December 29, 2018

And When Eight Days Were Accomplished...

And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the LORD, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

Luke 2:21-40

December 26, 2018

John 3:16 for Christmas

Vocals - Adam Boone
Production & Arrangement - Steve Serkosky 
Musical & Engineering Assistant - Adam Boone
Engineer (Trod Nossel Studios) - Justin Watson
Music Video Design & Production - John Zeller
Producer - DJP I.F.

December 24, 2018

The Advent of Jesus Christ

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Luke 2:1-20

December 18, 2018

The Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
Luke 1:26-38

Mary Visits Elizabeth
And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord….

And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.
Luke 1:39-46, 56

December 12, 2018

The Promise of the Messiah

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this,” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting,” (Micah 5:2).

October 29, 2018

Separation: Primary vs. Secondary by Dr. John Van Gelderen

Separation is a Bible doctrine. In fact, the word holiness means set apart. The emphasis in Scripture is being set apart to God, and this necessarily demands being set apart from anything that hinders your separation unto God. There is a “separation to that requires a “separation from,” but focusing on “separation from misses the point of being “separated unto.

Dr. John Van Gelderen

Generally, separation falls into two categories: ecclesiastical and personal. Ecclesiastical separation involves organizational cooperation in church and Christian endeavors while the personal element has to do with worldliness (separation from the world). Some matters of separation are absolutes based on the clarity of the written Word. I often liken these to the high ground of a plateau. Other matters are variables dependent on the leading of the Holy Spirit within the plateau of absolutes. This distinction is often overlooked and can easily lead to confusion, offences affecting fellow Christians, and a hindering of the cause of Christ.

In today’s Christian world, what is labeled primary separation is absolute, and secondary separation, I believe, is variable. Typically, both terms apply to ecclesiastical separation, but there is also the matter of what we might term secondary-issue separation.

Primary ecclesiastical separation is the biblical demand to refuse association and cooperation with unbelievers. When an individual or a group promotes “another gospel,” we are not to officially join hands with them and thereby condone the false message—even if our aim would be to leverage the association to gain a greater audience for hearing the true gospel. Rather, the Scripture says of such a one, “let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8-9). This is primary separation, a separation from unbelievers in religious cooperation, a biblical absolute which all believers must obey.

Beyond this, secondary separation engages in separation from those who do not apply primary separation.  Some take it a step further and separate from anyone who doesn’t separate from those who don’t apply primary separation. Others take it yet another step out. Usually, most people stop three or four steps removed from the primary separation issue. Studies reveal that if you go six steps out, you would have to separate from yourself! This indicates the fallacious logic of secondary separation, leaving it without biblical warrant in an absolute sense. Secondary separation is not black and white like primary separation.

There are times when the Spirit may lead you not to associate with a given situation, but it’s not an absolute for all or necessarily for all times. Beyond the primary level, lack of association must be motivated by obedience to the Spirit and not be a matter of fearing man lest you find yourself “kicked out of the synagogue.” When the Spirit leads in a given situation, just obey.

Personal separation from the world is vital for a healthy walk with God. What the Scripture makes absolute must be practiced. As the Spirit leads regarding variable applications within the plateau of absolutes, again, we must respond in obedience.

Then, there is the danger of secondary-issue separation. This involves taking a lesser issue of personal separation (something not unimportant but less important) and elevating it to the level of the fundamentals, thereby making it a matter of separation. Practice this and say “only” where God doesn’t and insist on it being universal for all and you will find the separation that follows unnecessarily splinters the cause of Christ. In the variables of application within the absolutes, each of us must follow the Holy Spirit’s individual leading, and allow others to do the same.

Former generations of Fundamentalists seem to have understood this far better than many today. They unified around the essentials of the faith—the fundamentals—and then fussed about everything else! Afterward, they ate together, fellowshipped, and found no room for angry separation. They were able to distinguish ideas that could be legitimately debated from those that the clarity of Scripture made absolute. Thus, when arguing and supporting respective sides in discussions, they didn’t take matters personally. They understood the issues were not personal and that the debated concepts would rise or fall on their own merits.

We can learn from them. We know from Scripture that primary separation must be embraced by all of God’s people. Beyond that, we must follow the Spirit’s leading—and afford others the opportunity to do the same.

Dr. John Van Gelderen
Blog article- May 30, 2018
Revival Focus

September 7, 2018

BJU’s Subtle Rejection of Ecclesiastical Separation: Is This Northland All Over Again?

Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary (DBTS), a ministry of Inter-City Baptist Church, will hosts its annual E3 Pastors Conference this October. The guest speakers include two Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) pastors Dr. Richard Caldwell and Dr. Rick Holland, host pastor Dr. David Doran and Bob Jones University (BJU) Executive Vice-President Dr. Sam Horn.

LtR: Doran...Dever, Bauder...
It is not particularly newsworthy that Dr. Dave Doran is sharing his platform with (SBC) preachers. For example in 2011 Dave Doran and Kevin Bauder participated with Dr. Mark Dever at the now defunct Calvary Baptist Seminary’s Advancing the Church conference. On the other hand, Dr. Sam Horn, BJU’s Dean of the School of Religion and the Seminary, sharing a platform with SBC preachers is something new.

Dr. Richard Caldwell is a man whose roots run deep in the SBC. There is, however, a connection between Sam Horn and SBC pastor Rick Holland. Sam Horn got his D.Min. (2007) from John MacArthur’s Master’s Seminary. In April 2010 Northland International University’s Matt Olson, Sam Horn, Les Ollila and Doug McLachlan traveled to the Grace Community Church (GCC) to meet with John MacArthur, Rick Holland and Phil Johnson. It is my understanding that Sam Horn orchestrated this meeting. After a day of discussions the Northland men came away finding no reason not to have fellowship with them. An invitation was extended to GCC’s then executive pastor, Rick Holland, to speak in Northlands chapel.1  This confirmed a new alliance for NIU with the so-called “conservative” evangelicals.

Who is Rick Holland? You can find a brief up-to-date biography at the DBTS site. Rick Holland was Executive Pastor to Dr. John MacArthur and served as the college pastor at Grace Church. He was the director of the doctor of ministries program and a faculty associate in homiletics at The Master’s Seminary. Rick was also the founder and executive director of the controversial Resolved Conference2. He has degrees from The Master’s Seminary (M.Div.), and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (D.Min.).

For BJU Sam Horns participation in the E3 Pastors Conference is much more than the University hosting the vocal group Cantus (a male ensemble partially comprised of practicing homosexuals) for an artist series, more than hosting new-evangelical Billy Kim and his Korean Childrens Choir, and more than an ambivalent dress-code change. This is BJUs leader of ministerial training sharing a platform, in joint ministry, with SBC pastors.

Dr. Sam Horn
Dr. Sam Horn operates in an official capacity as BJU’s Executive VP for Enrollment and Ministerial Advancement, Dean of the School of Religion and the Seminary. Sam Horn represents and speaks on behalf of Bob Jones University. If Dr. Horn were only the VP for Enrollment his appearance at DBTS might not be quite so problematic. Dr. Horn, however, has oversight of BJU’s Division of Bible and the Seminary. The Seminary and Bible faculty answer to him. Make no mistake, Dr. Horn’s appearance at the E3 Pastors Conference is a departure from BJU’s legacy as a separatist institution, which raises the stakes of compromise to an unprecedented level with serious implications for BJU’s School of Religion and the Seminary.

Dr. Horns appearance is about the future of BJUs Bible graduates, their theology and practice.  Pastors who have ministerial students at BJU now, or contemplating sending your Bible majors in the future, risk seeing them swept into the broader sphere of a so-called “conservative” evangelicalism.

One might reasonably ask in light of the upcoming joint ministerial fellowship of Sam Horn and Rick Holland at DBTS: How long will it be before BJU president Dr. Steve Pettit invites Rick Holland, Mark Dever, John Piper or Al Mohler4 to BJUs chapel pulpit?

BJU has embarked on a departure from ecclesiastical separation. Since the installation of Dr. Steve Pettit as president followed by Dr. Sam Horn as an executive vice president, BJU becomes increasingly unrecognizable to the purpose and philosophy upon which it was founded. Is this Northland all over again?5

Yours faithfully,


Update (March 2020) The worst fears for BJU have been realized. See-
This is NOT Your Fathers BJU

Has Hope for BJU to Reverse Course Been Dashed?

BJU Lurches Further Into Evangelicalism

Site Publisher Addendum: Is There a Second Definition for “Separation” in Academic Contexts? See the comment thread below for this related discussion.

1) NIU Presents Executive Pastor of GCC to its Student Body

2) The Merger of Calvinism with Worldliness by Dr. Peter Masters
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, show business atmosphere created by the organisers.)”
3) A Failure to Stay the Course
     Give particular attention to the addendum attached to this important article.

4) What Does Al Mohler and John Piper Share in Common?  Rick Warren!

5) Northland International University Closes: A Continuation of the Pattern of Demise

August 15, 2018

Extremism vs. Balance in Apparel

Dr. John Van Gelderen
As we approach the warm weather months of summer, modest apparel becomes an issue. Discussions of modesty, like many areas of life, would benefit from the safety of saying “only” or “all” where God has said such while avoiding the inherent danger of asserting “only” or “all” where God has not so spoken.

Isn’t it interesting that extremism comes from both ends of the spectrum—the irreligious and the religious? On the one extreme, you find gross immodesty in cultures, whether atheistic or animistic, that do not acknowledge God. This includes the godless European and American lack of apparel as well as the pagan indecency of primitive tribes. On the other extreme, you find overkill modesty in super-religious cultures with the most extreme example being that part of the Islamic world allowing only a woman’s eyes to be uncovered.

We know the immodest extreme is wrong because God slew animals to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve after they sinned. We do not know what animals God slew. It could have been sheep, but because the intention was covering, I don’t think it was squirrels! For women, the New Testament speaks of dressing with “shamefacedness,” a word which conveys having a sense of shame if you are not properly clothed (1 Tim. 2:9).

Conversely, we know the modesty overkill approach is also wrong. Several times, the Bible positively references a woman being fair or beautiful to look upon. This specific phrase indicates there was more to look upon than just the woman’s eyes.

Amazingly, the Bible does not spell out details of extent regarding apparel, but it does provide absolutes regarding the obvious (something that common sense also confirms). To ignore such would be compromise. It really is. It is dangerous to say anything goes when the Bible speaks of proper covering. This is saying “all” is okay where God doesn’t.

Beyond this, each is left to follow the Holy Spirit within the absolutes, and we must allow others to do the same as long as there is a genuine application of the obvious. Understanding that modesty may be conveyed through more than a single style, a demand that others follow the details of applications we’ve come to is saying “only” where God doesn’t.

Without the Spirit, we tend to at least lean toward the extremes. Some become unwise in the direction of immodesty. This worldliness likely hinders themselves and certainly affects those around them. Others become unwise in the direction of overkill in application, especially when making their position universal—a fit for any and all. This legalism doesn’t help, because it moves into the realm of putting man’s conclusions on the level of God’s Word. The overreach of such a position indicates a flesh-dependent position.

As believers we must apply biblical modesty in a biblically balanced fashion. Some maintain good balance, making appropriate applications within the plateau of God’s absolutes, and some, led by the Spirit to apply matters more strictly than others on that plateau, are very gracious to those who differ from them. However, some have an evident imbalance marked by “my way or the highway” thinking and a condescending to those who legitimately differ on non-absolute applications. Still others condescend toward even these very ones, noting that their supposed strict ways fall short of the strictest of standards. Such extremists espouse the belief, “We’re the only ones right.” But knowing that still others can maintain yet tighter controls and loftier standards, such debates can quickly turn humorous, ridiculous, and tedious. Where does it end? Typically, Baptists tend toward conservativism, but some dress more conservatively than others. The Mennonites, however, outdo most Baptists I know. Still, the Amish outdo the Mennonites while arguing varying degrees of strictness within their own ranks. And yet some Muslims outdo all these, with the strictest of them appearing to look down on the rest from the highest rung.

And thus in moving away from the low apparel standards of a worldly extreme, where do we find ourselves? Debating and defending standards in the power of the flesh may clothe one with extremism of the other kind, and extremism in the name of the real thing discredits the real thing. But remember this is true in both the direction of legalism and of worldliness. Let’s obey the Word and the Spirit and let others who have a heart for God do the same.

Dr. John Van Gelderen
Originally Published: May 9, 2018

Revival Focus