February 28, 2012

Ignorance Leads to Error, Dr. Clay Nuttall

For years, there were several things that really puzzled me. I was reared in a church where they practiced “externalism.” I prefer not to use the term “legalism” since the majority of the time it is used in error with intent to slander. The true definition of legalism is found in Galatians. When I was a teenager, this emphasis on the outward man as a primary teaching drove me away from Christ. Later, as a young man in the ministry, I noticed that far too many of my peers were caught in this web. It was only when I understood the biblical view of holiness that I was able to see the flaws in this kind of teaching.

Throughout my fifty- two years of ministry, many of my peers have left this culture of externalism, but have moved far to the left with a flawed view of grace. The “anything goes” theology that they adopted meant that they were simply moving from one extreme of the flesh to another. We all know that depending upon the flesh is little different from feeding upon it. This extreme view of grace is merely an excuse to let the flesh have whatever it wants. Why was it that some of our friends on their journey away from externalism, did not stop at a biblical view of holiness?

The answer to this question has become very clear. It was ignorance of the scripture that held them captive in externalism, and it was ignorance of scripture that sped them into a system as awful - if not worse - than externalism. They simply went from law on the right to law on the left. I do not mean that my friends do not know about the Bible; of course they do. On the other hand, though, I am absolutely sure they do not know the Bible. There is a world of difference. Those in both extreme camps were ignorant of a theology that is biblical; they simply went from ignorance to error.


With the passing years, I have come to understand why it is that my beloved brothers and sisters have remained linked to organizations, fellowships, missions, and schools that have turned their backs on theology that is biblical: they simply don’t know what is going on and so have blindly followed those leaders who themselves are blind to truth. Ignorance covers a lot of error. The problem is that now those same people are being led into groups on the left who have tolerated heresy for some time. My friends are being carried by winds of false doctrine, paralyzed by error, and they don’t even know it!

Young men in particular, but gray heads as well, have become enamored with carnal minds and have not stopped to ask the scriptures for the truth. Today, scholars, intellectuals, form, and degrees have become the authority. That can mean only one thing - those who use them as an authority have probably turned from the text. Hence the mad rush to the left, giving credence to error.

In a recent interview with a “respected” scientist, he was heard to state that the view of a young earth is “ridiculous”. This statement was made by a scholar who supports the Big Bang theory, the most ridiculous cruel joke of the age! In our world today, however, the desire of so many is to look intellectual and to compromise scripture. Consider, for instance, the day-age theory and all the other nonsense formulated by people who only know about the Bible.


As is so often the case, there is a common thread in this journey from right to left. What I know now is that the hermeneutic that produced the flawed view of externalism is the same hermeneutic that produced the opposite extreme. That is the reason people are so numb about error and also why hardly anyone snaps to attention when error is taught in the pulpit and the classroom. It is also why mind-numbed “worshipers” today can sing lies, offending a holy God as they bob, weave, smile, applaud, and yell.

All of this is true because so many people only know about the Bible. They know about Bible stories and favorite proof texts, but have no idea what God is teaching in those texts. The end result is that the Bible ignorance that leads to error is rampant in our churches - both in the pew and in the pulpit. God wants us to know what He has given us in holy writ. He wants us to know the sovereign creator who loved us so much that He sent His son to the cross. We should not be satisfied with just knowing “about” this blessed book.

Have you ever asked why it seems that so few people in our circles today are really being born again? Would you dare to ask why there is so little of the moving of the Holy Spirit? Please don’t tell me about all those huge churches full of unsaved people. The answer is in the Book, but you can get the answer only when you take it from the text instead of putting it into the text, like the scholars do.


There is only one biblical hermeneutic, or system of interpretation. The minute that is left behind, all you have left is “private interpretation”. If we center our teaching on knowing the scripture rather than just knowing about it, our lives, our churches, and the world around us will change and, as Luther said, “We might have more Christians.” The intellectuals have invented a plethora of hermeneutical “systems,” and they all end in the same place, with human reason. Every error of interpretation ever invented had to rise from a flawed hermeneutic; and that is why my beloved peers missed it and went right on by. Before I leave, remember…this ministry is about making people think.

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

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

Related Reading from Dr. Nuttall: “What God has Clearly Said in the Whole not the Part”

February 23, 2012

Is Faith in Jesus Christ a Gift of God?

Dr. Charlie Bing
A person is eternally saved through faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, but does God give this faith or is it purely a human response? Those who teach that faith must be given by God are usually constrained to do so by their theological perspective, as is true of Reformed theology. Their view of man’s total depravity does not allow for any positive response from man toward God. They claim that if faith originated in man it would be a meritorious work that robs God of His glory. In their view, since God gives the faith that saves, that faith will sustain the believer in a life of obedience. But there are problems with viewing faith as a gift of God.

Theological problems with faith as a gift

Those who view faith as a gift interpret man’s condition, described in Ephesians 2:1 as “dead in trespasses and sins,” as a total inability to respond to God in a positive way. But that phrase describes man’s total separation from God, not his inability to respond to God. Sinful man is totally separated from God and therefore without eternal life. Man retains the image of God to some degree; it was severely marred in the fall, but not totally destroyed. Acts 10:2 describes Cornelius before he came to know Jesus Christ as Savior as a devout man who feared God, gave alms, and prayed to God (and God heard his prayers! Acts 10:31). In Acts 17 the Athenians did not have the proper object of faith but worshiped idols. Paul encourages them to seek to know their “unknown God” which of course is Jesus Christ. Men can seek God in their unsaved state as God draws them (John 6:28-29, 44-45).

Another theological problem with the view of faith as a gift of God is that it misunderstands the nature of faith. Faith is not (as they claim) a divine energy, a special power, or an infused dynamic. That confuses faith with the power of the Holy Spirit. Faith is simply faith. It means that one is convinced or persuaded that something is true so that there is a personal appropriation of that truth. There is not a special kind of faith for eternal salvation. There is only a special object of faith—Jesus Christ. The kind of faith one might have in Buddha is no different from the kind of faith that one can have in Jesus. The only difference is the object: Buddha does not save; Jesus saves. To make faith the power of salvation is to confuse faith with the Holy Spirit. According to Ephesians 2:8 grace is the grounds of salvation and faith is the means by which we appropriate that grace. Properly speaking we are not saved by faith, but through faith.

To show that faith is not a meritorious work, the Bible contrasts faith in Christ with meritorious works in both Ephesians 2:8-9 and Romans 4:4-5. Faith means exactly that we can do nothing for our salvation. We can only receive salvation as a gift. Faith is like an empty hand that simply accepts a gift.

Exegetical problems

The main passage used to support faith as a gift of God for salvation is Ephesians 2:8-9. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; [it is] the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.”

It is claimed that the demonstrative pronoun “that” refers to “faith” as a gift of God (the words “it is” are not in the original language, but are supplied by the translation as shown by the brackets). But “that” cannot refer to “faith” (nor to “grace”) because in the original Greek it would have to be in the feminine gender. But “that” is neuter which shows that the best antecedent is the concept of salvation by grace. This fits the context which is governed by salvation by grace in chapter 1 and especially in 2:4-9. There are other passages used to argue that faith is a gift of God, but they offer no support. For example, it is clear that some passages speak of faith as a special spiritual gift (Rom. 12:3; 1 Cor. 12:9) or simply as the opportunity to believe (Phil. 1:29), but not as a gift for salvation.

Logical problems

On the surface the view that says God must give us faith to believe is a tautology. It assumes what it seeks to prove. In other words, this view claims we believe because God gives us faith. But if God give us faith, then we do not need to believe. Or if we can believe, then God does not need to give us faith.

Another problem with that view is its theology, which says unsaved man is “dead” and cannot believe unless he is first made alive. Therefore God gives us faith as a divine life-giving energy that regenerates us so that we can believe. But if we have the divine life and are regenerated, we would not need to believe to have eternal life—we already have it!

Also, if faith as a gift is a divine power that sustains the believer in a life of obedience, then that obedience would be perfect and never interrupted by sin or disobedience. New Testament admonitions and commands to live righteously would be superfluous. But since believers do sin, it shows that their human response is a crucial aspect of their sanctification.

Finally, if we cannot be saved unless and until God gives us faith in the gospel, then God could not hold us responsible for not believing the gospel. But he clearly does (John 3:18, 36, 5:40).


It is hard to escape the conclusion that those who claim that God must give us the faith to believe for salvation do so out of a theological construct that is not validated by Scripture. Sinful man retains the image of God to the degree that he can have faith in either an unworthy or a worthy object for salvation. The only faith that saves is faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Faith is not the gift; Jesus Christ is the gift. God can draw us to Himself (John 6:28-29, 44-45), convict us of the gospel’s truth (John 16:8), and invite us to receive eternal life (John 3:16; 4:10; 7:37), but it is our responsibility to believe the gospel for eternal life.

Is Faith in Jesus Christ a Gift of God? no. 42 - Dr. Charlie Bing

GraceNotes is a concise quarterly Bible study on the important issues related to salvation by grace and living by grace. They are designed for downloading (*pdf available) and copying so they can be used in ministry. No permission is required if they are distributed unedited at no charge. You can receive new GraceNotes by subscribing to our free quarterly GraceLife newsletter.

For Related Reading:

The Danger of Teaching That Faith is the Gift of God by Brother George Zeller

February 20, 2012

President Obama Declares War Against Our Freedom of Religion

An Urgent Message from Evangelist Dave Kistler of Hope Ministries

Over the course of this afternoon and evening, I’ve had time to peruse the meaning of President Obama’s “compromise” with the Catholic Church over contraception and it’s place in health care. To put it bluntly, all he has done is rearrange the furniture on the deck of the Titanic. He (Obama) now says that it will be the responsibility of insurance companies to offer contraceptive and abortion services in their insurance plans. Well, excuse me, but since when is it the role of government (and especially that of a President) to tell a private insurance company what to do?

What I am about to share with you, I’ve never put in print. I have shared it with individuals only. My friend, Dr. Johnny Hunter* (Executive Director of LEARN—the largest African-American Pro-Life organization in the nation) met our current President prior to his becoming President. During that encounter, Obama told Dr. Hunter the following.

You black preachers are the scourge of America! I have absolutely no use for you!”
There were additional profanity laced comments that [then] Senator Obama made to Dr. Hunter that I cannot repeat here. Dr. Hunter’s statement to those of us in the room the day we were told this was, “Gentlemen, I saw the Devil with his tail out! This man (Obama) is not our friend!” There were other almost prophetic statements that Dr. Hunter shared with us, all of which has proven true over the last two and a half years.

The bottom line is this. What our President has done is declare an all out war against our freedom of religion rights. That is NOT an over statement! Whether he has doubts about his ability to be reelected, or whether he doesn’t fear the American electorate (or a combination of both), the simple fact is this; he has decided to go full tilt toward denying our First Amendment rights! Pastors, I beg you to consider addressing this issue with your congregation. Our Catholic counterparts nationwide read a letter in their pulpits this past Sunday to the rousing applause of their congregations stating that they would not violate their beliefs and conscience! Again, we have large disagreements with Catholics doctrinally. However, we are in this battle together! It is not just Catholics whose First Amendment rights are being trampled. We, who call ourselves, Fundamentalists, evangelicals, or whatever label we choose, are directly affected as well!

To be completely honest, I’ve seen this coming for three years. I’ve tried to sound periodic alarms. Some have listened, some have not. I hope that now you understand the enemy we face. Our enemy is the current occupant of the White House! Strong language? You bet! I say it because it is true!!! NEVER have we had a President who has done what this man is doing! NEVER have we seen the egregious violations of the Constitution like we are witnessing at the hands of this man we call President! I say again, my dear Pastor friend, for the cause of freedom and the gospel, please consider addressing this issue (kindly and DIRECTLY) with your congregation. If you are unaware of what has been transpiring (I don’t know how you could be), then educate yourself on this issue! This has absolutely NOTHING to do with politics! This has to do with saving our very republic and our free speech and religion rights! If we fear and fail here, we will one day look back and rue the squandered opportunity we had to stand up and speak out. While we still have the freedom to contest the anti-God, anti-Constitutional, anti-liberty lunacy that is the Obama administration, we MUST do so.

Earlier this evening, I heard one evangelical woman put it this way. “We will fight this Constitutional infringement in our institutions, in our PULPITS and in the streets if need be!” I share her sentiments! I know that some will consider this extreme. You may do so at your own peril. I am not going to look back with any regrets on this. I will not sit in a jail one day for my faith and not be assured that I did all I could to protect and preserve liberty. This was the attitude, as well as the action, of our founders.

I have absolutely no respect for the freedom-living individual, who is not freedom-loving enough to do all he/she can to pass on this incredible gift called liberty to future generations. It was passed to us through the blood of patriots. Do we think that we are too privileged, too special, too secure, that the same won't be required of us? This is our time! This is our moment! This is our time for protecting and preserving the precious seed of liberty! If we will not stand for our freedom NOW, I seriously doubt our willingness to stand when we are told we must violate our conscience to obey a tyrannical government! I just heard one gravely concerned religious leader say, “this is not about being willing to go to jail, this is about being willing to die for what we believe!” Friends, he is 100% right! This is exactly what this is, and this is exactly where we are! Now, let's do what is right, not convenient! Let’s be willing, as were our founders, to “mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor!”

Yours for faith and freedom,

Evangelist Dave Kistler
(with minor revision by the site publisher)
HOPE Ministries International
EMail- davekistler@hopeministriesonline.com

* Dr. Johnny Hunter

February 15, 2012

Genuine Integrity Demands a Simple Admission

Dr. Jeff Straub’s recent article1 lauding the commendable actions of two SBC pastors demands a closer look. On the surface, the article praises two apparently conservative SBC pastors, one for his public stand against state-sponsored gambling, and the other for his refusal to cooperate on a speaking platform with T.D. Jakes. No right-thinking fundamentalist would argue against the positions taken by these men. Their actions were Biblically astute and on that basis are commendable.

What troubles this reader, however, is the nagging feeling that Jeff Straub was attempting to convey more than mere admiration for stands well taken. His not-so-subtle mention that both of these pastors are entrenched in the SBC appears to lend tacit approval to the denominational organization. While one can debate the merits and demerits of the SBC, even tacit approval of a denominational machine is a definite departure from the position of Central Seminary’s founder, Dr. Richard V. Clearwaters.

This writer’s purpose is neither to condemn the SBC nor to question the sincerity of the good pastors whom Straub applauds for taking courageous, Biblical stands. Rather, this author’s purpose is to point out the continuing drift of an institution whose founder came to militantly oppose the associational compromise entrenched in the major Baptist denominations, southern and northern alike. Dr. Clearwaters was not one to speak well of the “denominational machine,” and if he had any positive comments to make about its ministerial members, he would certainly have qualified his statements with a warning concerning ecumenism, compromise, and new evangelicalism. Dr. Clearwaters, as I recall, was fond of promoting fundamentalist heroes. He was not being needlessly divisive or exclusive in this; rather, he was being consistent with his convictions. And he was being honest with his constituency.

Which leads us to another, shall we say, “elephant in the room.” Even more troubling than the leftward drift of some bell-weather fundamentalist institutions is their continual denial that change is taking place. The attempt to hold onto the “old guard” (and their money) while making significant changes, and then denying them, is completely disingenuous. In addition, the ongoing blather about “authentic fundamentalism” rings particularly hollow from those who have turned sharply to the left, but pretend they are staying the course.
Genuine integrity demands a simple admission from institutional leadership that they are moving away from the separatist principles of their founders.
Of course, I could be wrong about Dr. Straub. Maybe he really could not, in his own thinking, name one laudable separatist action taken by his independent Baptist brethren, past or present. While his default choices for approbation were not inherently wrong, they certainly indicate a shift in direction away from the separatism of Central Seminary’s honorable founder, Dr. Richard V. Clearwaters, a man both honest with his constituency and authentic in his convictions.

Pastor Marc Monte
Faith Baptist Church, Avon

1) Two Men Worth Commending, In the Nick of Time blog, February 10, 2012.

Additional Articles by Pastor Monte:

Kevin Bauder: It Won’t Fly With Us Who Know

Muddying the Clearwaters
Preserving the Separatist Impulse, 2 Thess. 3:6-15

February 11, 2012

Archival Series- Do Fundamentalists & Evangelicals, “Believe, Preach and Defend the [Same] Gospel?”

Many of you are aware of a long running series by Dr. Kevin Bauder titled Now, About Those Differences. He is publishing this series to clear up what he alleges to be misunderstandings surrounding his incendiary article Let’s Get Clear on This. In the opinion of a number of readers the Differences series has frequently reiterated his lavish praise of Evangelicalism and continues to redefine and/or castigate Fundamentalism just as he did with both movements in the Let’s Get Clear on This article. Nevertheless, the current installment, Part 12 subtitled Together (Only?) for the Gospel contains an element that is highly disconcerting, bordering on a deliberate misrepresentation of a known fact, which is the subject of this article.

Dr. Bauder wrote,

Most fundamentally (the word is deliberate), both groups are united in their affirmation and exaltation of the gospel. None of the differences that we have examined to this point results in a denial of the gospel. Both fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals believe the gospel, preach the gospel, and defend the gospel.”
For any objective commentator it is widely known and irrefutable that Calvinistic soteriology in the form of the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel is the Gospel message of the so-called “conservative” evangelicals.

Is it possible that Kevin Bauder refuses to disclose the vast chasm, disagreement and debate in Fundamentalism over what is the true nature of saving faith; what is the Gospel?

His statement above is at best an avoidance of the truth and at worst a deliberate attempt to conceal the disagreement that exists among men in Fundamentalism on the nature of the one true Gospel.

There is wide spread disagreement in Fundamentalism over Calvinism, but for many on both sides of that debate Calvinism does not necessarily mandate a split. Lordship Salvation, however, is an entirely different point of sharp contention in and around Fundamentalism.1 John MacArthur defined the core of Lordship Salvation (LS) when in TGATJ he wrote, “Salvation is for those who are willing to forsake everything.”2 Statements such as that are the focal point of controversy and many fundamentalists consider that to be a defining mark of a works salvation.

Bauder also wrote,
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?”
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 Bauder is also well aware of. Men in Fundamentalism who reject Lordship Salvation as a false works-based message are as aware as Bauder is that evangelicals are almost universal in agreement on Lordship Salvation as John MacArthur defines it. It is, therefore, impossible for fundamentalists who reject LS to have any kind of fellowship, unity or cooperation with the evangelicals because of their advocacy of Lordship Salvation.

To be honest with his readers Kevin Bauder must add a qualifier, a clarification. The qualifier would be along these lines, “Since [Calvinistic] conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists are united in their allegiance to the gospel…” It is the Calvinistic Lordship Salvation message that Calvinists in fundamental circles are choosing to unite around with their Calvinistic counter-parts in Evangelicalism. This is irrefutable! Dr. Bauder also wrote,
Is it really believable that they [T4G] cannot find a place for Christian statesmen like Charles Ryrie or John C. Whitcomb?
Of course it is believable. Frankly, this is a question any casual observer could answer. T4G is Together for the LS Gospel.3 Then there is the alternating year sister conference The LS Gospel Coalition. Lordship Salvation is the interpretation of the Gospel that they gather around. How could Bauder not grasp that T4G will never have Dr. Ryrie on their platform when he surely knows that Dr. Ryrie in, So Great Salvation rejects John MacArthur’s Lordship Salvation as a false interpretation of the Gospel? The very LS Gospel, which virtually all of MacArthur’s contemporaries across Evangelicalism embrace.

What the apologists for unity with Evangelicalism who join Kevin Bauder at sites such as the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron do not fully disclose, try to negate and blur is that Bauder’s so-called “pure gospel” rallying point is Calvinistic soteriology in the form of the Lordship Salvation. This is exactly why no man who rejects Lordship Salvation will ever be invited to the platform of events like T4G and The Gospel Coalition.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the sole test for fellowship with the evangelicals is whether or not they can agree on a Calvinistic soteriology. Kevin Bauder is willing to find agreement and base fellowship with evangelicals solely on Calvinistic soteriology, which is undeniably the LS interpretation of the Gospel. This “pure gospel,” as we may examine in future articles, has become the sole test for fellowship in Bauder’s approach to them. Virtually all other considerations among the evangelicals such as ecumenical compromise, worldliness and aberrant doctrine have been tolerated, ignored, negated or excused. [A pattern that continues at time of this republishing, 02/2012]

Kevin Bauder acts irresponsibly when he attempts to portray Fundamentalism as though all fundamentalists accept and agree with the evangelicals interpretation of the Gospel. This is an inappropriate caricature of the whole of Fundamentalism. According to Kevin Bauder,
Both fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals believe the gospel, preach the gospel, and defend the gospel.”
The truth is that many men in Fundamentalism do NOT “believe, preach or defend” the Lordship Salvation Gospel of the evangelicals. They instead reject LS because it “corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3) and biblically resist its spread as fervently as they would Roman Catholicism’s sacramental system because both are works based, non-saving interpretations of the Gospel.

IMO it is disingenuous and irresponsible for Kevin Bauder to speak of the Gospel in his article as if there is wide spread unanimity in all of Fundamentalism for agreement with evangelicals on what constitutes the Gospel, the nature of saving faith. His failure to disclose the well-known, demonstrable division in Fundamentalism over the LS interpretation of the Gospel, the open rejection of the LS gospel of the evangelicals, is in fact the practice censorship by omission. I am calling on Kevin Bauder to be honest with his readers. To publicly recognize that many men in Fundamentalism reject Calvinistic soteriology and especially the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel, which the evangelicals “believe, preach and defend.”

Close on a Personal Admonition to Kevin Bauder:
Brother Bauder you do not speak on behalf of and are no more the voice of Fundamentalism than I am. As I have documented in this article you are perpetuating a fallacy on unity in the Gospel. It is intellectually dishonest to declare, without qualification, there is unanimity on the Gospel between fundamentalists and evangelicals. It is an egregious misrepresentation. Scores of fundamentalist pastors, teachers and evangelists reject Evangelicalism’s Lordship Salvation as a false interpretation of the Gospel and you know this to be true. To reiterate, you do not speak for Fundamentalism. Fundamentalists speak for themselves and many of them passionately reject Lordship Salvation and would have every right to be offended by your suggesting Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism believe, preach and defend the [same] Gospel.

I am calling on you to immediately publish a correction of this misrepresentation. Be honest with your readers. Tell them that a select group of Calvinists in Fundamentalism agree with evangelicals on Calvinistic soteriology in the form of the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel. Tell your readers that Calvinistic soteriology is the “pure gospel” you speak of and around which you are trying to influence others toward unity in the Evangelical and Fundamentalist camps.

(Originally published August 2010)

1) 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? Reasonable men can get along over differences of opinion over Reformed theology. Many men who reject Calvinism have cordial personal friendships with IFB men who are Calvinistic in their theology. There is the desire to work in cooperative efforts and I understand that desire. It is, however, antithetical to the Scriptures to call for unity in any fellowship at the expense of compromise with Lordship’s message, which has changed the terms of the Gospel.
2) For a brief definition of LS by Dr. John MacArthur see, Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page

3) Let’s Get “CRYSTAL” Clear on This: A Response to Kevin Bauder’s “Cannonball” Cogitations: “Foremost Defenders of the Gospel Today?”

Please continue to Cogitations Stemming From the Central/Bauder Ethos Statement

February 7, 2012

Clay Nuttall: “What God has Clearly Said in the Whole not the Part

Recently a reader of this blog wrote to one of my regular contributors, Dr. Clay Nuttall. The reader’s email to Dr. Nuttall appears first followed by Dr. Nuttall’s reply. Because of the helpful teaching in Dr. Nuttall’s reply I share it publicly (with his permission) for your consideration.

I ran across your email address on the blog for “In Defense of The Gospel.” I was hoping to get an email address for Lou Martuneac. I have recently read his book and I have a couple of questions to ask. I was raised in a salvation by works Gospel, and through out the years this has caused me much turmoil and fear. In reading Lou’s “In Defense of the Gospel.” I started to rethink my theology. I have been researching this for about 6 months now, and have come to the conclusion that Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. However there are a couple of verses in the Bible that still have me concerned.

First in Rev 2:11 The Church of Smryna was experiencing extreme persecution even up to the point of death, and Jesus tells them in v 11 that “He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.” If my understanding is correct the second death is a reference to Hell. Is Jesus not insinuating that if the church did not overcome that they would be hurt by the second death?

The second scripture that gives me concern in Matthew 24:13. Where Jesus said that “they who endure to the end will be saved.” I am hoping that someone can enlighten me as to what these versus actually mean if overcoming and endurance to the end is not necessary for salvation. I pray that someone will email me back and help me to understand this. I have had so many sleepless nights over this and am in dire need of some guidance. If you cannot help me can you please get me in touch with someone who can?

God Bless,

Dear LV:

Thank you for writing and I am pleased to hear that you are searching the scriptures to see if these things are so. The Bible gives us mountains of evidence that salvation is by grace alone through faith. So what do we do with isolated text that seem to teach otherwise? The answer is that one verse is a question, not an answer. The answer is in the whole not in the part.

I teach hermeneutics and biblical apologetics. Dealing with exceptions is not a problem if we see it from God’s point of view and what we learn is that an exception is not the rule.

So when we come to isolated texts like Rev. 2:11 we have a question that makes us go to all the scriptures for the answer. This text does not tell us that if we overcome we will be saved. What the whole of scriptures teach is that those who are saved are the overcomers. There are hundreds of illustrations like this. For instance Acts 2:38 does not teach one has to be baptized to be saved, it does teach that baptism should follow the newly saved person. Mark 16:16 does not teach that baptism saves. This very verse when you read all of it tells us that person is damned because they don't believe not because they are not baptized.

How do I know this? Because all the mountain of truth in the NT tells us that salvation is about God not man. It is by God’s grace not the impossibility of mans works. Eph. 2:8-10 clearly tells us that salvation is the work of God not the work of man.

Salvation is individual between God and one person. In Rev. 2:11 it is not the “church” that is working toward salvation. The “second death” is for all who are unsaved and it is the lake of fire at the end of time. (Rev. 20:14-15) The reason why these saved people in Smryna avoid the second death is because the are saved and are overcomers. This puts salvation in the hands of God “salvation is of the Lord.” Our responsibility is to believe, God’s responsibility is to save. If we were required to be saved by our effort or works, we would have to be perfect with no failure at all. This is exactly what Romans 3:23 teaches. One sin would make us short of the requirement. Here “the glory of God” is the Lord Jesus Christ the perfect lamb of God.

Matthew 24:13 is a perfect example of why one text is a question not an answer. If one has to endure for their salvation and it would be grace plus works but that is impossible (Romans 4:4; 3:24; 3:20; Gal. 3:3 and hundreds of verses)

So what is Mathew 24:13 about? The answer is in the context. This text is not about the salvation of the soul. The word saved is used in many ways. Here it is the salvation of living people, or saving their lives. How do we know that? The text is about people living in the tribulation period and about living through this horrible 7 year period. That is what the text says. If it taught you had to work to keep your salvation you would have to tear most of the NT out and toss it because it would be false.

I beg you to rest in the work of the Lord Jesus who “finished” your payment for sin. We never could provide enough works to earn or keep our salvation. Please remember we go to the Word to find out what God has clearly said in the whole not the part. We do not go to the word to challenge what God teaches in the whole. It is the devils trick to make us focus on a question rather than rejoice in the answer of God’s Grace, love, mercy and goodness. Sleep well my friend, rest in His grace and He will provide the power to be an overcomer.

I am pleased with your desire to know what the text says. Please feel free to ask any other questions.

Clay Nuttall

February 3, 2012

The Elephant in the Room: “Secondary Separation for Slow Learners

Yesterday, at the My Two Cents blog, a man named Paul Ferguson posted two comments that I feel are worth a wide reading. His comments are posted well down the thread under an article by Chris Anderson titled, My Two Cents on Elephants and Ecclesiastical Separation.

Brother Ferguson’s intial comment appeared here and is as follows.

The “Elephant Room saga” is 1948 secondary separation for slow learners at TGC. In fairness, many of the “Conservative Evangelicals” have practiced a form of separation for many years. When has MacArthur or Baucham preached in a liberal church or on the same platform as liberals?

The point is that they practice separation inconsistently. This current little spat is a case in point. Baucham/Dever etc separate from MacDonald over promotion/dialogue with a Modalist/Prosperity heretic but they don’t over Piper and his dialogues with another false teacher, Rick Warren or Piper’s claims that Mother Theresa is the model of sanctification. Indeed, Mohler also continues to get a pass for his tie ups with the universalist heretic Billy Graham.

We still await a biblical exposition and practical application by the Evangelical crowd of the doctrine of biblical separation. You can search through all of their copious writings and textbooks and you will find it is the doctrine that no one wants to talk about. That is the real “elephant in the room.”
Before his second comment appeared I included one of my own to recognize his excellent contribution and to expand its application.
To this excellent analysis I would only [emphasize] that Piper is routinely given a pass by fellow evangelicals. Furthermore, men in fundamental circles who claim to be biblical separatists are giving Mohler and Piper a pass by refusing to openly mark and admonish them for the egregious (unrepented of) errors noted by Paul above and call on believers to withdraw from and avoid them (Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15).
Brother Ferguson’s second was,
Chris, I applaud anyone who makes a step in the right direction in respect of separation. It is good that some of the Evangelicals are at last thinking about the idea.

But before we roll out the red carpet, let us remind ourselves that for 60 odd years they were the ones claiming to be the “expositers” and “exegetes.” The Fundamentalist movement were the obscurantists and lacking in exegetical sophistication.

The doctrine of separation began in heaven with the expulsion of Lucifer and carries on till the eternal golden age with the Great White Throne judgment. It is an integral part of Scripture –both OT and NT. So those who claim to have been at the vanguard of biblical exposition such as MacArthur, Dever, Piper et al have either:

(1) Missed a central doctrine of the Bible (2) Deliberately avoided a central doctrine of the Bible for expediency (3) Misunderstood a central doctrine of the Bible

My suspicion is that they are like Jonah – they know what they should do but have deliberately chosen not to do so. I cannot believe that a movement that has been going on for 60 odd years, whose roots were in Fundamentalism, could have missed such an obvious biblical doctrine....
I trust you appreciated these two comments by Paul Ferguson as much as I did.


February 2, 2012

Salvation and Discipleship by Dr. Rick Flanders Part 5- FINAL

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

We have arrived at the conclusion of this series by Dr. Rick Flanders. If you are new to this series you might begin with Part One, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

One of the most hotly debated issues in the Lordship Salvation (LS) controversy revolves around the doctrines of salvation and discipleship. Most LS advocates see these as one and the same. LS advocates blur the lines of distinction, which creates an evangelistic message that conditions the reception of eternal life on a lost man’s upfront commitment to what should be the results of a genuine conversion in discipleship.

Dr. Rick Flanders wrote Salvation and Discipleship, which addresses this vital issue in the Lordship Salvation controversy. The article first appeared at the Baptist College of Ministry website and with the author’s permission it is being reproduced here as a multi-part series. I am hopeful every guest will read this series with discernment and prayerfully consider the plain teaching of Scripture as Dr. Flanders presents it now in this fourth installment.

Confusion over the distinctions between salvation and discipleship is doing serious harm in many lives today. People who have a hard time being sure of their salvation usually are having trouble because of preaching they have heard. Some otherwise sound preachers mix up the requirements of discipleship with the requirement for salvation, and are in this way preaching false doctrine. The requirement for salvation is simple faith. The requirements for discipleship include self-denial, absolute surrender to Christ, and the forsaking of all. Preachers must preach discipleship, but not discipleship for salvation. Failure at discipleship does not prove that one is not saved. Salvation is about “whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). Discipleship is about “If any man serve me, let him follow me” (John 12:26). They go together, but they are not the same. To make them the same is to ruin the plan of salvation by inserting the requirement of works. Let us rightly divide the truth of God, and thereby enjoy all the blessings of the grace of God.

Dr. Rick Flanders has an itinerant preaching ministry for revival. He can be contacted at drrickflanders@gmail.com. Dr. Rick Flanders Revival Ministries

See- John MacArthur’s Discipleship Gospel and Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page for related reading.

February 1, 2012

Salvation and Discipleship by Dr. Rick Flanders, Part 4

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

We are continuing with the series by Dr. Rick Flanders. If you are new to this series you might begin with Part One, Part 2 and Part 3 before proceeding.

One of the most hotly debated issues in the Lordship Salvation (LS) controversy revolves around the doctrines of salvation and discipleship. Most LS advocates see these as one and the same. LS advocates blur the lines of distinction, which creates an evangelistic message that conditions the reception of eternal life on a lost man’s upfront commitment to what should be the results of a genuine conversion in discipleship.

Dr. Rick Flanders wrote Salvation and Discipleship, which addresses this vital issue in the Lordship Salvation controversy. The article first appeared at the Baptist College of Ministry website and with the author’s permission it is being reproduced here as a multi-part series. I am hopeful every guest will read this series with discernment and prayerfully consider the plain teaching of Scripture as Dr. Flanders presents it now in this fourth installment.

The Bible teaches that we are saved by faith in Christ, and also that we are to live by faith in Christ. Faith makes all the difference both in having assurance that you are saved and in living the Christian life after you are saved. We see this clearly in the book of Galatians. Chapter 2, verse 16, says that “a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.” We are justified (made right in the sight of God) by faith in Christ (as opposed to earning God’s favor through our supposed obedience to God’s law). Then verse 19 begins a discussion about how to “live unto God,” and verse 20 says that this is done also “by the faith of the Son of God.” Chapter 3 begins by affirming that, just as we were saved by faith through the work of the Holy Spirit, so now we are “made perfect” by the Spirit through “the hearing of faith” (read verses 1-3 carefully). Although the Christian life is indeed about commitment to obeying Christ, and discipleship involves self-denial and sacrifice, they are never successfully lived out except by faith. Just as real assurance of salvation comes only by faith in Christ, victorious Christian living is experienced only by faith. Notice also these scriptures:
•“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.” (Colossians 2:6)

•“Whosoever is believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God…whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:1-5)
Colossians teaches that we walk in Christ the same way we received Him: by faith. I John says that we are born again by believing, and that we overcome the world also by faith. Whenever a Christian gets his eyes off Jesus and Calvary, and begins to look to himself for assurance of salvation, he loses what assurance he had! When we focus on how we feel, or how earnest we were when we came to Christ, or how much our lives have been changed, we have forgotten the basis of our assurance. We are not saved through anything we have done, or do, or feel. Real salvation is based on what Jesus did for us. When we focus on that, God gives us assurance grounded in faith.

Just as many fail to have blessed assurance because they have stopped seeking it by faith, many come short of victory in their Christian lives because they are seeking it through the efforts of their flesh. As we have seen, discipleship is about works, and it will be our works that will be rewarded if we succeed at discipleship, but nobody ever succeeds at Christian discipleship until they learn to live by faith. Perhaps the strongest passage about the cost of discipleship is Luke 14:25-35. In it we find the Lord Jesus calling upon would-be disciples to count the cost (verse 28) before committing. There are several other strong statements made in the New Testament by the Lord Jesus about being His disciple, and it would be good for us to be familiar with them, too.
•“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39)

•“Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.” (Mark 8:34-35; see also Matthew 16:24-25 and Luke 9:23-24)
Some of the same ideas are taught in Luke 14, and the language there is possibly even stronger.
•“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (verses 26 and 27)

•“Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, cannot be my disciple.” (verse 33)
The phrase “cannot be my disciple” troubles us, but its meaning is clarified as we are reminded of the stark difference between salvation and discipleship, even in this chapter. All of these words of warning were given to the “great multitudes” that came to Jesus and went with Him after He illustrated salvation with the parable of the Great Supper (see verses 15-26). In that parable the way to salvation was made extremely clear, and also very easy. The invitation to the feast of salvation is given to all, and it is simply, “Come, for all things are now ready.” God has done everything that must be done for a sinner to be saved. He has given His Son to die a Sacrifice to pay for our sins, and He has raised Him from the dead, the Victor over sin, death, and Hell. All the sinner must do is come and partake of so great a salvation! But as many responded that day to the offer of free salvation, Jesus turned and warned them of the cost of discipleship. Salvation costs us nothing because God Himself paid for it. However, discipleship costs us everything! In verse 26, we are told to give up people we love; in verse 27, we are told to give up our plans for the future; in verse 33, we are told to give up our possessions. If we don’t, we cannot be His disciples. What Jesus meant by these things is explained by the two parables of discipleship He told, one about building a tower, and the other about making war (read again verses 28 through 33).

In the illustration about building the tower, the Lord emphasizes how foolish it would be for a man to start building without knowing if he had enough materials or money to finish the project. People would mock such a man and say, “This man began to build, and was not able to finish.” In the illustration about making war, the Lord points out how foolish it would be for a king to go to battle against an army larger than his unless he was convinced that he could win anyway. In both cases, the man starting into a venture should first count the cost, and evaluate his chances of success.

These parables picture discipleship, the Christian life. The follower of Jesus is building a tower, and he is fighting a battle. Will he succeed? Notice that the question is about finishing successfully. Will he begin but not be able to finish? Will he go to war, but only to be defeated? When Jesus said, “he cannot be my disciple,” He meant, “a person who will not forsake people, plans, and possessions will not complete the task he has begun; he will not succeed as a disciple.” The fact is that these three (people we love more than Jesus, plans we have for our lives, possessions that mean so much to us) are the things that usually draw a believer off the path of discipleship. Jesus tells us to forsake them all in our minds before starting out. It is not that we should “hate” our family any more than we should literally “hate” our own lives, but that we must love the Lord Jesus so much more than the dearest of our earthly loved ones that our love for them looks like hate in comparison with our love for Him.

Now the question of our likelihood of success comes before us. Will we make a success of our Christian life? Do we have enough to finish the tower? Can we defeat the enemy that is mightier than we? Think about these questions. The right answer is the same for both: yes and no. In our own strength and ability, the answer is “No.” The twelve did not do very well at discipleship in their three years of following Jesus while He was with them on earth. We do not do very well at living lives surrendered to Christ when we try to live for Him by our own power and determination. However, the Lord never intended us to live the Christian life, to fulfill the demands of discipleship, in our own strength. He said, “Without me, ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). He called on those who came to Him for salvation to yoke up with Him for discipleship (Matthew 11:28-30). With His help, we can build the tower, and we can defeat the foe! When we live by faith, the answer is “Yes.”

Let us not forget the context of the words we have been examining in John 8. Jesus told those who had just believed on Him for salvation that if they would continue in His Word, they would be true disciples of His (verses 31 and 32). And He promised that the result of their continuing in His Word as His disciples would be that they would “know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The incident with the woman taken in adultery set the stage for the unfolding of this teaching about victory over sin in the life of a saved person (read again verses 1 through 12). Salvation from the condemnation of sin is the possession of every believer in Jesus Christ. Liberation from the power of sin is the experience of believers who commit to discipleship, and live it by faith. Actually, we are free from the bondage of sin the moment we believe on Christ for salvation (see this in verses 34 through 36), but it won't happen for us, so to speak, until we learn about it from the Word, and reckon it true by faith. This happens as we follow Jesus in discipleship (read again John 8:12 and 31-32).

No penitent sinner who has come to Christ need struggle over whether or not he is saved. No saved person need struggle in defeat without knowing victory over his sins. Jesus has provided deliverance from both the penalty and the power of sin, and we can have it by faith in Him.

The series continues with the final installment.

Dr. Rick Flanders has an itinerant preaching ministry for revival. He can be contacted at drrickflanders@gmail.com. Dr. Rick Flanders Revival Ministries

See- John MacArthur’s Discipleship Gospel and Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page for related reading.