June 8, 2012

On Summer Hiatus

From its inception in Spring 2006 In Defense of the Gospel (IDOTG) has been active without interruption. The three primary areas that IDOTG has focused on over the past six years have been the egregious errors of Lordship Salvation and the Crossless Gospel (originated by the late Zane Hodges). Over the past three years a great deal of effort has been put into exposing the tolerance, allowing for, excusing and ignoring of doctrinal aberrations, worldliness and ecumenical compromise of non-separatist evangelicals for the sake of fellowship and cooperative ministry with them. Through the influence of the pseudo-fundamentalist site Sharper Iron and efforts of certain men, who still circulate in fundamental circles, this New Wave of “New” Evangelicalism gained traction in some segments of Fundamentalism.

Effective today I will begin a long overdue hiatus from writing, publishing and managing IDOTG. I am setting aside this summer season to enjoy the comforts of home and family.

To date there are 546 articles on a variety of concerns for Bible-believing Christians. Search the LABELS column for subject matter that may be of special interest to you.

Yours faithfully,

June 5, 2012

You and Sin! by Dr. Rick Flanders

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (First John 2:1-2) 
Notice very carefully what John is saying to us (born-again Christians addressed as “little children”) in the First Epistle of John, chapter 2, in the first two verses. He is telling us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit how we should deal with sin. But take note of what he is actually saying! We can understand what he means by the context.

The first great issue men must settle in their dealings with God is the issue of sin. It is the first great issue of our salvation, and also the first great issue in revival. And the Apostle John tells us plainly how to deal with it.
1. Everybody has sinned (First John 1:10). The last verse of the first chapter makes this very clear: “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Let nobody claim innocence. Later on, his small book gives us the clearest definition of sin in the Bible. Chapter 3, verse 4 says, “Sin is the transgression of the law.” To sin is to break God’s law, and we all have done it. Deliberately and repeatedly we have done what God told us not to do and have failed to do what He said we should do. The Bible contains many divine laws throughout, but the places where men usually look for them are in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) and in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, and 7). A thoughtful study of these chapters will bring anyone to the conclusion that he has broken God’s law and is justly condemned. If we all got what just we deserved when we die, it would be Hell. 
2. Sin ruins happiness (First John 1:1-7). John was the youngest of the twelve apostles of Jesus, and he did his inspired writing when he was an old man. He tells us at the beginning why he wrote the circular letter called First Epistle of John. It was “that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” The apostles told people about the coming of God’s Son so that they could experience with them the fellowship Christians can have with the Persons of the Holy Trinity! Salvation is a wonderful thing! By the Spirit, we can have fellowship with the Father and the Son. This fact is not only wonderful, but also very important. John writes, “These things write we unto you that your joy may be full.” Fellowship with God is the source of joy. We cannot be happy, really happy, unless we are walking in fellowship with God. Now “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” Nobody can have fellowship with a perfectly holy God while he is engaging in sin. When “we walk in the light, as he is in the light” we can enjoy fellowship with Him. In other words, obedience to the law of God allows fellowship with the God Who is Light. Disobedience to His law (sin) prohibits such fellowship and ruins our chances of real happiness.
3. Everybody sins (First John 1:8). The sad truth is that everybody sins, even after they become Christians. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Salvation does some wonderful things for us, but it does not prevent us from sinning. Twice the sixth chapter of Romans says that believers in Christ are “free from sin” (verses 18 and 22) but it does not say that we are free of sin. Jesus said, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:34-37). The chains of sin are broken when a sinner turns to Christ for his salvation, but in fact he does still sin. He is in fact emancipated from bondage to sin, but he can still sin voluntarily. We still have our sinful human nature even after we have been saved, and we all do sin.
4. Everybody must deal with his sins (First John 1:9). Since sin ruins happiness and we all sin, we all must deal with our sins in the right way in order to find happiness. Sinners must get forgiveness from God, which is available only through Jesus Christ. First we must gain legal forgiveness so that we don’t go to Hell. This is the once-for-all cancellation of all our sins (past, present, and future) that happens when a sinner turns to Christ for the salvation of his soul. Read about this forgiveness in Ephesians 1:7-14. It is also promised in other scriptures, such as John 3:14-18 and Romans 3:10-26. When you trust in Christ for your salvation, the penalty for your sins is cancelled by Jesus through His sacrifice on the Cross, and the justice of God no longer has anything against you. You are justified in His sight. It is absolute and total legal forgiveness. Once you have this, you will need practical forgiveness regularly. When you sin after you are saved, you do not need to be saved again. There is no more condemnation for believers in Jesus Christ (John 5:24). But they still have a problem with the fact that God is holy, and they still sin. A holy God, even though He is now our Father and will not condemn us to Hell for our sins, cannot have anything to do with us in a practical way as long as we are persisting in deliberate disobedience. So we must get practical forgiveness. This is promised to us if we confess our sins. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The night before He died at Calvary, the Lord Jesus used His washing of the disciples’ feet to teach them the necessity of being cleansed regularly from sins. “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me,” He told Peter when he objected to the Lord washing his feet. Peter then responded by saying, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” The Lord answered that those who have bathed do not need a bath when they enter the house, just a foot-washing. “He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit” (John 13:1-11). When we have had the bath of salvation we still need the regular cleansing only Jesus can give. When we have confessed our sins, He will “cleanse us from all unrighteousness” so that we are “clean every whit.” To enjoy full and free fellowship with God, we must be saved, and then we must be diligent about confessing our sins. A good example of thorough contrition for thorough cleansing is found in Psalm 51. We all simply must deal with our sins.
5. Christians ought not to sin (First John 2:1-11). What does First John 2:1-2 say to believers in Christ about sin? It says that we should not sin. “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.” Then he says, “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” The message is that we ought not to sin, with the fact of Christ’s advocacy before the Father assuring of us of our salvation even when we do sin. The message is not that a Christian should not be concerned about his sins because his salvation is secure. The message is that we ought not to sin, even with the confidence that when we do sin, we will not be lost. Like insurance, our security is presented as important in an emergency, but it does not encourage us to create the emergency! The intention of the believer should be not to sin. This message is taught again throughout the First Epistle of John, beginning in this second chapter. In verse 6 we read that one who says “he abideth in him [Christ] ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” We are told here, and again in 3:16 and 4:11, that we “ought” to live righteous lives as Christians. Now the word “ought” is an interesting word, and an important word in First John. It does not mean “will.” Those who interpret First John to say that real Christians will live righteous lives, and that those who fail to do so are not really saved, misunderstand the whole book. The theme of this epistle is how to maintain fellowship with God (chapter 1, verses 1 through 7). God is Light (chapter 1, verse 5) and God is Love (chapter 4, verse 8). Those who walk with God must walk in the Light (chapter 1, verses 6-7) and walk in Love (chapter 2, verse 10). But believers will not do this automatically. They “ought” to live this way, but the word “ought” carries with it some doubt as to whether the person “will” do what he “ought” to do. First John was not written to give us the secret for determining if a person is “really saved” or not. The apostle uses drastic contrasts to prove and demonstrate that fellowship with God is impossible without harmony with His Light and Love (as in chapter 2, verse 15, and chapter 3, verse 9), but he does not question the salvation of his readers (see chapter 2, verses 12 through 14). The concept in the word “ought” is that of moral obligation but not of certain action. Although “ought” does not mean “will,” it does imply “can.” We never say that someone “ought” to do something he cannot do. And First John does teach (as does the entire New Testament) that Christians can live lives of love and light. The power to do it is wrapped up in the phrase “abide in him” (see First John 2:6, 2:27, 2:28, and 3:6). The phrase comes from John 15, where Jesus instructs His disciples in living the abundant Christian life with the metaphor of a vine and the branches. If we will abide in Him, we will live a life of victory, understanding, peace, effective prayer, and fruitfulness, according to the Lord Jesus. The life of abiding in Christ is the life of faith and absolute submission. Since we can overcome our flesh and sin by faith, we ought to do it. Sin is harmful and we ought not to do it.
The mindset that Christianity amounts to a system for living in sin contradicts the Bible in many places. May believers in Jesus Christ reckon themselves dead to sin, renounce sin as an option, and look to God for victory over its power.
Dr. Rick Flanders Revival Ministries

June 1, 2012

Pastor John A. Ashbrook Would A Brother Lie?

Is it possible that brethren would lie to us?  Yes.  As a pastor, I have had many people speak to me about unscriptural conduct and say, “Pastor, we prayed about this and we know the Spirit of the Lord led us.”  Every time I have been invited to join ecumenical campaigns that same lie has been repeated to me.  How do I know such a thing is a lie?  Permit me another axiom:

The new evangelical comes to us as a brother.  He has a philosophy of ministry which appeals to the flesh.  It sounds very logical to human reason.  But it ignores God’s simple commands such as, “receive him not into your house,” “come out from among them,” “be ye separate,” and “touch not the unclean thing.”  When he tells us that the Spirit of God has led him in this new direction, we must recognize that as a lie; because the Spirit of God has never led one Christian contrary to one word of the Word of God.

The most dangerous deviation is the one closest to your own position.  New evangelicalism sprang out of fundamentalism.  It is a movement of brethren.  The lie of new evangelicalism has deceived more fundamentalists than the siren song of ecumenism.  In recent years Jerry Falwell, who still desires to be called a fundamentalist, has denied the last forty years of church history and decided that there is really no difference between fundamentalists and new evangelicals.  His swallowing of the lie of new evangelicalism has led great numbers of those who follow in his train into the same compromise.

Don’t let your guard down.  Is it right to allow disobedient brethren kind words from your pulpit?  Is it right to allow disobedient brethren to use your good name?  Is it right to let disobedient brethren have dollars collected from your people?  Is it right to allow disobedient brethren to have the cream of your young people to educate and use in their enterprise?  Say a gracious “No” if you can.  Thunder out a “No!” if you must.  But, above all, don’t say “Yes.”

There is a third scene in this chapter.  It is a solemn warning.  We see the nameless prophet’s scene of defeat.  In this final section there are two things—a prediction and a picture.

The old prophet who issued the lying invitation had not had a prophecy to declare for the Lord in many years. But as he sat fellowshipping with his younger brother, the Lord forced him to give a prediction which must have stuck in his throat.  We have it in verses 21 and 22: “And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the Lord, and has not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded thee, but camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which the Lord did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcass shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers.”

When the meal was over the old prophet provided the younger prophet with his own donkey and sent him on his way.  It was not long until there was a knock on the old man’s door and a neighbor brought the tragic message of which we read in verses 24, 25: “And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcass was cast in the way, and the ass stood beside it, the lion also stood by the carcass.  And, behold, men passed by, and saw the carcass cast in the way, and the lion standing by the carcass: and they came and told it in city where the old prophet dwelt.”

I submit to you that the scene so described is one of the most unnatural scenes in the Bible.  We have a man-eating lion which would not eat the man he had killed.  We have a donkey which would not run from the lion.  Donkeys are not famed for brilliance, but they have always known enough to run from lions.  Man-eating lions eat donkeys for dessert.  In this strange tableau a man-eating lion and a donkey stood on either side of a prophet’s carcass.  The people of the area came and peered around the rocks to see the strange scene.  The aura of unnaturalness which surrounds this scene is the stamp of God upon it.  God wanted all who passed that way to know that this was not a man who happened to be killed by a lion, but a prophet who was executed by his God for disobedience.

We are always worried what men will think in any given situation.  God was not worried about what men would think.  He was concerned only that his prophet had disobeyed.

This story compels any discerning reader to ask an obvious question.  Why was it that God was so severe on the young prophet who spoke to Jeroboam so well; but, the old prophet who perpetrated the lie seems to have escaped scot-free?
Reprinted by permission, The Projector, Spring 2012