June 27, 2019


Today we’re beginning a series written and published by Dr. John Van Gelderen.  His series appears at his Revival Focus site and is being happily reprinted here by permission.

Dr. John Van Gelderen

Occasionally, I hear people use the label Keswick in a derogatory fashion. Yet others use the term quite positively. Hearing something of these widely ranging opinions, someone unfamiliar with the term might wonder whether this word Keswick denotes something good or something bad. The issue, of course, is not the term but what is meant by the term. This present three-part series is an adaptation of the original article Keswick: A Good Word or a Bad One? and its follow-up Keswick: A Good Word or a Bad One? Revisited. After focusing on the historical background and theology in this first article, we will address inaccurate accusations made against Keswick theology and then conclude the series with a consideration of reasons behind the attacks.
Keswick is a beautiful town nestled in the Lake District of England. In 1875, a conference began there which continued annually as “The Keswick Convention.” Its original stated purpose was for the deepening of spiritual life. To accomplish this purpose, a definite theological position was taught—sanctification by faith, sometimes called holiness by faith.
Commonly referred to as the Higher Life, Deeper Life, or Victorious Life, the focus of the theology is on Christ as one’s life. In later years, various sub-groups attached other/additional ideas to some of the labels. However, the original intent was Christ-focused, and this singular emphasis is still championed by a majority of those continuing to use these terms.
Thus, the Higher Life, Deeper Life, Victorious Life, Spirit-filled Life and Christ-Life do not constitute a new line of teaching and do not stand as a mere set of doctrines or motions. The matter is neither a conference nor convention, and it is not a movement. It is a life—and that life is a person. His name is Jesus! Jesus is the “Higher Life.” Jesus is the “Deeper Life.” Jesus is the “Victorious Life.” How can it be otherwise? Sanctification, or holiness by faith, is simply accessing the “Holy Life” by faith. It is I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me by faith (Gal. 2:20). Holiness by faith is accessing the holy life of Jesus to empower holy living and serving. It is becoming “partakers of His holiness” through the impartation of His life in the place of any self-dependent attempt to imitate His life (Heb.12:10).
Keswick theology teaches that “progressive sanctification” does not mean an inevitable, gradual sanctification, but rather that sanctification is accelerated by faith choices and hindered by choices of unbelief. Obviously, the Holy Spirit keeps working, but believers are responsible to cooperate in faith for sanctification to progress according to God’s will. Keswick teaches that just as justification is by faith, so also is sanctification by faith. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him” (Col. 2:6).
From the convention’s beginnings, a specific theme was emphasized for each of the conference’s five days, and this was designed to help hearers understand how to “progress” in sanctification. In order, the daily addresses covered:
  1. Sin (sin is the problem—both outer man sins and especially inner man sins)
  2. Provision (Christ is the answer through the cleansing power of His blood and the enabling power of His Spirit)
  3. Consecration (the access to Christ’s provision is through surrender to/dependence on Christ’s leadership and surrender to/dependence on Christ’s enablement)
  4. Spirit-filled Life (surrender/faith accesses Christ’s Life—the Spirit-filled life for holiness and service)
  5. Service (the whole point of sanctification by faith is to then serve by faith, primarily in the declaration of the Gospel).
The Keswick Convention began in 1875 and continues to this day in England. However, as with many movements, the original focus was lost over time, and today the convention no longer truly represents its original purpose. The first two generations of Keswick (roughly eighty years) held to the original theology. In other words, Keswick theology stayed largely true to its beginning through the 1950s. During this time, Keswick guarded itself from the extremes of certain factions within the “Holiness Movement.” Ecclesiastically, however, Keswick began to weaken during the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy of the 1920s and 1930s. (The convention’s motto of “all one in Christ,” though a blessed truth in biblical proportion, set them up for potential compromise when this controversy came on the scene.) By the 1960s, compromise eventually eroded their theology in significant ways. However, it should be noted that many other Keswick or Keswick-inspired meetings have stayed true to original Keswick theology, even to this day.
The first-generation of Keswick included Evan Hopkins (who spoke at the annual convention for 39 years), F.B. Meyer (a regular speaker from 1887 to 1925), Handley G.C. Moule (a participant from the mid-1880s until his death), G. Campbell Morgan, A.T. Pierson, A.J. Gordon, S.D. Gordon, R.A. Torrey, Andrew Murray, Hudson Taylor, Jonathan Goforth, and W.H. Griffith Thomas. Second-generation Keswick was led by W. Graham Scroggie and included Donald Grey Barnhouse and J. Oswald Sanders.
Notice the number of familiar names and consider the esteem we have for these men, even to this day. R.A. Torrey was so respected that he was chosen as a leading editor of The Fundamentals, an early 20th century collection of articles penned by orthodox scholars. Almost 30% of the authors writing for The Fundamentals were speakers associated with Keswick, and their contributions made up more than a fifth of the 90 articles in the series. This is a significant fact and shows that Keswick was mainstream at the beginning of biblical fundamentalism and the countering of theological liberalism. Therefore, Keswick was clearly considered “orthodox” at its inception and in the stand against the rise of liberalism, and to denigrate Keswick is to denigrate the roots of fundamentalism.
I prefer to call Keswick theology “revival theology,” although there is a sense in which revival theology is broader than sanctification by faith. When one is awakened to the need to access the indwelling life of Christ by faith and begins to appropriate that life for the steps of obedience, personal revival occurs. Personal revival is a restoration to spiritual life—the life of Christ in you accessed by faith as the animating power to your personality. This doctrine did not begin in 1875 with Keswick. It began in the New Testament (John 10:10, 14-16; Rom. 6-8; II Cor. 3:5,17-18; 9:8; Gal. 2:20; 3:1-5,14; Eph. 3:17; 5:18; Phil. 1:21; Col. 1:27; 3:4) and can be traced throughout church history. Even in corporate revival, this is what occurs to the individuals involved. This is revival theology! In fact, in The Flaming Tongue, J. Edwin Orr’s account of early twentieth-century revivals affecting at least 57 nations, Orr repeatedly documents that Keswick-type conferences were used of God to either ignite revival fire or greatly fuel it.
In the work Five Views of Sanctification, J. Robertson McQuilken presents the Keswick view on sanctification, John Walvoord offers an Augustinian-Dispensational approach to the matter, and both men take the opportunity to comment on other views. Essentially, McQuilken maintains there is no real difference between the Keswick and Augustinian-Dispensational views, and similarly, Walvoord maintains no real difference between the Keswick view and his own. Dispensational theology is broader than sanctification (which is Keswick’s primarily concern), but regarding this specific issue, Keswick theology equates to the Dispensational theology embraced by many today.
Next week we will address some of the inaccurate accusations that have been leveled against Keswick theology.
John Van Gelderen

Continue to Part Two: Inaccurate Accusations
For further reading see the original article at Revival Focus.

June 7, 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 appeared- 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