February 22, 2024

Archival Series: Israel is a Tough Nut by Clay Nuttall D. Min.

 A lot of opinions have been tossed around as to who Israel is, and it is time to ask some questions. To begin with, what is behind the “replacement theory?”  That is the idea that the Church replaces Israel. Actually, this theory comes from a humanly developed hermeneutic. The one biblical hermeneutic recognizes the clear, distinct, and eternal differences between Israel and the Church: Israel is the wife of God, and the Church is the Bride of Christ. This distinction cannot be changed and will remain in eternity.

At least the replacement idea is clearly stated and is easy to recognize. The problem for those in our camp is that there are small encroachments on this subject. Any narrowing of that clear biblical distinction has to use the same hermeneutic that the replacement theory uses. Any distinctive that belongs to the Church and is assigned to Israel is a step in the wrong direction. It even appears to be a mild form of anti-Semitism.


In the Arabic world, we teach some of the finest believers I have ever known. This subject is difficult for them because of things that have been done to them. I don’t excuse anything that anyone does that is wrong or inconsistent. On the other hand, though, this discussion deals with who they are and not what they have done.

The nation of Israel that is now in the land is a nation. It is foolish not to recognize that fact. This present nation, however, is not equal to the Old Testament theocratic nation of Israel. It is not equal to the nation of Israel in the Millennium. The people in this present nation are God’s chosen people despite their rejection and hard-heartedness. The Bible does tell us that they will return to the land, but that they will return in unbelief. They will be a different people in heart when the “New Covenant” is fulfilled just prior to the Millennium. That will be a miracle of God, just as your own personal salvation was a miracle of God.


Many writers have been proposed opinions about this subject. It has been suggested that the nation now in the land has no claim on the land. This would be the Reformed position, but it is wrong. It is the Jews that God has chosen as His special people, no matter when or where they are on the earth. The land grant - all of it - was given to the people, not to the nation. (Genesis 15:18-21) Even when there was no organized nation, the land belonged to them, the people; thus the people in the land at this hour do indeed retain the promise of the land grant.

I have often been asked, “If the present nation of Israel were driven into the sea, would that affect my understanding of prophecy?" The answer is no. We know only what we see and what is clearly stated in the Bible text, but God knows what He intends to bring to pass. On this subject we must be careful about assigning to Old Testament texts meaning that is not clearly tied to the specific subject.


Bible history is very clear: any nation, group, religion, or individual who offends God’s chosen people will, without question, be judged by God. In due time, any nation that has turned its hand to God’s chosen people will be destroyed. Theologians ignore this judgment by simply having those people disappear. In the end, scholars will be judged for their philosophical and allegorical treatment of Israel. The problem is that any offense, whether large or small, offends a Holy God. This is not just a matter of disagreement; it is a serious consideration.

The leadership of our country has turned its hand against God’s chosen people and has opened the door to their destruction. If the nation that is now in the land were to be slaughtered, how is that any different than what Germany did to the Jewish population? This is not about what the present nation is doing; it is about who they are. They are in unbelief and have rejected their Messiah, but they are still God’s particular people, like no other people in history. It is a backdrop for those who try to blend the Church and Israel. No matter how small, it is not a light matter; and everyone who has participated in this, no matter who they are, should expect judgment.

One has only to read the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ to see what happens to those who set their teeth against this ancient people. Without doubt, it ends in the greatest bloodbath in the history of the earth.


You can do your own study from scripture and history as to why God’s people lost possession of the land. It was their own fault. They failed to obey, to keep the covenant; and God promised they would be dispersed and that others would take their land. In God’s time, though, they will have all of the land that God willed for them. While they are driven out of the land, not occupying it, the land still belongs to God’s chosen people. He has never revoked that promise of ownership.


The cancer of the “emerging church” has swept through our own ranks. The mantra is, “We have changed our methods, but not our message.”  It is possible that some do not understand what they have done, but that is a bold-faced lie. The “emerging church” is filled with theological error, and on the subject of Israel they are dead wrong. I find it difficult to understand why people who have been taught truth seem to find it so easy to ignore doctrinal error when moving to one of the “entertainment churches.”   In their disobedience they now say, “It doesn’t matter.”  Even those who have moved into cult congregations are unable to see the false teaching. They appear to be blinded to truth, and what is worse is that they actually enjoy the Laodicean congregations they have joined! Perhaps the “noise” has helped to impair their hearing and their hearts. In the end, they have no idea how these false teachers have arrived at ideas that offend a Holy God.

Shepherd's Staff is prepared by (the late) Clay Nuttall, D. Min.
Originally published September 15, 2015

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. Visit Shepherd's Staff.

Related Readings:
An Introduction to Dispensationalism

George Zeller's: Introduction to Dispensationalsim

February 13, 2024

What "Philosophy of Ministry" Can Get a Man Invited to be a BJU Conference Speaker?

The annual Bob Jones University Bible Conference begins today, through February 16. Dr. Dave Doran is among the featured speakers. With Doran's invitation we recognize the ongoing pattern of a particular ministry experience BJU finds attractive for new hires and/or conference speakers. From the BJU Alumni Letter, The Voice we read,

"Dr. Alan Benson1 emphasizes in a BJUtoday article that 'Our speakers were chosen from sister institutions who share our biblical philosophy of ministry and passion for the gospel'." That provides a glimpse into the "share[d]...philosophy of ministry" Benson and the Executive Cabinet desire in potential conference speakers and faculty.

In 2022 BJU rehired Richard Stratton. For the recent CoRE Conference Tim Jordan was invited to speak. And, of course, BJU has invited Dave Doran to the current Bible Conference platform. What do these men share in a select application of "philosophy of ministry?" Stratton, Jordan and Doran each directly and/or by extension contributed to the demise of one time Fundamental separatist (Baptistic) colleges.

Stratton was president of Clearwater Christian College (2002-2011) he instituted changes that destroyed the school's legacy and reputation among the base. Clearwater could not recover from Stratton's presidency and consequently closed June 2015.

The Closure of Clearwater Christian College

This Pastor's Perspective of Clearwaters Closure 2

Tim Jordan at Calvary Baptist Seminary (alongside Sam Harbin) destroyed the seminary through a doctrinal shift and entangling the school with new evangelicals.

Closure of Calvary Baptist Seminary: Predictable and Repeatable

Jordan is Accountable for Calvary's Failure and Won't Own Up to It

Doran supported Matt Olson's radical shift at Northland International University. Earlier, 
alongside Kevin Bauder, they supported Tim Jordan's embrace of non-separatist evangelicals and rank new evangelicals.

Northland Closes: The Pattern of Demise Continues

It appears repudiation of Fundamentalism and/or contributing to the demise of any one time fundamental, separatist college is an important consideration for BJU when evaluating potential speakers to appear on campus. We can look back over several years to recognize this pattern. For example BJU hosted Andy Naselli to present lectures at the 2019 Stewart Custer Lecture Series.3

This Bible Conference provides new compelling evidence that the current BJU Board and Executive Cabinet are determined to continue and accelerate Steve Pettit’s erasure of BJU's fundamentalist, separatist moorings.

"Sister Institutions?"
And again from Alan Benson’s statement above, "Our speakers were chosen from sister institutions." And over the years since Pettit’s arrival on campus most of those "sister institutions" are sisters, in large part, by virtue of their commitment to Calvinism and Reformed theology.

An Advocacy for the Advancement of Reformed Theology

BJU Foundations Conference: An Intrusion of Calvinism, Reformed/Covenant Theology, New Calvinism & Lordship Salvation

Candidates for BJU Presidency
Prospective candidates should be mindful that should they be called to interview for the position they will be stepping toward and into the university's transformational agenda into non-separatist evangelicalism.


1) Alan Benson’s Hidden History

2) "Although all of the above no doubt contribute to the demise of [Clearwater] CCC; I suggest from my vantage point that the leadership of the college over the past 10 years steered the college away from its founder’s purpose, philosophy and vision.  Rather than an institution dedicated to educating, challenging and equipping young people to be “soldiers of Christ”, CCC evolved to a pragmatic philosophy of accommodation lowering her standards, adopting CCM music in her chapels and athletic events and most recently featuring an activity night of rap and rock music." The Pastor's Perspective

3) Excerpt from Dr. David Beale's- FACTS, An Enlarged Discussion

“Dr. Andy Naselli, in his 2006 BJU dissertation, scorns independent, Fundamental Baptists for giving invitations to 'surrender oneself to God.' Naselli criticizes the practice and calls it a 'second blessing.' Naselli unsuccessfully tried to identify the Fundamentalist... He now serves on the faculty of John Piper’s College and Seminary, which are Reformed Charismatic schools urging every Christian to seek all NT gifts, including tongues and healing.... Naselli is a pastor of Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist Church.

Naselli seeks to transform Fundamentalists into Evangelicalism. In 2019, Dr. Pettit brought Naselli back to BJU to present the lectures for the annual Steward Custer Lecture Series. Naselli’s books were promoted. The late Dr. Custer all his life had been a stalwart Fundamentalist. Naselli represents Broad Evangelicalism. The bond between BJU and Evangelicalism has been clear since the beginning of Pettit’s administration.

February 4, 2024

Archival Series: Is Lordship Salvation a "Barter" System?

Much of the article above is excerpted from the revised and expanded edition of In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation. 

Following is John MacArthur’s definition of saving faith from the original edition of The Gospel According to Jesus:

Saving faith is a commitment to leave sin and follow Jesus at all costs. Jesus takes no one unwilling to come on those terms.”
In his Revised & Expanded Edition, John MacArthur reworked the above statement as follows,
Saving faith does not recoil from the demand to forsake sin and follow Jesus Christ at all costs. Those who find his terms unacceptable cannot come at all
In the 20th Anniversary edition of The Gospel According to Jesus the section appears this way,
Saving faith does not recoil from the demand to forsake sin and self and follow Christ at all costs. Those who find His terms unacceptable cannot come at all. He will not barter away His right to be Lord
The message MacArthur conveys is consistent in all three editions of The Gospel According to Jesus. Only in the third edition, however, does the final sentence appear as shown above. The Lord most certainly will not “barter away” His lordship or sovereignty. Neither is eternal salvation something that can be gained through barter, but is Lordship Salvation’s interpretation of how a lost man is born again a barter system?

In each of the quotes above notice Dr. MacArthur is speaking in terms of coming to Christ. The obvious implication is of a lost man coming to Christ 
for salvation. You can read those quotes, apply them to a personal evangelism setting, and you have a lost man being told that he must come to Christ with a promise to “leave (stop committing) sin,” and follow Jesus at any cost to receive the gift of eternal life. These quotes, which appear in all three editions of The Gospel According to Jesus, remove any doubt that MacArthur conditions the reception of eternal life on a definition of “saving faith” that includes an upfront commitment to performance. That theme, which runs like a thread through each of his three major Lordship apologetics, is a works based message that frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21).

Again from his original edition, MacArthur writes,
Thus in a sense we pay the ultimate price for salvation when our sinful self is nailed to a cross. . . . It is an exchange of all that we are for all that Christ is. And it denotes implicit obedience, full surrender to the lordship of Christ. Nothing less can qualify as saving faith.”
Dr. MacArthur says the reception of salvation is based on an “exchange.” That is how he defines the way in which a man must come to Christ to be born again. Lordship’s terms for salvation are: “wholehearted commitment, a desire for him at any cost, unconditional surrender,” in “exchange” for the gift of eternal life.

Barter is defined this way: 
As to exchange in trade, as one commodity for another.

Therefore, we see “
exchange” and “barter” are essentially interchangeable. Dr. MacArthur says salvation, the reception of eternal life, is an “exchange.” Dr. MacArthur believes if there is no “exchange” there is no salvation. What is the exchange Dr. MacArthur calls for? He says the gospel requires an exchange of “wholehearted commitment, surrender, self-denial, cross bearing, a willingness to die for Jesus’ sake” for the reception of salvation, the free gift of God.

Does the Bible call on the lost to, “pay the ultimate price FOR salvation?” (emphasis added) Is receiving the gift of eternal life based on “an exchange” of “obedience” and “surrender?” Dr. MacArthur’s saving faith not only implies, it demands the “exchange” of a commitment to life long obedience and submission to the Lord, to receive His free gift of salvation. At salvation there only has to be surrender to what the Holy Spirit is convincing and convicting of at the moment. Future issues may not even be on one’s mind.

Lordship Salvation, according to John MacArthur’s definition of saving faith, is a barter system. In my book, and in my on line debates with the advocates of Lordship Salvation, I have documented from Dr. MacArthur’s own books that his interpretation of the Gospel does indeed demand an “
exchange” of “obedience” and “full surrender” for the reception of eternal life. Lordship advocates are, however, quick to cry, “straw man.” The straw man argument is a logical fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position.

To set up a straw man or set up a straw-man argument is to create a position that is easy to refute, and then attribute that position to the opponent. The call for upfront promises to stop sinning, for “
obedience” and “full surrender” in “exchange” for salvation is found in Dr. MacArthur’s books, which I have cited. Lordship’s exchange/barter system does not need to be artificially attributed to Dr. MacArthur because it is his position.

There is no misrepresentation, no mischaracterization. There is, therefore, no straw man! Claiming “straw man” does nothing to negate the clear, incontrovertible evidence of Lordship Salvation’s barter system.

Lordship Salvation is a works based message that corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ and frustrates grace.
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ,” (2 Cor. 11:3).

I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain,” (Gal. 2:21).


Originally published August 2008 with lengthy discussion thread. 

For related reading: