of life cannot both be the gospel…’” (Balancing the Christian Life, p. 70.)

“One of the chief objections to the notion of ‘lordship salvation’ is that it adds to the gospel of grace. It requires something of the sinner which the Scriptures do not require. The message of salvation by grace proclaims to sinner that they may receive eternal life by faith alone whereas the message of ‘lordship salvation’ tells sinners they must be willing to give up whatever is in their life that is displeasing to God.”
Several months after an April 2010 personal meeting with Dr. MacArthur NIU president Dr. Matt Olson announced that with MacArthur they “agree on the most substantive issues of life and ministry.”3 Then Olson hosted MacArthur’s executive pastor Rick Holland in the NIU chapel pulpit to address impressionable young people.4 NIU would not have had Rick Holland in its pulpit, or validated John MacArthur’s doctrine and ministry if the administration had any serious reservations over Lordship Salvation. With Olson’s statement on MacArthur and putting Holland in the chapel pulpit NIU stamped its approval on and endorsed a false gospel, namely “Lordship Salvation.”

Do Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, “believe, preach and defend the [same] gospel?” No, they do not! Men in fundamental circles who are converging with advocates of LS are either tolerating a known and egregious error or have themselves embraced the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel and are rallying around it with like-minded evangelicals.

It is high time for men like Dave Doran, Kevin Bauder, Matt Olson, Tim Jordan, et. al., to be transparent on the Lordship Salvation controversy. Are these men willing to state in unvarnished terms whether or not they believe LS as John MacArthur, John Piper, Steve Lawson, et. al., “believe, preach and defend” it is the one true Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Lordship Salvation is not the gospel! LS clouds, confuses and complicates the Gospel. LS corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3) and frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21). Above all other considerations (aberrant theology, ecumenism and worldliness) we cannot fellowship, promote or cooperate with evangelicals who “believe, preach and defend” Lordship Salvation.


LM
Originally published April 14, 2011.

Related Reading:.
For a clear, concise example of the egregious error that is Lordship Salvation please read, Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page. This article is a reproduction of an appendix entry by the same name that appears on pp. 284-286. In it I examine a statement by John MacArthur that appears in all three editions of The Gospel According to Jesus. You will find that there is no more clear example of how John MacArthur’s LS corrupts and redefines the Scriptures than this one.

What is the Fault Line for Fracture in Fundamentalism?
How can there be unity within a fellowship when two polar opposite interpretations of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ are accepted as legitimate?”
Footnotes:
1) Pastor Marc Monte, Preserving the Separatist Impulse

2) Do Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, “Believe, Preach and Defend the [Same] Gospel?”
“There is no universal ‘mutuality in the gospel’ among evangelicals and fundamentalists. ‘Evangelicals and fundamentalists are [NOT] united in their allegiance to the gospel,’ because there is a vast difference between what evangelicals and non-Calvinists in Fundamentalism believe to be the one true Gospel. It is irrefutable, and Kevin Bauder is well aware, that many men in Fundamentalism reject Calvinistic soteriology in the form of LS as a false, works based Gospel. It is, furthermore, indisputable that virtually every man in “conservative” evangelicalism is a passionate advocate for Lordship Salvation, which Dr. Bauder is also well aware of.”
3) Dr. Matt Olson, Open Letter To Friends in Ministry, November 23, 2010.

4) Northland Int’l University Presents Executive Pastor of Grace Community Church to It’s Student Body

January 3, 2019

Archival Series: What if You Are Wrong About Islam?

If you think all Muslims are terrorists, you are wrong.  There are some Muslims who would like to live in peace, who do not hate people, who are not part of Islam, and who would like some distance between themselves and the majority of Islam.  The problem is that the percentage of these peaceful people is very small compared to the whole.  We have been lied to, brain-washed, and fooled into believing that it is a religion of peace.  We are told that the percentage of violent Muslims is very small, but the truth is that their number is very large. 

Some of those who spread the lies about a peaceful Islam do it because of politics.  It isn’t popular in our culture to tell the truth.  Others are just ignorant and far too lazy to do their own research.  The violent Muslim crowd is thrilled with people who are so gullible.  The liberal crowd is happy to give them a pass because it is one more way for them to buy votes.  The saddest thing of all is that popular evangelicals and pseudo-intellectuals actually support the tragic idea that Islam is just another religion.  

The one goal of this article is to get every reader working to do his own study and to challenge the false ideas being passed around like ice cream at a church picnic. 

SO, WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?

The first group is the active terrorists, including ISIS.  They are violent, inhumane, and eager to kill anyone who does not believe as they believe.  Compared to the whole, this category is not very large.  They represent the military aspect of Islam.  The second group would be those terrorist groups like Hezbollah and the Brotherhood.  They are not as active as the others, but are hateful and violent.  They hide under the radar and pretend to be peaceful.  Their violence, however, is practiced in the midst of peaceful people.  This category is not very large either. 

The majority of Islam would fall in the next level.  These are active Muslims who believe and practice hate, violence, and inhumane acts against anyone who is not a Muslim.  They refer to them as infidels.  It makes no difference whether they are Jews, Christians, or secular; they are infidels.  Active Muslims are free to create mayhem against infidels, depending on how much power they have.  In countries where Islam is in control, violence is a daily practice.  It is the law.  No one can name one country where Islam is a majority and where there is freedom or peace for infidels.  Their brutality rises as they gain power and control.  This can be seen clearly in some European countries at this very moment. 

In our nation, this majority group continues to claim respectability, while at the same time there are indications of the role they will play in the future.  The early signs of violence and radicalism are here, and we can see their true motive.  Note their “demands” that their ideas must be followed, including Sharia Law.  Anything that offends them must be removed from public view. The cry for Sharia law becomes louder by the day.  Even now they demand privileges that are not extended to others in this country. 

This group, with their potential for violence as required by their belief, has entered the halls of Congress and even the White House!  This category is far more dangerous than ISIS.  Lying is a practice that is expected, particularly if it is to an infidel.  In this huge part of Islam, women are viewed as property and animals, less than human.  Little girls are brutalized and treated as toys. 
Let me remind you that we will be told by ignorant peoples, and by those who lie, that these cruel things are far and few between, even when the opposite is true.  It is a way of life.   Those Muslims who desire a peaceful life and who might want to be good neighbors, or even to be honest with us, are few and far between.

IT IS THE LAW

I have before me a copy of the Quran.  I am not an expert in this subject but have learned in an extensive study of hermeneutics to be able to recognize true meaning in all languages by the normal use of language rules. 

This book clearly says that any Muslim who is friendly with a Jew, Christian, or other infidel is to be killed.  They might pretend to be friendly, but those people are obligated to kill the infidels when the time comes, or else they themselves are to be killed.  The lie about a peaceful religion will not stand, even if you are referring to those who are peaceful at the moment.  The Quran clearly identifies Islam as a religion of terror.  Do your own study, read it for yourself.  (3:151; 8:12; 8:60; 33:26; 59:2; 59:13) [Editor's note: See comment #1 in thread below for citation of these verses.]

Read what happens to someone who converts to another religion or someone who will not convert to Islam.  Converts are won, and they are kept - by fear, hate, violence and intimidation. Read about cruelty and torture.  Read about the abuse of women, dismemberment, beheading, and horrible treatment of infidels.  This is the majority of Islam, because that is the law.  If you can read this and still think it is a religion of peace, you deserve what is coming to this country.

COMPARE THIS

If I witness to you about your need for salvation in Christ and you refuse it, you go on your way to face God alone in judgment.  You need have no fear of me because of your rejection.  If, however, you are offered the choice of conversion to Islam and you refuse, no matter who you are, you are an infidel, and that person is commanded to kill you.  In Islam, the sons are sent out to commit suicide and kill as many people as they can.  In Biblical Christianity, God sent His Son to die on the cross so that many sons could live.

Those who claim peace for the majority of Islam must know very little about the history of this religion.  They must know very little about what Muslims are commanded to do.  They must not be reading about the brutal killing of Christians every day in this world by the Muslim majority.  I was told yesterday that hundreds of believers are killed every week by majority Muslims.  They must not know about the burning, beheading, drowning, beating, and death published in the news on a daily basis. 

To blaspheme, mock, or speak ill of the Quran will get you the death penalty.  On the other hand, Islam can reject and make fun of Christianity, and that is fine.  What if you are wrong about Islam?  I can tell you that you are wrong if you haven’t taken time to study why the majority of this religion is not peaceful.


Shepherds Staff was prepared by the late Clay Nuttall, D. Min.

A communication service of Shepherds Basic Care, for those committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible. Shepherds Basic care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries and churches. Write for information using the email address shepherdstaff2@juno.com or Shepherd'sStaff

December 29, 2018

And When Eight Days Were Accomplished...

And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the LORD, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.


Luke 2:21-40

December 26, 2018

John 3:16 for Christmas

Vocals - Adam Boone
Production & Arrangement - Steve Serkosky 
Musical & Engineering Assistant - Adam Boone
Engineer (Trod Nossel Studios) - Justin Watson
Music Video Design & Production - John Zeller
Producer - DJP I.F.

December 24, 2018

The Advent of Jesus Christ

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.



And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,


Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Luke 2:1-20

December 18, 2018

The Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
Luke 1:26-38


Mary Visits Elizabeth
And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord….

And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.
Luke 1:39-46, 56

December 12, 2018

The Promise of the Messiah


For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this,” (Isaiah 9:6-7).



But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting,” (Micah 5:2).


October 29, 2018

Separation: Primary vs. Secondary by Dr. John Van Gelderen

Separation is a Bible doctrine. In fact, the word holiness means set apart. The emphasis in Scripture is being set apart to God, and this necessarily demands being set apart from anything that hinders your separation unto God. There is a “separation to that requires a “separation from,” but focusing on “separation from misses the point of being “separated unto.

Dr. John Van Gelderen

Generally, separation falls into two categories: ecclesiastical and personal. Ecclesiastical separation involves organizational cooperation in church and Christian endeavors while the personal element has to do with worldliness (separation from the world). Some matters of separation are absolutes based on the clarity of the written Word. I often liken these to the high ground of a plateau. Other matters are variables dependent on the leading of the Holy Spirit within the plateau of absolutes. This distinction is often overlooked and can easily lead to confusion, offences affecting fellow Christians, and a hindering of the cause of Christ.

In today’s Christian world, what is labeled primary separation is absolute, and secondary separation, I believe, is variable. Typically, both terms apply to ecclesiastical separation, but there is also the matter of what we might term secondary-issue separation.

Primary ecclesiastical separation is the biblical demand to refuse association and cooperation with unbelievers. When an individual or a group promotes “another gospel,” we are not to officially join hands with them and thereby condone the false message—even if our aim would be to leverage the association to gain a greater audience for hearing the true gospel. Rather, the Scripture says of such a one, “let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8-9). This is primary separation, a separation from unbelievers in religious cooperation, a biblical absolute which all believers must obey.

Beyond this, secondary separation engages in separation from those who do not apply primary separation.  Some take it a step further and separate from anyone who doesn’t separate from those who don’t apply primary separation. Others take it yet another step out. Usually, most people stop three or four steps removed from the primary separation issue. Studies reveal that if you go six steps out, you would have to separate from yourself! This indicates the fallacious logic of secondary separation, leaving it without biblical warrant in an absolute sense. Secondary separation is not black and white like primary separation.

There are times when the Spirit may lead you not to associate with a given situation, but it’s not an absolute for all or necessarily for all times. Beyond the primary level, lack of association must be motivated by obedience to the Spirit and not be a matter of fearing man lest you find yourself “kicked out of the synagogue.” When the Spirit leads in a given situation, just obey.

Personal separation from the world is vital for a healthy walk with God. What the Scripture makes absolute must be practiced. As the Spirit leads regarding variable applications within the plateau of absolutes, again, we must respond in obedience.

Then, there is the danger of secondary-issue separation. This involves taking a lesser issue of personal separation (something not unimportant but less important) and elevating it to the level of the fundamentals, thereby making it a matter of separation. Practice this and say “only” where God doesn’t and insist on it being universal for all and you will find the separation that follows unnecessarily splinters the cause of Christ. In the variables of application within the absolutes, each of us must follow the Holy Spirit’s individual leading, and allow others to do the same.

Former generations of Fundamentalists seem to have understood this far better than many today. They unified around the essentials of the faith—the fundamentals—and then fussed about everything else! Afterward, they ate together, fellowshipped, and found no room for angry separation. They were able to distinguish ideas that could be legitimately debated from those that the clarity of Scripture made absolute. Thus, when arguing and supporting respective sides in discussions, they didn’t take matters personally. They understood the issues were not personal and that the debated concepts would rise or fall on their own merits.

We can learn from them. We know from Scripture that primary separation must be embraced by all of God’s people. Beyond that, we must follow the Spirit’s leading—and afford others the opportunity to do the same.


Dr. John Van Gelderen
Blog article- May 30, 2018
Revival Focus