July 15, 2019

Biographies of Great Men: Dr. Bob Jones, Sr.

The following appeared in The Hufhand Report, which is sent via email weekly by Dr. Lawrence Hufhand. See The Friday Report, June 28, 2019 for the complete report.

Dr. Bob Jones, Sr.

Apart from my brother Lee [Hufhand], who led me to Christ and was my constant mentor, the most influential person in my life was Dr. Bob Jones Sr. While a student at BJU, I was called into his office and he quizzed me about a letter he had gotten concerning my relationship with a particular girl back home.  He asked me if I loved her.  (He really did.)  I said, “I love her very much.”  He looked at the letter and then at me and said, “then marry her”, so I did.  I am indebted to him for that, along with my being called into the ministry.  That being said, let me tell you about him.  I apologize for its length, but no man in my recollection, has done more for Christianity than this man, other than the Apostle Paul.  Much of this comes from the biography by R.K. Johnson.   Robert Reynolds Jones:  Born: October 30, 1883 in Skipperville, in Southeast Alabama, and died on January 16, 1968 in Greenville, South Carolina.                

One cannot think about Dr. Bob, apart from having founded Bob Jones University in 1927. (While I was there in 1953 thru 1957, without equivocation, it was the greatest “preachers school” on the planet.  There were 1100 Ministerial Student enrolled at that time.) What produces such a school? Many things, but the indefatigable work of its founder, Bob Jones, Sr., must surely be considered as the key ingredient. One of the greatest evangelists of all times--a man who preached in 30 different countries, and by age 40 he had preached 12,000 sermons to some 15,000,000 people, with 300,000 converts.

Dr. Jones was the son of William Alexander and Georgia (Cree) Jones. The parents were farmers of Calvinistic convictions. He was the eleventh of twelve children, having eight sisters and three brothers. The family moved to the Dothan, Alabama, area shortly after his birth. Christian convictions were instilled in him by his parents and hard work on the farm gave him a challenge early in life to work. He was converted at age eleven in a country Methodist church outside Dothan. From the time of his conversion he began preaching publicly and was known as "the Alabama boy preacher." He preached to anyone who would listen. He became a good debater. He developed strong convictions and undaunted courage. Like Billy Sunday, his preaching was to be received because it would be on the level of the people.

When he reached 13 years of age, he built a brush arbor where he preached on Sundays, which later became a church of 54 members. By age 15 he was licensed and ordained by the Alabama Methodist Conference. Bob was now preaching all over southeast Alabama. He finished his formal education 1904.  He was fully ordained to the Gospel ministry by the Methodist Church in 1903.  Shortly after he began to have some serious throat problems which was healed by the age of 21.  In October 24, 1905, he married Bernice Sheffield, only to have her die ten months later in August, 1906, of tuberculosis. Some time January, 1907, in Uniontown, Alabama, he met Mary Gaston Stollenwerck, who was converted in one of his meetings. On June 17, 1908, they were married. Their only child, Bob Jones, Jr., was born October 19, 1911. Marriage and family did not change his life style, as Mrs. Jones traveled with him, taking a maid along to care for the child until he was six years old, when he entered a school in Montgomery,                                                                                                                        

I wish I had the space to tell you all about Dr. Bob as an evangelist and all the great crusades he held across this country of ours.  One of his great crusades was held right here in Noblesville, IN and another one was held in Peru, just 50 miles north of Noblesville.  Literally thousands, upon thousands of souls were saved and brought into the Kingdom through his evangelistic endeavors.  He was a world class evangelist, after the manner of his friends, Sam Jones and Billy Sunday.

In 1927 he founded Bob Jones college, which later became Bob Jones University.  It was by far his greatest and most enduring contribution to old time fundamental Christianity.  His reason for starting a Christian college came about because of the encroachment of European liberalism in the colleges and seminaries across America.  He was sitting in a drug store in Kissimmee, Florida in 1926, and he said to his wife, "I'm going to start a school!" A site was picked out and on December 1, 1926, ground was broken, and on September 12, in 1927, the school opened with 88 students. The financial crash of 1929 nearly closed them down, but the vision was re-energized at an old college that had been closed for years, in Cleveland, TN.   And so on Sept. 1, 1933 Bob Jones College formally opened in Cleveland and a new school year began.

By 1946 the school had expanded as much as it could in Cleveland, and so it was agreed upon to move the college campus to Greenville, South Carolina, where, on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1947, it was dedicated, with approximately 2,900 students attending. Through the years, the school continued to grow, with Bob Jones, Sr., playing an active role until his resignation as chairman of the board of trustees in April, 1964.

The last two years of his life was spent mostly in the campus hospital. His last words, on January 16, 1968, were, "Mary Gaston, get my shoes; I must go to preach." He was buried on campus in a beautiful little island in a fountain of cascading pools, just across the street from the Rodeheaver Auditorium.  Dr. Bob: The greatest man of accomplishments that I have ever personally known.

For Related Reading See:
Bob Jones, Sr. Chapel Sayings
Site Publisher Addendum:
It is with regret and sadness that many BJU alumni, ministerial graduates in particular, see the University now as having drifted far from the doctrinal foundations it once staunchly held to for many decades. A departure from the moorings that accelerated significantly in 2014.

July 8, 2019

KESWICK—A GOOD WORD OR A BAD ONE? Part Three: Reasons for the Attack

Dr. John Van Gelderen
What lies behind the criticism of Keswick theology? In this article, we will cover some key factors that fuel objections and cause some problems for those seeking the truth.
Basic Misinformation
Amazingly, I have been in some settings where a speaker taught the truths of Keswick/Deeper Life theology and immediately followed by saying, “Now, I’m not talking about Keswick; I’m not talking about the Deeper Life.” Such a contradiction indicates that one is largely unaware of the history and the meaning of the labels and likely is functioning from hearsay and charges of unorthodoxy that critics have attached to Keswick and Deeper Life. First impressions are mind-setting. Someone bent their ear. They read or listened to critics of Keswick without reading Keswick authors themselves, and now, joining in the criticism, they unwittingly attack and undermine their own teaching. The damage done is unintentional but is still harmful to that which they believe.
Thoroughgoing Calvinism
Though not all Calvinists clash with Keswick, those of a thoroughgoing system often do. Keswick emphasizes man’s responsibility of faith. One of the major descriptions of Keswick is sanctification by faith. Some Calvinists claim that a faith emphasis is a man-centered emphasis, but how can God-dependence be man-centered? Faith is not a work; it is dependence upon the worker—God. The inspired Word says, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him” (Rom. 4:5). Therefore, faith is the opposite of works. Faith says, “I can’t, but God can,” and so depends upon God. The focus of true faith is, of necessity, on God, who is the object of faith. This is undeniably God-centered.
The clash is between inevitable faith for thorough-going Calvinism and the responsible faith of Keswick. Does progressive sanctification just happen, inevitably occurring for every true child of God, or can it be hindered by unbelief and accelerated by faith? Keswick insists on the latter. Interestingly, Keswick’s promotion of responsible faith also clashes with the misfocused faith of unfettered choice that is advanced by thoroughgoing Arminianism. Responsible faith means you are responding to the Spirit’s convincing work, based on God’s Word. It is neither unfettered choice nor inevitable. It is a true responsibility.
When I hear or read some Calvinists claims regarding Keswick teaching, I’m amazed at the inaccuracy. Certainly, some such commentators have limited their study to criticisms of Keswick without spending significant time with primary sources. Others have indeed read the Keswick authors—albeit, with a crippling bias that blinds them to the clear facts and arguments championed by those authors. Assessments offered from this perspective muddy the waters and perpetuate misrepresentations that obscure important truths made plain in Keswick teaching.
Personal Defeat
For some, the refrain is, “Tried it—didn’t work.” But, is an apparent application failure an indictment of Keswick theology, a problem with the provision of the indwelling Christ, or something no more complicated than a misunderstanding of truth or a misapplication of surrender?
First, we must take care to understand faith, what it is and how it operates. Like a triangle with three sides, faith involves all three parts of the soul of man (the mind, affections, and will), otherwise it is not true faith. The mind must understand the foundation of truth revealed in God’s Word. The affections must be affected (convinced) by what is understood. Then, the will must engage in God-dependence based on Spirit-convincement of the reality of God’s words. Regarding sanctification by faith, it seems to me that some may attempt to move from mere intellectual understanding to a choice of the will without being convinced by the Spirit of the truth involved. This short-circuits the process because it would not involve real faith. It would be wishful thinking rather than convinced confidence. When this is the case, one might look back and conclude that trying out Keswick just didn’t work. However, when the Holy Spirit illumines truth, His convincement leads to genuine faith—and that always works.
With surrender/faith properly applied, ones give all to Christ, trusting Him to take it. One also takes His all, trusting Christ to give it. A failure to give all or to take all is, therefore, a misapplication that in no wise invalidates accessing the provision of the indwelling Christ by faith. In such a case, maintaining that Keswick doesn’t work merely shifts blame away from the individual. Pinning responsibility on the teaching may be convenient and easy, but masking the truth behind the situation ultimately helps no one.
Satanic Attack
Satan hates and attacks revival truth! Keswick revival theology threatens his turf. He is the master deceiver, and much of the controversy is stirred up through his deceptions. Remembering that Keswick-type conferences were used to ignite and fuel revival fires in the early twentieth century, it should not be a surprise then to discover that Satan continues attacks on Keswick theology in order to prevent another great wave of revival blessing.
I suggest that you read the Keswick authors and let them speak for themselves. Their writings have been blessed of God to point many to Christ and the Word, and away from self and the world (which gloriously passes the tests of 1 John 4). Where to start? There are many good options:
Steven Barabas quotes many Keswick authors in his book, So Great Salvation: The History and Message of the Keswick Convention. If you want to understand Keswick and the differences from other theologies, this book clearly demonstrates the contrast.
So, what about the term Keswick? Is it a good word or a bad one? If you mean sanctification by faith thus accessing the victorious life of Christ, that is gloriously good! Personally, I prefer using the label “revival theology,” mindful that the primary issue is, of course, not a label but truth.
The Christian life is not merely a set of doctrines, nor just an array of moral actions. Unsaved moralists have that. The Christian life is a life—a person—and His name is Jesus! Jesus Christ is the Christian Life. Therefore, Jesus Christ is the only one who can live the Christian life. When you were born again, Christ, the Christian life Himself, moved into you to impart His life to you. He lives in you so that you (yet not you, but Christ in you) can live the Christian life. When you got saved, Christ moved in to live His life, not yours! But this is not automatic. As you received Christ by faith, you also must walk by faith one step at a time (Col. 2:6). This is accessing the eternal life of Christ as the abundant life in Christ. This is sanctification by faith. Ultimately, this is revival reality on the individual level.
For those who believe the theology of “Christ in you accessed by faith,” derogatory slurs and full-blown attacks against this truth are not small matters. Jesus is the Victorious Life, the Higher Life, the Deeper Life, the Spirit-filled Life, the Revived Life, the Hidden Life—the Christ-Life! When holiness by faith (the Holy Life accessed by faith) is attacked, the attack is ultimately on the indwelling life of Christ.
I published this article in a shorter form in Revival magazine, Issue Five, 2006. The only significant changes in this present publication are expansions. Since 2006, the term revival theology has taken hold, and my hope was that using this would avoid unnecessary confusion surrounding the word Keswick. However, I have discovered some cases where attacks simply switched targets, aiming no longer at Keswick but at revival theology instead. This indicates that the issue does not center on terminology, but rather on the truth behind the terms. It is becoming more apparent that the real problem for some is “ye do always resist the Holy Spirit,” and the point of tension is “the offense of the cross.” The cross repudiates self in both justification by works and sanctification by works. Furthermore, not only does the cross repudiate the works of the flesh (self-indulgence), it repudiates the work of the flesh (self-dependence). The cross demands “not I, but Christ” (Gal. 2:20). The heart of Keswick theology is accessing this Holy Life of Jesus by faith—nothing less, nothing more.
Dr. John Van Gelderen

July 2, 2019


We will continue now with Part Two of Dr. John Van Gelderen's series Keswick- A Good Word or a Bad One?
Dr. John Van Gelderen
Last week, we discussed the historical background and theology of Keswick. In our day, the orthodoxy that Keswick was once accorded has been replaced in many minds because of misunderstandings and a wealth of misinformation. Several critical charges have been leveled against it, but an examination of the supposed errors will show the inaccuracy of the accusations.
Some have argued that Keswick promotes passivity, probably because the theology emphasizes resting in Christ. However, this resting is not to be understood as encouragement to sit back and do nothing. It is a call to trust to obey. It is obedient faith, and, therefore, believing obedience. Resting in Jesus involves the due diligence of faith-filled (resting) obedience (labor) as stated by the Apostle, “Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” This is not mere “labour,” but “labour” that is trusting in “his working.” The emphasis is not idle passivity, but active cooperation—the cooperation of surrendering to the Spirit’s leadership and depending on His enablement. This is walking in the Spirit, which obviously involves steps, not passivity. But the steps are steps of faith, not the mere motions of flesh-dependent activity. This is what brings “rest unto your souls” (Matt. 11:29).
Keswick confronts a performance-based sanctification or “struggle theology” that advocates flesh-dependence to live the Christian life. Sanctification by works is just as wrong as justification by works (Gal. 3:1-3). You are not justified by faith and then sanctified through struggle. Sanctification, like justification, is by faith, for “without faith it is impossible to please [God]” (Heb.11:6). Obviously, there are struggles in life, but flesh-dependence for frustrated Christian living is an unnecessary struggle. Faith for victory means you are depending on the victorious life of Christ to enable you to obey. It is not a matter of you trying to live the Christian life (engaging in hollow motions); it is trusting the indwelling Christ to enable you for necessary steps of obedience (making for empowered motions). Victory without trying does not mean victory from doing nothing. It is victory with trusting. True faith is not an inward self-focus, but rather, a focus on Christ, the true object of faith, that He might express His very life through your life. Because an expression of His life is necessarily an active, obedient walk, the accusation of Keswick theology promoting passivity is simply not accurate.
Keswick has also been branded as too subjective, most likely due to the emphasis placed on the reality of the Holy Spirit. However, Keswick theology emphasizes the subjective reality of the Spirit based on the objective boundaries of the Word. The emphasis is by no means the Spirit without the Word, nor is it the Word without the Spirit. Rather, it is the Word and the Spirit. The Spirit without the Word is delusion leading to strange fire; the Word without the Spirit is deadness resulting in no fire. But the Word and the Spirit is dynamic and leads to true Holy Spirit fire.
Interestingly, Robert Thomas rightly deals with the dangerous subjectivism of evangelicals in his book Evangelical Hermeneutics. He names many in the evangelical world whom he considers guilty of true subjectivism, but, when highlighting a proper, biblical handling of matters, he regularly quotes J. Robertson McQuilken—author of several helpful books and the Keswick contributor to Stanley N. Gundry’s compilation, Five Views of Sanctification. The teaching of Keswick stresses the subjective reality of the Holy Spirit based on the Word and not the subjectivism that forsakes a scriptural foundation. Thus, to accuse Keswick of subjectivism reveals an inaccurate understanding of Keswick teaching.
Second Blessing
Keswick theology is sometimes equated with second blessing theology. This, however, shows great ignorance of both true second blessing theology and Keswick.
Second blessing theology speaks of receiving a once-for-all second blessing which puts one on a new stage, never to fall back to one’s former stage. Keswick speaks of alternating between two conditions, walking in the flesh and walking in the Spirit, and does not promote any once-for-all shift. Second blessing theology demands a “second” event. Keswick insists you were given the whole package at salvation and can access the whole blessing immediately. (Note that while some enjoy immediate access to the blessing in its entirety, others have had access deferred due to a lack of understanding.) Receiving something not previously possessed is at the heart of second blessing theology. Keswick teaches that you, by faith, access your first blessing!
For one who has yet to access the provision of the indwelling Christ (or who hasn’t done so for quite some time), the point of accessing His provision may seem like a second blessing, though technically it is not. This explains why some early Keswick writers described matters using terms like second blessing. It has proven an unfortunate choice of words that confuses matters today, but clearly these authors sought only to illustrate the situation of believers coming to understand the wealth of their provision. They did not intend to support a second blessing view at odds with their own. What Keswick describes is simply the possibility of being re-vived. For a more extensive treatment of this phrase, please refer to a previous article, Second Blessing or Second Rest.
Sinless Perfectionism
I suppose this charge comes because Keswick theology emphasizes the victorious life of Christ. The provision for victory is perfect. It must be—His name is Jesus! But Keswick makes clear that we still live in the “body of sin” (Rom. 6:6). The focus of Keswick is not that you cannot sin, but that you are able not to sin because of the indwelling Christ. Keswick makes clear that, tragically, Christians sin. Yet it teaches that our focus should not be on the defeat, but rather on victory in Christ by faith. The provision of the indwelling Christ is perfect, but our consistent access of that provision is sadly imperfect. To accuse Keswick theology of sinless perfectionism is simply not being honest with the facts of Keswick teaching. The blog article Sinless Perfection versus Sinless Provision offers more information on this point.
Let Go and Let God
Sadly, this phraseology has had various aberrant concepts attached to it in recent decades, and therefore, I personally do not use the phrase. However, its original usage in the early Keswick era was simply to “let go” of self-will and self-dependence, and “let God” by yielding to God’s will in God-dependence. This is faith. It represents the words of the Lord Jesus, “Whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:24). While the aberrations should be refuted, it is sad that the original God-centered and ultimately Christ-centered meaning of the phrase is denigrated by some as well. More on this matter is available in another article, Let Go and Let God.
Next week, we will conclude the series, examining some reasons for the inaccurate accusations.
John Van Gelderen
Revival Focus

Please continue to the third installment of the series

For Related Reading see, Reformed Theology vs. Keswick Theology

June 27, 2019


Today we’re beginning a series written and published by Dr. John Van Gelderen.  His series appears at his Revival Focus site and is being happily reprinted here by permission.

Dr. John Van Gelderen

Occasionally, I hear people use the label Keswick in a derogatory fashion. Yet others use the term quite positively. Hearing something of these widely ranging opinions, someone unfamiliar with the term might wonder whether this word Keswick denotes something good or something bad. The issue, of course, is not the term but what is meant by the term. This present three-part series is an adaptation of the original article Keswick: A Good Word or a Bad One? and its follow-up Keswick: A Good Word or a Bad One? Revisited. After focusing on the historical background and theology in this first article, we will address inaccurate accusations made against Keswick theology and then conclude the series with a consideration of reasons behind the attacks.
Keswick is a beautiful town nestled in the Lake District of England. In 1875, a conference began there which continued annually as “The Keswick Convention.” Its original stated purpose was for the deepening of spiritual life. To accomplish this purpose, a definite theological position was taught—sanctification by faith, sometimes called holiness by faith.
Commonly referred to as the Higher Life, Deeper Life, or Victorious Life, the focus of the theology is on Christ as one’s life. In later years, various sub-groups attached other/additional ideas to some of the labels. However, the original intent was Christ-focused, and this singular emphasis is still championed by a majority of those continuing to use these terms.
Thus, the Higher Life, Deeper Life, Victorious Life, Spirit-filled Life and Christ-Life do not constitute a new line of teaching and do not stand as a mere set of doctrines or motions. The matter is neither a conference nor convention, and it is not a movement. It is a life—and that life is a person. His name is Jesus! Jesus is the “Higher Life.” Jesus is the “Deeper Life.” Jesus is the “Victorious Life.” How can it be otherwise? Sanctification, or holiness by faith, is simply accessing the “Holy Life” by faith. It is I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me by faith (Gal. 2:20). Holiness by faith is accessing the holy life of Jesus to empower holy living and serving. It is becoming “partakers of His holiness” through the impartation of His life in the place of any self-dependent attempt to imitate His life (Heb.12:10).
Keswick theology teaches that “progressive sanctification” does not mean an inevitable, gradual sanctification, but rather that sanctification is accelerated by faith choices and hindered by choices of unbelief. Obviously, the Holy Spirit keeps working, but believers are responsible to cooperate in faith for sanctification to progress according to God’s will. Keswick teaches that just as justification is by faith, so also is sanctification by faith. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him” (Col. 2:6).
From the convention’s beginnings, a specific theme was emphasized for each of the conference’s five days, and this was designed to help hearers understand how to “progress” in sanctification. In order, the daily addresses covered:
  1. Sin (sin is the problem—both outer man sins and especially inner man sins)
  2. Provision (Christ is the answer through the cleansing power of His blood and the enabling power of His Spirit)
  3. Consecration (the access to Christ’s provision is through surrender to/dependence on Christ’s leadership and surrender to/dependence on Christ’s enablement)
  4. Spirit-filled Life (surrender/faith accesses Christ’s Life—the Spirit-filled life for holiness and service)
  5. Service (the whole point of sanctification by faith is to then serve by faith, primarily in the declaration of the Gospel).
The Keswick Convention began in 1875 and continues to this day in England. However, as with many movements, the original focus was lost over time, and today the convention no longer truly represents its original purpose. The first two generations of Keswick (roughly eighty years) held to the original theology. In other words, Keswick theology stayed largely true to its beginning through the 1950s. During this time, Keswick guarded itself from the extremes of certain factions within the “Holiness Movement.” Ecclesiastically, however, Keswick began to weaken during the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy of the 1920s and 1930s. (The convention’s motto of “all one in Christ,” though a blessed truth in biblical proportion, set them up for potential compromise when this controversy came on the scene.) By the 1960s, compromise eventually eroded their theology in significant ways. However, it should be noted that many other Keswick or Keswick-inspired meetings have stayed true to original Keswick theology, even to this day.
The first-generation of Keswick included Evan Hopkins (who spoke at the annual convention for 39 years), F.B. Meyer (a regular speaker from 1887 to 1925), Handley G.C. Moule (a participant from the mid-1880s until his death), G. Campbell Morgan, A.T. Pierson, A.J. Gordon, S.D. Gordon, R.A. Torrey, Andrew Murray, Hudson Taylor, Jonathan Goforth, and W.H. Griffith Thomas. Second-generation Keswick was led by W. Graham Scroggie and included Donald Grey Barnhouse and J. Oswald Sanders.
Notice the number of familiar names and consider the esteem we have for these men, even to this day. R.A. Torrey was so respected that he was chosen as a leading editor of The Fundamentals, an early 20th century collection of articles penned by orthodox scholars. Almost 30% of the authors writing for The Fundamentals were speakers associated with Keswick, and their contributions made up more than a fifth of the 90 articles in the series. This is a significant fact and shows that Keswick was mainstream at the beginning of biblical fundamentalism and the countering of theological liberalism. Therefore, Keswick was clearly considered “orthodox” at its inception and in the stand against the rise of liberalism, and to denigrate Keswick is to denigrate the roots of fundamentalism.
I prefer to call Keswick theology “revival theology,” although there is a sense in which revival theology is broader than sanctification by faith. When one is awakened to the need to access the indwelling life of Christ by faith and begins to appropriate that life for the steps of obedience, personal revival occurs. Personal revival is a restoration to spiritual life—the life of Christ in you accessed by faith as the animating power to your personality. This doctrine did not begin in 1875 with Keswick. It began in the New Testament (John 10:10, 14-16; Rom. 6-8; II Cor. 3:5,17-18; 9:8; Gal. 2:20; 3:1-5,14; Eph. 3:17; 5:18; Phil. 1:21; Col. 1:27; 3:4) and can be traced throughout church history. Even in corporate revival, this is what occurs to the individuals involved. This is revival theology! In fact, in The Flaming Tongue, J. Edwin Orr’s account of early twentieth-century revivals affecting at least 57 nations, Orr repeatedly documents that Keswick-type conferences were used of God to either ignite revival fire or greatly fuel it.
In the work Five Views of Sanctification, J. Robertson McQuilken presents the Keswick view on sanctification, John Walvoord offers an Augustinian-Dispensational approach to the matter, and both men take the opportunity to comment on other views. Essentially, McQuilken maintains there is no real difference between the Keswick and Augustinian-Dispensational views, and similarly, Walvoord maintains no real difference between the Keswick view and his own. Dispensational theology is broader than sanctification (which is Keswick’s primarily concern), but regarding this specific issue, Keswick theology equates to the Dispensational theology embraced by many today.
Next week we will address some of the inaccurate accusations that have been leveled against Keswick theology.
John Van Gelderen

Continue to Part Two: Inaccurate Accusations
For further reading see the original article at Revival Focus.

June 7, 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.


Originally appeared- 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?”
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

May 28, 2019

Repent & Believe, Part 15: How Important is It?

The foundational issue regarding gospel extremes centers on one’s understanding of what it means to repent and believe. How important is it? It could cost the very souls of men and women.

Dr. John Van Gelderen

On one occasion, a lady who operated a country/western radio station heard the gospel and expressed a desire to receive the Savior. However, the witness speaking with her, having adopted a lordship salvation position in reaction to easy-believism, maintained that the woman must discontinue operations at the station in order to be saved. Tragically, the woman responded by backing down from making a decision for Christ. Far better would it have been to see her trust Christ for salvation and then, on that basis, teach her to grow spiritually and deal with the lifestyle issue through the power of the Spirit. In this case, it was not a matter of the woman bringing up an issue or association she would cling to over salvation. Involvement with the radio station was made an issue to her as part of the object of dependence.

Believers must learn to declare the gospel—plus nothing, minus nothing.

The biblical balance of believe and repent reveals the importance of declaring the gospel to sinners in order to see people saved and then declaring the gospel to saints to see people grow. Sinners must hear of sin, judgment, credited righteousness based on the finished work of Christ, and the decision of faith/repentance. Saints, in turn, absolutely need to learn the truth of the Spirit-filled life. Maintaining this precision of emphasis will keep the evangel crystal clear when ministering both to sinners and to saints.

Dr. John Van Gelderen
Revival Focus

Site Publisher Addendum:

When a man [teaching Lordship Salvation] tries to carefully introduce verses about discipleship as though they are strictly evangelistic, remember that the Bible teaches that the lost must come to Christ for salvation and then follow after Him in discipleship. Salvation and discipleship are two very different things. We must not use verses intended to teach discipleship to try to lead a man to Christ. To do so creates confusion and frustration. The message becomes a gospel of faith, plus works…. Salvation has primarily to do with Jesus Christ as Savior; discipleship has primarily to do with Jesus Christ as Lord. Salvation is the new birth, a one-time event in which a man by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:5) is saved from sin, death and Hell. Discipleship is a process, maturing and growing as a believer over a lifetime, “in grace, and [in] the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).  (In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation [Rev. & Expanded Edition] pp. 93-94)

Previous Articles in the Repent & Believe Series
Part Ten: The Clarity of Turning to Christ

Part Eight: Confusing Terminology: “Turn from Sin

May 24, 2019

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

This is an article that I reissue every Memorial Day weekend and on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack on our nation. Let us once again remember, but never forget, those who serve today, those who served throughout our nation's heritage and the fallen who gave their all that we might be free.

Our leaders and military responded to the 9/11 attacks with tenacity and determination. In the early years we dealt serious blows to the terrorists, nations that offered them safe haven and seriously diminished their capability to attack us here at home. There is much work yet to be done, but I am confident America, under principled leadership, will prevail and eliminate this threat to our nation and way of life.

For this commemorative moment I would like to focus our attention on another national tragedy, the American Civil War. There were many terrible battles in that war: Antietem, Fredericksburg, Chickamauga and Vicksburg. None was more costly, nor so much at stake than at the Battle of Gettysburg. After three days of battle there were approximately 50,000 American casualties.

One of the most endearing and treasured memories from Gettysburg was not forged on the battlefield itself. No, for we must go forward to November 19, 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln came to honor what had been done there and deliver his immortal
Gettysburg Address.

On June 1, 1865, Senator Charles Sumner commented on what is now considered the most famous speech by President Abraham Lincoln. In his eulogy on the slain president, he called it a “monumental act.” He said Lincoln was mistaken that “the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here.” Rather, the Bostonian remarked, “The world noted at once what he said, and will never cease to remember it. The battle itself was less important than the speech.” (From Abraham Lincoln Online)

With that I offer for your encouragement Lincoln’s
Gettysburg Address.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work, which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

April 18, 2019

Repent and Believe, Part 10: The Clarity of Turning to Christ

From In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, [Revised & Expanded Edition] the following excerpt from a foreword by Brother George Zeller appears,
The unsaved person is told that if he does not turn from sin, surrender, have a willingness to obey, fulfill the demands of discipleship, etc., then he cannot be saved. Sadly, the focus is turned away from the all sufficient, finished work of Christ which is the sinner’s only resting place.”

In his most recent article Dr. John Van Gelderen answers another error with Lordship Salvation’s interpretation of the Gospel.

Dr. Van Gelderen
In the New Testament, which provides the greatest precision on the doctrine of salvation, the emphasis of the wording is not on turning from sin. Rather, emphasis is properly placed on turning to Christ (for salvation from sin). The Christ child was named Jesus because “he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21), and individuals therefore must trust in Him to save them from their sins. This clarifies why the emphasis of the wording of the New Testament is turning to Christ for deliverance from sin and not turning from sin. The precision of emphasis maintains focus on the object of faith, Jesus the Savior, and steers clear of the subject of faith (you) somehow turning from your sin in your own power.

The New Testament says neither “turn from sin” nor “turn from sins.” It does not command one to “turn from your sin” or “turn from your sins.” A commentator likely authored phrases like these some years ago, and the lines have been commonly repeated ever since. The problem with such phraseology is that the aim, being foreign to the New Testament, obscures the otherwise sharp focus on turning to Christ.

Turning to Christ is primary and turning from sin is its corollary—but only when understood in the sense of turning to Christ for deliverance from sin. This focus involves recognizing sin as the awful problem and hell as the sobering consequence but keeps the solution Christ-centered, unmixed with man’s self-effort. This does not imply that sin need not be confronted, but that sin must be confronted so that the law as a tutor might point people to Christ. Sin must be presented as an unsolvable problem so that one can recognize the need for a miraculous salvation through Christ.

Acts 26:20 says, “Repent and turn to God.” Here, the Greek verb epistrepho (turn) combines with the prepositional phrase “to God” to provide an explanation of the first word, repent. “Turn to God” also supports the understanding of repentance being, in essence, the same as faith. And, the use of epistrepho (turn) is a key to understanding the scriptural emphasis of repentance.

Twice, epistrepho is used explicitly with the concept of “from” in dealing with turning from the wrong object of dependence: “turn from these vanities [idols] unto the living God” (Acts 14:15), and “turned to God from idols” (1 Thess. 1:9). In addition, epistrepho is used once with “from” in conveying the idea of turning from the realm of darkness: “turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God” (Acts 26:18). The word darkness reveals the deception (wrong way of thinking) that results from the influence of the father of lies. The three times where the word turn is used in salvific contexts with the word from, the wording is not turning from sin(s). To turn from a wrong object of dependence/wrong way of thinking is quite different than to turn from sin(s). The difference highlights the difference between the object of faith versus the subject of faith (you).

However, the verb epistrepho is repeatedly used in salvific contexts explicitly with the concept of “to” in focusing on Christ as the Savior: “turned to the Lord” (Acts 9:35), “turned unto the Lord” (Acts 11:21), “turn . . . unto the living God” (Acts 14:15), “turned to God” (Acts 15:19), “turn . . . to light . . . unto God” (Acts 26:18), “turn to God” (Acts 26:20), “turn to the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:16), “turned to God” (1 Thess. 1:9), “returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (1 Pet. 2:25).

The explicit repeated emphasis of the scriptural usage of epistrepho is turning to the Lord. This observation is an overwhelming, objective fact. Of these nine occurrences, seven use epistrepho with the preposition epi (Acts 9:35; 11:21; 14:15; 15:19; 26:18, 20; 1 Pet. 2:25) and two with the preposition pros (2 Cor. 3:16; 1 Thess. 1:9). The predominant usage of epi, which often means “upon,” emphasizes that the turn of epistrepho in salvific contexts is a “turn of trust upon the Lord.”

The focus of repentance is turning to Christ, which is essentially faith. Using turn, the descriptive word for repent, demonstrates again that faith and repentance are two sides to one coin. In fact, the narrative in Acts 11:21 uses epistrepho to define the word believe: “a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.” (The word for and (kai) is not in the Greek; therefore, the phrase “turned unto the Lord” explains the word believe.)

When the Holy Spirit convicts a man of sin, he recognizes that sin (the root of his own sins) is an offense to a holy God. When the Holy Spirit convicts a man of judgment, he recognizes that hell is the just consequence for his sin(s). When the Holy Spirit convicts a man of righteousness, he realizes his inability to meet God’s standard of absolute perfection and his desperate need for the righteousness of Christ. At that point, man clearly sees that he cannot turn (cease) from his sin(s) or do anything of merit that is acceptable to a holy God, and, therefore, must turn to Christ to deliver him from sin and hell. This is biblical repentance. We must keep the message crystal clear by keeping the focus on Christ.

Sin must be dealt with as the problem. Hell must be addressed as the consequence. But Christ alone must be presented as the solution. Wording matters.

Next week we will discuss the nature of the turn.

Dr. John Van Gelderen

Related Reading

Site Publisher’s Addendum
“Lost man cannot turn from sin, but he can turn to God to deliver him from the penalty and power of sin (Romans 6).  Classic Lordship Salvation contends that repentance is turning from sin(s) or the resolve to turn from sins. Repentance is viewed as a commitment to discipleship and fruit bearing. Scripture has a better answer. The Bible teaches that the Savior saves “the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6) in their sin, and believers from the power of sin (Rom. 6:1-ff; Gal. 5:16). Repentance for salvation, as Lordship advocates view it, is defined as the sinner’s willingness to stop sinning in thought and deed, and to start obeying. The problem with this view is the emphasis is wrongly put on a change in personal behavior, not a change of mind toward God where the emphasis should be.” (In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, [Revised & Expanded Edition], p. 128).

April 11, 2019

Repent and Believe, Part 9: Confusing Terminology: “Turn and Trust

Dr. John Van Gelderen
Although well-intentioned, confusing terminologies regarding salvation need to be honed to keep the gospel message crystal clear. To add something to the definition of repent, making repentance more than a turning to Christ (believing in Jesus) for salvation from sin and hell, is to confuse the gospel. If repentance means more than a turning to Christ for salvation from sin and judgment, salvation would be by works. But salvation is not by works (Eph. 2:8-9; Gal. 3:10-11; Titus 3:5). Therefore, repent must mean a turning to Christ for salvation from sin and judgment. Sin is the problem, but not sinning is not the solution—Jesus is.

Therefore, as noted in the last article, repentance is turning to Christ for deliverance from sin and its consequences. This keeps Christ alone in sharp focus. It’s this critical focus that is obscured when using the terminology “turn from sins” which we noted conveys the idea of “stop sinning” (works). That flawed phrase, however, is not the lone misrepresentation that threatens the clarity of the gospel. We need to consider another example of similarly confusing terminology.

To say one must “turn and trust” to be saved, can mislead and confuse because it conveys not a single step, but instead, a two-step condition for salvation. This implication differs greatly from what Jesus said when He declared, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

We have seen that “repent” and “believe” are essentially the same, though different in emphasis. The two emphases are observable by this rare use of both words as the condition for salvation in Mark 1:15, but the sameness is seen through the fact that Jesus said repent and believe the gospel. The gospel is that Jesus is the payment for the problem and penalty of sin and is applied through faith (1 Cor. 15:1-11). The way Jesus used this phrase means “Change your thinking by transferring your dependence based on the gospel.” In other words, “Exchange your dependence.” This conclusion is also supported by the way the terms are used in multiple contexts as we have demonstrated in the last few articles.

The common usage of “turn and trust” implies two conditional steps. The word turn (something we will look at more closely in the next article) is the descriptive word for repent. Without the proper emphasis of “turning to Christ” (i.e., believing), the word turn can be misunderstood as works. If trust is one’s moment of salvation (John 6:47), then what is turn? The key is clarifying that the turn is the volitional trust in Christ for salvation from sin and hell. One’s abandonment to Christ as Savior is the moment of repenting and believing the gospel. The turn to Christ is not reformation but rather the turn of trust for deliverance from the problem and penalty of sin. Repentance is entirely an internal issue. In this sense there is a turn, but it is a turn of trust, not works. This must be kept clear when articulating the gospel.

The choice to turn to Christ as Savior is belief. The choice to not turn to Christ is unbelief. Practically speaking, the only sin that keeps a person out of heaven is unbelief, not depending on Christ. In John 16:9, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit convicts the world “of sin, because they believe not on me.” Certainly, sins reveal the root issue of the sin of unbelief. Yet the real issue is one’s object of dependence, whether that is of the religious type or the irreligious. Every sin can be forgiven through faith in Jesus except the sin of not depending on Jesus as one’s Savior.

The focus must always be on Christ, who is the sole object of dependence, whether the terminology employed is faith or repentance. In Acts 20:21, Paul described his ministry as “testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” His focus regarding the twin terminologies of repentance and faith was on the object of dependence. The focus of repentance as well as the focus of faith is on Christ as the answer to man’s sin problem. Repentance properly understood is Christ-centered.

In the next article we will demonstrate that the scriptural usage of the word turn is the turn of trust in Christ alone. The evidence is overwhelming.

Dr. John Van Gelderen
Revival Focus