June 22, 2018

1 John 1:9 – Salvation or Sanctification

This article, Salvation or Sanctification, written by Dr. John Van Gelderen, appears at his Revival Focus site and blog.  The article speaks to one of the major errors of those teaching  the “Lordship Salvation” theory of salvation. That being their failure to distinguish between the two separate and distinct doctrines of salvation and sanctification/discipleship.
Dr. John Van Gelderen

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
For much of my lifetime, I heard this verse referred to as a cleansing and restoring truth for believers who in some way had stumbled into sin. Such an interpretation affects sanctification. About fifteen years ago, however, I began to hear some claim this verse refers to the moment of salvation, insisting that it is really a salvation verse. So, is 1 John 1:9 a salvation or sanctification verse? After considering the various arguments, I believe for several reasons that 1 John 1:9 is a sanctification verse.
First, the stated purpose and audience addresses believers. The Apostle John repeatedly notes in the Gospel of John that when you believe in Jesus you have eternal life. He now begins 1 John, declaring that Jesus is “that eternal life.” Eternal life is ultimately someone, not something. Then, he states that his purpose for declaring this eternal life of Jesus is for “fellowship” among believers and especially fellowship with the Father and the Son (1:3), and for realizing “joy” in such fellowship (1:4). Both purpose statements use the word να (that) meaning “in order that” or “for the purpose that.” John’s focus, then, is not receiving eternal life, but having fellowship with that Life and so experiencing the joy of experiencing Jesus. Scripture does not use the word fellowship to denote getting saved but uses it instead to describe a blessing potential for those who are saved.
In the epistle, John addresses his audience as “my little children” (seven times) and “beloved” (four times). Also, John includes himself in the subject matter, using the pronouns we, us, and our more than 30 times in the ten verses of the first chapter. All this supports the conclusion that John is writing to believers regarding the privileges of their salvation—and not about how to get saved.
Second, the immediate context of chapter 1 and its grammar support the process of sanctification, not the moment of salvation. Verse 7 speaks of walking in the light. The word walking is never used interchangeably with standing. The moment of salvation provides you with a new standing in Christ. It is because of your new standing you can have a new walk. But walking is beyond standing, and therefore, beyond the salvation moment.
The words walk and cleanse in verse 7 are in the present tense, revealing they are repeated matters, not once for all. In keeping with this more-than-once emphasis, the word confess in verse 9 (explaining how to walk in the light) is also in the present tense.
Verse 9 specifically says, “If we confess our sins.” The plural sins reveals specific stumblings for which we must agree with God. If 1 John 1:9 is a salvation verse, it would need to say sin (singular) referring to the sin nature. The use of the plural cannot be referring to salvation or you would have to remember and name every single sin you ever committed to get saved! The issue here is simply the specific sins committed as a believer that grieve the Spirit. God never leaves us or breaks fellowship with us. But our sins break fellowship with Him.
But when we walk in the light by getting honest and agreeing with God, He is faithful (every time) and just (because we do have a right standing with Him) to (να, “in order to”) forgive us our sins. The verb forgive is in the subjunctive mood indicating possibility. This implies that which is future contingent upon agreeing with God. It is also in the aorist tense indicating the fact of an action. Therefore, God cleans us all up every time we side with the light of His truth.
Some argue that since all your sins are forgiven at salvation, there is no more need of forgiveness. But Romans 4:7-8 clarifies, “…Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”
Technically, according to this passage, when you trust Christ as Savior, all your past sins are forgiven, and all your future sins will not be charged to your account. In this sense your sins are covered past, present and future, and you are safe. But even though future sins will not be charged to your account, they do break fellowship with God (not Him toward you, but you toward Him); thus, the need and provision for 1 John 1:9.
And third, other passages support the conclusion that 1 John 1:9 is a sanctification verse. Some truths are provisional but must be accessed by faith to be experienced. Galatians3:26-27 declares believers “have put on Christ.” Yet Romans 13:14 commands, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Why does Romans command what Galatians declares? It is because positional and provisional realities must be depended upon to be experienced. The same is true regarding forgiveness. The provision was made at the cross. It’s done. But the access is by faith. Passages like James 4:7-10 [see article Draw Near to God] also concur with the interpretation that 1 John 1:9 is a sanctification verse.
While some may misuse or abuse 1 John 1:9, and even though our provision in Christ for experiencing His victory is more than enough, what would we do without the blessing of cleansing and restoration through the brokenness of this great verse? Many revivals start when some walk in the light and get appropriately honest before a holy God.
Dr. John Van Gelderen
Related Reading:

June 14, 2018

Archival Series: Kevin Bauder, There He Goes Again, Redefining Fundamentalism

Pastor Marc Monte
In his recent essay, “Another One Bites the Dust,” Dr. Kevin Bauder, Research Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Central Baptist Theological Seminary, analyzes the unfortunate trend of the dissolution of Fundamentalist institutions of higher learning.  Dr. Bauder is a brilliant man and prolific writer who has bequeathed a wealth of thought-provoking material to the Lord’s church.  His book, Baptist Distinctives and New Testament Church Order, is a poignant defense of the Baptist position concerning both the polity and the practice of Baptist churches.  This author uses Dr. Bauder’s book and he recommends it widely.

Dr. Bauder’s recent article seeks to address reasons for the demise of many prominent Fundamentalist colleges and seminaries.  Going beyond the standard arguments of cultural shift and constituency alienation (both of which, he postulates, are legitimate issues), Dr. Bauder presents additional, not-often-considered factors pertinent to the death of these institutions.  His analysis deserves thoughtful consideration as Fundamentalist institutions move into the “brave, new world” of the 21st Century. 

In such a thoughtful article, it is unfortunate that Dr. Bauder could not resist his penchant for trashing what he describes as the “King James Only orbit.”  It appears to this avid Bauder reader that the good professor harbors unreasonable angst toward fellow fundamentalists who hold to a view of manuscript evidences different from his own.  His classification, “King James Only orbit,” paints with a broad brush, thereby unfairly dismissing legitimate theological positions within that orbit.

More than most men, Dr. Bauder understands that precise theology is nuanced theology.   For example, Dr. Bauder would not accept the tenants of every form and presentation of Calvinism.  He would be careful to distinguish his brand of Calvinism from others, emphasizing the nuances of his position as opposed to others.  This author contends that the same careful, nuanced approach should apply to the “King James Only orbit.”  There are some within the “orbit” who hold to a false theory of double inspiration.  There are others, however, who simply appeal to the Textus Receptus manuscripts as their authority, rejecting other differing manuscripts as spurious.  Such a view is not heterodox.  It is a legitimate, nuanced theological position.  To hold such a position does not place one outside the fundamentalist theological sphere.  Indeed, the Lord’s church held to the infallibility of those apographs (manuscript copies) for over 1800 years.  Only in the late 1800’s did the text of the New Testament suffer significant destabilization with the publication of newly discovered, variant manuscripts.

Dr. Bauder’s most jarring and politically charged statement appears with his textual position playing loudly in the background:
The King James Only crowd likes to boast that schools like Pensacola Christian College and West Coast Baptist College are thriving, and that may be true. These colleges, however, are not representative of fundamentalist institutions, and their prosperity does not do anything to help normal fundamentalism.” (Emphasis added.)
Herein, Dr. Bauder grievously errs. To say that Pensacola and West Coast are not “representative of fundamentalist institutions” redefines, once again, fundamentalism.  Neither school denies nor do they adulterate any point of the classical fundamentalist credo.  Their doctrinal statements are readily available for anyone’s inspection.  In addition, both schools practice personal and ecclesiastical separation, the hallmark of fundamentalism. The fact that these schools specify allegiance to a specific Greek text in no way diminishes their fundamentalist credentials.  In addition, both schools have a strong fundamentalist heritage.  In the case of Pensacola, it has flourished within the sphere of fundamentalism for decades.  Many fundamentalist churches recommend both Pensacola and Bob Jones as options within the fundamentalist realm.  Dr. Bauder’s needlessly divisive statement lacks both theological and historical support.

The second portion of his statement is even more troubling:  The prosperity of these colleges “does not do anything to help normal fundamentalism.”  Frankly, this author could scarcely believe a man of Dr. Bauder’s intellectual stature would make such an all-encompassing, condemnatory statement.  To claim disagreement with a nuanced theological issue is one thing; but to claim that these schools do “not do anything to help normal fundamentalism” demeans the work and dedication of sincere servants of Christ.  His statement slanders thousands of pastors who recommend Pensacola and West Coast, classifying godly men as somehow as not “normal.” And his statement simply isn’t true.  Thousands of fundamentalist pastors find in these schools a place of believing scholarship for their students.  Both of these schools have sent out thousands of Christian workers into the harvest fields of the world.  Both of these schools proclaim and defend the “faith once delivered to the saints,” (Jude 3).  Both take missions, church planting, and evangelism seriously and both have seen stellar success in these areas.  Both are filling the fundamentalist pulpits of America with men sound in the faith and zealous for the redemption of the lost. 
Succinctly stated, Dr. Bauder’s declaration is both irresponsible and indefensible. 
While Dr. Bauder has presented much good analytical material in his article—material that deserves thoughtful consideration—he has, once again, marred his work with an unnecessary rant against Christian people—fellow fundamentalists—who love and serve the Lord.  He seems bent on making enemies where he could have found friends, and, in so doing, he repeats an error plaguing fundamentalism from its inception—an error which increasingly alienates intelligent young men and women from the fundamentalist movement.

Ps. Marc Monte
Faith Baptist Church, Avon
Originally Published on March 9, 2015.

For a continuation of this discussion from Pastor Monte, please see:

Related Reading:
Were Not Convinced Kevin Bauder is a Help to Fundamentalism

Previous Articles by Ps. Monte:
Muddying the Clearwaters 
Bauders position differs markedly from the strong stance of R.V. Clearaters. Doc, as he was called, had no trouble calling a spade and spade. Bauder struggles with that…. For reasons known only to himself, Bauder mocks those whose doctrinal concerns include bibliology, the blood atonement and sovereignty/free will.
Kevin Bauder: It Wont Fly With Those of Us Who Know
If Kevin desires to take Dr. Clearwaters venerable institution a different direction from the founder, he should do so without pretending to be the guardian of the legacy. I knew Doc well enough to know that he would not be at all happy with the direction of Central Seminary under Bauders leading.  Its bad enough that his school is headed in a decidedly leftward direction. Please, Dr. Bauder, dont make it any worse by pretending some affinity with one of the greatest separatist Christians of the last century.
 Genuine Integrity Demands a Simple Admission 
What troubles [me], however, is the nagging feeling that Jeff Straub was attempting to convey more than just 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…. Dr. Clearwaters was not one to speak well of the denominational machine.” Genuine integrity demands a simple admission from institutional leadership that they are moving from the separatist principles of their founders.
Related Reading:
A Letter From Dr. Richard V. Clearwaters to Kevin Bauder
Kevin, while reading your articles I have observed an inordinate affection towards pseudo-intellectual teaching, and a disdain for old-fashioned, confrontational Bible preaching.  Make no mistake, old fashioned, confrontational Bible preaching is exactly why I founded Central Seminary.  My burden was to train men with an air-tight understanding of the Scriptures, with the ability to stand in pulpits across the land and preach, thus saith the Lord,” with the desire to start churches and win souls to Christ.  To the contrary, I did not start the school over which you [Bauder] preside, for men to flounder in unbelief, for them to wonder for decades where they stand, or for them to be given to counseling, teaching and academic idolatry.  I often told the men I was training, We use the mind here, but we do not worship it.” Dr. Bauder, all given appearances seem to indicate that you are intentionally trying to lead those who follow your writings…away from the testimony upon which [Central Seminary] was founded and into the compromising orbit of protestant evangelicalism.
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