June 26, 2016


After twenty-six years of living in North Carolina, I have learned some of the lingo. Down here, “hepin” is a quick way to say “helping.” So let’s get “rat” to it – and no, I don’t mean that mousy kind of rat! We expect unregenerate crowds to be on the devil's side. Let’s face it - they are a majority. In our culture, the devil's children (John 8:44) are bent on worshiping the enemy of our souls. We do not expect Christians, particularly true believers, to help Satan, yet we often do just that.
Paul explains this basic tenet in Romans 6:12,13: Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
We don't have to help the devil, but we do so when we do advance his agenda. The member that we use to speed the work of the evil one is most often the tongue. (James 3:1-10) The tongue utters words, and words have meaning. Even names can serve the devil's purposes: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain. (Exodus 20:7)
When we use words that are misleading or patently untrue, we serve the enemy. Unfortunately, Christians today have bowed to “political correctness.” Our pagan society, along with the emerging and emergent church, persists in softening words that describe sin. The most heinous of sins is dressed up with fancy words that make wicked people feel good.
Let me begin with the most recent lie. There is no such thing as a "transgender." God settled this issue at creation. The genders are man and woman, and that is all there is; there is nothing more. Sinners may try to cover up their wicked world, but believers are plainly disobedient if we join that stampede.  "Transgender" is a lie from the pit of hell, and we should refuse to even use the word. If you do, you are “hepin” the devil. Wicked minds have invented this lie with “psycho-heresy” and humanistic psychology. The Bible is the final authority on anything it speaks to: …let God be true, but every man a liar…(Romans 3:4)  A person's response to this charge will tell you just how far that individual has moved from Scriptures that are authoritative and sufficient.
While I have dealt with this topic before, here it is again: there is no such thing as “same-sex marriage.” God settled this when He created marriage. It is one man, one woman, for one lifetime. Stop using the devil's vocabulary. Stop using that term. To do so is “hepin” the devil. If you think God is dead, or that the Bible is not clear, then this discussion is not for you.  “Same-sex marriage” is a lie, and even the denigrators know it is a lie.  Don’t let them drag you down into their pit of lies.
There is nothing at all gay about this horrible wickedness.  God has spoken clearly regarding this sin. I understand how those who use allegorical interpretation tend to treat Romans 1, but the clear, plain statement of the text is pointed.  Those who practice sodomy (1:26-27) are condemned: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.  Hang on to your hat; the plain, clear statement is that this is a capital crime. To support this evil in any way is to support a lie and is “hepin” the devil.
The term “homosexual” may be a true description, but it should never be used as an approval or recommendation. That kind of activity is better described by God as sodomy. That is why evil people hate that word so much and have bullied Christians into avoiding it. Those Christians are often so very fearful that they even bully those who use plain speech.
Pulpits used to be very clear about such activity; now some have willingly followed the “dumbing down” of sin. They went from that terminology to “shacking up” to “living together” to “relationship.”  By using these terms, they are “hepin” the devil and promoting a lie. Stop using words that are clearly lies and give support to the “god of this world.”  And then there is the topic of abortion where, sadly, silence reigns among most Christians.
So why do (professing) Christians today so often support sin and the devil with their vocabulary? Some appeal to love, but you neither love someone that you help with a lie nor should you feel comfortable about sin. Love doesn’t blind sinners to righteousness, knowing they are headed for hell. Some persist in believing that all sin is bad, and that is true; but God is clear about the fact that some sins are worthy of death. Using sin to protect sin is “hepin” the devil.  Others insist that plain talk (truth) will turn people away, and that is why hell and judgment have disappeared from their message. If that ploy doesn’t work, they then attack the messengers, the truth-tellers' character.
Remember this:  Holiness is God’s primary characteristic; truth rises from holiness, and love rises from truth. Telling lies is not true, righteous, or holy. Telling lies is “hepin” the devil, and it grieves the heart of God.
Shepherd's Staff is prepared by Clay Nuttall, D. Min.
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

June 17, 2016

PIECES OF REVIVAL by Dr. Rick Flanders

“And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.”
(Acts 8:1)

We learn a lot from the record of early Christian activity given to us in the Bible book named the Acts of the Apostles.  The divinely-inspired account of what the followers of Jesus did after He went back to heaven is organized around His parting words on the Mount of Olives.

“Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
(Acts 1:8)
As the story is told, we find the Holy Spirit coming upon the band of believers in chapter 2, and the evangelization of Jerusalem going forward from that chapter and continuing through chapter 7.  But the next phase of the plan given by Christ (witnessing in the rest of Judaea) has not been entered as we begin to read chapter 8.  The witnessing had not spread out from the city into “all Judea.”  But clearly God was (and is) serious about the Acts 1:8 program.  We see Him bringing severe persecution to the Jerusalem church so that the members were “scattered abroad” spreading the Gospel into Judaea and Samaria.  However the twelve apostles stayed in Jerusalem.  Chapter 8 records the progress of the Gospel in Samaria and in chapter 9 we see it moving into new parts of the province of Judaea.  Of course, in these chapters of Acts we are also reading about how the groundwork for the “uttermost part of the earth” phase of the plan was being laid with the conversions of the Ethiopian treasurer and of Saul the persecutor.  Oddly, as the Lord moved to cause His people to fulfill His plan, the apostles held back, and at least for a time, stayed in Jerusalem and stalled in the first stages of the program.  Somebody years ago noticed this phenomenon and said that the book could be titled “the inaction of the apostles”!  But the program went forward, as “they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:2).

Since those early days, one obstacle to the fulfilling of God’s plan for the evangelization of the world has been the tendency of His servants to pick and choose what parts of the plan to pursue, and what parts to neglect.  The plan is not unclear.  See it again in Acts 1:8, and follow how it was understood and implemented in the next chapters of the book of Acts.  We are to get the power to fulfill the daunting task of telling every person in the world the good news of salvation, not from our own energy and enthusiasm, or from well-devised and implemented human planning, but from the Spirit of God Who came to live in believers on the day of Pentecost.  In His power, we are thoroughly to evangelize our cities and our countries, forming churches with the converts in order to carry the Gospel to regions beyond.  Eventually the churches will send divinely-called individuals from their growing congregations to go to new places and spread the Gospel.  As believers are made by the preaching of the Gospel, and made into disciples by the work of the churches, and as churches are multiplied through the Acts 1:8 program, the message of Christ’s deliverance from man’s bondage to sin will get to every last person in the world!  In partnership with God, it can indeed be done, was accomplished in the first century, and will be fulfilled again just before the return of Christ to set up His Kingdom on earth.  The main reason it is not being done today is that God’s children, including many very serious ones, are adopting the program of the Lord in pieces, and not as a whole.

Revival, a term quite familiar to evangelical Christians, is the work of God to bring His people back to spiritual health.  God is willing to bring us back, to lift us up, to where we ought to be, when we are willing to humble ourselves and seek His face for the revival we need.  The goal, in a sense, is to get us back to the program of Acts 1:8.  In these desperate days, more and more earnest servants of the Lord are seeing more clearly what that program is, and how far we have come short of it.  But some of the best lights that shine among us in these dark days are still shining only on pieces of the plan, and partly for this reason, we are seeing very little of powerful revival in our Bible-believing churches.  Some say that “this” is the answer, and others are saying that “that” is the answer.  In a sense every one of these voices are right, but most of them are giving us only part of “the answer.”  We are being taught about revival in pieces, although it really doesn’t work in pieces, but must be implemented as a whole.

Looking at the book of Acts again, we can discern at least five visible elements in the fulfilling of the Acts 1:8 program.  Each of these is being emphasized by some of our preachers today:

1.       The need for the enduement of power from on high for the effective spread of the Gospel;

2.       The duty of Christians to evangelize the city, producing the growth of the church;

3.       The work of evangelism in widening circles of the surrounding areas, eventually covering the whole country and neighboring nations, and bringing about the establishment of new churches;

4.       The prosperity of the churches facilitating the progress of the Gospel to the ends of the earth, through the development and sending of missionaries to other parts; and always

5.       Prayer meetings to gain and sustain divine blessing in the churches in the work of evangelism.

Obviously there is not enough of any of these elements in the work of Christians today.  And strong voices are calling for a return to these factors in real New Testament religion.  Some are seeing the need for intensive prayer, including the practice of fasting and even spiritual warfare.  Some see powerful revival as the great need, with the focus on power for service.  Some see the need for revival with the focus on victory over sin and holy living.  Some see evangelism as the need, producing rapid church growth.  Some preach church-planting as the great need of the hour.  Some see missions and sending missionaries as the answer to the problems of the world.  Some say that the key to remedying the malaise of Christianity is purging the churches of worldliness and worldly methods and unscriptural associations.  Some see in prayer meetings the key to guiding and empowering the churches, and bringing them back to life.  And none of these revival-oriented preachers are wrong.  But some of them are giving us only pieces of the revival puzzle.

In a way, the situation in the fundamentalist world is very encouraging, since more than in the recent past, we have all the elements of real revival coming before us.  For years we rarely heard from the pulpit sermons on the invisible world, fasting and prayer, the power of the Holy Ghost, the New Testament church, hope for new awakenings, world-wide evangelization, how to conduct effective prayer meetings, church growth without compromise, or victory over the flesh and sin.  These are good days for hearing old revival themes proclaimed.  The problem is that too many of our leaders suffer from too narrow a vision.  To some, the whole thing is church-planting, but not revival prayer meetings.  To some, the great cause is the missionary cause, and not the old separation issue.  To some the main thing is evangelism, with little attention given to church-planting, Baptist distinctives, or the Holy Spirit.  To many the need of the day is knowing more about church growth, with less interest being given to church standards.  Each advocate can convince us for a while because on some level, each position is right, but each of them is looking at only a piece of the plan of God.

That plan (outlined by Jesus in Acts 1:8) includes turning without reservation to the Lord for the power of Spirit to fulfill the Great Commission.  Such a call to repentance will make us into bold witnesses of Jesus, with transformed lives and countenances to support our testimonies.  What an effect this will have on the world around us when we go out as an army of powerful witnesses for Christ!  The plan sends us into our cities to saturate the population with our message.  It forms us into churches dedicated to fulfill the rest of the plan.  Churches operating on the Acts 1:8 plan energize it through effective prayer meetings, and by doing battle with the enemy on their knees.  Believers revived in this way live happy and holy lives by the power of the cross and of the Spirit of Christ.  The movement will go forward across the map in projects to spread the Gospel and found new churches.  The book of Acts gives us the whole picture, and we need to keep the whole picture in mind.

Let the men that are teaching us to pray, keep a Biblical emphasis on evangelism.  Let the church-builders make sure that it is Jesus Who is building His church by the power of His Spirit.  Let those who inspire us to spread the Gospel also inspire us to exercise our faith to live in victory over sin and the world.  Let those who hold up the church as the center of God’s cause in the world, present it also as the means of getting the Gospel to the city, to the nation, and to the world.  Let missionary statesmen emphasize the connection of revival to missions.  Let all of God’s people seek His face for revival, and recognize that all the pieces of revival are essential to the whole.  Our need and our obligation at this time is to turn our hearts fully back to the God of the first Christians, and to settle for nothing less than the complete revival He intends to bring us!
Dr. Rick Flanders

June 7, 2016

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

There is an on-going debate over a certain segment of fundamentalists preaching and practicing a new paradigm shift for separation commonly known as “gospel-driven separation” or “gospel centric fellowship.” Today, the primary mantra has been “It’s all about the Gospel,” from which doctrinal aberrations and ecumenical compromise is tolerated or excused for the sake of fellowship around the gospel.  But, what sort of gospel message is the rallying point for this kind of compromised fellowship and cooperative ministry?

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

Following are samples of Lordship’s corruption of the Gospel for justification.
Let me say again unequivocally that Jesus’ summons to deny self and follow him was an invitation to salvation, not . . . a second step of faith following salvation.” (Dr. John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus: What is Authentic Faith? pp. 219.) 
That is the kind of response the Lord Jesus called for: wholehearted commitment. A desire for him at any cost. Unconditional surrender. A full exchange of self for the Savior.” (MacArthur, Ibid, p. 150.) 
If you want to receive this gift [salvation] it will cost you the total commitment of all that you are to the Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Ps. Steven Lawson, The Cost of Discipleship: It Will Cost You Everything.) 
Salvation is for those who are willing to forsake everything.” (MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus, p. 78.) 
This is what Jesus meant when He spoke of taking up one’s own cross to follow Him. And that is why he demanded that we count the cost carefully. He was calling for an exchange of all that we are for all that He is. He was demanding implicit obedience--unconditional surrender to His lordship.” (MacArthur, Hard to Believe, p. 6.)
Based on clear, unambiguous statements from advocates of LS thousands in Fundamentalism reject LS as a corrupt and false interpretation of the gospel.  Dr. Kevin Bauder published a serious misrepresentation of a known fact when he wrote that Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, “believe, preach and defend the [same] gospel.”2  Kevin Bauder has never edited or retracted that statement.
When the Lordship advocate speaks of “following Christ,” he is speaking of the gospel. When John MacArthur refers to “The Cost of Following Christ,” he really means “The Cost to Receive Christ.” MacArthur believes there is a “Real Cost of Salvation,” or more accurately a “Real Cost for Salvation.” He believes that the gospel demands a commitment of one’s life, and a promise of surrender to the lordship of Christ in an up-front “exchange” for the reception of salvation. (In Defense of the Gospel: Revised & Expanded Edition, p. 82.)

Dr. Ernest Pickering recognized that LS, as MacArthur defined it, was a departure from the biblical plan of salvation. Following are two excerpts from Dr. Pickering’s review of the first edition (1988) of John MacArthur’s  The Gospel According to Jesus.

MacArthur laments, ‘Contemporary Christendom too often accepts a shallow repentance that bears no fruit’ (p. 96).  This theme recurs over and over again in the book.  The recommended cure for this malady is to require more of the seeking sinner than the Bible requires. Instead of ‘merely’ believing on the finished work of Christ the inquiring soul must also be willing to have Christ as Lord over every area of his life.  It seems evident upon an examination of this thesis that those who espouse it are adding something to the gospel that is not in the Scriptures.  Charles Ryrie was certainly on target when he wrote, ‘The message of faith only and the message of faith plus commitment of life cannot both be the gospel…’” (Balancing the Christian Life, p. 70.)

One of the chief objections to the notion of ‘lordship salvation’ is that it adds to the gospel of grace. It requires something of the sinner which the Scriptures do not require. The message of salvation by grace proclaims to sinner that they may receive eternal life by faith alone whereas the message of ‘lordship salvation’ tells sinners they must be willing to give up whatever is in their life that is displeasing to God.”

Several months after an April 2010 personal meeting with Dr. MacArthur NIU president Dr. Matt Olson announced that with MacArthur they “agree on the most substantive issues of life and ministry.”3 Then Olson hosted MacArthur’s executive pastor Rick Holland in the NIU chapel pulpit to address impressionable young people.4 NIU would not have had Rick Holland in its pulpit, or validated John MacArthur’s doctrine and ministry if the administration had any serious reservations over Lordship Salvation. With Olson’s statement on MacArthur and putting Holland in the chapel pulpit NIU stamped its approval on and endorsed a false gospel, namely “Lordship Salvation.”

Do Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, “believe, preach and defend the [same] gospel?”  Men in fundamental circles who are converging with the evangelical advocates of Lordship Salvation are either tolerating an egregious error or have themselves embraced Lordship Salvation and are rallying around it in gospel-centric fellowship with like-minded evangelicals. Have Dave Doran, Kevin Bauder, Matt Olson, Tim Jordan, et. al., been willing to state in unvarnished terms whether or not they believe LS as John MacArthur, John Piper, Steve Lawson, et. al., “believe, preach and defend” it is the one true Gospel of Jesus Christ?

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

Originally published April 14, 2011- Updated October 28, 2012.

Related Reading:.
For a clear, concise example of the egregious error that is Lordship Salvation please read, Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page.  This article is a reproduction of an appendix entry by the same name that appears on pp. 284-286 of In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation.  In it I examine a statement by John MacArthur that appears in all three editions of The Gospel According to Jesus.  You will find that there is no more clear example of Lordship Salvation’s corruption of the simplicity that is Christ (2 Cor. 11:3).

As an addendum please see, Lordship Salvation Requirements by Pastor George Zeller

What is the Fault Line for Fracture in Fundamentalism?
How can there be unity within a fellowship when two polar opposite interpretations of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ are accepted as legitimate?”

1) Pastor Marc Monte, Preserving the Separatist Impulse

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

3) Dr. Matt Olson, Open Letter To Friends in Ministry, November 23, 2010.

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