April 18, 2019

Repent and Believe, Part 10: The Clarity of Turning to Christ

From In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, [Revised & Expanded Edition] the following excerpt from a foreword by Brother George Zeller appears,
The unsaved person is told that if he does not turn from sin, surrender, have a willingness to obey, fulfill the demands of discipleship, etc., then he cannot be saved. Sadly, the focus is turned away from the all sufficient, finished work of Christ which is the sinner’s only resting place.”

In his most recent article Dr. John Van Gelderen answers another error with Lordship Salvation’s interpretation of the Gospel.

Dr. Van Gelderen
In the New Testament, which provides the greatest precision on the doctrine of salvation, the emphasis of the wording is not on turning from sin. Rather, emphasis is properly placed on turning to Christ (for salvation from sin). The Christ child was named Jesus because “he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21), and individuals therefore must trust in Him to save them from their sins. This clarifies why the emphasis of the wording of the New Testament is turning to Christ for deliverance from sin and not turning from sin. The precision of emphasis maintains focus on the object of faith, Jesus the Savior, and steers clear of the subject of faith (you) somehow turning from your sin in your own power.

The New Testament says neither “turn from sin” nor “turn from sins.” It does not command one to “turn from your sin” or “turn from your sins.” A commentator likely authored phrases like these some years ago, and the lines have been commonly repeated ever since. The problem with such phraseology is that the aim, being foreign to the New Testament, obscures the otherwise sharp focus on turning to Christ.

Turning to Christ is primary and turning from sin is its corollary—but only when understood in the sense of turning to Christ for deliverance from sin. This focus involves recognizing sin as the awful problem and hell as the sobering consequence but keeps the solution Christ-centered, unmixed with man’s self-effort. This does not imply that sin need not be confronted, but that sin must be confronted so that the law as a tutor might point people to Christ. Sin must be presented as an unsolvable problem so that one can recognize the need for a miraculous salvation through Christ.

Acts 26:20 says, “Repent and turn to God.” Here, the Greek verb epistrepho (turn) combines with the prepositional phrase “to God” to provide an explanation of the first word, repent. “Turn to God” also supports the understanding of repentance being, in essence, the same as faith. And, the use of epistrepho (turn) is a key to understanding the scriptural emphasis of repentance.

Twice, epistrepho is used explicitly with the concept of “from” in dealing with turning from the wrong object of dependence: “turn from these vanities [idols] unto the living God” (Acts 14:15), and “turned to God from idols” (1 Thess. 1:9). In addition, epistrepho is used once with “from” in conveying the idea of turning from the realm of darkness: “turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God” (Acts 26:18). The word darkness reveals the deception (wrong way of thinking) that results from the influence of the father of lies. The three times where the word turn is used in salvific contexts with the word from, the wording is not turning from sin(s). To turn from a wrong object of dependence/wrong way of thinking is quite different than to turn from sin(s). The difference highlights the difference between the object of faith versus the subject of faith (you).

However, the verb epistrepho is repeatedly used in salvific contexts explicitly with the concept of “to” in focusing on Christ as the Savior: “turned to the Lord” (Acts 9:35), “turned unto the Lord” (Acts 11:21), “turn . . . unto the living God” (Acts 14:15), “turned to God” (Acts 15:19), “turn . . . to light . . . unto God” (Acts 26:18), “turn to God” (Acts 26:20), “turn to the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:16), “turned to God” (1 Thess. 1:9), “returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (1 Pet. 2:25).

The explicit repeated emphasis of the scriptural usage of epistrepho is turning to the Lord. This observation is an overwhelming, objective fact. Of these nine occurrences, seven use epistrepho with the preposition epi (Acts 9:35; 11:21; 14:15; 15:19; 26:18, 20; 1 Pet. 2:25) and two with the preposition pros (2 Cor. 3:16; 1 Thess. 1:9). The predominant usage of epi, which often means “upon,” emphasizes that the turn of epistrepho in salvific contexts is a “turn of trust upon the Lord.”

The focus of repentance is turning to Christ, which is essentially faith. Using turn, the descriptive word for repent, demonstrates again that faith and repentance are two sides to one coin. In fact, the narrative in Acts 11:21 uses epistrepho to define the word believe: “a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.” (The word for and (kai) is not in the Greek; therefore, the phrase “turned unto the Lord” explains the word believe.)

When the Holy Spirit convicts a man of sin, he recognizes that sin (the root of his own sins) is an offense to a holy God. When the Holy Spirit convicts a man of judgment, he recognizes that hell is the just consequence for his sin(s). When the Holy Spirit convicts a man of righteousness, he realizes his inability to meet God’s standard of absolute perfection and his desperate need for the righteousness of Christ. At that point, man clearly sees that he cannot turn (cease) from his sin(s) or do anything of merit that is acceptable to a holy God, and, therefore, must turn to Christ to deliver him from sin and hell. This is biblical repentance. We must keep the message crystal clear by keeping the focus on Christ.

Sin must be dealt with as the problem. Hell must be addressed as the consequence. But Christ alone must be presented as the solution. Wording matters.

Next week we will discuss the nature of the turn.

Dr. John Van Gelderen

Related Reading

Site Publisher’s Addendum
“Lost man cannot turn from sin, but he can turn to God to deliver him from the penalty and power of sin (Romans 6).  Classic Lordship Salvation contends that repentance is turning from sin(s) or the resolve to turn from sins. Repentance is viewed as a commitment to discipleship and fruit bearing. Scripture has a better answer. The Bible teaches that the Savior saves “the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6) in their sin, and believers from the power of sin (Rom. 6:1-ff; Gal. 5:16). Repentance for salvation, as Lordship advocates view it, is defined as the sinner’s willingness to stop sinning in thought and deed, and to start obeying. The problem with this view is the emphasis is wrongly put on a change in personal behavior, not a change of mind toward God where the emphasis should be.” (In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, [Revised & Expanded Edition], p. 128).

April 11, 2019

Repent and Believe, Part 9: Confusing Terminology: “Turn and Trust

Dr. John Van Gelderen
Although well-intentioned, confusing terminologies regarding salvation need to be honed to keep the gospel message crystal clear. To add something to the definition of repent, making repentance more than a turning to Christ (believing in Jesus) for salvation from sin and hell, is to confuse the gospel. If repentance means more than a turning to Christ for salvation from sin and judgment, salvation would be by works. But salvation is not by works (Eph. 2:8-9; Gal. 3:10-11; Titus 3:5). Therefore, repent must mean a turning to Christ for salvation from sin and judgment. Sin is the problem, but not sinning is not the solution—Jesus is.

Therefore, as noted in the last article, repentance is turning to Christ for deliverance from sin and its consequences. This keeps Christ alone in sharp focus. It’s this critical focus that is obscured when using the terminology “turn from sins” which we noted conveys the idea of “stop sinning” (works). That flawed phrase, however, is not the lone misrepresentation that threatens the clarity of the gospel. We need to consider another example of similarly confusing terminology.

To say one must “turn and trust” to be saved, can mislead and confuse because it conveys not a single step, but instead, a two-step condition for salvation. This implication differs greatly from what Jesus said when He declared, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

We have seen that “repent” and “believe” are essentially the same, though different in emphasis. The two emphases are observable by this rare use of both words as the condition for salvation in Mark 1:15, but the sameness is seen through the fact that Jesus said repent and believe the gospel. The gospel is that Jesus is the payment for the problem and penalty of sin and is applied through faith (1 Cor. 15:1-11). The way Jesus used this phrase means “Change your thinking by transferring your dependence based on the gospel.” In other words, “Exchange your dependence.” This conclusion is also supported by the way the terms are used in multiple contexts as we have demonstrated in the last few articles.

The common usage of “turn and trust” implies two conditional steps. The word turn (something we will look at more closely in the next article) is the descriptive word for repent. Without the proper emphasis of “turning to Christ” (i.e., believing), the word turn can be misunderstood as works. If trust is one’s moment of salvation (John 6:47), then what is turn? The key is clarifying that the turn is the volitional trust in Christ for salvation from sin and hell. One’s abandonment to Christ as Savior is the moment of repenting and believing the gospel. The turn to Christ is not reformation but rather the turn of trust for deliverance from the problem and penalty of sin. Repentance is entirely an internal issue. In this sense there is a turn, but it is a turn of trust, not works. This must be kept clear when articulating the gospel.

The choice to turn to Christ as Savior is belief. The choice to not turn to Christ is unbelief. Practically speaking, the only sin that keeps a person out of heaven is unbelief, not depending on Christ. In John 16:9, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit convicts the world “of sin, because they believe not on me.” Certainly, sins reveal the root issue of the sin of unbelief. Yet the real issue is one’s object of dependence, whether that is of the religious type or the irreligious. Every sin can be forgiven through faith in Jesus except the sin of not depending on Jesus as one’s Savior.

The focus must always be on Christ, who is the sole object of dependence, whether the terminology employed is faith or repentance. In Acts 20:21, Paul described his ministry as “testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” His focus regarding the twin terminologies of repentance and faith was on the object of dependence. The focus of repentance as well as the focus of faith is on Christ as the answer to man’s sin problem. Repentance properly understood is Christ-centered.

In the next article we will demonstrate that the scriptural usage of the word turn is the turn of trust in Christ alone. The evidence is overwhelming.

Dr. John Van Gelderen
Revival Focus

April 3, 2019

Repent and Believe, Part 8: Confusing Terminology: “Turn from Sin

Today we continue with a series published by Dr. John Van Gelderen at his Revival Focus site.  Dr. Van Gelderen in this article is providing a biblical answer to misconceptions often being advanced by the teachers of the works based interpretation of the gospel known as “Lordship Salvation.”

Some explain repentance in a way that suggests ceasing from sin or a personal reformation. Without further clarification, phrases like “turning from sin,” “turning from sins,” or the expanded version, “turning from sin(s) and turning to Christ,” are used to describe repentance. However, the emphasis of this terminology is on turning from sin, and that stress can be confusing and misleading.
With the primary emphasis on turning from sin (or sins), such an attempt to define repentance could be understood as “to turn from committing sins,” or plainly, “to stop sinning.” Mention this to an unsaved person whose natural, human tendency is toward self-dependence and it would follow that the person’s thinking would embrace works (doing whatever is necessary for sinning to cease) as the means of salvation. Does not “turning from sin(s),” offered without clarification, sound like reformation? But we need to be clear; salvation is not by works.
Someone once mused, “If repent means turning from sins, why did Jesus die?” Christ died to save man from his sins because man cannot deal with his sins on his own. The terminology of turning from sin(s) sounds too much like “not sinning” or “doing good.” Those who truly believe in salvation by grace through faith and yet use these words obviously do not intend to convey to an unsaved person the inherent works-based message of this terminology. Therefore, the meaning of repentance must be articulated more clearly.
In the sense of turning from sin as the problem leading to hell, repentance is the point of trust when one turns to Christ (who is life) for deliverance from sin (which is death). But if one defines repent as “turning from sin(s)” without clarifying that the issue is turning to Christ for salvation from sin because man cannot deal with sin on his own, it could be misunderstood and potentially misleading. It may imply to someone that the turn would be actions (works). The articulation of the decision of repentance must not in any way feed man’s natural bent toward a meritorious salvation.
Jesus said, “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 5:31–32). Sick people do not turn from their sickness to a physician. If they could turn from sickness, they would no longer need a physician. Rather, sick people turn to a physician for deliverance from their sickness. Similarly, sinners cannot turn from their sin(s) to Christ. If they could, they would not need a Savior. Sinners must turn to Christ, the Great Physician, for deliverance from their sin and its consequence.
This clarification does not imply that sin should be downplayed. It must be addressed. But the purpose for doing so must be kept clear. Sin must be recognized as the problem, but not sinning is not the solution—Jesus is. Christ must be recognized as the solution. This combination of understanding leads to repentance, which in salvation is turning to Christ for deliverance from sin and its consequence.
In two weeks, we will demonstrate that the wording of Scripture is not “turning from sin(s),” but “turning to Christ.” But before addressing that emphasis, we will consider another common instance of confused terminology in part 9 next week.
Dr. John Van Gelderen
Repent & Believe, Part 8

Site Publisher’s Addendum:

Lordship Salvation contends that repentance is turning from sin(s) or the resolve to turn from sins. Repentance is viewed as a commitment to discipleship and fruit bearing. Scripture has a better answer. The Bible teaches that the Savior saves “the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6) in their sin, and believers from the power of sin (Rom. 6:1-ff; Gal. 5:16). (In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, Revised & expanded Edition, p. 128.)
Avoid the dangerous error of taking what should be the result of salvation and making it the requirement for salvation: It is because I am saved that I surrender to His Lordship (Rom. 12:1-2). It is because I am saved that I turn from sin and begin to learn what it means to live unto righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). It is because I am saved that I follow Him in willing obedience (1 John 2:3-5). It is because I am saved that I agree to the terms of discipleship and begin to learn all that discipleship involves (Luke chapter 14).  (In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, Revised & Expanded Edition, p. 289.)
Lordship Salvation tears at the very heart of the gospel; it corrupts “the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3), it is a man-centered message that frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21). Lordship Salvation sets upon the sinner’s path to Christ a stumbling block. Lordship Salvation makes rough and uncertain God’s simple plan of salvation. (In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, Revised & Expanded Edition, p. 49.)

March 26, 2019

Dr. John Van Gelderen: Q&A Saints & Disciples

One of the most egregious errors from the advocates of Lordship Salvation (LS) is confusing the distinct doctrines of salvation and discipleship.   

“Those who hold to Lordship Salvation blur the biblical distinction between salvation and discipleship by interpreting the following passages as though they are the evangelistic blue print for salvation: Luke 9:23-24; Luke 14:26-27; Mark 8:34,” (In Defense of the Gospel: Revised & Expanded Edition, p. 78).

Dr. John Van Gelderen hosts a Q&A forum at his Revival Focus website. Earlier this month he addressed a question that addresses the doctrine of discipleship.
Dear Dr. Van Gelderen,

John 8:30-31 As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
Can one be a saint, but not a disciple? It seems there are at least a couple passages (John 8:30-32, John 15:7-8) that indicate being a disciple is tied to works (the verses about taking one’s cross could also be included). Given “salvation by grace alone through faith alone”, it seems we are forced to conclude either (a) one can be a saint without being a disciple, or (b) works/obedience/discipleship are to be considered an *evidence* of true faith.
In typing this question, I decided to look up the words in the NT, and it appears that “disciple/mathetes” appears in the Gospels & Acts 268 times, and 0 times after Acts. While the term “saint/hagios” (when used to refer to believers) appears 60 times after Acts, and only 1 time in Matthew, and 4 times in Acts. If they are distinct terms, it seems odd that “disciple” doesn’t appear after Acts.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks and God Bless.
Dr. Van Gelderen’s Answer,
Thank you for your perceptive question and thoughts. They open the door to a wonderful truth. The New Testament includes several usages of the word disciple, indicating various “levels” of discipleship. The broadest usage of the word refers to all believers in Jesus—all saints. But in the passage you mentioned in John 8, Jesus challenged those who had believed in Him to deeper discipleship.
According to Jesus, the way to become a “disciple indeed” is to “continue in my word.” The word continue is the same term translated abide in John 15, and abide is the picturesque term for dependence (John 15:4-5). Therefore, when you become a believer/disciple though faith, you can become a deeper disciple or a “disciple indeed” through continuous steps of faith. When you walk by faith you grow in grace.
The issue is not the evidences of true faith, as if you inevitably do works fitting for a believer. The challenge Paul gives in (Colossians 2:6) is that as you received Christ (by faith), now walk in Him (in the same manner—by faith). The works that evidence deeper discipleship are by faith. However, they are not automatic, otherwise Jesus would not challenge us to continue/abide in His word and Paul would not insist that we walk in Him by faith.

John Van Gelderen
Site Publisher Addendum:
“Salvation and discipleship are two separate and distinct issues. Salvation is the gift of God to an undeserving Hellbound sinner. Discipleship is what ought to flow from the man or woman who through the shed blood of Jesus Christ has been redeemed from sin, death and Hell. Confusing the cost of discipleship for the believer with the gospel of grace through faith is one of the most disconcerting errors of Lordship Salvation,” (In Defense of the Gospel: Revised & Expanded Edition, p. 85).

“When a man tries to carefully introduce verses about discipleship as though they are strictly evangelistic, remember that the Bible teaches that the lost must come to Christ for salvation and then follow after Him in discipleship. Salvation and discipleship are two very different things. We must not use verses intended to teach discipleship to try to lead a man to Christ. To do so creates confusion and frustration. The message becomes a gospel of faith, plus works,” (In Defense of the Gospel: Revised & Expanded Edition, p. 93).

Yours faithfully,

Lou Martuneac

January 28, 2019

Dr. Robert L. Sumner, “DUNGHILL THEOLOGY!”

Dr. Robert L. Sumner
Over 8 years ago we clipped an excellent article which had been written by William R. Estep, at the time the distinguished professor of church history, emeritus, at Southwestern Seminary. He wrote with Southern Baptists in view, seeking to douse the flames of a growing Calvinism in that denomination. I wish we could print the entire article since it was filled with so much wisdom and understanding. The term ‘dunghill’ theology was coined by Andrew Fuller in his The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, an answer to John Gill’s Calvinism.

Estep described Calvin: “He was no advocate of religious freedom, but an autocrat who often mistook his own will for the will of God,” adding that he “never was able to free himself from his Roman Catholic heritage. … His Old Testament hermeneutics and his uncontrollable temper acerbated his intolerance of those who disagreed with him.” Estep apparently wrote this article as an answer to Ernest C. Reisinger’s attempt to “call Southern Baptists back to what he conceives to have been their Calvinistic root,” to which he responded, “This assumption must be challenged on the basis of the original Baptist vision and its theological insights.” Amen to that!

Calvin’s theology might be summed up with his definition of predestination: “By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God by which He determined with Himself whatever He wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation, and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death” (Institutes, 3.21.5). If that isn’t fatalism, it’ll do until someone can think one up!

In talking about Baptists, Estep wrote: “Baptists arose out of English Puritan-Separatist movement, which was Calvinist, but they modified their Calvinistic heritage to a considerable degree. The first English Baptists of record (1608) came to be known as ‘General Baptists,’ since they believed in ‘general atonement’ – that Christ died for all and not just for the elect. Their Calvinism almost completely vanished under Anabaptist-Mennonite influence.”

In closing, he listed what he called “problems with Calvinism” as related to Baptists. Part of what he wrote was:
“First, it is a system of theology without biblical support.
“It assumes to know more about God and the eternal decrees upon which it is based than God has chosen to reveal in scripture or in Christ. To say God created some people for damnation and others for salvation is to deny that all have been created in the image of God.
“It also reflects upon both God’s holiness and His justice, as portrayed in the Bible.
“Further, Calvinism appears to deny John 3:16, John 1:12, Romans 1:16, Romans 10:9-10,
Ephesians 2:8-10 and numerous other passages of scripture that indicate, as Baptist confessions have consistently stated, that salvation comes to those who respond to God’s grace in faith.

“Second, Calvinism’s God resembles Allah, the god of Islam, more than the God of grace and redeeming love revealed in Jesus Christ.

“Third, Calvinism robs the individual of responsibility for his/her own conduct, making a person into a puppet on a string or a robot programmed from birth to death with no will of his/her own.

“Fourth, historically, Calvinism has been marked by intolerance and a haughty spirit. Calvin’s Geneva, the Synod of Dort (1618-1619) and the Regular Baptists (Hardshells, Primitives and Two Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists) are only some of numerous examples of this Calvinistic blight.

“Fifth, logically, Calvinism is anti-missionary. The Great Commission is meaningless if every person is programmed for salvation or damnation, for evangelism and missionary efforts are exercises in futility.

“Apparently, Calvinism is an excursion into speculative theology with predictable results, which we as Southern Baptists can ill afford.”

But what about “the great Charlie?” Estep wrote: “Charles Haddon Spurgeon often has been cited by Baptists as a staunch Calvinist. At times, the young Spurgeon claimed to be exactly that, but at other times it is clear he was neither a hyper-Calvinist nor even a consistent Calvinist. A. C. Underwood, in A History of English Baptists, writes that Spurgeon’s ‘rejection of a limited atonement would have horrified John Calvin.’ According to Underwood, Spurgeon often prayed, ‘Hasten to bring in all Thine elect, and then elect some more.’ The mature Spurgeon confided in Archbishop Benson, ‘I’m a very bad Calvinist, quite a Calvinist – I look on to the time when the elect will be all the world’.”

Don’t be taken in by “dunghill” theology!

Excerpted from The Biblical Evangelist: Volume 37, Number 3; May-June 2006.

Dr. Robert L. Sumner, (1922-2006) The Biblical Evangelist: “A Voice for Historic Evangelical Fundamentalism.”

January 17, 2019

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

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. Let’s hear from and read Dr. Bob Jones, III.

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.

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?”

January 14, 2019

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

Last week [May 2011] 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's Lordship Salvation. 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.


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

January 10, 2019

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.”

“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 fellowship and cooperative ministries with the evangelicals and influencing others 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.

Dr. Kevin Bauder published a serious misrepresentation when he wrote that Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, “believe, preach and defend the [same] gospel.”2 Kevin Bauder has never edited or retracted that statement. 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.
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?” No, they do not! Men in fundamental circles who are converging with advocates of LS are either tolerating a known and egregious error or have themselves embraced the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel and are rallying around it with like-minded evangelicals.

It is high time for men like Dave Doran, Kevin Bauder, Matt Olson, Tim Jordan, et. al., to be transparent on the Lordship Salvation controversy. Are these men 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.

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. 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 how John MacArthur’s LS corrupts and redefines the Scriptures than this one.

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

January 3, 2019

Archival Series: What if You Are Wrong About Islam?

If you think all Muslims are terrorists, you are wrong.  There are some Muslims who would like to live in peace, who do not hate people, who are not part of Islam, and who would like some distance between themselves and the majority of Islam.  The problem is that the percentage of these peaceful people is very small compared to the whole.  We have been lied to, brain-washed, and fooled into believing that it is a religion of peace.  We are told that the percentage of violent Muslims is very small, but the truth is that their number is very large. 

Some of those who spread the lies about a peaceful Islam do it because of politics.  It isn’t popular in our culture to tell the truth.  Others are just ignorant and far too lazy to do their own research.  The violent Muslim crowd is thrilled with people who are so gullible.  The liberal crowd is happy to give them a pass because it is one more way for them to buy votes.  The saddest thing of all is that popular evangelicals and pseudo-intellectuals actually support the tragic idea that Islam is just another religion.  

The one goal of this article is to get every reader working to do his own study and to challenge the false ideas being passed around like ice cream at a church picnic. 


The first group is the active terrorists, including ISIS.  They are violent, inhumane, and eager to kill anyone who does not believe as they believe.  Compared to the whole, this category is not very large.  They represent the military aspect of Islam.  The second group would be those terrorist groups like Hezbollah and the Brotherhood.  They are not as active as the others, but are hateful and violent.  They hide under the radar and pretend to be peaceful.  Their violence, however, is practiced in the midst of peaceful people.  This category is not very large either. 

The majority of Islam would fall in the next level.  These are active Muslims who believe and practice hate, violence, and inhumane acts against anyone who is not a Muslim.  They refer to them as infidels.  It makes no difference whether they are Jews, Christians, or secular; they are infidels.  Active Muslims are free to create mayhem against infidels, depending on how much power they have.  In countries where Islam is in control, violence is a daily practice.  It is the law.  No one can name one country where Islam is a majority and where there is freedom or peace for infidels.  Their brutality rises as they gain power and control.  This can be seen clearly in some European countries at this very moment. 

In our nation, this majority group continues to claim respectability, while at the same time there are indications of the role they will play in the future.  The early signs of violence and radicalism are here, and we can see their true motive.  Note their “demands” that their ideas must be followed, including Sharia Law.  Anything that offends them must be removed from public view. The cry for Sharia law becomes louder by the day.  Even now they demand privileges that are not extended to others in this country. 

This group, with their potential for violence as required by their belief, has entered the halls of Congress and even the White House!  This category is far more dangerous than ISIS.  Lying is a practice that is expected, particularly if it is to an infidel.  In this huge part of Islam, women are viewed as property and animals, less than human.  Little girls are brutalized and treated as toys. 
Let me remind you that we will be told by ignorant peoples, and by those who lie, that these cruel things are far and few between, even when the opposite is true.  It is a way of life.   Those Muslims who desire a peaceful life and who might want to be good neighbors, or even to be honest with us, are few and far between.


I have before me a copy of the Quran.  I am not an expert in this subject but have learned in an extensive study of hermeneutics to be able to recognize true meaning in all languages by the normal use of language rules. 

This book clearly says that any Muslim who is friendly with a Jew, Christian, or other infidel is to be killed.  They might pretend to be friendly, but those people are obligated to kill the infidels when the time comes, or else they themselves are to be killed.  The lie about a peaceful religion will not stand, even if you are referring to those who are peaceful at the moment.  The Quran clearly identifies Islam as a religion of terror.  Do your own study, read it for yourself.  (3:151; 8:12; 8:60; 33:26; 59:2; 59:13) [Editor's note: See comment #1 in thread below for citation of these verses.]

Read what happens to someone who converts to another religion or someone who will not convert to Islam.  Converts are won, and they are kept - by fear, hate, violence and intimidation. Read about cruelty and torture.  Read about the abuse of women, dismemberment, beheading, and horrible treatment of infidels.  This is the majority of Islam, because that is the law.  If you can read this and still think it is a religion of peace, you deserve what is coming to this country.


If I witness to you about your need for salvation in Christ and you refuse it, you go on your way to face God alone in judgment.  You need have no fear of me because of your rejection.  If, however, you are offered the choice of conversion to Islam and you refuse, no matter who you are, you are an infidel, and that person is commanded to kill you.  In Islam, the sons are sent out to commit suicide and kill as many people as they can.  In Biblical Christianity, God sent His Son to die on the cross so that many sons could live.

Those who claim peace for the majority of Islam must know very little about the history of this religion.  They must know very little about what Muslims are commanded to do.  They must not be reading about the brutal killing of Christians every day in this world by the Muslim majority.  I was told yesterday that hundreds of believers are killed every week by majority Muslims.  They must not know about the burning, beheading, drowning, beating, and death published in the news on a daily basis. 

To blaspheme, mock, or speak ill of the Quran will get you the death penalty.  On the other hand, Islam can reject and make fun of Christianity, and that is fine.  What if you are wrong about Islam?  I can tell you that you are wrong if you haven’t taken time to study why the majority of this religion is not peaceful.

Shepherds Staff was prepared by the late Clay Nuttall, D. Min.

A communication service of Shepherds Basic Care, for those committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible. Shepherds Basic care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries and churches. Write for information using the email address shepherdstaff2@juno.com or Shepherd'sStaff