October 29, 2010

Archival Series: Are We Recognizing the “NEW” New Evangelicalism?

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

We have been discussing the ecumenical spirit of certain signatories from the so-called “conservative” evangelical camp. Some of the “conservative” evangelicals like Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan who signed the Manhattan Declaration (MD) apparently did not intend, “to forge an ecumenical relationship which compromises the gospel by giving Christian recognition to people without a credible profession of the gospel. That wasn’t the intent, but it is the result.”1

In the meantime my reading and research has shown me that the current trend toward ecumenism by the likes of Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, et. al. is eerily similar to a previous generations slide toward New Evangelicalism. There may be some greater measure of restraint in this generation, but nevertheless there is tangible evidence of a slide toward New Evangelicalism.

If there is one book I would recommend to help contemporary Fundamentalists get a handle on the danger at their doorsteps it would be The Tragedy of Compromise: The Origin and Impact of the New Evangelicalism, 1994 by *Dr. Ernest D. Pickering. For their consideration I am going to share select excerpts from Pickering’s classic on the subject. The following excerpts come from Chapter Seven, Gray Hairs Are Here and There. Afterward I will close with some personal commentary.




From The Subtle Drift Toward the New Evangelicalism, p. 155.

The ancient prophet Hosea was concerned about gray hair also, but for a different reason. In a brokenhearted lament over his beloved nation, Israel, he wrote: “Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth it not” (Hos. 7:9). Gray hairs are a mark of aging, of deteriorating strength, and, in the spiritual sense employed by Hosea, of a loss of spiritual vitality. The saddest note in this lament was the fact that the nation did not realize it was losing its spiritual moorings.

All over America and the world at this hour there are churches that are drifting into New Evangelicalism without the remotest knowledge that they are doing so. They are being carried along with the shifting winds of compromise and have long since departed from the solid biblical position established by their predecessors. Young pastors, many without firm doctrinal underpinnings, have led their churches to believe that in order to reach the masses they must abandon the strict biblical principles of yore and embrace more fluid and attractive positions. They have changed, but they do not realize that they have changed.
From The Appeal of New Evangelicalism to the Fundamentalist, p. 156.
Many contemporary fundamentalists are being wooed by the siren call of New Evangelicalism. It seems especially compelling to younger men (though not exclusively so). Born in a different generation and without personal involvement in the battles against the early forms of New Evangelicalism, some are impatient with the fray, do not see the relevance of the conflict, and are inclined to adopt the attitude “a plague on both your houses.” What is there about the New Evangelicalism that seems to attract some from within the fundamentalist camp?2
From Gradually Sliding into New Evangelicalism, p. 159.
David Beale warned against those who bear the label fundamentalist but whose personal philosophy is essentially New Evangelical. “Unlike present-day Fundamentalists, they refuse to regard the militant defense of the faith and the full doctrine and practice of holiness as intrinsically fundamental.”3 In other words, there are fundamentalists who are either becoming or already are New Evangelicals. Some are actually adopting New Evangelical philosophies while still proclaiming that they are not New Evangelicals. The basic problem is this: Many fundamentalists, when speaking of the New Evangelicalism, are referring to the original positions and writings of the early founders of New Evangelicalism such as Carl Henry and Harold Ockenga. They repudiate heartily the thoughts of these earlier leaders, but either in ignorance or willingly they fail to recognize the updated version, the “new” New Evangelicalism. It is always safer to berate the teachings of those historically farther removed than of those who are currently afflicting the church.
The first step toward New Evangelicalism is refusing to live in fidelity to the Scriptural mandates that call for separation when it is clearly warranted. Unfortunately some men in Fundamentalism, who presently identify with biblical separatism, appear to be “either in ignorance or willingly” greasing their own skids and may not be too far behind the direction of men like Dr. Mohler. The trend of some well-known men in Fundamental circles toward the “conservative” evangelicals appears to be:

How can I keep my fellowship with evangelicals instead of what does the Bible mandate for me in principle and application?

Some pastors and Bible college leaders have begun laying out in stark terms to their congregations and student bodies the dangers of ecumenical compromise, and are referencing both the Manhattan Declaration and its signatories as a prime example of it. I am grateful for men who have marked certain signatories to the Manhattan Declaration. When we speak of to “mark” we must, however, speak of it in terms of mark ANDavoid” (Rom. 16:17).
Paul admonishes believers to ‘avoid’ those whom we have marked. The form of this verb indicates that it is a present imperative, which indicates that this avoidance is neither a suggestion nor advice, but, in fact, a command. We are commanded by God to continually avoid the person who has been marked!4
Unless men determine to set the right example (Phil. 3:17) putting fidelity to Scripture in principle and application ahead of tolerating doctrinal aberrations and methods of ministry among the conservative evangelicals that they (fundamentalists) would never tolerate in their own ministries they will inch their way closer to New Evangelicalism. With each step of tolerance for and compromise with the disconcerting actions of evangelicals the mature Fundamentalists are showing the younger generation, under their influence, the way there.


LM

1) Dr. Dave Doran, A Bronx Declaration, Dec. 2009. Ironically, while recognizing signing the Manhattan Declaration compromised the gospel, Doran dismissed Mohler’s signing the document as nothing more than, “a wrong decision based on bad judgment.

2) Pickering goes into detail as he answers that question under the subheadings of: A Lessening of Tensions; A Wider Working Relationship; A Greater Attractiveness to the Masses; The Perception The New Evangelicals are More Loving; etc.

3) In Pursuit of Purity, pp. 261-ff.

4) In Defense of the Gospel, p. 212.

*Dr. Ernest D. Pickering (1928-2000) “was a fundamentalist pastor, author, college administrator, and mission board representative…. Pickering criticized the ecumenical neo-evangelism of Billy Graham in print as early as 1957, and his chief contribution to twentieth-century evangelical Christianity was as a Baptist theoretician of separatist fundamentalism.” I recommend three more works by Dr. Pickering that may be helpful to those who are concerned over modern day compromise with evangelicalism. They are:

Should Fundamentalists and Evangelicals Seek Closer Ties? (PDF downloadable)

Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church

Holding Hands With the Pope: The Current Evangelical Ecumenical Craze

Are Fundamentalists Legalists?

Previous Articles in this Series Include:
Al Mohler Signs The Manhattan Declaration: Is This a Clear Case for (Dave Doran’s) “Gospel-Driven Separation?”

Al Mohler Signs The Manhattan Declaration, Part 2: Was This a First Time Foray Toward Ecumenism?

Al Mohler Signs TMD, Part 3: Tolerance & Compromise Will, In Its Wake, Leave Casualties

(First published Dec. 2009, with revisions for this reproduction.)

October 24, 2010

Kevin Bauder, It Won’t Fly With Those of us Who Know…

History falls prey not only to revisionism; it also suffers at the hands of those who seek to slant its record to their own benefit. In Kevin Bauder’s current article1 at his In the Nick of Time blog, he relates Dr. Clearwaters’s supposed delay in finally breaking with the Northern Baptist Convention (NBC). Though left largely without explanation, Kevin doubtless relayed the story in order to illustrate the idea that even the great separatists differed as to the timing of separation. While different men arrived at different conclusions at different times, the point that must be emphasized is that all of the separatists ultimately separated.

Was Clearwaters’s separatist impetus flawed because he fought for the “furniture” of the NBC? No! He obviously understood that the legal wrangling was a precursor to his ultimate departure, with the furniture in tow. “Doc,” as he was called, was a separatist through and through. He was also, to his great credit a contender, a fighter. Perhaps his relish for a worthwhile fight delayed his separatism in relation to the NBC, but no one would argue that he held out any hope for the restoration of the convention. Doc fought the good fight, got the furniture, and departed a convinced separatist.

Dr. Bauder would do well to remember Dr. Clearwaters’s “round two” in the separatist battles. I had only been saved a year when I came across a copy of Dr. Clearwaters’s book, The Great Conservative Baptist Compromise.2 I remember reading that classic separatist work as a mere youngster and, though I didn’t understand all of the implications, I set the book down with the understanding that there are some things worth fighting for and that my pastor (Dr. Clearwaters) was a premier warrior of the faith. I’m sure Dr. Bauder will recall that, along with his crack about the furniture, Dr. Clearwaters delighted in saying of the Conservative Baptist Association, “I was the first to join it, and I was the first to leave it.” That being Doc’s personal separatist testimony, I hardly think anyone could fault his separatist impulses.

If Kevin desires to take Dr. Clearwaters’s venerable institution3 a different direction from the founder, he should do so without pretending to be guardian of the legacy. I knew Doc well enough to know that he would not be at all happy with the direction of Central Seminary under Bauder’s leading. It’s bad enough that his school is headed in a decidedly leftward direction.

Please, Dr. Bauder, don’t make it any worse by pretending some affinity with one of the greatest separatist Christians of the last century.

It has become crystal clear to discerning men that Central, Detroit, Lansdale, and Northland4 are making a decisive break from fundamentalism. Are these moves born out love for and loyalty to the Bible? Calvinism is the magnetic attraction, but I also see their new found emphasis on Calvinism as pragmatic. They are riding a theological wave in order to attract a new constituency and thus students. Is it possible these new moves stem, in part, from desperation for students and the operating funds they infuse into an educational institution? These schools have largely lost their constituency. The student numbers simply are not present within their shrinking circle of fundamentalism to continue to perpetuate their institutions. Could this be a reason why they have decided to appeal to a different crowd? When survival becomes the name of the game pragmatism reigns supreme. How do I know? Ask yourself: Would these institutions be making such dramatic changes if they were thriving? No! Their impending failure drives them into compromise as a means of survival. It’s just that simple.

Reacting to Bauder’s previous installment Don Johnson in Show Me the Silent Majority (see link below) wrote,
And I am astonished that credulous readers of Kevin Bauder seem to swallow this revisionism as if it were entirely accurate.”
Dr. Bauder, please don’t cast a shadow over the separatist stance of Dr. Clearwaters. You and I both know he was a man among men. He was a giant of the faith. And he was a premier loyalist to biblical separatism. Do as you like; but don’t use the Clearwaters name to justify it. It won’t fly with those of us who know, and I know.


Pastor Marc Monte
Faith Baptist Church, Avon

1) Now, About Those Differences, Part 19,
 Applying Separatist Principles

2) The Great Conservative Baptist Compromise, Dr. R. V. Clearwaters

3) Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Minneapolis, MN.

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

For related reading see the following articles:
Show Me the Silent Majority by Don Johnson. For example,
Kevin Bauder’s latest installment [Differences, Part 18] tells the history of separation from a point of view totally foreign to me…. And I am astonished that credulous readers of Kevin Bauder seem to swallow this revisionism as if it were entirely accurate…. Kevin seems to be leading us to a conclusion that the conservative evangelicals are good fellows, really, and people whom we should cooperate with. Their heritage isn’t the heritage of compromisers and betrayers of the gospel, it is the noble heritage of the moderate middle. The moderate middle cost the fundamentalists their denominations, schools, mission boards, etc., in the 1920s and 1930s. The moderate middle cost the Christian church most of its impact on the culture of our day through the new-evangelical compromise. What is the moderate middle going to cost us today?”
Muddying the Clearwaters, by Pastor Marc Monte.
Kevin’s charge that ‘the most forceful defenders of the gospel are no longer to be found within the Fundamentalist camp’ constitutes nothing short of slander. Perhaps Dr. Bauder does not know the fundamentalists I know. I can name scores of pastors who regularly and rigorously defend the gospel…. Dr. Clearwaters understood that the local church was charged with the propagation of the truth. He founded a seminary, not to undermine local church authority, but to bolster the prestige of pastors in their efforts of defending the faith.
A Letter From Dr. Richard V. Clearwaters to Kevin Bauder, by Evangelist Dwight Smith.
It is astounding to me that in many of your recent writings on a professedly fundamental, Baptist site, you seem to constantly extol the ‘virtues’ of evangelical Protestants while, at the same time, deriding the ‘vices’ of Fundamental Baptists…. I have observed an inordinate affection towards pseudo-intellectual teaching and a disdain for old-fashioned, confrontational, Bible preaching…. I am grieved when I see you lauding extreme Calvinists who are not even Baptists. Brother Bauder, they and their ilk are not responsible for founding the school called Central…. Dr. Bauder, all given appearances seem to indicate you are intentionally trying to lead those who follow your writings, the students of Central, and even Central itself away from the Testimony upon which it was founded and into the compromising orbit of protestant evangelicalism.”

October 19, 2010

Let Your “Yes” be “Kinda, Sorta?”

A short while ago Lou Martuneac reposted an email from a pastor Norm Aabye, who told of a time when Phil Johnson was required by Moody Press to rewrite some cover copy for a book of John MacArthur's because it had “erroneous implications.”1 The implication, according to Pastor Aabye, was that one’s eternal destiny seemed to depend on how one worshiped. This brought to mind an incident with the original version of MacArthur’s book Hard To Believe, where it was brought to Phil Johnson’s attention that a certain paragraph had erroneous implications on how one gains eternal life:

Salvation isn’t the result of an intellectual exercise. It comes from a life lived in obedience and service to Christ as revealed in the Scripture; it’s the fruit of actions, not intentions. There’s no room for passive spectators: words without actions are empty and futile...The life we live, not the words we speak, determines our eternal destiny.”2
Both Tim Challies and Gary Gilley had inquired about this paragraph.3 Challies did not receive a reply, but Gilley did. Gilley shared that reply with a reader who had asked a question about it. Challies posts Gilley’s reply to his readers:
The questions that you bring concerning Lordship salvation, especially as found in MacArthur’s latest book, Hard to Believe, are important ones. I challenged the same statements as you in my review of this book…I also contacted “Grace To You” editors concerning these statements, then recently had lunch with Phil Johnson who is in charge of editing MacArthur’s books. Phil went back and examined these statements and was astounded. Upon further research he says that these comments do not reflect MacArthur’s teaching and that they are nothing less than works-righteousness. It appears that there were some changes made in the text by the editors of the publishing house that were not sent to MacArthur for affirmation. Therefore the books went to press with statements that are quite disturbing. They plan to make changes if there is a second printing of the book.4
According to Johnson, the wording is not MacArthur’s, but an editor’s at the publishing house. There is no reason to doubt this is the case. The revision (2003) is an improvement, but it still has problems:
Salvation isn’t gained by reciting mere words. Saving faith transforms the heart, and that in turn transforms behavior. Faith’s fruit is seen in actions, not intentions. There’s no room for passive spectators: words without actions are empty and futile...The life we live, not the words we speak, reveals whether our faith is authentic.”5
A major improvement is that one is no longer told outright that one must live a certain way in order to gain salvation. For this we are grateful. Yet the back cover copy of this revised edition calls eternal life not a gift, but a reward that only comes from faithfully following Jesus:
The hard truth about Christianity is that the cost is high, but the rewards are priceless: abundant and eternal life that comes only from faithfully following Christ.”6 (Bold mine.)
It is troubling that the back cover copy of the revised version seems to support the teaching in the original version. (It would have been good if the back cover copy had been revised as well.) Furthermore, upon closer examination, the revised paragraph does not seem to be all that essentially different from the original. Here is the revised paragraph in its entirety:
Don’t believe anyone who says it’s easy to become a Christian. Salvation for sinners cost God His own Son; it cost God’s Son His life, and it’ll cost you the same thing. Salvation isn’t gained by reciting mere words. Saving faith transforms the heart, and that in turn transforms behavior. Faith’s fruit is seen in actions, not intentions. There’s no room for passive spectators: words without actions are empty and futile. Remember that what John saw in his vision of judgment was a Book of Life, not a Book of Words or a Book of Intellectual Musings. The life we live, not the words we speak, reveals whether our faith is authentic.”7
Notice that the Book of Life is compared to an imaginary “Book of Words” or “Book of Intellectual Musings.” Then the comparison is made between the life we live and the words we speak. This comparison seems to imply that the Book of Life is really a Book of How You Lived Your Life. Now, what happens if we put that with the third sentence in the paragraph, “Salvation isn’t gained by reciting mere words.”? How is it then gained? In the original we were told that salvation “comes from a life lived in obedience and service to Christ...” and that “it’s the fruit of actions...”-much like we are still told on the back cover of the revised edition where eternal life is a priceless reward that only comes from faithfully following Jesus. But in the revised version at this same point in the paragraph we are no longer told what salvation comes from, but rather what saving faith looks like.

Should we be satisfied with this revision? Not necessarily.
While we may appreciate that Phil Johnson has stated that this is an editorial error in the original and not the wording of Dr. MacArthur, it would be helpful if MacArthur would disavow the original wording personally.
We are not aware that he has done so. It would be a great relief if a further revision of this work returned to the original purpose of the paragraph- how one does in fact become a Christian- clearly and incontrovertibly stating that salvation is through faith in Christ’s blood. We should appreciate Dr. MacArthur’s concern for fruit in the life of the believer. Given his conviction concerning the importance of fruit we should not expect him to go without mentioning it. But it would be greatly comforting to see a clear delineation between the faith that saves and the fruit of that faith, and what it is that actually saves a person. It seems if this had been done in the first place there would have been no such editorial error as had taken place in the original as his words could not have been misunderstood to teach works righteousness.

Where could such a misunderstanding come from? In another place Dr. MacArthur has said this:
“We cannot be saved by works, but we have been saved to do good works. Therefore when God judges, He will look at a man’s works to determine if salvation has indeed taken place. An unbeliever’s works will reveal his unbelief. They will reveal the absence of God in his life because all his works will be unrighteous. Even when he tries to be righteous his works will turn out to be filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). The believer, however, by faith has been given the power of God to produce righteous works. His salvation will be clearly indicated by them. God looks at a person’s works. If He sees manifestations of righteousness, He knows that the person is regenerated. If He sees no such manifestation of righteousness, He knows that the person is unregenerate. Therefore God’s final judgment can be rendered on the basis of works.”8 (Bold mine.)
Though he insists that works cannot save us, Dr. MacArthur makes works the determining factor in God’s final judgment of a person. Dr. MacArthur sees no conflict in saying that we are not saved by works and saying that these works are the determining factor on which God will base his judgment but many others do. Yet it is not at all unreasonable to understand that salvation is based on works if God’s final judgment can be rendered on the basis of works, in spite of Dr. MacArthur’s insistence otherwise. It would certainly explain how such a grievous editorial error could be made.

There are three other ways this statement is problematic. First, and perhaps most peculiar, is that this statement is at odds with Dr. MacArthur’s position that God regenerates a person before said person has even believed, let alone borne fruit. But now, apparently God is... unaware of whom He has regenerated until He sees the fruit of regeneration? He needs to look at a man’s works to determine if salvation has taken place? The One who does the regenerating surely does not need proof of His work before He can be sure it has been done.

Second, the statement is at odds with the doctrine of God’s omniscience. MacArthur’s statement seems to imply (no doubt inadvertently) that the One who formed our inward parts in our mothers’ wombs; who saw our substance when we were yet unformed; whose book contains the days fashioned for us when there were yet none of them; who knows our thoughts from afar; and who beholds our words before they arrive on our tongue needs to see a manifestation of righteousness before He can know that we have been regenerated. A very peculiar teaching indeed for a man who affirms the omniscience of God. It appears MacArthur’s words have made him a victim of the law of unintended consequences.

Third, when he says that God will look at a man’s works to determine if salvation has indeed taken place, MacArthur forgets the account of the Passover. When God sent the judgment of the death of the first born, the angel was to look for the homes where the blood was applied to the door posts, not the place where good works were in evidence. The only “work” he was to look for was the application of the blood to the door of the home. He was to look not for works but for blood. That was the singular criteria for whether the first born would live or die. Today the only “work” God looks for to determine our eternal salvation is that we believe in Him whom He sent, personally appropriating His death on our behalf (John 6:29, 53-57; 1 Cor 5:7) If He sees the blood of His Son on the “door” of our hearts, He again passes over judging us.

The omniscient God who regenerates the believer by His own hand upon a sinner’s faith in the blood of Christ does not need to look on a man’s works to see if regeneration is present. WE need to look on such outward things because we cannot see inside a person, but the Lord looks on the heart. Surely the Lord, who formed us in the secret place, who knitted us together in our mothers’ wombs, who knows the measure of our days before a single one has come to pass, and who knows it altogether before a word is on our tongue, does not need to wait for the outward evidence of fruit/works to determine whether we have been regenerated. Salvation cannot be DETERMINED on both the appropriation of Christ’s finished cross work and whether or not there is any fruit in our lives. It must be one or the other (Romans 11:6). It is DETERMINED on the personal appropriation of the blood of Christ. It is PROVED by the outward fruit. God does not look to our works to determine if salvation has taken place. Faith in the blood of His Son is the determining factor, for it is through faith in His blood that we are justified (Rom 3:25, KJV.)

MacArthur confuses the establishment of salvation with the validation of it. He causes that which serves only as a validation to become the very basis on which judgment is rendered. MacArthur rightly says that we are not saved by works, but unto them. But then he puts works to a purpose to which God has not assigned them-the DETERMINATION of our eternal destiny.

Because of this confusing teaching on the place of works it is not hard to see how the original wording in Hard to Believe came to be, whether or not Dr. MacArthur wrote it. He may not have written those words exactly as they came out in print, but they are not a gross misrepresentation of his view when seen in this light, either. Consequently it is not hard to believe (no pun intended) that an editorial error of the sort we saw in the original could come to pass.

There is an important lesson here for Dr. MacArthur. It is the editor’s job to take unclear portions of text and reword them for clarity. It would seem that whatever Dr. MacArthur’s original work said, the editor felt it was not clear and adjusted it for clarity. The offensive sentences in the original were the outcome. Thus we see the teaching of Dr. MacArthur distilled and clarified through an editor’s eyes. In other words, the offensive text is what the editors understood Dr. MacArthur to be teaching. This is not the first time this has happened, as Phil Johnson was rebuked for the same error in his wording a number of years prior. Dr. MacArthur (and Phil Johnson) should take notice. This is how his teaching has appeared on more than one occasion to more than one audience of publishers. If he does not want to be (mis)taken as a preacher of works righteousness then he would do well to clarify and consistently present his position accordingly, lest someone else clarify it for him again in a way he does not like.


JanH

1. Aabye, Norm: Personal email to Lou Martuneac; Ominous Signs of Lordship’s Coming Storm

2. Zeller, George: John MacArthur's Position on Lordship Salvation; Does MacArthur Believe that Sinners are Saved by Grace Alone?

3. Challies, Tim: John MacArthur’s Hard to Believe and Lordship Salvation

4. ibid.

5. MacArthur, John: Hard to Believe (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2003) p. 93.

6. MacArthur: Hard to Believe (2003); Back Cover.

7. MacArthur: Hard to Believe (2003); p. 93.

8. MacArthur, John: Without Excuse: Principles of God's Judgment, part 3; IV Deeds

Site Publisher’s Addendum:
Jan noted, “Though he insists that works cannot save us, Dr. MacArthur makes works the determining factor in God’s final judgment of a person.” This theme has been repeated by other LS advocates, for example.
There is no doubt that Jesus saw a measure of real, lived-out obedience to the will of God as necessary for final salvation.” (John Piper, What Jesus Demands From the World, p. 160).

Endurance in faith is a condition for future salvation. Only those who endure in faith will be saved for eternity.” (R. C. Sproul, Grace Unknown, p. 198.)
For additional study see:
Does “Final Salvation” Serve as a Cover for Works-Salvation?

“Final Salvation” is Dependent on Christ’s Life

What is the Fault Line for Fracture in Fundamentalism?

October 15, 2010

IDOTG Review: “This Really Clears Things Up

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

The followng review of my book was written by Stephen Stark and submitted at Amazon. I have reproduced it here for your consideration.

I first encountered the author a few years ago via his blog while researching another matter but never read his book until the most recent revised edition. I recently began to engage Lordship Salvation proponents more actively and found that this book nailed and biblically explained virtually every verse and passage that Lordship proponents attempt to use to support their position. Just reading the introductions, seeing some of Lordship Salvation’s most outrageous claims laid bare, was convincing enough. Chapter-upon-chapter, in very readable style, this book methodically dissects Lordship Salvation’s claims and contrasts them to the clear claims of scripture. This book doesn't just claim Lordship is wrong, it powerfully uses scripture itself to show Lordship Salvation's man-made and exegetically hollow core.

The main point that stood out to me is the chapter on making a proper distinction between Salvation and Discipleship. Lordship Salvation would have us believe that “Salvation is a free gift that will necessarily cost you ‘everything’” is a “paradox” we should accept despite it’s obvious irrationality and lack of biblical support. This view doesn’t square with scripture however and is better resolved as not a paradox at all, but as simply seeing Salvation and Discipleship as the two very different things they are. Scripture couldn’t be more clear: Salvation itself is the free gift of God, but walking IN that salvation (Discipleship) is costly. There is no reason to accept Lordship's “paradox” when a better scriptural explanation is so easily and obviously at hand.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone -- whether they agree with Lordship Salvation or not, or even know what it is -- to at least understand the issue and to weigh this most important matter for themselves.

See- What to Expect, 4 for additional recommendations from men such as Dr. Robert Lightner, Dr. Ron Comfort and Ps. George Zeller.

See, John MacArthur’s Discipleship Gospel & Salvation and Discipleship by Dr. Rick Flanders for related study.

October 12, 2010

Perseverance Versus Preservation by Dr. Charlie Bing

The concept of The Perseverance of the Saints has been a part of various Christian theological systems from early Christianity. Simply stated, this teaching says that a true Christian will persevere in faith and good works to the end of life and so proves he or she is eternally saved. If a professed Christian does not persevere to the end of life, it proves that person was not a true Christian after all.

While perseverance emphasizes the Christian enduring through God’s power, preservation emphasizes the Christian secured by God’s promise. Preservation means that when God promises eternal life to believers in Jesus Christ, He will keep them secure with no possibility of ever losing their salvation.

Preservation of believers, not perseverance of the saints, is the view taught by God’s Word and is consistent with the gospel of salvation by grace.

The argument for perseverance

Perseverance is taught by differing theological systems. The Reformed Calvinist position (It is the P in their TULIP) argues that since man is totally unable to respond, individuals must be unconditionally elected and they alone receive the benefits of Christ’s atonement through God’s irresistible grace. The faith that must be given to man as divine enablement to believe also becomes the power to keep one in the faith to the end of life. At the other end of the theological spectrum, the Arminian system argues that a person is saved only as long as he perseveres.

In both systems, works are necessary to prove and validate one’s salvation. Without enduring good works, no one is finally saved. In both systems, assurance is temporary, that is, one can be sure of salvation only as long as he perseveres. Many in both systems admit that absolute assurance is impossible because no one can predict the future.

The arguments against perseverance

Perseverance depends on faith as a special power given to man, but the Scripture does not accommodate this thought at all. Faith is our response to God’s promise of eternal life. In Ephesians 2:8, the gift is not faith but salvation by grace (See GraceNotes No. 48).

In spite of Ephesians 2:9 that says we are saved “not by works,” perseverance makes works a necessary proof, and thus a condition of salvation. This is inconsistent with being saved by grace. Romans 4:4-5 makes the contrast clearly, “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness” (See also Rom. 11:6; Titus 3:5). There is only one condition for salvation by grace, and that is to believe (Rom. 3:22).

When a person believes, he is convinced of God’s promise to give eternal life, to justify, or redeem (There are a number of terms used for eternal salvation). Assurance can be absolute because God’s promise is absolute: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (John 5:24). Romans 4:16 makes it clear that our assurance of receiving God’s promise has to be through faith in God’s grace (not our performance). Abraham was credited with righteousness because he was “fully convinced that what [God] had promised, He was also able to perform” (Rom. 4:21).

If eternal salvation was dependent on our performance enduring to the end of life, then no one couldbe sure about salvation until life has ended. Yet the Bible has clear indications of genuine believers who did not endure in faith and works to the end of their lives (Acts 5:1-11; 1 Cor. 11:30; 1 John 5:16). In 2 Timothy 2:12-13 it is implied that it is possible for believers not to endure: “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” Endurance is rewarded with reigning, but denial of the Lord is met with denial of that reward. Even if we are faithless (from Greek apisteo , literally, “be without faith” or “disbelieve”) God will be faithful to His promise of making us alive with Him (verse 11).

The preferred term, preservation

Preservation is a term that speaks of our security of salvation. Unlike perseverance that emphasizes our performance, preservation emphasizes God’s promise to give us eternal life (John 3:16), God’s purpose to see us conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29), and God’s power to let nothing separate us from His love (Rom. 8:31-39). If God preserves us in our salvation, we can be absolutely sure we are saved forever, something that is impossible in perseverance.

Preservation does not negate the true biblical concept of perseverance, which understands that perseverance is not for salvation but for rewards, as seen above in 2 Timothy 2:11-13. In 1 Corinthians 9:27 Paul was expressing the possibility of losing not his salvation, but his reward, when he wrote: “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (from Greek adokimos, which never refers to hell or loss of salvation in the New Testament). A major theme of Hebrews is the importance of the Christian to endure, or persevere (Heb. 6:11-12; 10:36; 12:1).

The practical applications

When we separate perseverance from salvation by grace through faith, the New Testament has many rich applications for Christians:
1. We are exhorted to persevere in faithful living and service (1 Tim. 6:11; Heb. 10:36; 12:1; 2 Peter 1:6).

2. We are rewarded for persevering not with salvation, but with temporal and eternal blessings (Rom. 5:3-4; Col. 1:21-23; 2 Tim. 4:7-8; Heb. 11; James 1:12; 5:11; 2 Peter 1:8-11).

3. We can be absolutely sure of our salvation since it does not depend on our performance but on God who preserves us (Rom. 8:28-39; 1 John 5:11-13).

4. We are motivated to serve God and remain faithful by His forgiving grace and His unconditional love (Rom. 12:1; Titus 2:11-12).

5. We can counsel other believers on the basis of who they are (true Christians), not on the basis of whether they are saved or not.
Conclusion

Preservation, not perseverance, is the promise of the gospel. If this is misunderstood, the gospel of grace is nullified. Salvation is not based on our persevering performance, but on God’s preserving promise, purpose, and power.
________________________________________

GraceNotes is a concise quarterly Bible study on the important issues related to salvation by grace and living by grace. They are designed for downloading (pdf available) and copying so they can be used in ministry. No permission is required if they are distributed unedited at no charge. You can receive new GraceNotes by subscribing to our free quarterly GraceLife newsletter.

October 8, 2010

Northland Int’l University Presents Executive Pastor of Grace Community Church to Its Student Body

On Tuesday, October 5th Northland International University (NIU), formerly Northland Baptist Bible College, hosted Pastor Rick Holland, [former] executive pastor of John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church (GCC), and presented him in chapel to address its student body.

To verify I viewed NIU’s web site and called Northland. NIU’s site and a representative at NIU confirmed that Rick Holland spoke to the student body in chapel on Tuesday. From the Leadership page at the GCC website the following biography appears for Rick Holland.
In addition to his role as Executive Pastor, Rick serves as the college pastor at Grace Church. He is the director of the doctor of ministries program and a faculty associate in homiletics at The Master’s Seminary. Rick is also the founder and executive director of the *Resolved Conference. A native of Tennessee, he has earned degrees from the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga (B.S.), The Master’s Seminary (M.Div.), and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (D.Min.). (bold added)
Does the appearance of Rick Holland signal a new direction for NIU? You can draw your own conclusion and furthermore view Northland’s line up for modules in their Doctor of Ministry program. There you will find names such as Dr. Bruce Ware who teaches at Southern Seminary and contributed a chapter to a new book For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper.

When a man’s shoes are pointed west, he is headed west; pointed east, he is headed east. When you look at a man’s friends, fellowships and conferences he attends; whom a man opens his pulpit, chapel ministry or seminary to, whom he shares platforms with, it tells you something about him. It tells something about an institution. It tells you what he and the institution is now or what they soon will be.

Names and labels can give an indication of where a man comes from, his heritage.  Names and labels can also indicate what direction a man and/or his ministry is headed toward. When a man or a Bible college changes or sheds a label it may indicate what he/it is headed toward or what he/it is headed away from. Not much different than a church that once had “Baptist” in its name, but dropping it for “community” church. It tells you something.

When Northland adopted its new name, Northland International University, it was IMO a sign telling the Christian community that Northland would be moving in a new and different direction, which is just now coming into full view.


LM

Please continue to the second installment, NIU’s Convergence With Evangelicalism: What Does It Mean For Impressionable Students?

For an extended treatment of the changes that have been introduced at NIU please read, Is NIU “UnChanged?” Northland Baptist Bible College Position Statement on Contemporary Issues in Christianity

*“The new Calvinists constantly extol the Puritans, but they do not want to worship or live as they did. One of the vaunted new conferences is called Resolved, after Jonathan Edwards’ famous youthful Resolutions (seventy searching undertakings). But the culture of this conference would unquestionably have met with the outright condemnation of that great theologian.  Resolved is the brainchild of a member of Dr. John MacArthur’s pastoral staff [Rick Holland], gathering thousands of young people annually, and featuring the usual mix of Calvinism and extreme charismatic-style worship. Young people are encouraged to feel the very same sensational nervous impact of loud rhythmic music on the body that they would experience in a large, worldly pop concert, complete with replicated lighting and atmosphere. At the same time they reflect on predestination and election. Worldly culture provides the bodily, emotional feelings, into which Christian thoughts are infused and floated. Biblical sentiments are harnessed to carnal entertainment. (Pictures of this conference on their website betray the totally worldly, showbusiness atmosphere created by the organisers.)” The Merger of Calvinism With Worldliness by Dr. Peter Masters. (bold added, italics his)

October 7, 2010

Salvation and Discipleship by Dr. Rick Flanders Part 5- FINAL

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

We have arrived at the conclusion of this series by Dr. Rick Flanders. If you are new to this series you might begin with Part One, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

One of the most hotly debated issues in the Lordship Salvation (LS) controversy revolves around the doctrines of salvation and discipleship. Most LS advocates see these as one and the same. LS advocates blur the lines of distinction, which creates an evangelistic message that conditions the reception of eternal life on a lost man’s upfront commitment to what should be the results of a genuine conversion in discipleship.

Dr. Rick Flanders wrote Salvation and Discipleship, which addresses this vital issue in the Lordship Salvation controversy. The article first appeared at the Baptist College of Ministry website and with the author’s permission it is being reproduced here as a multi-part series. I am hopeful every guest will read this series with discernment and prayerfully consider the plain teaching of Scripture as Dr. Flanders presents it now in this fourth installment.


LET’S GET IT STRAIGHT
Confusion over the distinctions between salvation and discipleship is doing serious harm in many lives today. People who have a hard time being sure of their salvation usually are having trouble because of preaching they have heard. Some otherwise sound preachers mix up the requirements of discipleship with the requirement for salvation, and are in this way preaching false doctrine. The requirement for salvation is simple faith. The requirements for discipleship include self-denial, absolute surrender to Christ, and the forsaking of all. Preachers must preach discipleship, but not discipleship for salvation. Failure at discipleship does not prove that one is not saved. Salvation is about “whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). Discipleship is about “If any man serve me, let him follow me” (John 12:26). They go together, but they are not the same. To make them the same is to ruin the plan of salvation by inserting the requirement of works. Let us rightly divide the truth of God, and thereby enjoy all the blessings of the grace of God.


Dr. Rick Flanders has an itinerant preaching ministry for revival. He can be contacted at drrickflanders@gmail.com. Dr. Rick Flanders Revival Ministries

See- John MacArthur’s Discipleship Gospel and Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page for related reading.

October 6, 2010

Salvation and Discipleship by Dr. Rick Flanders, Part 4

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

We are continuing with the series by Dr. Rick Flanders. If you are new to this series you might begin with Part One, Part 2 and Part 3 before proceeding.

One of the most hotly debated issues in the Lordship Salvation (LS) controversy revolves around the doctrines of salvation and discipleship. Most LS advocates see these as one and the same. LS advocates blur the lines of distinction, which creates an evangelistic message that conditions the reception of eternal life on a lost man’s upfront commitment to what should be the results of a genuine conversion in discipleship.


Dr. Rick Flanders wrote Salvation and Discipleship, which addresses this vital issue in the Lordship Salvation controversy. The article first appeared at the Baptist College of Ministry website and with the author’s permission it is being reproduced here as a multi-part series. I am hopeful every guest will read this series with discernment and prayerfully consider the plain teaching of Scripture as Dr. Flanders presents it now in this fourth installment.


FAITH IS THE KEY BOTH TO ASSURANCE OF SALVATION AND TO SUCCESSFUL DISCIPLESHIP
The Bible teaches that we are saved by faith in Christ, and also that we are to live by faith in Christ. Faith makes all the difference both in having assurance that you are saved and in living the Christian life after you are saved. We see this clearly in the book of Galatians. Chapter 2, verse 16, says that “a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.” We are justified (made right in the sight of God) by faith in Christ (as opposed to earning God’s favor through our supposed obedience to God’s law). Then verse 19 begins a discussion about how to “live unto God,” and verse 20 says that this is done also “by the faith of the Son of God.” Chapter 3 begins by affirming that, just as we were saved by faith through the work of the Holy Spirit, so now we are “made perfect” by the Spirit through “the hearing of faith” (read verses 1-3 carefully). Although the Christian life is indeed about commitment to obeying Christ, and discipleship involves self-denial and sacrifice, they are never successfully lived out except by faith. Just as real assurance of salvation comes only by faith in Christ, victorious Christian living is experienced only by faith. Notice also these scriptures:
•“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.” (Colossians 2:6)

•“Whosoever is believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God…whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:1-5)
Colossians teaches that we walk in Christ the same way we received Him: by faith. I John says that we are born again by believing, and that we overcome the world also by faith. Whenever a Christian gets his eyes off Jesus and Calvary, and begins to look to himself for assurance of salvation, he loses what assurance he had! When we focus on how we feel, or how earnest we were when we came to Christ, or how much our lives have been changed, we have forgotten the basis of our assurance. We are not saved through anything we have done, or do, or feel. Real salvation is based on what Jesus did for us. When we focus on that, God gives us assurance grounded in faith.

Just as many fail to have blessed assurance because they have stopped seeking it by faith, many come short of victory in their Christian lives because they are seeking it through the efforts of their flesh. As we have seen, discipleship is about works, and it will be our works that will be rewarded if we succeed at discipleship, but nobody ever succeeds at Christian discipleship until they learn to live by faith. Perhaps the strongest passage about the cost of discipleship is Luke 14:25-35. In it we find the Lord Jesus calling upon would-be disciples to count the cost (verse 28) before committing. There are several other strong statements made in the New Testament by the Lord Jesus about being His disciple, and it would be good for us to be familiar with them, too.
•“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39)

•“Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.” (Mark 8:34-35; see also Matthew 16:24-25 and Luke 9:23-24)
Some of the same ideas are taught in Luke 14, and the language there is possibly even stronger.
•“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (verses 26 and 27)

•“Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, cannot be my disciple.” (verse 33)
The phrase “cannot be my disciple” troubles us, but its meaning is clarified as we are reminded of the stark difference between salvation and discipleship, even in this chapter. All of these words of warning were given to the “great multitudes” that came to Jesus and went with Him after He illustrated salvation with the parable of the Great Supper (see verses 15-26). In that parable the way to salvation was made extremely clear, and also very easy. The invitation to the feast of salvation is given to all, and it is simply, “Come, for all things are now ready.” God has done everything that must be done for a sinner to be saved. He has given His Son to die a Sacrifice to pay for our sins, and He has raised Him from the dead, the Victor over sin, death, and Hell. All the sinner must do is come and partake of so great a salvation! But as many responded that day to the offer of free salvation, Jesus turned and warned them of the cost of discipleship. Salvation costs us nothing because God Himself paid for it. However, discipleship costs us everything! In verse 26, we are told to give up people we love; in verse 27, we are told to give up our plans for the future; in verse 33, we are told to give up our possessions. If we don’t, we cannot be His disciples. What Jesus meant by these things is explained by the two parables of discipleship He told, one about building a tower, and the other about making war (read again verses 28 through 33).

In the illustration about building the tower, the Lord emphasizes how foolish it would be for a man to start building without knowing if he had enough materials or money to finish the project. People would mock such a man and say, “This man began to build, and was not able to finish.” In the illustration about making war, the Lord points out how foolish it would be for a king to go to battle against an army larger than his unless he was convinced that he could win anyway. In both cases, the man starting into a venture should first count the cost, and evaluate his chances of success.

These parables picture discipleship, the Christian life. The follower of Jesus is building a tower, and he is fighting a battle. Will he succeed? Notice that the question is about finishing successfully. Will he begin but not be able to finish? Will he go to war, but only to be defeated? When Jesus said, “he cannot be my disciple,” He meant, “a person who will not forsake people, plans, and possessions will not complete the task he has begun; he will not succeed as a disciple.” The fact is that these three (people we love more than Jesus, plans we have for our lives, possessions that mean so much to us) are the things that usually draw a believer off the path of discipleship. Jesus tells us to forsake them all in our minds before starting out. It is not that we should “hate” our family any more than we should literally “hate” our own lives, but that we must love the Lord Jesus so much more than the dearest of our earthly loved ones that our love for them looks like hate in comparison with our love for Him.

Now the question of our likelihood of success comes before us. Will we make a success of our Christian life? Do we have enough to finish the tower? Can we defeat the enemy that is mightier than we? Think about these questions. The right answer is the same for both: yes and no. In our own strength and ability, the answer is “No.” The twelve did not do very well at discipleship in their three years of following Jesus while He was with them on earth. We do not do very well at living lives surrendered to Christ when we try to live for Him by our own power and determination. However, the Lord never intended us to live the Christian life, to fulfill the demands of discipleship, in our own strength. He said, “Without me, ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). He called on those who came to Him for salvation to yoke up with Him for discipleship (Matthew 11:28-30). With His help, we can build the tower, and we can defeat the foe! When we live by faith, the answer is “Yes.”

Let us not forget the context of the words we have been examining in John 8. Jesus told those who had just believed on Him for salvation that if they would continue in His Word, they would be true disciples of His (verses 31 and 32). And He promised that the result of their continuing in His Word as His disciples would be that they would “know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The incident with the woman taken in adultery set the stage for the unfolding of this teaching about victory over sin in the life of a saved person (read again verses 1 through 12). Salvation from the condemnation of sin is the possession of every believer in Jesus Christ. Liberation from the power of sin is the experience of believers who commit to discipleship, and live it by faith. Actually, we are free from the bondage of sin the moment we believe on Christ for salvation (see this in verses 34 through 36), but it won't happen for us, so to speak, until we learn about it from the Word, and reckon it true by faith. This happens as we follow Jesus in discipleship (read again John 8:12 and 31-32).

No penitent sinner who has come to Christ need struggle over whether or not he is saved. No saved person need struggle in defeat without knowing victory over his sins. Jesus has provided deliverance from both the penalty and the power of sin, and we can have it by faith in Him.


The series continues tomorrow with Part Five the final installment.

Dr. Rick Flanders has an itinerant preaching ministry for revival. He can be contacted at drrickflanders@gmail.com. Dr. Rick Flanders Revival Ministries


See- John MacArthur’s Discipleship Gospel and Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page for related reading.

October 5, 2010

Salvation and Discipleship by Dr. Rick Flanders, Part 3

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

We are continuing with the series by Dr. Rick Flanders. If you are new to this series you might begin with Part One and then Part 2 for the groundwork.

One of the most hotly debated issues in the Lordship Salvation (LS) controversy revolves around the doctrines of salvation and discipleship. Most LS advocates see these as one and the same. LS advocates blur the lines of distinction, which creates an evangelistic message that conditions the reception of eternal life on a lost man’s upfront commitment to what should be the results of a genuine conversion in discipleship.

Dr. Rick Flanders wrote an article in 2007 titled, Salvation and Discipleship that addresses this vital issue in the Lordship Salvation controversy. The article first appeared at the Baptist College of Ministry website and with the author’s permission it is being reproduced here as a multi-part series. I am hopeful every guest will read this series with discernment and prayerfully consider the plain teaching of Scripture as Dr. Flanders presents it now in this third of five installments.


DISCIPLES OF JESUS OUGHT TO BECOME BELIEVERS IN JESUS
As we have seen in the book of John, disciples of Jesus are not necessarily believers in Him. In chapter 2, His disciples are recorded as coming to believe in Him, and in chapter 6 many of His disciples are said not to believe in Him. To be a disciple of Jesus is to be committed to follow Him. To believe in Him is to trust Him for one’s eternal salvation. There is clearly a difference between the two, but it is also clear in the Bible that discipleship and salvation are not disconnected. First of all, those who follow Jesus as Master and Teacher ought at some point to believe on Him as their Savior. If one is truly committed to follow the leading, the teaching, and the will of Jesus Christ, he will be brought to the place where he sees his need to believe on Him.

Today there are many who seek to follow Jesus, but have not yet trusted Him completely for their own salvation. We should not think that there are no real disciples of Christ among those who have joined sacramental churches or affiliated with monastic orders or entered the Christian ministry, while not understanding the glorious truth of justification by faith in Christ alone. Many sincere religionists are disciples but not believers. However Christian discipleship was planned to lead to saving faith.

The men whom Jesus chose to be His apostles found that if they would follow the teaching of their Master they must recognize that His central teaching had to do with Who He is. “I am,” He said again and again, “the Bread of Life” (John 6), “the Light of the World” (John 8), “the Good Shepherd” (John 10), “the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11). He did not say that He gave them the bread of life; He said he was that Bread which satisfies fully and forever. He did not say that He was a light in the world; rather He claimed to be the Light of the World. He said He was the Shepherd of the psalm, Whom David had identified as Jehovah Himself. He taught that He Himself is Eternal Life. When the unbelievers asked in John 8:25, “Who art thou?”, certainly His disciples must have asked themselves the same question. The answer, of course, is that Jesus said He is God and the only Way of salvation. Those who were really following Him must accept these claims, and trust Him for their own salvation. They will either do this or forsake their discipleship.

This is what happened with Judas. He followed Jesus until he realized that following Him would mean worshipping Him as God and believing in Him for salvation. Although he probably did call Him Lord (as many vainly do who have never been saved—remember Matthew 7:21) in the three years he followed Him, the Bible never records Judas calling Jesus “Lord.” He is recorded only calling Him, “Master” (as in Matthew 26:25 and 49), which means Teacher. Judas was a disciple, but he never came to believe on Jesus as Savior, and eventually he betrayed Him. Discipleship should lead to saving faith, and refusing to believe on Christ requires the abandonment of discipleship.

BELIEVERS OUGHT TO LIVE AS DISCIPLES OF JESUS
Even though the definitions of a believer in Jesus and a disciple of Jesus are very different, it does not follow that individuals have a legitimate choice about which one they will be. People who have salvation in Christ have a moral obligation to follow Christ in discipleship. One of the most important calls to discipleship in the Bible is Romans 12:1, which shows us this truth very clearly. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Notice that the call is addressed to believers (“brethren”). Saved people are called to discipleship in this verse. Notice further that the discipleship decision of dedication is voluntary even for believers (“I beseech you”). It is not automatic that a believer will follow discipleship. But then every saved person is morally obligated to give the Lord his total dedication (“by the mercies of God”).

All of Romans before chapter 12 is about the mercies of God by which we are saved. Now, because of them, we who have been saved are urged to live entirely for the One Who died for us. It is our “reasonable service.”

There is a sense in which a saved person (a believer) has a choice whether or not to live as a dedicated Christian (a disciple), and yet there is a sense in which he has no such choice. A Christian is morally obligated to follow Jesus all the way. Dr. John R. Rice used to preach about “What It Costs to Be a Good Christian.” This sermon was about discipleship. When a believer is not living for the One Who died for him, he is not a good Christian.

Living right is not an automatic result of being saved, although it is the duty of every saved person.

Salvation is the most important issue of life, but it is not the only issue. If it were, why would we need the epistles? Without questioning the genuineness of their salvation, Paul in his inspired epistles admonished believers to “Flee fornication” (1 Corinthians 6:18), “idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14), “the love of money” (1 Timothy 6:7-11), and “youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22). The writers of the New Testament constantly call on the saved to repent of their sins, to be good Christians, to behave as disciples. Failure to live the Christian life does not prove that a person is not a Christian. Salvation does not settle all the issues of the Christian life, and wrong choices concerning other issues do not prove that the right choice has not been made about salvation. Surrender to God, love for others, honesty, purity, self-denial, submission to authority, and prayer are all issues true believers are to handle as disciples. When a believer is told that failure in discipleship proves that he isn’t saved, and that he needs to get “really saved” so that he will start doing right, the implication is that salvation is the only issue. If you are saved you will do right, some seem to say, and if you won’t do right you must not be saved. Misleading counsel like this can cause believers to neglect dealing with a sin problem while it confuses them about the plan of salvation! Believers must face the issues of discipleship without reverting to the issue of salvation if it has already been settled by faith in Christ.

In the book of the Acts, people became members of the church when they were baptized as believers (see 2:41-44). As the church grew, the membership was called “the multitude of them that believed” (4:32, 5:14). But these believers were also called “disciples” (6:1, 6:7, 9:1, 9:26, 9:36-38, 11:26). The reason is that when a person believes on the Lord Jesus and affiliates with His church (which every believer is supposed to do), he is “signed up,” so to speak, to be a disciple of Jesus. Will he succeed in this discipleship? We do not know for sure, but we know that discipleship is the only right life for a believer in Jesus Christ. Therefore church-members are called disciples, learners committed to following Christ.


Please continue to Part 4

Dr. Rick Flanders has an itinerant preaching ministry for revival. He can be contacted at drrickflanders@gmail.com. Dr. Rick Flanders Revival Ministries

See- John MacArthur’s Discipleship Gospel and Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page for related reading.

October 4, 2010

Salvation and Discipleship by Dr. Rick Flanders, Part 2

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

We are continuing with the series by Dr. Rick Flanders. If you are new to this series you might begin with Part One for the groundwork.

One of the most hotly debated issues in the Lordship Salvation (LS) controversy revolves around the doctrines of salvation and discipleship. Most LS advocates see these as one and the same. LS advocates blur the lines of distinction, which creates an evangelistic message that conditions the reception of eternal life on a lost man’s upfront commitment to what should be the results of a genuine conversion in discipleship.

Dr. Rick Flanders wrote an article in 2007 titled, Salvation and Discipleship that addresses this vital issue in the Lordship Salvation controversy. The article first appeared at the Baptist College of Ministry website and with the author’s permission it is being reproduced here as a multi-part series. I am hopeful every guest will read this series with discernment and prayerfully consider the plain teaching of Scripture as Dr. Flanders presents it now in this second in the series.


THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SALVATION AND DISCIPLESHIP
Actually the distinctions between salvation and discipleship are significant:
1) Christ’s invitation to salvation is, “Come unto Me” (Matthew 11:28); His call to discipleship is, “Come after Me” (Matthew 16:24).

2) Salvation is about the cross of Christ (Matthew 16:21); discipleship is about your own cross (Matthew 16:22-24).

3) At salvation, you receive a gift, eternal life (John 4:10 and Romans 6:23); in discipleship, you give a gift, your body (Romans 12:1).

4) The salvation decision (putting faith in Christ for eternal life) must be made but once (John 5:24, 6:37-40, 10:27-28); the discipleship decision (commitment to obey Christ) must be made again and again (Luke 9:23).

5) Salvation is a sure thing (Romans 8:1, 8-11, 28-30, 33-39); discipleship is always in danger of failing (Luke 14:25-35).

6) Salvation is about grace (Ephesians 2:5-9); discipleship is about works (Revelation 22:12).

7) Eternal life is the result of salvation in Christ (John 3:16); eternal rewards are the result of successful discipleship (Matthew 16:27).
Salvation (eternal life in Christ) and discipleship (dedication to Christ) are simply not the same. When Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of God, He called people to follow Him as disciples (see Matthew 4:17-5:1). The term “disciple” means a learner. A disciple commits himself to his teacher, as an apprentice does, in order to learn how to do what the teacher does. As the term “student” is used of a learner in relation to his subject (as a “student of history”), the term “disciple” is used of a learner in relation to his teacher (as a “disciple of Socrates,” or of John the Baptist). Many answered the call of Jesus to discipleship (as we see in the first books of the New Testament), and some continued to be faithful to that commitment, although the majority failed to keep it. Successful disciples somewhere along the trail came to understand Who Jesus really was, and trusted Him for their salvation. Peter is an example of a disciple who, although he often failed in his discipleship commitment, eventually came to believe on Christ and was eternally saved. Judas Iscariot was a disciple who not only failed at discipleship (he “fell” from apostleship according to Acts 1:25) but also failed to believe on Christ and was eternally lost. The end of the chapter that records the desertion of so many of the Lord’s disciples brings relation between discipleship and believing very powerfully before us.
“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.” (John 6:66-71)

Please continue to Part 3 of the series.

Dr. Rick Flanders has an itinerant preaching ministry for revival. He can be contacted at drrickflanders@gmail.com. Dr. Rick Flanders Revival Ministries

October 1, 2010

Archive Series: Can the Mormon Jesus & Evangelical Jesus Be “One and the Same?”

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

This is an archival article I am reposting to remind all of the extreme reductionist heresy of one Antonio da Rosa that flows from the Zane Hodges’s (GES) inspired Crossless gospel.

In the Chafer thread at Unashamed of Grace, Kevl of On My Walk, Antonio da Rosa’s article in which he (Antonio) claims Dr. L. S. Chafer would support the GES “Crossless” gospel. Early in the thread Kevin wrote,
There are many Jesus’ There are many gods. There are many religions. There is only one Christ Jesus who died on a cross for my sins, was buried, and rose from the dead three days later. Just one. No problem of confusion. It’s not all that hard to understand, but it sure separates the difference between professing faith and having it.
Now, I want to post a comment made by Antonio about the Lord Jesus Christ. Rose (*Rose’s Reasonings) wrote an article titled, Is Christ’s Deity Essential? In the thread that followed (6/15/2007 @ 7:08 PM) Antonio wrote,
The Mormon Jesus and the Evangelical Jesus are one and the same.”
This is among the most egregious and dangerous statements to date coming from Antonio da Rosa or any advocate of the “Crossless” gospel. The Mormon Jesus is believed to be a spirit (or half) brother of the Devil. To equate the Mormon view of Jesus with the biblical Jesus is as abominable a heresy as can possibly be uttered about Him.

When Matthew (another blogger) wrote, …the Gospels refer to only one Jesus,” he is correct because there is no other like unto Him. And there is no doubt that the Gospels do not infer or suggest that the Mormon Jesus is, “one and the same.” Yet, Antonio believes they, are one and the same.” Can anyone document where Dr. Chafer would support da Rosa’s view of the biblical Jesus being no different than the Mormon Jesus?

Wasn’t it enough that Zane Hodges and the GES trampled the Lord’s deity out of His titles, “the Christ” and “Son of God?” (See The Christ Under Siege, Part 1 & Part 2) Apparently not, for now da Rosa has assaulted our Lord and Savior’s person and character by equating Him to Mormonism’s false Christ.

When I read statements like the above from Antonio I am reminded that we can never relax and never allow for this kind of heretical mind set to gain any new ground in the hearts and minds of believers or the lost.

Those who through false teaching cause divisions are to be marked. It is biblical to personally identify false teachers and point them out so that others may avoid them. In Romans 16:17 Paul uses the word “cause” (poieo), meaning produce, construct, form, or fashion in reference to those who are the authors of division through their false teaching.
For the sake of those whom he is leading astray or who might be led astray by him if not properly warned from the Scripture, a faithful minister of Christ must warn against that man even though he pretends to, and perhaps to an extent does, preach the gospel. At best, this is a situation in which a disobedient Christian is behaving like a false teacher. . . . But when some man is the prime instigator, promoter, and advocate of an unbiblical position, we must expose that man as we denounce the sin he is promoting.” (Dr. Mark Sidwell, The Dividing Line: Understanding and Applying Biblical Separation, p. 65.)
There can be no lingering doubt that Antonio da Rosa is a “prime instigator, promoter and advocate of an (increasingly) anti-biblical position” on the Gospel.

If we are going to live for and please God, we must obey His Word even on the difficult matter of separation from disobedient brethren. The Bible says,
And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us… And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother,” (2 Thessalonians 3:4-6; 14-15).
Antonio is one of the blogospheres most vocal advocates for the heretical “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel. He has refused instruction and correction. He is determined to see the Hodges’ GES view of the Gospel flourish and penetrate a wide circle of evangelical churches. The Bible mandates what every believer’s course of action must be, and that is to “withdraw” from him. We do not view him as a personal “enemy,” but a “brother” who has gone astray and we are to continue to “admonish him.”

Those of you who are “contending for the faith once delivered,” the “common salvation,” (Jude 3) don’t quit! The advocates of the “Crossless” gospel are determined to sow the seeds of their doctrinal errors far and wide. It would be tragic if even one more unsuspecting believer was swallowed up in this departure from the biblical Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


LM

For another example of da Rosa’s Crossless gospel inspired reductionist heresy read Believing the Gospel, “May Indeed Frustrate God’s Grace?”

*Rose’s Reasonings is a blog that is highly sympathetic to the Crossless gospel and its advocates, especially Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin and Antonio da Rosa.

Addendum: August 23, 2008
Antonio da Rosa recently made a visit to another discussion board. Predictably he tried to infuse the egregious errors of the GES/Hodges Crossless gospel into the threads. Fortunately, I was participating at this board and was able to expose his heretical views for all objective readers.

Antonio’s extremism was drawn out with his statement that the “Mormon Jesus and Evangelical Jesus are one and the same.” I dealt with this and I invited Rachel to address him because he used her name in his comments. This was one of Antonio’s remarks about his view of the Mormon Jesus,
The Mormons and the Evangelicals refer to the same New Testament Jesus. Yes, they have widely divergent conceptions of the Historical New Testament Jesus. All of this talk about ‘ontology’ is a red herring.”
Following is Rachel’s reply to that remark by da Rosa.
Did everyone catch that? Antonio dismisses discussion of Jesus’ very NATURE (ontology) with a hand-wave and considers it a “red herring”! How can Jesus’ nature be irrelevant to discussions of saving faith? Antonio’s remark is beyond unbiblical, and is in fact anti-biblical.

His example about identifying Lou falls way short, as all of his analogies have. A person’s occupation or hometown is not part of that person’s nature. Antonio is not ontologically different than Lou, even if he lives in a different state and has a different occupation. It’s true that someone could still receive a copy of the book no matter what they thought Lou did for a living. But that’s not comparing apples to apples.

Let’s say someone sends an email to Lou Martuneac the bookshelf, asking the bookshelf for a book. When asked to clarify, the person says, “you know, Lou, that bookshelf who has a blog at (correct blog address) and lives in (correct city).” Clearly the person is referring to the same “historical” Lou that the rest of us are, but the fact is that Lou is NOT a bookshelf, and no bookshelf can send someone a book. The person may be thinking of the correct Lou, but the person’s “misconceptions” about Lou are of an ontological nature, therefore he really does not have the correct Lou and will never get a book.

“Crossless” advocates, such as Antonio, like to say that what matters is who Jesus is, not who you believe Jesus is. They say that Jesus is God whether someone believes him to be or not. Of course this is true, but the issue is that God has conditioned eternal life upon what we believe about Jesus.

Antonio said, When one trusts into the Jesus Christ of Nazareth from the New Testament (the KJV or otherwise) for eternal life he becomes regenerate.”

Notice that Antonio finds Jesus’ hometown more important to be believed for eternal life than the very nature of Jesus, his deity! This is preposterous. I guess in Antonio’s theology, believing that Jesus hailed from Galilee is a more serious error than believing that Jesus is a created being.

Finally, notice that Antonio claims yet again that we’ve taken his comment out of context, yet spends his entire post defending the very thing we say his comment means. The problem is that Antonio believes it possible for a person (such as a Mormon) to be born again even while being ignorant of or actively denying the deity of Jesus. Antonio’s statement that Lou referenced earlier summarizes such a view. If Antonio disagrees with this view, let him say so now. Otherwise, the claims of “taking out of context” are simply false.

As I make it a general policy to not interact with Antonio, this will be my last comment here. If anyone doubts the veracity of what I’ve said, they should simply follow the link to Lou’s blog where we discussed this with Antonio (when he masqueraded as the Sock Puppet: fg me in that particular thread) and the links from there- Antonio’s own words bear these things out.


Rachel