August 30, 2010

John MacArthur Refreshes Kevin Bauder’s Short Term Memory: “Conservative” Evangelicals Extended Christian Recognition to Romans Catholics

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

In the last week I have posted two penetrating articles. They are: Do Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, “Believe, Preach and Defend the [Same] Gospel? and its companion article Cogitations Stemming From the Central/Bauder Ethos Statement. Today we are continuing with much the same theme as the above have addressed.

Earlier this year I transcribed Dr. Kevin Bauder’s recorded remarks on Al Mohler signing the Manhattan Declaration (MD) at the April 2010 Foundations Conference. This was the first public statement from Bauder on the MD that I am aware of. In that statement he excused and brushed aside Mohler’s the signing the MD as merely an “occasional inconsistency, a single episode” of ecumenism. See- Kevin Bauder Discussing: Al Mohler’s “Occasional Inconsistency?”

Dr. Bauder knew in April just as he knows today that signing the MD was NOT Mohler’s first time foray in ecumenical compromise. I documented past episodes of Mohler’s ecumenism in the article, Al Mohler Signs the MD: Was This a First Time Foray Toward Ecumenism?

Last week this issue arose at the pseudo-fundamentalist Sharper Iron (SI). There was an exchange on the MD between Kevin Bauder and Pastor Brian Ernsberger. The exchange took place in a thread under the article on the Central Seminary Ethos Statement. The exchange began with KB stating to another participant,

Do you personally know of conservative evangelicals who are knowingly extending Christian recognition to open theists, Roman Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Hindus, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc? No? I didn’t think so. Neither do I. I do know of evangelicals who do some of these things, but not of conservative evangelicals.”
Pastor Ernsberger engaged Bauder’s statement above with this question/comment,
Does Dr. Bauder have short term memory loss? He answered a question given, with this statement earlier in the thread,

Do you personally know of conservative evangelicals who are knowingly extending Christian recognition to open theists, Roman Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Hindus, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc? No? I didn’t think so. Neither do I. I do know of evangelicals who do some of these things, but not of conservative evangelicals.”

Incredibly Kevin Bauder suggests he knows of no conservative evangelicals who have extended Christian recognition to Roman Catholics. I believe we can turn to John MacArthur to help refresh Bauder’s memory.
The [Manhattan] Declaration therefore constitutes a formal avowal of brotherhood between Evangelical signatories and purveyors of different gospels. That is the stated intention of some of the key signatories, and it’s hard to see how secular readers could possibly view it in any other light…. Instead of acknowledging the true depth of our differences, the implicit assumption (from the start of the document until its final paragraph) is that Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant Evangelicals and others all share a common faith in and a common commitment to the gospel’s essential claims…. That seriously muddles the lines of demarcation between authentic biblical Christianity and various apostate traditions.” (Dr. John MacArthur, The Manhattan Declaration, 11/24/09 at Shepherd’s Fellowship web site)

Conservative evangelicals Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, Tim Challies, et. al. signed the Manhattan Declaration. They knowingly joined Roman Catholics in that cooperative effort. They have, therefore, knowingly granted Christian recognition to purveyors of a different gospel and thereby have compromised the gospel.

On April 27, 2010 at the Foundations Conference Kevin Bauder had dismissed Al Mohler’s signing the MD as merely an “occasional inconsistency…single episode.”

Statements like these from Kevin Bauder is how fidelity to biblical separatism, the hallmark of Fundamentalism, is slain for the sake of fellowship with full-blown ecumenical (ce) compromisers. The ethos statement saying, “that careful, limited forms of fellowship are possible,” is the proverbial camel’s nose in the tent. The aberrant doctrine of the CE men I want nothing of in my tent.
The real irony here is that Brother Ernsberger used John MacArthur, no genuine separatist, to remind and instruct Kevin Bauder, a self-described fundamentalist/separatist, that alleged “conservative” evangelicals had compromised the gospel by constituting, “a formal avowal of brotherhood between Evangelical signatories and purveyors of different gospels…” when they signed the MD. That is Mohler and Ligon Duncan knowingly gave Christian recognition to the “enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil. 3:18). Later Kevin Bauder replied as follows,
Mr. Ernsberger, Should Mohler, Duncan, etc., have signed the Manhattand [sic] declaration? Absolutely not! It was a bad *mistake, or, if you prefer, a rather serious error. It was, however, rather an isolated error committed by men who had already paid a heavy price for their separatism. While it cannot be overlooked entirely, it must not become the only defining factor with respect to these men’s ministries.

The operative word in my statement was “knowingly.” I do regard the Manhattan Declaration as a compromise of the gospel. Having said that, if we take seriously the words of Mohler himself, he does not believe that it requires him to extend Christian recognition or cooperation to Roman Catholics. The same can be said of other situations, for example Bethlehem Baptist's ongoing involvement with Converge.

I do take these men seriously. I think they are wrong, but their error is the error of a mistake and not of deliberate disobedience to our Master. Still, it would be more difficult to be involved with a Mohler or a Duncan than it would be with a Dever or a MacArthur. The range of possible fellowship is more restricted. (bold added for later commentary below and in part two of the series)
To which Brother Ernsberger responded with,
Dr. Bauder let’s look a bit more closely at Dr. Mohler and his “isolated error.” If the signing of the MD were indeed his “first” offense I might concur with you, but it is not. To take from a paragraph of Dr. Fred Moritz’s article, A Certain Sound, in the May/June FrontLine magazine, he states, “Yet Mohler signed the MD, chaired a Billy Graham crusade in his city, cooperated with theological liberals in that effort, and he honored one of his liberal predecessors, Duke McCall, by naming a new building after him. Obedience to Scripture on one hand and disobedience on the other sends an ‘uncertain sound’.”

Sorry, Dr. Bauder, so much for an “isolated error.” And for Steve Davis, the above excerpt can apply to you who questioned the ecumenical statement. How much more ecumenical can you get when working with a Graham crusade?
To Ernsberger’s laundry list of Mohler’s ecumenical compromises we can add that he (Mohler) is a long time sitting board member of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. Furthermore, one of Al Mohler’s first official acts as president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was to inaugurate the Billy Graham School of Missions & Evangelism. Al Mohler became president of SBTS in 1993. In all fairness, therefore, arrangements for honoring Graham by naming the school for him in 1994 probably preceded Mohler’s presidency. Nevertheless, Honoring Graham’s legacy of ecumenical evangelism is a giant leftward step away from the so-called “conservative” evangelicalism with which Mohler is presently identified.

For complete documentation of Al Mohler’s track record of ecumenical compromise, which Kevin Bauder is fully aware of, I refer you again to Al Mohler Signs the MD: Was This a First Time Foray Toward Ecumenism.

In part two of this series I am going to excerpt elements from Kevin Bauder’s reply to Brother Ernsberger for specific scrutiny, commentary, comparison and closing remarks.


LM

*Very similar to Dr. Dave Doran’s excusing Mohler signing the MD as merely, “a wrong decision based on bad judgment.”

Site Publisher’s Addendum:
On Sunday evening (8/29) Pastor Ernsberger informed SI’s Aaron Blumer that he was quitting SI with immediate effect and requested his subscription be promptly removed. In his resignation to Blumer, pastor Ernsberger noted,
…the way in which ad hominem attacks have been leveled against individuals who would challenge the claims of an article published is just deplorable. It is one thing for other members to attack this way, but to see moderators get into the melee is just beyond the pale. This truly sickens me.
Pastor Ernsberger wanted to make his resignation and reasons for it public. His complete resignation, SI’s Deplorable Moderator Actions Run Off Another, with additional commentary, can be viewed at my secondary blog, SI: In the Iron Skillet.

Furthermore, another pastor who quit SI, for reasons much like that of Pastor Ernsberger, has sent me an article detailing why he quit. This is an expanded exposé on the bias and attitudes of SI, its site publisher, admins and moderators that have run off so many. This to will appear at the Iron Skillet blog in the near future.

August 26, 2010

Cogitations Stemming From the Central/Bauder Ethos Statement

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

On Tuesday I published, Do Fundamentalists & Evangelicals, “Believe, Preach and Defend the [Same] Gospel?” There have been over 600 reads of that article to date. In the article, which is likely to have a sequel, I called upon Dr. Kevin Bauder to be honest and transparent on the true nature of the relationship between fundamentalists and evangelicals in regard to the gospel. For example,

IMO it is disingenuous and irresponsible for Kevin Bauder to speak of the Gospel in his [Differences, Part 12] article as if there is wide spread unanimity in all of Fundamentalism for agreement with evangelicals on what constitutes the Gospel, the nature of saving faith. His failure to disclose the well-known, demonstrable division in Fundamentalism over the LS interpretation of the Gospel, the open rejection of the LS gospel of the evangelicals, is in fact the practice censorship by omission. I am calling on Kevin Bauder to be honest with his readers. To publicly recognize that many men in Fundamentalism reject Calvinistic soteriology and especially the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel, which the evangelicals “believe, preach and defend.”
This morning the pseudo-Fundamentalist Sharper Iron1, whose leadership is a willing ally and conduit for the push to sweep aside significant doctrinal differences for the sake of unity between fundamentalists and evangelicals, has published Central Baptist Seminary’s Ethos Statement on Fundamentalism & Evangelicalism, which was written by Kevin Bauder. This article contains trace elements on the theme, which we have identified as a misrepresentation of the relationship on the gospel between fundamentalism and evangelicalism.

You will also note trace elements of Bauder’s departure from his predecessor Dr. Ernest Pickering’s position who, in his classic Biblical Separation taught us that separation is the struggle for a pure church. That is what Kevin Bauder is pushing aside for his new paradigm, of fellowship around his so-called “pure gospel,” or as Dave Doran references as a “gospel-driven separation.”

In his article There is a Difference and It’s a Name Changer Evangelist Gordon Phillips addressed this paradigm shift. For example he wrote,
What are the implications of changing Fundamentalism ecclesiastical separation from the purity of the church to the purity of the Gospel and forging strategic alliances with Conservative Evangelicals around that Gospel?2 At least one Fundamentalist suggests that to do that should only come with a change of labels as one is no longer in accord with historic Fundamentalism....If you are going to change your stance on ecclesiastical separation, please do not forget to change your name, as the two go hand-in-hand.... what he [Kevin Bauder] is presently doing appears to be giving the new life-filled movement of his ‘ideal’ Fundamentalism the compromised thinking of Neo Evangelicalism rather than a greater degree of Biblical fidelity.”
In the ethos statement we also read,
Because of these differences, we do not believe that complete cooperation with conservative evangelicalism is desirable.... For this reason, we believe that careful, limited forms of fellowship are possible.”
Last month that excerpt was dealt with in the article, Faith Baptist-Central Seminary Merger Talks Shelved… I encourage you to read that commentary, which includes the following,
For many what should come immediately to mind is the camel’s nose in the tent. “Careful, limited forms of fellowship” now. Sure, but it never ends there; does it? Later there will be unfettered, full cooperation. If you crack the door open, even a little, it will eventually be found wide open. Much could be said here, it is probably enough to say that elements from the institutional ethos/culture statements of each school would have yielded contributing factors for the cessation of merger talks. (edited 8/27 @ 3:35pm)
We’ll watch with great interest how these issues develop in the coming days beginning tomorrow with Kevin Bauder’s 13th installment in his series Now, About Those Differences. Kevin Bauder is well aware there is no universal “mutuality, allegiance” or agreement across the whole of fundamentalism with the evangelicals who believe, preach and defend the Lordship Salvation gospel. I am hopeful and confident he will publish a sorely needed retraction and clarification of his current misrepresentation of the relationship between fundamentalists and evangelicals on the nature of the gospel.

Yours faithfully,


LM

Addendum: (8/27/10)
Just heard from a friend who wrote, “How odd it is for 2 staunch Calvinists (Bauder/Doran) to react against the Faith/Central non-merger, which in their thinking should be accepted as Sovereignly ordained.”

For an excellent related read see Don Johnson's a new-fundamentalist manifesto at an ox goad, eh?

For important related discussion, in which the Central/Bauder ethos statement was challenged please see, SI Playing Favorites: Again???
Kevin Bauder is beginning to realize there is a growing number of persons and blogs willing to challenge his assertions. By his sharp reaction(s) at SI it is apparent he does not like this very much at all. Of course, the SI team lines up to defend him from legitimate inquires and once again gang-tackles those who dare question their star contributor.

1) SI Gang-Tackles “Doc” Clearwaters, a companion article to, A Letter from Dr. Richard V. Clearwaters to Kevin Bauder by Evangelist Dwight Smith.

2) “That Gospel,” is Calvinistic soteriology in the form of Lordship Salvation.

August 24, 2010

Do Fundamentalists & Evangelicals, “Believe, Preach and Defend the [Same] Gospel?”

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Many of you are aware of a long running series by Dr. Kevin Bauder titled Now, About Those Differences. He is publishing this series to clear up what he alleges to be misunderstandings surrounding his incendiary article Let’s Get Clear on This. In the opinion of a number of readers the Differences series has frequently reiterated his lavish praise of Evangelicalism and continues to redefine and/or castigate Fundamentalism just as he did with both movements in the Let’s Get Clear on This article. Nevertheless, the current installment, Part 12 subtitled Together (Only?) for the Gospel contains an element that is highly disconcerting, bordering on a deliberate misrepresentation of a known fact, which is the subject of this article.

Dr. Bauder wrote,

Most fundamentally (the word is deliberate), both groups are united in their affirmation and exaltation of the gospel. None of the differences that we have examined to this point results in a denial of the gospel. Both fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals believe the gospel, preach the gospel, and defend the gospel.”
For any objective commentator it is widely known and irrefutable that Calvinistic soteriology in the form of the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel is the Gospel message of the so-called “conservative” evangelicals.

Is it possible that Kevin Bauder refuses to disclose the vast chasm, disagreement and debate in Fundamentalism over what is the true nature of saving faith; what is the Gospel?

His statement above is at best an avoidance of the truth and at worst a deliberate attempt to conceal the disagreement that exists among men in Fundamentalism on the nature of the one true Gospel.

There is wide spread disagreement in Fundamentalism over Calvinism, but for many on both sides of that debate Calvinism does not necessarily mandate a split. Lordship Salvation, however, is an entirely different point of sharp contention in and around Fundamentalism.1 John MacArthur defined the core of Lordship Salvation (LS) when in TGATJ he wrote, “Salvation is for those who are willing to forsake everything.”2 Statements such as that are the focal point of controversy and many fundamentalists consider that to be a defining mark of a works salvation.

Bauder also wrote,
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?”
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 Bauder is also well aware of. Men in Fundamentalism who reject Lordship Salvation as a false works-based message are as aware as Bauder is that evangelicals are almost universal in agreement on Lordship Salvation as John MacArthur defines it. It is, therefore, impossible for fundamentalists who reject LS to have any kind of fellowship, unity or cooperation with the evangelicals because of their advocacy of Lordship Salvation.

To be honest with his readers Kevin Bauder must add a qualifier, a clarification. The qualifier would be along these lines, “Since [Calvinistic] conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists are united in their allegiance to the gospel…” It is the Calvinistic Lordship Salvation message that Calvinists in fundamental circles are choosing to unite around with their Calvinistic counter-parts in Evangelicalism. This is irrefutable! Dr. Bauder also wrote,
Is it really believable that they [T4G] cannot find a place for Christian statesmen like Charles Ryrie or John C. Whitcomb?
Of course it is believable. Frankly, this is a question any casual observer could answer. T4G is Together for the LS Gospel.3 Then there is the alternating year sister conference The LS Gospel Coalition. Lordship Salvation is the interpretation of the Gospel that they gather around. How could Bauder not grasp that T4G will never have Dr. Ryrie on their platform when he surely knows that Dr. Ryrie in, So Great Salvation rejects John MacArthur’s Lordship Salvation as a false interpretation of the Gospel? The very LS Gospel, which virtually all of MacArthur’s contemporaries across Evangelicalism embrace.

What the apologists for unity with Evangelicalism who join Kevin Bauder at sites such as the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron do not fully disclose, try to negate and blur is that Bauder’s so-called “pure gospel” rallying point is Calvinistic soteriology in the form of the Lordship Salvation. This is exactly why no man who rejects Lordship Salvation will ever be invited to the platform of events like T4G and The Gospel Coalition.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the sole test for fellowship with the evangelicals is whether or not they can agree on a Calvinistic soteriology. Kevin Bauder is willing to find agreement and base fellowship with evangelicals solely on Calvinistic soteriology, which is undeniably the LS interpretation of the Gospel. This “pure gospel,” as we may examine in future articles, has become the sole test for fellowship in Bauder’s approach to them. Virtually all other considerations among the evangelicals such as ecumenical compromise, worldliness and aberrant doctrine have been tolerated, ignored, negated or excused. [A pattern that continues at time of this republishing, 02/2012]

Kevin Bauder acts irresponsibly when he attempts to portray Fundamentalism as though all fundamentalists accept and agree with the evangelicals interpretation of the Gospel. This is an inappropriate caricature of the whole of Fundamentalism. According to Kevin Bauder,
Both fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals believe the gospel, preach the gospel, and defend the gospel.”
The truth is that many men in Fundamentalism do NOT “believe, preach or defend” the Lordship Salvation Gospel of the evangelicals. They instead reject LS because it “corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3) and biblically resist its spread as fervently as they would Roman Catholicism’s sacramental system because both are works based, non-saving interpretations of the Gospel.

IMO it is disingenuous and irresponsible for Kevin Bauder to speak of the Gospel in his article as if there is wide spread unanimity in all of Fundamentalism for agreement with evangelicals on what constitutes the Gospel, the nature of saving faith. His failure to disclose the well-known, demonstrable division in Fundamentalism over the LS interpretation of the Gospel, the open rejection of the LS gospel of the evangelicals, is in fact the practice censorship by omission. I am calling on Kevin Bauder to be honest with his readers. To publicly recognize that many men in Fundamentalism reject Calvinistic soteriology and especially the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel, which the evangelicals “believe, preach and defend.”

Close on a Personal Admonition to Kevin Bauder:
Brother Bauder you do not speak on behalf of and are no more the voice of Fundamentalism than I am.

As I have documented in this article you are perpetuating a fallacy on unity in the Gospel. It is intellectually dishonest to declare, without qualification, there is unanimity on the Gospel between fundamentalists and evangelicals. It is an egregious misrepresentation. Scores of fundamentalist pastors, teachers and evangelists reject Evangelicalism’s Lordship Salvation as a false interpretation of the Gospel and you know this to be true. To reiterate, you do not speak for Fundamentalism. Fundamentalists speak for themselves and many of them passionately reject Lordship Salvation and would have every right to be offended by your suggesting Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism believe, preach and defend the [same] Gospel.

I am calling on you to immediately publish a correction of this misrepresentation. Be honest with your readers. Tell them that a select group of Calvinists in Fundamentalism agree with evangelicals on Calvinistic soteriology in the form of the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel. Tell your readers that Calvinistic soteriology is the “pure gospel” you speak of and around which you are trying to influence others toward unity in the Evangelical and Fundamentalist camps.


LM

1) 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? Reasonable men can get along over differences of opinion over Reformed theology. Many men who reject Calvinism have cordial personal friendships with IFB men who are Calvinistic in their theology. There is the desire to work in cooperative efforts and I understand that desire. It is, however, antithetical to the Scriptures to call for unity in any fellowship at the expense of compromise with Lordship’s message, which has changed the terms of the Gospel.
2) For a brief definition of LS by Dr. John MacArthur see, Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page

3) Let’s Get “CRYSTAL” Clear on This: A Response to Kevin Bauder’s “Cannonball” Cogitations: “Foremost Defenders of the Gospel Today?”

Please continue to Cogitations Stemming From the Central/Bauder Ethos Statement

August 19, 2010

Unpacking the Difference Between the Gospel of Grace and the Works-Based Approach of Lordship Salvation, Final

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

This is the final of the two part series by Pastor Tom Stegall. You may read
Part One and find that Pastor Stegall is answering this question,

Lou, if a person wanted to still be an idolator and be a Christian, would you tell him:

a) he could not continue in idolatry

b) he would need to stop the idolatry after he accepts Christ
Pastor Stegall opened by stating,
This is a loaded theological question that will require some careful unpacking. Yet, it is worthwhile to answer since it presents an opportunity to highlight once again the radical difference between the biblical, grace-oriented approach to salvation and the inherently meritorious, works-based approach of Lordship Salvation.
Let's continue now with the conclusion of this compelling series.


Another question that must first be addressed before someone could answer the question above is, what is idolatry according to the Bible? Is it not giving to any created thing the honor and devotion that is due only to the Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ? Many people don’t even realize the extent to which they are idolatrous when they first believe in Christ. When a man loves football to such an extent that he chooses to skip church on Sunday mornings in order to catch the pre-game show and not miss the kick-off and watches his favorite team for at least 3 hours each game, how is he NOT an idolater?! And if a person has to be willing to give up certain sins, such as idolatry, to be saved, isn’t this really saying that he has to be willing to give up watching football and come to church in order to be saved? Sounds like a works-salvation to me! And what else does he have to give up before he has forsaken all forms of idolatry and is now finally saved? For that matter, since the first two commandments prohibit having any other gods before the LORD or making idolatrous images (Exod. 20:1-4), isn’t this approach really requiring that a person must keep the commandments, the Law, in order to be justified in the sight of God? That is not salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone but is the very meritorious, legalistic, works-based salvation so clearly condemned in the New Testament (Rom. 3:19-28; Gal. 1:6-9; 2:16; 3:1-13; 5:1-6).

Finally, we must ask regarding Kime’s propositional question, what does the phrase “wanted to still be an idolator” mean? The term “wanted” has also been left undefined and is quite ambiguous. What verse in all of Scripture speaks in terms of “wanting” versus “not wanting” certain sins in order to be saved, born again, justified, redeemed, receive eternal life, etc.? The issue and condition of eternal life is always stated to be a matter of “believing” something. It is conspicuous that Scripture never presents the condition for salvation in terms of us being willing not to sin certain sins or sin to a certain unacceptable degree. Why are there no Bible verses that say something along this order, “He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him and wills not to sin, shall not perish,” (John 3:16); or “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and will not to sin, and you shall be saved,” (Acts 16:31)? Therefore, we must ask, is this question at hand derived from what WE think God must require for salvation or is it driven by what GOD has actually stated in His Word to be the condition for salvation?

The Bible itself nowhere requires that we must be willing to no longer sin in some particular area before God will save us.

God is not asking US to do something with respect to our sin problem before He will save us. Rather, He is merely asking us to believe what HE has already done for our sin-problem through the propitiatory death of His Son at Calvary.

Romans 3:24-25 says, “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood....” Some professing but legalistic Christians view God as not being practically satisfied with the work of His Son. They think that they must resolve to do something about their sins in order to satisfy God before He is willing to save them. Their own resolve practically becomes the propitiating factor with God. No longer is it Christ Jesus “Himself” who is the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:2), it is Christ plus the determined sinner that ultimately brings satisfaction for sin in God’s sight. Yet, it is solely the Rock of Ages upon which we are rest our confidence for acceptance before God, as the hymn writer put it years ago: “Could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, these for sin could not atone, Thou must save and Thou alone.”

God already knows our future earthly life and walk with all its sins and failures at the moment of new birth; and yet in spite of foreseen future failure He accepts us and clothes us with His righteousness. And if this is true, we must then ask, from God’s perspective, why would He be any more willing to save a person who willed and determined not to sin and yet still ended up sinning anyway (as all Christians do) versus the one who didn’t resolve or determine to stop sinning and yet still ended up sinning just the same? In either case, both parties still sin and God knows they will both still sin. From God’s vantage point, at the very moment He regenerates a soul He already knows that individual is going to choose to sin after the new birth, and yet He accepts that person on the basis of the finished work of His Son not their future performance or even their present determination not to sin.

In fact, to say that God will only save the one who wills or determines to stop sinning and yet continues to sin anyway (as all Christians do after conversion) actually depreciates the holiness and righteousness of God. It does this by teaching in essence that God is not so concerned with whether we actually commit sin but only that we desire not to. In other words, the committal of sin is inconsequential; it is the intentions that count! But salvation is never granted to mankind on the basis of his good intentions, but only on the basis of the perfect, finished work of Christ which is the only thing that satisfied the just requirements of an infinitely righteous God.

With that said, one final clarification is in order regarding Kime’s proposition and the sole condition for becoming a Christian (i.e., becoming born again). The preceding explanation should not be misinterpreted to mean that a sinner can actually consider sin to be a good thing, or acceptable, while still exercising faith in Christ for salvation. That is impossible. In order for people to place their faith in Christ’s propitious death for their sins, they must come to a realization and acceptance of the fact that they are sinners (Rom. 3:9-12). As such, they come to accept the fact that they are guilty before God and worthy of His judgment (Rom. 3:19-20), and that apart from Christ’s finished work and salvation by grace, they stand separated from a holy God (Rom. 3:23-25). When this realization and acceptance occurs within a lost sinner, this is biblical repentance. Such repentance is inherent to faith in Christ (Acts 20:21). Therefore, when lost people come to see their sin and its consequences, the normal result is to no longer intend to continue sinning out of sheer gratitude and appreciation for Christ’s atoning death. But although this determination normally accompanies repentance, it is not inherent to repentance; nor is it necessary for salvation. It is necessary for on-going fellowship with God (1 John 1:3-10).


Pastor Tom Stegall

Pastor Tom Stegall is author of the new book, The Gospel of the Christ: A Biblical Response to the Crossless Gospel Regarding the Contents of Saving Faith and pastor of the Word of Grace Bible Church in West Allis, WI.

Previous articles by Tom Stegall include:

Vigilance Regarding the Truth of the Gospel: Reengaging the Heresy of the GES “Crossless” Gospel

Does “Final Salvation” Serve as a Cover for Works-Salvation?

The Gospel of the Christ: The “No Lordship” Counter-Claim

Is the Message of Salvation in Luke’s Gospel?

August 17, 2010

Unpacking the Difference Between the Gospel of Grace and the Works-Based Approach of Lordship Salvation


In the comment thread under the May 20 article by Phillip Evans Clearing Up Repentance: A Refutation of Lordship Salvation at IDOTG, *James Kime posed the following question to Lou Martuneac:

Lou, if a person wanted to still be an idolator and be a Christian, would you tell him:

a) he could not continue in idolatry

b) he would need to stop the idolatry after he accepts Christ
This is a loaded theological question that will require some careful unpacking. Yet, it is worthwhile to answer since it presents an opportunity to highlight once again the radical difference between the biblical, grace-oriented approach to salvation and the inherently meritorious, works-based approach of Lordship Salvation.

Some questions are laden with false assumptions that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” reply, or in this case a simple “a)” or “b).” For example, we’ve all heard of the classic case of prosecutorial entrapment where a man is asked, “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” The very question is an indictment since it presumes that the man already stands guilty of spousal abuse. The same approach is commonly followed towards Bible-believing Christians who understand the grace of God. This should not surprise us since it was the same method employed by the religionists and Lordship Salvationists of Jesus’ day against Him. They repeatedly tried to frame the Savior by eliciting either one of two false answers from Him. See, for example, the Sadducees with the case of the resurrection and the woman who had seven husbands (Matt. 22:17-21) or the Pharisees in the case of tribute money that was to be rendered unto either unto Caesar or God (Matt. 22:23-32).

The theological question posed above by Kime follows a similar vein in the sense that it presupposes a person “could not continue in idolatry” and yet truly “be a Christian” or at least not “want” to continue in idolatry and still be a Christian. However, the way in which the question is framed begs several further questions. What does it mean if a person still “wanted to be an idolater?” Must the lost cease desiring all sin or certain serious sins like idolatry to make it to heaven? And what does it mean to “be a Christian?” Does this mean becoming a child of God or becoming born again (regenerated)? Or does it refer to living in fellowship with God after a person is born again? In other words, is Kime asking about the condition for becoming a Christian in the first place or the condition/s for living a consistently Christian life? Further, we must ask, why is idolatry chosen for the dubious distinction of being the damning sin? Why not other less conspicuous internal sins, like lust or pride, which the Lord also hates? And what is “idolatry” by Kime’s definition? What is it that we are being asked to agree to? These inherent problems require further elaboration below.

First, when it comes to being a Christian, we must ask whether it is possible to be a genuine, born again child of God and still continue in the sin of idolatry. This is an unfortunate reality in many of the lives of God’s children. The apostle John was acquainted with this reality as well. At the end of his first epistle, he closes with an exhortation, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols,” (1 John 5:21). Throughout the epistle the readers have been called “little children,” an affectionate term for the child of God. John assumes that his regenerated audience is comprised of genuine believers. Yet they are obviously capable of idolatry; otherwise, why would he even give them such a command in the first place? If a Christian, as legalistically defined by some Lordship Salvation proponents, is one who does not commit certain gross, heinous sins, then such commands in Scripture given to believers in Christ become absolutely meaningless.

Numerous examples exist throughout the Scriptures to show that the saints can actually continue in the sin of idolatry, such as Rachel (Gen. 31:34-35), the sons of Jacob (Gen. 35:2), Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-10), and the Ephesian Christians (Acts 19). Solomon not only engaged in idolatrous worship but built shrines all around the hillsides of Jerusalem to many false gods. Can you imagine a professing Christian leader today building mosques and temples here in North America to foreign gods? Lordship Salvationists would surely discount such an individual as a true child of God. And yet Solomon wrote three books in the canon of inspired Scripture—Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. Imagine, a writer of Sacred Scripture and yet an idolatrous child of God! Perish the thought.

Consider also the example of the Ephesian Christians in Acts 19. It says in 19:10 that Paul taught them the Word of the Lord Jesus for “two years.” Yet, the chapter goes on to report that subsequent to their new birth they came forward to confess and forsake their idolatrous, occultic practices (Acts 19:18-19). This was clearly NOT done simultaneously with their new birth. Acts 19:18 says that “many that believed came, and confessed, and showed their deeds.” The word “believed” is a perfect tense participle and indicates that these disciples had already believed in Christ PRIOR to their confession of idolatry and magic. It is for this reason that the great Greek grammarian of the last century, A. T. Robertson (who was no proponent of the “Free Grace” view), wrote in His Word Pictures the following concerning this passage:
Even some of the believers were secretly under the spell of these false spiritualists just as some Christians today cherish private contacts with so-called occult powers through mediums, séances, of which they are ashamed. . . . The black arts were now laid bare in their real character. Gentile converts had a struggle to shake off their corrupt environment.
Apparently these Ephesian believers continued in the sin of occultism for some time after they were saved. Did they continue in occultism ignorantly or unintentionally? Impossible. Did they have to want to stop practicing it before they could believe in Christ for salvation? Not according to Acts 19:18. This matter of “wanting” to sin will be addressed later.

But moving on from the example of believers actually practicing “magic” according to the Bible, we must return to the question of whether a person can be an idolater and still be a “Christian” or a child of God. We must ask, why is this particular sin of idolatry chosen for such a proposition? Is it worse than any other? It is generally recognized as one of the most blatant and unconscionable of all sins, so much so that many people cannot conceive of a believer practicing it and still being saved. But this leads us to ask whether a person can really be a Christian (i.e., regenerated) and commit certain other sins—heinous sins—“mortal” versus “venial” types of sins. (Here we see the similarity in theology and logic between Roman Catholicism and Lordship Salvation.) And yet, according to the Word of God, a “Christian” can even be a murderer! Peter writes, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf,” (1 Peter 4:15-16). Peter was writing to genuine, born again believers (1 Peter 1:1-3) who could either suffer for doing the will of God as Christians should or suffer for the consequences of their own sins, which included being a “murderer.” But if a person can be a murderer and yet still be a Christian (albeit a Christian who is not abiding in fellowship with Christ), then why is being an idolater impossible? A “Christian” by biblical definition, is not someone who doesn’t commit certain “major” sins, or even persist in such carnality (1 Cor. 3:1-4) like Solomon did (1 Kings 11). Rather, a Christian is someone who belongs to Christ and who is capable of committing any sin. Yet, when such a person does sin, it doesn’t demonstrate that he or she is not a child of God but only that this person is a child of God who has broken fellowship with God (1 John 1:3-10).


Pastor Tom Stegall

Please continue to Part 2 of this series.


Pastor Tom Stegall is author of the new book, The Gospel of the Christ: A Biblical Response to the Crossless Gospel Regarding the Contents of Saving Faith and pastor of the Word of Grace Bible Church in West Allis, WI.

Previous articles by Pastor Tom Stegall include:

Vigilance Regarding the Truth of the Gospel: Reengaging the Heresy of the GES “Crossless” Gospel

Does “Final Salvation” Serve as a Cover for Works-Salvation?

The Gospel of the Christ: The “No Lordship” Counter-Claim

Is the Message of Salvation in Luke’s Gospel?

August 16, 2010

Unpacking the Difference: A New Series

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Beginning tomorrow I am publishing the first installment of a new two-part series by Pastor Tom Stegall. Brother Stegall is author of the new book, The Gospel of the Christ: A Biblical Response to the Crossless Gospel Regarding the Contents of Saving Faith and pastor of the Word of Grace Bible Church in West Allis, WI.

The new series will be under the title, Unpacking the Difference Between the Gospel of Grace and the Works-Based Approach of Lordship Salvation.


LM
Isaiah 26:3


Previous articles by Pastor Tom Stegall include:

Vigilance Regarding the Truth of the Gospel: Reengaging the Heresy of the GES “Crossless” Gospel

Does “Final Salvation” Serve as a Cover for Works-Salvation?

The Gospel of the Christ: The “No Lordship” Counter-Claim

Is the Message of Salvation in Luke’s Gospel?

August 13, 2010

Weekend Archive Series: The Rich Young Ruler, Mark 10:17-22

When the rich young ruler approached Christ, he asked, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” That “good thing” is works.

In commenting on this passage, John MacArthur writes,

Our Lord gave this young man a test. He had to choose between his possessions and Jesus Christ. He failed the test. No matter what points of doctrine he affirmed, because he was unwilling to turn from what else he loved most, he could not be a disciple of Christ. Salvation is only for those who are willing to give Christ first place in their lives.” (The Gospel According to Jesus: [Revised & Expanded Edition], p. 85.)
That citation from the revised edition of The Gospel According to Jesus is a sanitized revision of what John MacArthur first wrote. In the original edition, John MacArthur states:
Our Lord gave this young man a test. He had to choose between his possessions and Jesus Christ. He failed the test. No matter what he believed, since he was unwilling to forsake all, he could not be a disciple of Christ. Salvation is for those who are willing to forsake everything.” (p. 78.)
From his book Hard to Believe MacArthur wrote:
And he 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.” (p. 9.)
During a Trinity Broadcasting Network interview MacArthur stated:
In fact Jesus said this, “If you come to Me it may cost you your family. But if you’re not willing to hate your family you can’t be My disciple. If you come to Me you might have to give all your possessions away and give them to the poor. If you are not willing to do that you are not worthy to be My disciple.”
For a moment lets say the man confessed his sin of covetousness, asked Jesus to forgive him. He also expressed a willingness to give away all that he had, but Jesus did not ask him to do so on the spot. Is he a saved man? Did he meet the Lordship gospel requirement for eternal life? Assuming he is saved the man begins to follow Jesus and some time later Jesus turns to him and says, “Today, I want you to give all that you have to the poor.” If that man hesitates to obey this command, what does it mean? Is he is in danger of losing his salvation? Was he never saved in the first place? If one concludes he was never saved in the first place then any act of disobedience, in the life of a professing believer, must raise the same question.

When I lived in Florida there was a period time when I was witnessing to a young man who worked at a fast food restaurant. His name was Tom and he was interested in spiritual things. My wife remembers how I would visit Tom late at night, actually in the hours just after midnight, at his restaurant and we would pour over the Bible. I was very clear about his sin, God’s wrath and his need to repent and by faith receive Jesus Christ as his only hope for salvation. After a number of weeks Tom believed the Bible and received Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.

He began to take steps of growth that one might expect of a new believer. One day, right out of the blue, he asked me what I thought about his hair. Now Tom had long flowing hair. His hair was not dirty or sloppy, just long and not what you would call a good testimony for Christ. His hair was not an issue as a lost man, his sin and guilt before God was. A few weeks after receiving Christ, during his personal reading of the Bible, he came across this passage.

1 Corinthians 11:14 “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?”
So, for Tom his hair had become an issue. The Lord had pricked Tom’s heart about his hair. Tom felt as though the verse meant for him that he should get a haircut. I told him that if he felt God wanted that for him then he should obey. Tom said he would get his hair cut that week. Tom knew he should get his hair cut, he wanted to get his hair cut, but just could not bring himself to do it. Tom became unwilling to get his haircut: Does this mean he was never saved in the first place, or has he fallen into carnality? I am convinced he had a time of carnality.

A short time later Tom moved to one of the western states. I knew from the first time I met him he would be moving soon, which is why I was urgent about seeing him as often as possible to present the gospel. In my heart I think Tom probably got that hair cut some where along the way. Tom’s hair was not the issue for receiving or keeping eternal life no more than the giving away possessions was for the rich young ruler.

Giving up earthly possessions, or even the willingness to do so does not bring anyone closer to eternal life! Salvation is a free gift! The gift of God is not conditional on haircuts, forsaking possessions, station in life or performing personal acts of charity. The Scriptures are very clear: Man cannot be saved by any personal work of righteousness (
Titus 3:5). Attaching the performance of and/or promise to perform the works of discipleship to faith in Christ corrupts “the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3) and will “frustrate the grace of God” (Gal. 2:21). Man is saved through personal faith in Jesus Christ alone!
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
In his quote above John MacArthur says, “no matter what he believed.” Taking that at face value leads one to the conclusion that John MacArthur is suggesting that believing on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31) is insufficient for salvation. For the Lordship advocate, even if the young man believed that Jesus was the Messiah, believed that Jesus was the Savior, and expressed dependent faith in Christ, that would be insufficient to save him. It is clear that John MacArthur, representing the Lordship position, conditions eternal salvation not on simple belief alone, but also on the lost man’s upfront promise to perform the “good works” (Eph. 2:10) expected of a born again disciple of Christ.

In the case of this rich young ruler, the Lordship advocate would state that his salvation depended on the surrender of his riches. Some might back away from that by saying the man had only to be willing to surrender his riches. Dr. Charles Ryrie wrote:

Is eternal life gained by keeping the commandments, even by keeping them perfectly, if anyone could do that? Paul answered that very question at the conclusion of his synagogue message in Antioch in Pisidia. He said that only through Jesus is everyone who believes justified and that no one could be justified by the Law of Moses (Acts 13:39). . . . So even if the rich young man's claim were true that he had kept the commandments the Lord mentioned, he still could not have gained eternal life, even if he had kept them perfectly.” (So Great Salvation, p. 86.)

LM


This article first appeared in December 2006 and is an updated excerpt from the revised and expanded edition of In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, pp. 178-ff.

August 11, 2010

Faith Baptist-Central Merger Talks Shelved: An Opinion Piece

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Just a few days ago it was jointly announced by Faith Baptist Bible College & Seminary and Central Baptist Seminary that merger talks have ceased. There will be no merger.

As the deliberations have progressed, it has become apparent to both institutions that, for the time being, Central and Faith should minister collaboratively rather than as a single, merged institution.” (FBTS: Statement on Proposed Faith/Central Merger)
With one exception from a wide circle of men who communicate with me there is wide-spread relief the merger is not going forward. IMO, Faith had nothing to gain and everything to lose. A merger was doomed from the start for reasons we now see in the light of day.

Each institution has an ethos/culture statement. These include convictions, priorities, and what one will tolerate or not tolerate. They exposed significant differences that apparently became major factors for the merger not going forward. Divergent tolerate and not-tolerate stands made it certain and I didn’t ever think the merger ever had a chance because of this more than any other reason.

Central’s faculty produced their ethos statements. Judging by the content of the Fundamentalism & Evangelicalism statement I initially believed and confirmed it was written by Kevin Bauder. The ninth paragraph is very telling. It opens with this statement,
Because of these differences we do not believe that complete cooperation with conservative evangelicalism is desirable.”
May I?
The paragraph closes with this statement,
For this reason, we believe that careful, limited forms of fellowship are possible.”
For many what should come immediately to mind is the camel’s nose in the tent. “Careful, limited forms of fellowship” now. Sure, but it never ends there; does it? Later there will be unfettered, full cooperation. If you crack the door open, even a little, it will eventually be found wide open.

Much could be said here, it is probably enough to say that elements from the institutional ethos/culture statements of each school would have yielded contributing factors for the cessation of merger talks.

A primary reason for a personal blessing for me that the merger is shelved is that through a merger Faith Baptist Bible College & Seminary would have had the face and views of Kevin Bauder stamped on their ministry and institution. That would IMO have initiated a demise of Faith just like Bauder’s face and stamp has contributed to and is accelerating the waning ministry of and influence for balanced biblical separatist Fundamentalism of Central Baptist Seminary.

LM

Addendum: (8/27/10)
Just heard from a friend who wrote, “How odd it is for 2 staunch Calvinists (Bauder/Doran) to react against the Faith/Central non-merger, which in their thinking should be accepted as Sovereignly ordained.”

Site Publisher Note: Article edited- August 27, 2010 @ 11:50am.

August 9, 2010

IDOTG Awareness Page at Middletown Bible Church Site

Dear Friends of IDOTG:

I am very pleased to inform you that Pastor George Zeller has added a new page to the Middletown Bible Church website to highlight the
revised and expanded edition of In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation (IDOTG).

You may be aware that Brother Zeller provided one of the two forewords that appear in the book. Here at my blog I highlighted his foreword earlier this year. You may read his foreword below.

In my opinion, George Zeller is one of the most prolific and penetrating writers in Bible believing circles today. He has written extensively on many doctrinal subjects including Calvinism and the works-based Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel. As I noted above he has added a new page to help visitors to his site become aware of
IDOTG. You can view the new page through any one of three links as follows:

Follow this direct link to Zeller’s page
Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation by Lou Martuneac

Look under
Saved by Grace Alone (and Lordship Salvation)

The Doctrinal Studies main page, look under The Doctrine of Salvation.

The church purchased by Jesus Christ must have a clear understanding of salvation by grace through faith. It is the very heart of the gospel message. Some have turned the grace of our God into lasciviousness or unbridled lust (Jude 4), thinking that since they are saved and going to heaven they can live any way they please. Others, rightly concerned about rampant carnality in the church, have distorted the simple gospel message and have burdened the sinner with additional requirements that extend well beyond simple faith in the crucified and risen One. 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. Lou Martuneac has presented the biblical balance between these two erroneous and extreme positions. In this confused theological climate, his book is like a breath of fresh air and deserves a wide reading.

Pastor George Zeller
Available Now: What to Expect, Part 4

August 6, 2010

Weekend Archival Series: Lordship Salvation- Charles Spurgeon’s Personal Testimony Spreaks Against It


The following is taken from Spurgeon: A New Biography by Arnold Dallimore (Moody Press, 1984), pages 18-20.

The story of Spurgeon’s conversion is widely known, but it may well be repeated, and it cannot be better told than in the words in which he himself presented it:

I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now, had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm one Sunday morning, while I was going to a certain place of worship. I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive Methodist Church. In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people. I had heard of the Primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly that they made people’s heads ache; but that did not matter to me. I wanted to know how I might be saved....

The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed up, I suppose. At last a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. Now it is well that preachers be instructed, but this man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was—
“LOOK UNTO ME, AND BE YE SAVED, ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH” (Isa. 45:22).

He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimmer of hope for me in that text.

The preacher began thus: “This is a very simple text indeed. It says ‘Look.’ Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pain. It aint liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is
just ‘Look.’ Well, a man needn’t go to College to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn’t be worth a thousand a year to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look.

"But then the text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Ay!" he said in broad Essex, “many on ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it’s no use lookin’ there. You’ll never find any comfort in yourselves. Some say look to God the Father. No, look to Him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Some on ye say ‘We must wait for the Spirit’s workin.’ You have no business with that just now.
Look to Christ. The text says, ‘Look unto Me.’”

Then the good man followed up his text in this way: “Look unto Me; I am sweatin’ great drops of blood.
Look unto Me; I am hangin’ on the cross. Look unto Me, I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to Heaven. Look unto Me; I am sitting at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! look unto Me!

When he had . . . . managed to spin out about ten minutes or so, he was at the end of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I daresay with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger.

Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart, he said, “Young man, you look very miserable.” Well, I did, but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my personal appearance before. However, it was a good blow, struck right home. He continued, “And you will always be miserable—miserable in life and miserable in death—if you don’t obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.” Then lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist could do,
“Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothing to do but look and live!”

I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said—I did not take much notice of it—I was so possessed with that one thought . . . . I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word, “Look!” what a charming word it seemed to me. Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away.

There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them,
of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him. Oh, that somebody had told me this before, “Trust Christ, and you shall be saved.” Yet it was, no doubt, all wisely ordered, and now I can say—

E’er since by faith I saw the stream

Thy flowing wounds supply,

Redeeming love has been my theme,

And shall be till I die. . .

That happy day when I found the Saviour, and learned to cling to His dear feet, was a day never to be forgotten by me . . . . I listened to the Word of God and that precious text led me to the cross of Christ. I can testify that the joy of that day was utterly indescribable. I could have leaped, I could have danced; there was no expression, however fanatical, which would have been out of keeping with the joy of that hour. Many days of Christian experience have passed since then, but there has never been one which has had the full exhilaration, the sparkling delight which that first day had.

I thought I could have sprung from the seat in which I sat, and have called out with the wildest of those Methodist brethren . . . “I am forgiven! I am forgiven! A monument of grace!
A sinner saved by blood!”

My spirit saw its chains broken to pieces, I felt that I was an emancipated soul, an heir of heaven, a forgiven one, accepted in Jesus Christ, plucked out of the miry clay and out of the horrible pit, with my feet set upon a rock and my goings established . . . .

Between half-past ten o’clock, when I entered that chapel, and half-past twelve o’clock, when I was back again at home,
what a change had taken place in me! Simply by looking to Jesus I had been delivered from despair, and I was brought into such a joyous state of mind that, when they saw me at home, they said to me, “Something wonderful has happened to you,” and I was eager to tell them all about it. Oh! there was joy in the household that day, when all heard that the eldest son had found the Saviour and knew himself to be forgiven.
(Taken from Iain Murray, ed., The Early Years (London: Banner of Truth, 1962), p. 87-90).


OBSERVATIONS (by George Zeller)

1) Notice how Christ-centered the gospel presentation was.

2) Notice that due emphasis was placed on the death and resurrection of Christ, the all-sufficient Saviour (
1 Cor. 15:3-4).


3) Notice how God used the “
foolishness of preaching” to save Spurgeon, and that the focus was on Christ and Him crucified (compare 1 Cor. 1:20-25).

4) Notice how Spurgeon was instructed to look away from SELF and to focus on the SAVIOUR.


5) Notice that the emphasis of the sermon was upon LOOKING, not DOING. He was to look in the direction of Christ and he was not told to focus on fulfilling any requirements. The only requirement was that he LOOK.


6) Notice how simple the terms of salvation were: “
Look and live!” “Trust Christ and you shall be saved.”


7) Notice that the substitute preacher did not say anything about the terms of discipleship and the demands that are incumbent upon every saved person to follow and obey Christ.

8) Notice that the substitute preacher did not tell Spurgeon to “
submit to Christ’s Lordship” or “fulfill the terms of discipleship” or “turn from and forsake all sin” or “hate father, mother, wife, children, etc.” These things are the rightful results of salvation but not the simple terms of salvation.


9) Notice Spurgeon’s joyful conclusion: “
Simply by looking to Jesus I had been delivered from despair.” “Oh, that somebody had told me this before, ‘Trust Christ, and you shall be saved.’

For a wonderful sermon by Spurgeon dealing with the question of what a person needs to do to be saved, see his sermon entitled, “The Warrant of Faith” available from Pilgrim Publications, Box 66, Pasadena, TX 77501.

Reprinted by permission from George Zeller.


Spurgeon’s personal testimony and the observations above by Brother Zeller devastate Lordship Salvation’s message of eternal salvation through an upfront commitment of life.

With the reading of Spurgeon’s personal testimony I am reminded of the beautiful hymn Look and Live, (William A. Ogden, 1887). Following are the four stanzas and refrain:

I’ve a message from the Lord, hallelujah!
The message unto you I’ll give,
’Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah!
It is only that you “look and live.”


Refrain
Look and live, my brother, live!
Look to Jesus now, and live;
’Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah!
It is only that you “look and live.”


I’ve a message full of love, hallelujah!
A message, O my friend, for you,
’Tis a message from above, hallelujah!
Jesus said it, and I know ’tis true.


Life is offered unto you, hallelujah!
Eternal life thy soul shall have,
If you’ll only look to Him, hallelujah!
Look to Jesus who alone can save.


I will tell you how I came, hallelujah!
To Jesus when He made me whole:
’Twas believing on His name, hallelujah!
I trusted and He saved my soul.


If you’d enjoy singing this treasured hymn with a piano accompaniment see Look & Live


Please continue this series at- Lordship Salvation: Charles Spurgeon Speaks (more than once) Against It

This article first appeared on August 10, 2009.