May 31, 2011

Dr. Bob Jones, III: The Faith of the Gospel, Part 4

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

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

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,” (Phil. 1:27).
I hope you students and all university family know that I am preaching this series of messages out of a grandfatherly concern, out of a pastoral concern, for you. Because what you do with your lives after you graduate and leave this place is of immense importance….

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

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

I beg you to think about how the gospel is changed when it is conveyed in an unholy conveyance [that] God did not intend…
I encourage all guests to listen to the balance of this message (24 minutes) in its entirety. Dr. Bob Jones, III, The Faith of the Gospel, BJU Chapel, April 21, 2011 can be heard in its entirety at Sermon Audio.

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

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

May 24, 2011

Lordship Salvation by Rev. Michael McCubbins

The proponents of “Lordship Salvation” say that it is impossible to be saved without recognizing the Lordship of Christ. On the surface, this seems to have merit, but it does not take into account certain indisputable factors in the areas of doctrine, soteriology, appropriation and compromise.

The Doctrine
True Biblical salvation recognizes the absolute deity of Jesus Christ. Simply stated, there is no way that a man can be saved if he rejects that Jesus Christ is God.

However, those that speak of Lordship Salvation are not asking us to simply agree that Christ is God. Instead, Lordship Salvation emphasizes a total submission to the Lordship of Christ. This salvation is dependent upon making Christ “Lord of your life.” This teaching is in direct opposition to Biblical salvation. We affirm in our doctrinal statement that the Bible clearly teaches that salvation “is wholly a work of God, performed from beginning to end by Him.” Therefore, if salvation is “wholly a work of God,” which is appropriated by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, then Lordship Salvation is not the salvation of the Bible.

The Soteriology
Second, Lordship Salvation emphasizes the work of the unsaved man. The unsaved man is told to make Christ Lord over every area of his life instead of simply trusting in the finished work of Christ. Clearly, the Bible never puts the emphasis on the sinner but on the work of Christ for salvation.
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.”
The idea of Lordship salvation shifts the focus away from the work of Christ, who declared unequivocally, “It is finished” (John 19:30), and focuses instead on the work of man to finish his own salvation. This then would lead us to consider a couple of questions:

1. Is it ever appropriate to encourage an unsaved man to focus on his own commitment rather than the commitment of Christ who has promised to finish the good work that He has already paid for?

2. Why is the promise of the Bible “that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” never stated as “whosoever committeth” or “whosoever maketh Him Lord?”

The Bible (and the IBFNA doctrinal statement) puts the emphasis on the finished work of Christ not on the work of man.

Appropriation
Third, the Bible clearly states that salvation is the work of God alone and is appropriated by faith. This is expressed more than 600 times in the Bible.
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. (Romans 4:1-3)

For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (I Corinthians 1:21)
When I was dealing with a man who believed in “Lordship Salvation,” he suggested that I did not understand what the word “faith” really meant and referred to his dictionary in an attempt to define the word “faith” as an action or commitment. I suggested that we should instead use the Bible’s definition of faith which we find in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is....” His response to me was that “the Bible is not our authority on the meaning of words like ‘faith;’ the dictionary is our authority.” As a Baptist, the Bible is my authority in all matters of which it speaks, and in all matters to which it addresses itself. I will, and must reject the dictionary when it disagrees with the Bible. The Bible states that there is one way of salvation.
Galatians 1:6-10: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”
If there is only one way of salvation, then which one is it? Do we believe in salvation by faith in the finished work of Christ alone? Or, do we believe in salvation by commitment to the Lordship of Christ? Both cannot be equally true, since they are mutually exclusive.

The Issue of Compromise
Finally, we are faced with the uncomfortable fact that there is a growing trend to compromise Biblical truths to elicit favor from those who would adhere to “Lordship Salvation.” However, salvation is not a popularity contest. Paul stated “...do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10b). Tragically, those who believe in Lordship Salvation have taken a step that the Scriptures clearly declare to be the first, and most decisive, step towards general apostasy.
Lordship Salvation is not another expression of the Gospel; it is another gospel entirely.
Each and every group that has ever followed this gospel has endured the curse of God. We must not, and we cannot follow this trend of compromise. Paul’s statement to the Philippian church must also be our stand on the purity of the Gospel.
Philippians 1:6-7: Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.

THE REVIEW, February 2011, Volume 19, Number 3. Reprinted with permission from the Independent Baptist Fellowship of North America (IBFNA) which has been in existence for some 21 years. Many came out of the GARBC to form this Fellowship.

Related Reading:
Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page
“One of the most comprehensive invitations to salvation in all the epistles comes in James 4:7-10... The invitation in 4:7-10 is directed at those who are not saved...” (Dr. John MacArthur, TGATJ)
Salvation & Discipleship
“It is very important to understand the difference between believing on Christ for salvation and following Him in discipleship.”
John MacArthur's Discipleship Gospel

Is Lordship Salvation an “Exchange?”

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

May 19, 2011

Theological Downgradein Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism, Part Three

THEOLOGICAL PLURALISM

This is the third article in the series on the “theological downgrade” in evangelicalism and fundamentalism. The responses to the first two articles are adequate evidence that there is a swift move to the left and that many among us refuse to admit the depths and dangers of the drift.

Two facts must be faced in this discussion. First, there is value in having many things in one. The body, for instance, has many parts, but is one unit. My mother used to bake cakes from scratch. With uncanny precision, she could measure a pinch of this and a dash of that to make a perfect dessert, the many parts of which created one delicious product. If, however, she had added arsenic as one of the ingredients, that addition to pluralism would have been deadly. If a human body were to have two heads, that added part would serve to create what would be viewed as a monster.

The second fact is that all change and all pluralism are not equal. An important factor is that the ingredients must be common and compatible. This is why some European countries have found that pluralism is threatening to destroy their society if they don’t regulate the things that are being added to it. The best example of this problem can be seen in the addition of Islam to a society. This example is not about religious pluralism; it is about a force that hides military, governmental, and economic power behind religion. This particular addition is exactly what is happening in our own country. This kind of pluralism is destructive, like arsenic would be in a cake.

PLURALISM APPLIED

Evangelicalism and fundamentalism have added arsenic to their theological cakes as well, and have simply given this deadly part a new name. The point of this series has been to weed out the theological poison that has been added. In some cases, the admixture has included heresy, error, and philosophy, all supported by human reason. The sad thing about these additions is that so many of our own spend so much time defending this sort of error.

It is not wise for us to glibly toss around the word “heresy”. Some simply use the word to attack anyone who does not agree with them. Others are fearful to use the word when it is needed, and so spend far too much time protecting those who teach it. I use the word heresy at this point as meaning “an opinion or doctrine contrary to the clear teaching of God’s Word in those areas that deal with the central doctrines of Christianity”. While it is only for emphasis, I would say that the individual who holds to a heresy cannot be a true believer. For example, you cannot deny the virgin birth, or the deity of Christ, and still be a believer. Such a rejection is a denial of the faith, a belief that is vital to Christianity. Heresy would also include an attack on the existence, character, or attributes of God. To attack the omniscience, omnipresence, or omnipotence of God is heresy. I am not asking for your agreement; this is a statement based on the clear teaching of the Bible.

To add heresy to theological pluralism is eternally disastrous. The second problem in this discussion is theological “error”. The problem here is that error is most often mixed with some elements of truth. The wise interpreter will constantly search for the admixture of error in what he reads. There may be truth attached to error; remember that diamonds do come from dirt. Error needs a definition for the purpose of this discourse: it is “any small or large area where teaching is not in full agreement with the scripture that is carefully interpreted with the one biblical hermeneutic”.

THE DIFFICULTY WITH ERROR

The above definition is based on the fact that there are basically only two hermeneutics. The first is one that rises from scripture; that is, the normal, plain, consistent, and literal system. The other is generated from human reason with an allegorical base. This second system is the same one that is used in liberalism. The use of this human system is often blended with the biblical system, but it is actually the road to liberalism.

How bad is error? While it is true that error may have various levels of seriousness, all error is serious. The Bible doesn’t teach several views about the Second Coming; it teaches only one truth. The reason there are a half dozen views about Christ’s coming is that all but one of these are derived from an erroneous hermeneutic. The same is true of the doctrine of salvation - there is only one correct view, and it rises from the one biblical hermeneutic.

THE HEART OF THE ISSUE

Why are we asked to accept error even if it is not heresy? The power brokers demand that we give respect to error by the ton. If the biblicist takes a stand, saying there is only one right interpretation of a text, he is held up to ridicule and is called arrogant and intolerant. You recognize, of course, that such arguments are liberal tricks to silence the voices of those whom they see as lesser beings. On the other hand, those who give respectability to error are really supporting it; if you are not opposed to error, then you clearly are supporting it. I remind you that I do not support rudeness and character assassination, but an attack on theological error is not an attack on the character of those who hold error. Great minds talk about ideas; small minds talk about people. This maxim would include those who do not have the ability to separate ideas, doctrine, and error from the personalities of those who hold such errors. In the end, the real issue is about those who practice theological pluralism and are comfortable giving credibility to error by adding it to truth.


Part One From the Series, Platform Sharing & Identification

Part Two from the Series

A communication service of Shepherd's Basic Care. For those committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible. Shepherd’s Basic Care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries, and churches. Write for information using the e-mail address, Shepherdstaff2@juno.com

Shepherd's Staff is prepared by Clay Nuttall, D.Min

May 16, 2011

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

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


LM

Please continue to, The Faith of the Gospel, Part 4

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

Related Reading:
Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page

The Fault Line for Fracture in Fundamentalism

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

May 11, 2011

Dr. Rick Flanders: Isn’t Repentance a Decision?

Dr. Rick Flanders
As a segment of the Christian fundamentalist movement veers farther and farther away from the movement’s historical roots, more and more often they are complaining about the “revivalism” and “decisionism” they see in fundamentalist ministries and churches. While gravitating to the theology and ministry-style of those they call “conservative evangelicals,” they are offended by revivalistic fundamentalists whose work, they say, is marred by what they call “decisionism.” Despite the fact that these traits have characterized most of the fundamentalists that there ever were, these spokesmen insinuate that they represent a perversion of fundamentalism. An official statement issued by the Central Baptist Seminary on “Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism” says that one “version of Fundamentalism that we repudiate is revivalistic and decisionistic.” The statement then stereotypes this kind of fundamentalist as rejecting expository preaching “in favor of manipulative exhortation,” as basing spirituality “upon crisis decisions rather than steady, incremental growth,” as embracing worship that “is shallow or non-existent,” as espousing a leadership philosophy that is “highly authoritarian,” and as holding a theology that “is vitriolic it its opposition to Calvinism” (although the seminary denies being Calvinistic). The statement admits that “this version of Fundamentalism has always been a significant aspect of the movement,” but the seminary, it says, regards it “as a threat to biblical Christianity.” These are strong words to use against what has been characteristic of most of the people in one’s own religious movement. And it raises some important questions for all fundamentalists.

Can you practice “revivalism” and “decisionism” and still be a good fundamentalist? Is revivalism a bad thing? What is decisionism anyway, and how is it unscriptural and harmful? The truth is that there has always been a legitimate revivalism which has been a good quality in the fundamentalists, and that “decisionism” is just a bad word for a good thing!

At its core, fundamentalism is the concept that Christianity is to be defined by certain fundamental doctrines. Christianity, the fundamentalist asserts, is not just a spirit, or a way of life, or appreciation for the life and words of Jesus. Christianity is defined by its Gospel, which involves and includes several essential teachings. The Gospel of Christ (according to First Corinthians 15:1-4) affirms the authority of the scriptures, the deity of Christ, His atoning sacrifice for our sins, His bodily resurrection from the dead, and salvation by faith in Him alone. These are the fundamental (essential) Gospel truths. The fundamentalist will say that churchmen who deny any of the fundamentals (as religious liberals, by definition, do) are not Christians, because something that is fundamental to a thing is essential to it. And without all of the fundamentals that thing is not what it is said to be. Without all of its fundamentals (such as pitching, hitting, running, catching, bases, etc.), baseball is not baseball. It may be some kind of game, but the fundamentals of baseball make it baseball. The fundamentalists recognize that without all of its fundamental doctrines, Christianity would not be real Christianity. This makes the fundamentalist a separatist. He is an evangelical (which means he believes in the doctrines of the Gospel) but he is the kind who insists that the fundamentals are fundamental to the Gospel. Some of the “new” evangelicals will allow that a liberal, who denies some of the fundamental doctrines, can be considered a Christian. They are evangelicals, but not fundamentalists.
The fundamentalists are taking the scriptural approach to dealing with false prophets in the church (Titus 3:10, Jude 3-4).
Fundamentalism is not revivalism, but the historic fact is that most of those who made up the original fundamentalist movement of a hundred years ago believed in revivalism. They were influenced profoundly by the revivals and revivalists of the nineteenth century. Revivalism is the concept that there is something Christian people can do to promote spiritual revival among them. Revival by definition is a work of God, but revivalists understand that He has promised to revive Christians who humble themselves and seek His face (James 4:1-10). They believe that repentance and prayer carry the promise of revival. This is revivalism, and most of the early fundamentalists believed in it. And revivalism includes what critics call “decisionism.”

Most of what has been written critically of the issue called “decisionism” amounts to arguments against the use of the “public invitation” after preaching. Some say that it is wrong to put too much emphasis on the importance of making a decision for Christ or for God’s side of an issue. Harsher critics will claim that decisionism is a form of sacramentalism, the idea that you must do some physical act to gain the forgiveness of sins. Minimizing the importance of making a decision for salvation fits well with the way Calvinists explain the salvation of a sinner, as a choice and an act of God and not of the sinner. Regeneration happens, they insist, based on no decision of the sinner, but rather as a sovereign act of God Who has decided to save that particular sinner.

Not all detractors of decisionism are Calvinists, however. Much of the current complaining about the public invitation centers on how it is done. Evangelists are accused of using psychological methods to manipulate people to come forward at the prescribed time. But the emphasis of the criticism is still on the wrong in calling for decisions. Influential voices are making it sound as if the altar calls of revivalists over the years have been not only misused but also essentially wrong.

Yet it is clearly scriptural to call sinners to repentance, isn’t it? And repentance is a decision, isn’t it?
Both the Old Testament Hebrew word for repentance and the New Testament Greek word give the idea of changing the mind. To repent in the Biblical sense is to change one’s mind, which, of course is a decision! It is a decision which can make a big difference.

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
(Mark 1:15)

“They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
(Luke 5:32)

“Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
(Luke 13:3)

“Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth.”
(Luke 15:7)

From the words of Jesus Himself we learn that repentance is a decision that can turn an unbeliever into a believer, heal the sinner of his spiritual sickness, rescue a person from perishing, and cause rejoicing in Heaven!

Revivalists in the Bible (and there were many of them) would often call publicly for a decision of repentance from sin, and often with some outward indication that individuals had repented. After destroying the golden calf, Moses called the congregation of Israel to repentance, who had all been involved in worshipping the idol, using these famous words: “Who is on the LORD’s side? let him come unto me” (Exodus 32:26). This was certainly a public invitation for men to indicate their immediate repentance with an outward act. Elijah on Mount Carmel said to the Israelites, “How long halt ye between two opinions?,” calling for them to make an immediate decision to forsake Baal and follow the Lord only (First Kings 18:21). After experiencing proof that Jehovah is the one true God, the people made their decision and “fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God” (First Kings 18:39). Simon Peter called on crowds in Jerusalem to repent and believe in Jesus (Acts 2:38-41 and also Acts 3:19). On one of those occasions, the Bible records that, in response to Peter’s call to repentance, five thousand Jewish men “believed” (Acts 4:4). Repentance and saving faith are not two distinct steps to eternal life. They are two facets of one step. Sinners change their minds (repentance) and decide to believe on Christ for salvation from sin (faith). Saving faith is a decision! In Acts 3 and 4, they decided (the repentance enjoined in 3:19) to believe (the faith that saved them in 4:4). They must have made their decision public, since others knew how many of them had made it! Perhaps they were baptized like the many at Pentecost (in chapter 2) who repented. The first practitioner of baptism (John) administered the rite as “the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4). The word translated “for” in the phrase “for the remission of sins” means “unto” and has the idea of “referring to.” Mark 1:5 says that by being baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist, they were “confessing their sins.” Their baptism was a public confession that they had repented of their sins! Originally, this is just what baptism was: a public response to a preacher’s call to repentance, indicating that an individual was repenting. Public responses to calls to repent were not rare in Bible days. Do you think that in response to our Lord’s tender invitation at the end of His hell-fire sermon in Matthew 11 (“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”—verse 28) some, perhaps many, actually and physically came to Him? It is certainly likely that they did. What about His many calls to discipleship, with the words, “Follow me”? Did men, like Matthew (in Matthew 9:9), actually get up and follow him in response to this call? It looks as if many moved in response to the invitation, “Come,” in His parable of the great supper in Luke 14:16-24, according to the response of Jesus to those who responded (recorded in verses 25 to the end of the chapter). Decisions made a difference in the lives of people in the Bible, and the decision of repentance was often the proper response to preaching. And it was not uncommon for an outward indication to be made of the inward decision to repent.

Critics of fundamentalist revivalism say incorrectly that the public invitation was invented by Finney. Both Baptist and Methodist preachers were giving altar calls for some time before Finney’s famous “anxious seat” in Rochester, New York. The concept of calling for immediate repentance after a Gospel sermon dates from the apostles! There certainly is nothing wrong with it. Any reasonable and spiritual Christian would object to the use of manipulative methods in the giving of an invitation, but the idea of giving a public invitation is not unbiblical. There are certainly ways to do it in a straightforward and honest manner. Not all preachers who end a service by extending an invitation are charlatans and crooks!

It is scriptural to say that making a decision (repenting) is often an appropriate response to the presentation of the truth. It is taught in the Bible that repentance can be not only appropriate but also life-changing. Sinners must repent to be saved (Luke 13:3). Believers must repent sometimes in order to avoid suffering divine judgment (Acts 8:22). Churches must repent in order to be revived and restored to the place of favor with Christ (Revelation 2:5; 3:19). And repentance is a decision.

It is true that there have always been fundamentalists who are offended by the invitation, but it is also true that they have never been the majority. Revivalism with its emphasis on making decisions has always been part of ministry for most fundamentalists, and to combat it by implying that it is an illegitimate perversion of fundamentalism is to distort the facts. The kind of fundamentalism that some are now in the process of creating by merging it with the right wing of neo-evangelicalism and extracting from it any remnant of soul-saving zeal is not the kind of fundamentalism that has held up the torch of revival over the years. It is an indication of the nature of the trends among certain younger pastors that they are rallying around a banner that is openly anti-revival and critical of earnest evangelism. Wise men will keep their noses in the Bible and not be misled or distracted by those who say that revivalistic fundamentalists have always been wrong. They have been right, and their focus on fulfilling the great commission here and around the world is vital for the fundamentalist movement of the future.


Dr. Rick Flanders, Evangelist
Revival Ministries

Related Reading:
Can an Unregenerate Person Believe the Gospel?

The Danger of Teaching that Regeneration Precedes Faith

What is Biblical Repentance?

How Does the Lordship Salvation Advocate Define Repentance?

May 8, 2011

Dr. Matt Olson UnInvited from BJU Baccalaureate

In recent weeks several prominent persons, including members of the Bob Jones University (BJU) board, have individually confirmed that Dr. Matt Olson, BJU graduate and president of Northland International University (NIU), was canceled as the 2011 BJU baccalaureate speaker.

This decision sets BJU apart from those men and institutions that are drifting sharply away from the timeless moorings of authentic biblical separation. While not everyone endorses all things BJU, fundamentalists will appreciate and ought to applaud this difficult decision.


LM

Suggested Reading:
Is NIU “Unchanged?” NIU Students RAP to Jesus Loves Me and It's Blasphemy!

May 3, 2011

“A Mood of ‘Broadmindedness’.” The NEW “New” Evangelicalism

I, with others, was involved in the original conflicts over ecumenical evangelism. Some of us raised the first cries against the principles of the “new evangelicalism.” We have labored for years to defend our young people, our churches and our educational institutions against the watered-down theology and middle-of-the-road philosophy held by many of those with whom you would have us unite. The arguments we hear now we recall very vividly hearing thirty years ago from those who wanted us to move beyond the “fundamentalist-modernist controversy” to a more “centrist” position. The new evangelical movement began years ago with what one astute observer aptly called a “mood.” Moods are difficult to define sometimes, but they nonetheless can be real and potent forces. Theirs was a mood of toleration, an acceptance of widely varying theological concepts - a mood of “broadmindedness.” We fear such moods since we have seen, within our lifetime, their final outcome - a full-blown movement steeped in compromise. We believe we sense such a mood abroad today among those who, in all sincerity no doubt, think we should broaden our bases and reshape our image.1
Toleration, an acceptance of widely varying theological concepts - a mood of broadmindedness,” is the present day “mood” of certain high profile men in fundamental Baptist circles and the lesser-known, many of whom you will find at Sharper Iron.2 The admonition from Dr. Ernest Pickering is as needed and applicable today as it was then (1985). Only the names of who should heed his ministry of warning have changed. Self-identified separatists are becoming increasingly New Evangelical in “mood” as they cast off what some have labeled the “ugliness” of separatism.

The Rev. Billy Graham justified his compromise based on the exaltation of the Gospel at the expense of obedience to “picky” things. Today, the recurring theme from men who are reaching out to and ministering in cooperation with evangelicals takes these forms: We are “separated unto the Gospel,” we practice “Gospel-driven separation.”3

In recent months through the writing and/or actions of Drs. Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, Matt Olson, Les Ollila, Tim Jordan, et. al., we recognize a paradigm shift from separatism defined by the “whole counsel of God.” A shift away from biblical separation for the sake a pure church as Dr. Ernest Pickering had defined it in his classic Biblical Separation. The new “Gospel-centric” fellowship allows for a great deal of “wiggle room,” for the tolerance of an assortment of aberrant theology and practices whereas the “whole counsel of God” does not.

Since it is very difficult to oppose the Gospel, these men are moving confidently toward compromise—possibly under the impression that only the most discerning will notice. If my only concern, or even my main concern, is the Gospel, and virtually everything else is secondary, I have staked out great latitude in my choices in every area—both in personal and ecclesiastical separation. If, however, I make the entire Bible my “rule of faith and practice,” I find myself far more confined.
With recent events in mind it is clear now that self-described biblical separatists will not be confined by the whole counsel of God.
Rather than the evangelistic meetings of Billy Graham the new form of latitude for converging with non-separatist evangelicals is conducted through meetings of theological/academic concerns. These initial meetings will yield new and greater forms of compromise. This is the pathway of the NEW “New” Evangelicalism!
Theirs was a mood of toleration, an acceptance of widely varying theological concepts - a mood of ‘broadmindedness.’ We fear such moods since we have seen, within our lifetime, their final outcome - a full-blown movement steeped in compromise.”
And so it is again, today! Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, Matt Olson, Tim Jordan are attempting to influence this and the next generation with a “mood of toleration and broadmindedness” for the sake of unity with evangelicals. In forging strategic new alliances with evangelicals they must and have tolerated doctrinal aberrations, cultural relativism, worldliness in ministry and ecumenical compromises of the evangelicals. Any legitimate ministry of warning must, furthermore, be muted or killed off for the sake of growing this fledgling new unity.

We are witnessing a Gospel-centric mood, a “movement steeped in compromise” through a watering-down of, a nullification, an abandonment of the God-given mandates for separatism.


LM

FOOTNOTES:
1) Dr. Ernest Pickering: Should Fundamentalists & Evangelicals Unite? An evaluation of Edward Dobson’s book, In Search of Unity (emphasis added). Kevin Mungons, as well as the leadership at Sharper Iron (SI), will have us believe that the principles and practice of separatism coming from Drs. Bauder, Doran, Olson, Jordan is no different than that of Dr. Ernest Pickering.

2) SI has never posted a main page article that was positive and uplifting toward Fundamentalism. SI’s leadership (admins/moderators/publisher), most of the few active participants and in its blogroll are heavily slanted toward and biased on behalf the star personalities of the so-called “conservative” evangelicalism and their conferences. See, I Had to Ask: How Does This Sharper Me?


3) Dr. Dave Doran: Starting at the Right Spot, Nov. 23, 2009. See also, Is This a Clear Case for “Gospel-Driven Separation?”

Related Reading:
Dr. Ernest Pickering, “The Separatist Cause is Not Advanced by Featuring Non-Separatists.”

Is There a Second Definition for “Separation in Academic Contexts?”
Do the Scriptures allow for two sets of standards for the definition and application of biblical separatism? Is there one standard for the God ordained mandates for believers in a local church and a different, moderated, redefined standard for believers in a ministry under the auspices of a local church? We address this new form of separatism presented in an article by Pastor Dave Doran.
Is Northland International University “Unchanged”?

Preserving the Separatist Impulse