February 1, 2016

Words Have Meaning

STOP IT; KNOCK IT OFF! Stop supporting evil, that is. We may not have meant to do it, but when our words give credence to wickedness, we need to stop using them. Let me give you an example. Why do intelligent, spiritual persons use the term “same-sex marriage?” There is no such thing. The only marriage that exists is the one that God instituted and which He controls. The term “same-sex marriage” is a lie. Every time it is used, it gives credibility to something that God has judged and condemned. To give encouragement to anything so heinous is an offence to a Holy God.

The offence grows more egregious when politically correct Evangelicals try to defend the use of nice words to describe bad things. It is moral insanity to argue that we must say nice things about sin in order not to offend sinners. To ignore sin of any kind is not being a “friend of sinners.” No one ever comes to Christ for salvation without first dealing with his or her sin. Those who practice “sloppy agape” argue that we all sin and that we need to deal with gossip, etc., before we deal with sodomy. We do need to deal with all our sin, but covering the sin of others is particularly offensive. The biblical doctrine of God’s holiness has all but disappeared in today’s culture-driven church, and God has written “Ichabod” over all those churches. The Word of God is nothing more than a fetish in the emerging/emergent church, and it continues to find ways to ignore the plain, clear teaching of scripture. When sin is a forbidden teaching, it provides a hothouse for the very thing that God commands us to forsake.

SWEARING

When I was a small child, the word “darn” would get a bar of soap put into my mouth, and I had to bite down on it. “Christianity astray” would consider that to be cruel punishment, but today’s practice of letting Christian teens run free with foul mouths is real cruelty. Those who love to defend sin would say my mother was a legalist. What they do not know is that my mother was a spiritual giant beside those spiritual pigmies who misuse the word “legalism.” It appears that the majority of people who use the term have no idea what it means. To them it is just another way to make man comfortable about sin.

Normally people would limit swearing to “taking the Lord’s name in vain.” Even that has become acceptable verbiage among professing Christians. Posts on social media as a habit include vulgar words and gutter talk. The sad thing is that no one says anything about it. This is not just a teen thing; adults who ought to know better spit out crude and vile words in their posts as well. They would be wise not to claim relationship to Christ, since unsaved people see no difference between their conversations and those of any worldling. Who needs a Christianity that sounds like a conversation from the damned?

MURDER

This is the month that the abortion holocaust is remembered. Even now we have become numb to the brutal way unborn children are being dismembered every day. The silence in the midst of this terrible practice reminds us of the reason why people were silent while the Nazis slaughtered thousands of people daily. Fear was the main reason for a lack of response, but most of the Germans felt that there was nothing they could do. After all, it was the government, and so it was legal. In our guilt, we’ve had to find nice words for the killing of babies in the womb, so the real word “murder” is unacceptable.

Let me remind you that a thing is not legal if God has condemned it. Then why do professed believers line up to defend heinous practices? If we obey God and speak clearly to identify such evil, those who claim Christ line up to defend the crime. To speak strongly about some pseudo-law is viewed as being anti-government; but to side with the others and use nice words about evil is in fact anti-God.

It is no wonder that a holy God is obligated to judge any nation that embraces the murder of children. It is mind-boggling to know that people who claim to be Christians side with those who hate God. Words have meaning, and words need to reflect the view of a God who hates and always judges all sin.

GOD HATES ALL SIN

These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imagination, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

If God hates all sins and prescribes capital punishment for some, why do some people spend so much time opposing what God has said? Why such effort to prove God wrong? Holiness is meant to be an affront to those who love sin. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (I Corinthians 1:18)

It appears that some folks don’t want to offend those who sin, but they don’t mind offending God. We need to be careful about deliberate personal offence to others. There is far too much meanness in our own circles, but it isn’t mean to make sin clear to the sinner. The truth is that real meanness is failing to tell the truth about sin, thus letting people plunge into hell or stand empty-handed at the Judgment Seat. It is dreadful to allow people to feel good here about sin and then let them discover in eternity that you really didn’t care.

JUDGING

It would help if people would take time to study the entire Bible on any subject, but then perhaps they don’t really want to know what God has said. One of the favorite mantras used by today’s “sin protectors” is to say that what God has said about sin is “judging.” It is obvious that they don’t want someone else asking questions about the sin in their own lives. Another defense is “love,” but love does not hide the truth from people. If there is danger, the loving person will say so. If that attack doesn’t work, then any old proof text will do. “Judge not lest ye be judged” is a favorite parley. Ignorance of Scripture is little different from deliberately denying what is the “plain, clear statement of the Bible text.” Remember this: a proof text without a context is a pretext.

Words do have meaning, and that meaning had better be what God has said and not what you have inserted into the text!


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 or Shepherdstaff

January 21, 2016

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, 01/2016]

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. Instead they reject LS because it “corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3) “frustrates grace” (Gal. 2:21). They biblically resist the spread of Lordship Salvation 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.


LM
Originally published August 24, 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 Lordship Salvation 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

January 12, 2016

Now Ye Are Clean

Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” 
(John 15:3-5) 

Many of those who are seeking spiritual revival today have been touched by revival fires in the past.
Dr. Rick Flanders
Our experience, for the better or for the worse, seems to affect the Christian’s attitudes about revival. Some are motivated and others perplexed by powerful spiritual events which they have experienced in a corporate way that seem connected to real revival. We talk about prayer meetings that lasted long into the night, about public confessions of sins, about deep emotion in meetings, and about planned sets of services that were extended beyond the original plans for many days. What actually were these experiences? Do we have light from the Bible about them? Were they real revivals, and if so, why have they not been repeated in some cases? What’s the real story here?

We can be grateful that we do have extensive light on revival matters from the words of the Lord Jesus Himself. The night before He died, He met with His disciples (at least the apostles and probably some more of His followers), first in the Upper Room and then on the walk to Gethsemane, and talked with them (and us) about life under the New Covenant. These exquisite and important words from our Lord are recorded in the book of John, chapters 13 through 17. And in them we find the answers to our questions.

In chapter 15, Jesus boils down what He was saying about the abundant life (the real Christian life, which is His gift to us) by giving us the metaphor of the vine and the branches. The key to that life from our perspective is to “abide” (“continue,” “remain”—verses 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11) in Him as a productive branch must stay connected to the life-giving vine. The “abide in Me” life is described as a life of continual dependence (verse 5) and absolute commitment (verses 9-10). Such a life is called friendship with Jesus (verses 13-16), and promises the experience of peace, love, joy, victory, and productivity. It is appropriately described by the Lord back in John 10:10 as having life “more abundantly” (beyond measure).

In verses 2 through 5 we find Jesus describing the processes by which a believer is brought into and up to such a productive life. He is purged in order to bring forth more fruit. Having been purged (the word for “clean” in verse 3 comes from the root of the word translated “purgeth” in verse 2), he is ready to “abide in Me” for the abundant life. This is the process we often see working in revivals. The Father purges branches of the Vine in order to bring them to a new level of productivity. Once purged (the Greek word means “cleansed”) they are “clean through the word” and are prepared to abide in Christ and bear His fruit. Often in revival efforts, the Word of God is preached to the saints, and purging happens (remember what we read in John 13:1-11 and Ephesians 5:25-27). Then they are ready to surrender for service and reproduction (it is clear from verse 16 that the “fruit” of John 15 is not the fruit of repentance, nor the fruit of the Spirit, nor the fruit of the heart, but rather the fruit of the Christian, as in John 4:34-36, Romans 1:13-15, and Philippians 4:15-17: others becoming Christians through our Spirit-empowered witness). What is going on among Christians in revival is purging and then abiding.

REVIVAL BEGINS WITH PURGING
There aren’t a lot of significant spiritual victories happening in Bible-believing churches today, and when anything does happen, we tend to think it is full-blown revival! Revival in scripture is the work of God in which He lifts His people up to the level of faith and commitment where He can bless them as He promised He would (James 4:8-10). In some sense therefore, any part of the revival process can be called “revival.” Reviving someone is a process, and therefore the term is relative. But God is going somewhere with us, and is taking us somewhere. When powerful things happen to start the process, it doesn’t mean that we “have arrived.” And God starts with purging.

This is true about revival, both personal and corporate, everywhere in the Bible. Take a look at Second Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 51:7-15, Malachi 3:1-3, Mark 1:1-8, and James 4:8-10. God’s people are confronted by God’s Word with their many sins. When they respond by repenting, they are purged. But it’s only the beginning! When a group of believers in a church or at a conference or in a youth rally or at a camp cooperate with the Spirit of God by turning from their sins, there is a significant and powerful and often public purging. However wonderful (and unusual) such a thing is, it is a means to a more wonderful end. The goal is the miraculous harvesting found in the book of Acts, which is the need of the world, and the goal of revival.

We can’t be filled with the Spirt until we deal with our sins. Purging is indeed Step #1, but it is not the final destination for seeking believers. Those great experiences of the past may well have been the beginning of greater things, and the fuller victory may have been somehow thwarted. One way revival is derailed is by Christians being content with the progress so far.

THE MAN WHO IS PURGED IS CLEAN
It is a sad fact that many and perhaps most Christians never really feel “clean.” But that night, Jesus made it clear that he wants His followers to get fully clean, and then to consider themselves clean. The words He used earlier were “clean every whit” (read John 13:4-11). The talk began with a visual lesson taught in the washing of the disciples’ feet. As He washed their feet, He told Peter, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.” Partnership with Jesus (later called abiding in Him) must be preceded by purging. Then He assured them that a believer (one who has legal forgiveness before the justice of God by faith in the Lord Jesus) who confesses his sins (obtaining practical forgiveness before a holy God by the thorough confession according to First John 1) will be “clean every whit,” and ready to labor with Christ.

This is why He assured them in chapter 15 that they were “clean through the word.” He wants us to know that confession can “cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (First John 1:9). Contrite King David found that when he confessed his sins, he was made “whiter than snow” and had “a clean heart” before God (read Psalm 52 again). He wants you to feel clean. And the work of confessing your sins can bring any believer the cleansing he wants and needs.

PURGING MUST BE FOLLOWED BY ABIDING
But we must learn that purging, as we said, is Step #1 in the reviving of a saint or a church. After John 15:3, where the believer is told he is clean, the imperative verb is used in verse 4 to command him to abide in Christ. The truth is that the cleansed Christian will fall back into the same problems unless he learns to abide in Christ. The reason we sin at all is that we fail to abide in Christ. Study the words of First John 2:28 through the startling statement in 3:6. The way we receive eternal life is by coming to Jesus (John 6:35-37). Then the way we live for Him after we are saved is by abiding in Him (John 15:1-8). It is only a life of partnership with Jesus Christ, committed to doing His bidding and depending on Him for the power we need, that will give the Christian victory over himself and his sin. And if you just admit your failure and get clean, but go back to living a life of self-dependence, you will also go back to failure. So every purged believer must be taught to commit his life to follow Christ and depend on Him for victory, day after day.

Do not separate purging from abiding. This is also a truth for corporate revivals. When a group has come through a season (long or short, intense or less emotional) of thorough purging, they need immediately to enter the phase of Step #2. Now it is time for surrender and filling. Now we need, as the Jerusalem believers on the day of Pentecost, to partner with God for the work of evangelism. We must pray and we must begin to speak (review Acts 2:1-4, and then compare the revival at Pentecost with the next one recorded in Acts 4:29-33). Let the Lord fulfill in us His stated program of Acts 1:8, revival and evangelism. Abide in Him, and bear His fruit. Go all the way, and don’t get stuck in the process. Let Him cleanse you thoroughly and then unite with Him to reach the world!


Dr. Rick Flanders
Revival Ministries

January 3, 2016

The Bible on Crime & Punishment

The Bible speaks to everything in one way or another. Where it does speak directly, it is correct even if the pagan culture in which we live disagrees or thinks that God’s way is too simplistic or idealistic. The criminal justice system in our country is seriously flawed and corrupt, and this is because the system does not represent the basic model presented in God’s Word.

The fact is that during the establishment of our nation much of the foundational law represented the Judeo-Christian principles. It wasn’t perfect, but the years of judicial, administrative, and legislative adjustments have stripped our law of its value. A majority of these changes were in violation of the original documents, without the permission of the people.

The end result of pagan intellectualism has given us a prison system that multiplies the criminal element and moral perversity. The present practice celebrates and rewards the violator and punishes the victims, who are the core of our society. The rejection of capital punishment mocks a holy God and encourages murderers, rapists, and other evildoers to continue committing their crimes. The unequal application of the law ends up punishing the little guy while the elite go free and even run for high office. In the courtroom, the defense is expected to get the guilty off. While the family of the victim lives with the grief of the crime, our legal system bankrupts a nation, encouraging a violent society.

The end of this spiral comes when those in charge do away with real punishment because they say that “the system is flawed,” but then go on spreading evil by moving further away from the answer God has given. This pagan philosophy is based on folly – the idea that man is basically good and society has the power to change the criminal into a good citizen through re-education. How has that worked out? The bottom line is that evil things are made good and good things are made evil. This nonsensical system murders the innocent child in the womb, but rewards those who are guilty and sets them free.

GODS WAY ALWAYS WORKS

God’s plan is clear and simple. Cities of refuge and temporary confinement were only for the purpose of making sure that judgment was served honestly and with alacrity. The goals were restitution and retribution. For the criminal, there was always an end to the dealing with evil. The pagan mind tells us that capital punishment doesn’t work, but the truth is that no murderer who died for his crime has ever murdered again. The liberal mind complains that capital punishment is “cruel and unusual punishment”. The record, however, makes it clear that prison is a cruel and unusual punishment, while execution is actually merciful and quick. God’s plan shuts the door on the manufacture of the criminal element. The growth and respectability given to sodomy at this hour is a by-product of a useless prison system. The answer to crime from frustrated leaders is simply to make things legal, no matter how evil the practice is in God’s sight. The problem is that making things legal doesn’t make them right, but it does reveal the serious lack of wisdom in the present system. Pagan philosophy counters with the argument that moral people want to establish a “theocracy.”  The truth is that God’s plan works; it is what is needed, no matter what you may choose to call it.

INSULT TO INJURY

The saddest point in all of this is that some of those who name the name of Christ are siding with the seared mind of the unregenerate. There are several reasons for this. One reason is the philosophy of the state educational system in our nation, which has been adopted by so-called Christian institutions. The liberal mindset has no valid authority base. That mindset has taught a whole generation to use human reason as the highest authority. God gave us the ability to reason, and that ability, when properly used, will end up in agreement with God’s wisdom. Man’s wisdom ends up working full-time to prove that God is wrong.

EXAMPLE

Yesterday a friend of mine was sentenced to jail time for lying to the IRS. None of us would approve of any deliberate and clear violation of the law. In this case, however, he did not owe anyone anything, so restitution had taken place and there was no evidence of deliberate violation. It was not a capital crime, so retribution was not an issue. In God’s plan, the issue was settled. So, what is going on here with the imposition of jail time? Most of us have taken deductions that were disallowed, and many have not included so-called income that was questionable. It would be very easy for the current vacillating system to put us behind bars; in fact, this system has been used many times by a vengeful administration to punish those who disagree with them.

CORRUPT

Corruption is a very strong word, but it is true and is the point of this discussion. When the little guy is punished for something, he is judged harshly. At the same time, those at the top use power and money to avoid justice. Some of the most public figures owe huge amounts of taxes and have avoided paying them. This is corruption. If lying to the IRS is a crime - and it is - then why are major leaders so often shielded from responsibility? If lying is a crime, then half of Washington should be indicted given the fact that liberalism lives on lies.

The argument used to protect the elite is that nothing has been proven, and they are innocent until proven guilty. That may be true of the court, but it isn’t true in the real world. If someone murders and a corrupt defense attorney gets them off, they are still guilty. It seems, however, that if you have enough power, influence, and money, you can get away with murder. It may all be legal, but it still is corrupt. So, while the average citizen has no “real” protection, he can be incarcerated for questionable charges. Meanwhile, the guilty run for the highest offices in the land and may never even be charged even if their crime was treasonable, such as rewriting the founding documents of our nation!

CONCLUSION

This is the real story of flawed justice. In the end, it doesn’t work because it flies in the face of what the sovereign creator God has given us. His way is perfect and always works. Man’s way is flawed and produces injustice. So who should be behind bars?


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

SHEPHERD’S STAFF – December, 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. Write for information using the e-mail address shepherdstaff2@juno.com or Shepherd's Staff.

December 7, 2015

Facing the Challenge: Now What?

Maybe we have had enough time now to get used to the idea that the Supreme Court has changed our country’s official definition of marriage. Certainly Christian people in the United States ought to draw conclusions and make decisions about what they will do about the new situation. Here are seven things we surely ought to do.

1. PULL THE KIDS OUT
Without a doubt, it is time for Christian families to take their children out of the public schools. Public education has been wrong and dangerous for Bible-believing families for many years, but it is even more so now with the new marriage mandate. It will not be permissible for state-sponsored schools to present traditional marriage as the norm any more. Since same-sex “marriages” are as legal as traditional marriages, they will be presented as equally normal and acceptable. It will not be allowed for teachers speak of daddy-and-mommy homes as the standard, nor two-mommy or two-daddy homes as anomalies. A child’s whole view of family and marriage will be perverted, and his life will likely be ruined. We cannot afford to leave the kids in public education. It is now absolutely necessary that Christian families choose a Christian option for the schooling of their children. Some may worry that if there were a mass exodus from the public school districts there could be real damage done. Yet, if you think about it, the widespread abandonment of the school system could be the best and most powerful wake-up call of the people in response to the cultural collapse that is now happening. Hardly anything would do this country more good than a wholesale withdrawal of students from the public schools. Every other response would be weak in comparison. Now the disaster of the court ruling is being met with barely a whimper of protest. Pulling our kids out would do a lot of good for society as well as for our families and the next generation.

2. JOIN THE PUSH-BACK
It is time to take a stand against the new definition of marriage. We will have to take our stand in order to stay true to our faith in the Word of God. In 2016, just a few politicians running for office will openly oppose the court decision, and propose constitutional steps to undo it. Christians should openly support those who do. Everybody running for any office this coming year should know about the millions who reject “gay marriage,” and should fear us to some degree. We must not be silent. Both Republicans and Democrats should expect to pay a political price for compromising with the immoral, illegal, untraditional, irrational, and unnatural concept of homosexual “marriage.” Some Christians ought (as the Lord directs them) to run for office this year, and the rest of us must consider supporting them.

3. MAKE SURE TO THINK RIGHT
Get your nose in the Bible, and renew your mind for these confusing days. Study the Word and learn what it says about marriage, sex, and homosexuality. Don’t just repeat slogans or follow your gut feelings about this emotional issue. Study it out from the viewpoint of scripture. Ask your pastor to preach sermons and teach lessons on these subjects. Know the facts, and think along with the Lord about this whole thing. Make scriptural and reasonable statements about the issue to those you can influence.

4. HAVE COMPASSION ON HOMOSEXUALS
Love those who have “come out” as living the homosexual way, and seek to win them to Christ. Recognize that “homosexual” is not a word that describes what someone is, but rather identifies something that he or she does. See the person trapped in this lifestyle as a person, and not as an object of scorn. Approach them with the Gospel, and not first with condemnation for this particular sin. In other words, seek to win them to Christ in the same way that you witness to other sinners. Remember that you are a sinner, too, and that Christ came to save sinners (First Timothy 1:15). Of course you should be ready to answer questions that they may have, just as you should be prepared to answer the questions of others with special hindrances to coming to Christ. Treat them all as human beings, and let God break your heart for their predicament (Matthew 9:36-38). The Gospel is the solution to their bondage and misery (read again Romans 1). Have compassion on them all, and tell them the Good News.

5. REFUSE TO RECOGNIZE THE “MARRIAGES.”
“Gay marriages,” although recognized by the state, are not marriages by any rational, natural, traditional, or scriptural definition of the term. So we must not recognize them as such. Christians must be ready to lose their money, respect, and even their freedom, as a consequence of standing for and telling the truth. It isn’t love that would motivate us to recognize same-sex unions as marriages. It is the fear of reprisals. It is a lie to describe them as marriages, and the consequences to the partners are many and dire. The homosexual lifestyle is the most degrading, disease-producing, and depressing way of life known to man. The statistics prove it. Don’t be rude but don’t treat the weddings as weddings or the marriages as marriages, and don’t treat homosexuality as normal and healthy.

6. PROMOTE GENDER DISTINCTION AT HOME
Homosexual people are not “born that way.” Science contradicts the popular notion that the homosexual orientation is genetic. Other factors lead to it, as counsellors have recognized for years. The current idea that people discover their sexuality as they grow up, and that gender cannot by determined by anatomical factors, will draw many more of the young and impressionable into the homosexual life. This is a reason to keep kids out of the public schools, away from the popular media, and from influences that blur correct gender distinctions and roles. Bring up little girls as girls, and little boys as boys, and dress them appropriately. The Bible makes a distinction in gender appearances and activities (Genesis 1:27, Deuteronomy 22:5, First Corinthians 11:4-15), and Christian families should do so also.

7. WORK AND PRAY FOR REVIVAL
The answer to society’s ills and insanities is the answer to mankind’s plight: His name is Jesus Christ. Sins and every perversion of God’s original and ideal plan for mankind have resulted from Adam’s original rebellion. The answer to all of these evils has been provided by the Second Adam, Jesus (see Romans 5:10-15 and First Corinthians 15:20-49). Those who have believed in Him for their personal salvation are charged with taking the message of His love and redemption to every person in the world. The reason our world has become so dark is the failure of Christians to keep the Gospel charge. And revival is the work God does in which He brings His people back to the place they ought to be. The great American revivals transformed our society by making the Christians what they are intended by their Lord to be: the light of the world, the salt of the earth, and empowered witnesses for the Savior. Our nation needs another “great awakening,” and we can have one, if believers will forsake their sins, humble their hearts, and seek the Lord (see James 4:1-10). The homosexual crisis is upon us because God’s servants have failed to be revived, and the Gospel has not gone forward as it should. Our primary responsibility today is to draw near to God for the revival we need. In every community, we should gather for revival prayer meetings, for preaching aimed at revival, and for efforts to spread the Gospel everywhere. The disintegration of society has resulted from the failure of Christians to take their place in the world. We must step up to the plate, and show the world that Jesus is the Way to peace and to deliverance.


Dr. Rick Flanders
Revival Ministries

November 12, 2015

RACISM” by Dr. Rick Flanders

“Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond or free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”
(Colossians 3:9-14)
Dr. Rick Flanders

When a black man was elected president of the United States, it seemed that a thick barrier had been destroyed that marred American life for many years. Progress in relations between the races in this nation had apparently come to the point where white people were not unwilling to vote black people into high office. It appeared to be a break-through. However, distrust and anger over race matters have clearly worsened since 2009. Who can deny it? Some of the problems come from confusion over the issues of race, with faulty ideas gaining favor with passionate people “on both sides.” The situation is dangerous as well as distressing, but there is a solution to it in the Bible.
Let us learn or re-learn five facts about this subject in order to help ourselves and our countrymen finally get past this unhappy and unnecessary strife.
  1. NOT EVERYTHING THAT IS CALLED “RACISM” IS REALLY RACISM!
Originally the term “racism” had a much more specific meaning than it does in common usage today. A racist is a person who believes that certain people’s actions and habits are determined by their “race.” Flaws in character as well as admirable characteristics are rooted in the D.N.A., and genetic causes for good and bad are carried in races. Racist views are those that were propagated by the Nazis and by the Ku Klux Klan. Racism is an ideology; it is not just unkindness or prejudice toward people of a different color or belonging to a different race. Lack of love for anyone is wrong according to God’s “royal law” (James 2:8-9), but not all unloving words or actions constitute racism. The reason this distinction is important is that more and more voices today are raising the alarm that racism is rampant in this country, and that something radical must be done about it. The fact is that true racism, although more available to more people because of the internet, is considerably less influential and widespread than it was even fifty years ago in America. When certain famous people were recently punished for using an unkind racial slur, they were accused of racism. But there is little evidence that they actually espouse Klan or Nazi doctrine because they used the hurtful word. Seeming mistreatment of anyone because of racial bias is called “racism,” although it really isn’t. It is unchristian and unkind, but it isn’t racism. Racist ideas have been spread for many years, and actually prominent leaders have espoused and propagated some of them, but every kind of racial bias is not racism.
  1. ETHNIC PREJUDICE AND PREFERENCE IS ALMOST UNIVERSAL.
The truth is sad, but it is the truth, that preference for one’s own group is an almost universal human characteristic. To set the goal of wiping out racism in the United States, while defining racism as preference for one’s own perceived ethnic group, is to aim at an unreachable target and to excuse the rapid and unwarranted spread of government power. It can also be the means of fomenting further racial hatred and even violent behavior. Although prejudice is not Christian, and racial bias can be hurtful and ugly, they will not be eradicated by mobs or laws.
  1. PREJUDICE AND RACISM CAN ONLY BE CURED BY GOD.
The royal law, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” is God’s law (James 2:8) and it can only be fulfilled when God’s love enters the human heart.
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.”
(First John 4:7-12)
The Source of love is God, and God is love. He sent His love to sinful man by sending His Son to be our Savior. Those who receive Jesus, also receive love into their lives. This is how the hatred in human nature is counter-acted. Before regeneration (the experience of being born again), a man is prone to hate.
“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
“But after the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour…”
(Titus 3:3-6)
Insisting that wrongs be righted, that we must be treated with respect, or that racial injustice must be punished seldom rises out of love for others, and often engenders hate. The Bible teaches us to think about things that are true, honest, just, and pure (read Philippians 4:8) in order to maintain peace of mind, but we are constantly reminded of wrong, impure, dishonest, and unjust things that have been inflicted upon our perceived group throughout history. And such thoughts create outrage and anger in our hearts and minds, to our detriment. This is how black people, women, Muslims, Mexicans, and Native Americans are being taught to think, and the regular reminders of injustice only bring more hate. It is God that puts love into hearts. When we have been “justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” and “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us” (Romans 5:1-5).
  1. THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN FREED FROM SIN CAN OVERCOME HATE.
The New Testament speaks of a life of liberty that is experienced by the believer in Jesus Christ (see John 8:30-36). Jesus not only saves men from Hell, but also from their sins, including the hatred in the human heart. Colossians 3 is a passage of scripture that says the Christian is “risen with Christ” (verse 1), that “Christ…is our life” (verses 2-4), that “the new man…is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (verses 9-10), that “Christ is all, and in all” (verse 11), and that “charity [love]…is the bond of perfectness” (verses 12-14). Jesus breaks the chains of sin and hate, and brings love into the life of one who trusts in His salvation. No political or ideological movement or revolution can do that. His love in the heart breaks down the barriers of prejudice (read Colossians 3:1-14 again).
  1. JESUS CHRIST IS THE ANSWER FOR HATE AND THE AUTHOR OF LOVE.
So Colossians 3 concludes that in Jesus Christ the distinctions of ethnicity, class, race, or group, no longer mar the love in the family of God, but instead “Christ is all, and in all” (read verse 11 again). It is amazing how revived Christians get along. The need of our nation is not a renewal of old racial offenses, but rather a revival of the Christian religion. Evangelical revivalism turned the tide of American opinion against slavery in the nineteenth century, as it also did in England in the previous century. The love of God and not angry agitation will be the cure to our racial problems, and will give racial harmony a deep and practical application on a personal level in every town and community. Let the Gospel of Jesus Christ be preached, and the love of Christ be lived and spread by those who believe in Him!

Dr. Rick Flanders


November 4, 2015

How to Know When the Emerging Church is Emerging in Your Church

WARNING!!! To keep you from having a “hissy fit,” please keep this in mind. Most of the things on the following list are not bad in themselves. This is not a condemnation of change or of things that are new; rather, it is a list of things that almost always appear on the road to the Emerging Church and its denial of biblical authority and sufficiency.

My heart is grieved by the fact that many of my long-time friends have been fooled into replacing a theology that is biblical with “culture authority.”  They do this by mocking things of the past and ridiculing those who press for biblical responsibility. Theology is a nasty word to them, but theology is actually a growing understanding of the God whom we serve.

HERE IS A PARTIAL LIST
 
Hymnals disappear. The Psalms are actually a hymnal. There is nothing wrong with a hymnal, even though there are things in some hymns that are errant. The Bible doesn’t command us to have hymnals in our churches. On the other hand, many people need to see the notes in order to be able to sing. Some churches have put the score on the screen to solve that problem. Without it, the blending of voices in harmony is nearly impossible.
 
The organ disappears. The Bible does not require that a church should have an organ, but trying to replace it with a tinny technical sound does not solve the issue. Nothing in our world can possibly replace the majestic sound of a pipe organ.
 
The platform is renovated. Anything that represents the past is bad and has to go. The choir loft and other furniture, including a communion table, are all replaced with new items designed to modify worship activity. Even the pulpit has to go, one way or another. It is certain that none of these things are commanded in Scripture, but their removal is the first hint that the Bible is no longer the center of worship.
 
The building is renovated. In this war on history, anything that speaks of the past has to go. When walking into some of the today’s new facilities, it’s hard to even know for sure that you'’e in a church. We can worship anywhere, but that is not the question. The question should be, “Is real worship going on here at all?”
 
Music does a turnabout. There are many kinds of music, much of which can be used tactfully. This is not an easy area to discuss, but replacing beautiful harmony with discord, yelling, repetition, and songs written by low-talent writers is certainly not helpful. It’s not that all current music is by any means bad; but when lyrics fly in the face of Scripture, there is a problem. It seems that the great majority of “worship leaders” don’t really even have enough theology to know when they are offending God.
 
Sermonettes replace biblical preaching. This is the second thing that reveals a turn away from Scripture. Preaching of the text is derided. Certainly some truth is spoken, but there is so little solid teaching of what God has said that people are starving spiritually. This happens when the communicator only knows about the Bible and very little of what God has actually said in the Bible.
 
Services dry up and disappear. The assembly of the local church is necessary for the health of the fellowship. Even with three services a week, there is a dearth of Bible teaching. People should be doing studies personally and with their families, but it is probably less than ten percent of the congregation that actually does. The Bible gives no strict rule on this, but during the persecution in the first century, they met daily. After all, how could once a week possibly provide for the coming persecution?
 
Evangelism almost disappears. For most churches, this is long gone. The task of reaching the lost should not be relegated solely to the preacher. The first line of evangelism is each true believer living and sharing the gospel in a needy world. Some human theological inventions have removed this from the believer’s responsibility, but it is still there.

Altar calls are non-existent or non-effective. Invitations at the end of a service are a recent invention, but they do have value. The important issue is why they have disappeared. If no one ever responds, why should you even bother to have one? And why doesn’t anyone one respond? This has to be a topic for another discussion, but a lot of it has to do with poorly crafted messages.
 
Unregenerate membership. This is an old problem. We invented a church membership concept that allows professing Christians to be part of a local church. When attendees act and talk like pagans and confess that the Spirit of God does not dwell in them, they should not be part of a membership. The new approach today, however, is to welcome pagans into the church without any clear testimony of conversion. The percentage of unsaved people in today’s congregations is now staggering. This is a third major area identifying the departure from scripture.
 
Man-centered worship. Worship is about God, to God, and for God; but you wouldn’t know it in most of today's "worship" meetings. Yes, there are lots of words about God, but it hard to actually find Him. How can you worship when the words being used are offensive to God and to His Word? Who in such a meeting can really worship? Unsaved Christ rejecters, as well as carnal, out-of-fellowship believers can’t truly worship. So, how many true believers who walk in the Spirit and who are able to worship are present? Man-centered entertainment "worship" is carnal and fleshly. One certain “worship leader” has confessed that “We do what we like.”
 
A hatred of history. This is the mantra of liberalism, socialism, and communism. Those on the road to the Emerging Church must shake the dust of history off their feet. The true believer rejoices in factual history, learns from it, and respects it, but does not live in the past. The road to “what we like” can have no historical markers.
 
A disdain for doctrine and scorn for theology. This is where it all ends. It is why churches often change their names, neuter their public doctrinal statements, and make fun of exegetical preaching. Their sick defense is that “We change our methods, but not our message.”  Sorry, but that is an impossibility and, frankly, it is a lie.
 
WHOA!! Don’t waste one breath in trying to argue about any of the above. The fact is that we need change, and many new things do indeed have value. The standard, however, should ever be the Holy Word of God. The tragedy is that most people don’t know enough of a theology that is biblical to allow them to avoid the dead end. That dead end is the Emergent Church mob. How much of this has emerged in your world?
 
 
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 or at ShepherdStaff

October 25, 2015

Archival Series: Lordship Salvation’s Misuse of Scripture, 1 Thess. 1:9-10



For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.


There is one passage of Scripture that virtually always comes up in the discussion of repentance with advocates of Lordship Salvation and needs to be carefully explained. How does John MacArthur, for the Lordship view of repentance, interpret the first verse of this passage?

As metanoia is used in the New Testament, it always speaks of a change of purpose, and specifically a turning from sin. In the sense Jesus used it, repentance calls for a repudiation of the old life and a turning to God for salvation. Such a change of purpose is what Paul had in mind when he described the repentance of the Thessalonians: “You turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). Note the three elements of repentance: turning to God, a turning from evil, and the intent to serve God. No change of mind can be called true repentance if it does not include all three elements. The simple but all too often overlooked fact is that a true change of mind will necessarily result in a change of behavior. Repentance is not merely shame or sorry over sin, although genuine repentance always involves an element of remorse. It is a redirection of the human will, a purposeful decision to forsake all unrighteousness and pursue righteousness instead. 9

What is the gospel, after all, but a call to repentance (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30)? In other words, it demands that sinners make a change—stop going one way and turn around to go the other (1 Thess. 1:9). 10

Those quotes represent Lordship’s classic misuse of 1 Thess. 1:9. MacArthur starts by addressing the Greek word metanoia as it is used in the New Testament, and then quotes a verse that does not even contain the word metanoia. The Greek word for “to turn” is completely different; it is epistrepho (epistrephō) and means simply “to turn, turn to or toward.” Epistrephō does not mean “to repent.”

Through the balance of this section I am going to draw from the Inspired Commentary, the Word of God, to bring out the meaning and context of 1 Thess. 1:9. Before we can draw a conclusion on 1 Thess. 1:9 we need to begin by reviewing Paul’s initial evangelistic ministry to the Thessalonicans. In Acts 17:1-4 we find Paul arriving at Thessalonica and, “as his manner was,” preaching the gospel. He was preaching Jesus who suffered and rose again. He said, “…Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.” He is exhorting the Thessalonians, in their unsaved condition, to change their mind about Jesus. In verse four we see that some were persuaded, “some of them believed,” but some “believed not.” What was it in Paul’s preaching that some were persuaded of and believed? That Jesus, who suffered, died and rose again, was the Christ. In Paul’s evangelistic appeal to the Thessalonians is there any call or exhortation for “turning from evil” or the “intent to serve” for salvation? No, there is not! MacArthur is forcing “turning from evil (sin) and the intent to serve God…to forsake all unrighteousness” into the narrative of Paul’s sermon.

Those who “believed not” set in motion a wave of persecution against the new believers (Acts 17:5-9). The events at Thessalonica set a pattern for what we find in Paul’s two epistles to the Thessalonian believers.

In 1 Thessalonians 1 Paul acknowledges and praises them for their “work of faith” and “labor of love.” They set an example for others on what Bible Christianity should look like. Their fine example was being set with “patience” (v. 3) in the face of “much affliction” (v. 6; Acts 17:5-9). They were setting the right example for fellow believers (Macedonia and Achaia, vv. 7-8) to emulate how to go through persecution. The reputation of the Thessalonian church preceded Paul in his missionary travels; therefore he did not need to speak of it (v.8). Their testimony of faith and patience in the face of persecution was a living example and a sermon without words. With respect to Lordship Salvation, this raises a serious problem. If the example of the Thessalonians in their willingness to change their behavior after they believed is considered the necessary condition of true saving faith, then in what way were the Thessalonians “examples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia” (v. 7)? How could they be the example to all other believers when all believers in Christ will necessarily live and behave just like the Thessalonians as Lordship advocates insist?

1 Thess. 1:9 opens with, “For they… .” The “they” is their “faith to God-ward,” which became known abroad. The Thessalonians “turned to God,” which put them in a position for the capacity to serve God. The example they became to other believers was the result of their believing the message Paul preached unto themthe One who suffered and rose again is the Christ. The “patience of hope” (v. 3) is defined in verse 10, “And to wait for his Son from heaven.” While they expected and patiently waited for Him to come they kept working out their faith and labored in love. Today when so many are occupied with His coming, we would do well to learn from the Thessalonians that we should keep occupied (doing something for Him) until He comes.

Lordship advocates who use this passage as an illustration of repentance only quote verse 9, “and how ye turned (epistrepho) to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” Grammatically, however, there are two parallel infinitives of purpose, which are found in verses 9 and 10. The sentence structure, therefore, if breaking it down into main points and sub points, could be visualized this way:

v9, For
     they themselves shew of us
           - what manner of entering in we had unto you
             and
           - how ye turned to God from idols
                 - to serve (douleuein) the living and true God
v10,             and 
                 - to wait (anamenein) for His Son from heaven,
                              -whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus,
                              - which delivered us from the wrath to come.

There is a major problem for the Lordship position in claiming that 1 Thess. 1:9 is making the intent “to serve” a necessary description (thus condition) of genuine repentance/faith. If “to serve” is a condition/necessary description, then syntactically so must the phrase “to wait” be as well. Wait for what? “His Son from heaven,” i.e. the Second Coming of Christ. There is no other passage in Scripture that conditions the reception of eternal life on believing in Christ’s Second Coming or waiting for it!

There is simply no way the two infinitive clauses can be separated. They are both present tense, active voice, infinitives, and they are both subordinate, dependent clauses that are parallel to one another and dependent upon the main, independent clause of 1:9, “how ye turned to God from idols.”

To be born again do the lost need to believe in the Second Coming of Christ? If we accept MacArthur’s view that the Thessalonians were saved by “turning from evil and the intent to serve,” then the Scriptures also demand waiting for the second coming of Christ as a third condition for conversion.

There is, however, an even larger point with 1 Thess. 1:9-10. This passage is not even describing their initial, saving faith. The emphasis of the passage is clearly upon describing their faithful example in following the Lord subsequent to their initial, saving faith. In 1 Thess. 1:9 Paul is not speaking of how to become a believer; he wrote to them about their growth and testimony as believers.

This interpretation fits perfectly with Paul’s introductory description of these Thessalonians in 2 Thess. 1:3-4. Notice there too they are described not as to their initial, saving faith, as if Paul is saying to them there, “Your conversion was genuine.” No, he is pleased with the fact that their “faith groweth exceedingly” (1:3) and that they were exercising “patience and faith” amidst the trials they were enduring (1:4).

This interpretation, furthermore, fits perfectly with the Inspired Commentary on the Thessalonian Epistles that we have in Acts 17, where the Thessalonians’ initial, saving faith is described in 17:1-4, esp. v. 4 “persuaded” (peitho) or “believed” (KJV) and v. 5 “were not persuaded” (apeitho) or “believed not” (KJV). The content of their faith is described in v. 3, that is, they believed in Christ’s substitutionary death and bodily resurrection, which were according to the Scriptures (1 Thess. 4:14; 1 Cor. 15:3-4). There is no mention of turning from idols, serving the living God, waiting for the Second Coming, etc. Instead, what we see is that immediately upon believing, these baby Christians in Thessalonica were persecuted for their faith (Acts 17:5-9), particularly by Jewish unbelievers (1 Thess. 2:14-16).

From the Scriptures we can firmly conclude that 1 Thess. 1:9-10 is a post conversion passage. Paul is addressing the things that followed their conversion. He was teaching them post conversion truth. In verse ten he concerns himself with their growth in light of the Lord’s imminent return. At the time of their persecution Paul and Silas were ministering to them as new believers (1 Thess. 2:8). In both epistles to the Thessalonians Paul is ministering to them as new believers. Every chapter in 1 Thessalonians ends with Paul referencing the Second Coming of Christ, which is a vital truth for believers. In 2 Thessalonians 1 we find Paul speaking of their growing faith, charity toward one another and patience in persecution. Paul is commending them for their faith that grew out of their believing the gospel.

Lordship’s repentance, as MacArthur defines it, is to “stop going one way,” i.e. stop sinning and replace sinning with the “intent to serve,” i.e. do the “good works” (Eph. 2:10) expected of a born again believer. MacArthur changes the gospel from repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to a man-centered message that conditions the reception of eternal life on the lost man’s, “purposeful decision to forsake all unrighteousness,” which is an upfront commitment to certain expected levels of behavior. Believing the gospel should result in some form of a change in behavior as one grows in grace. However, nowhere in Scripture is the gospel for the reception of eternal life defined by a sinner’s intention, commitment or resolve to change his behavior.

In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, from the chapter, What is Biblical Repentance, pp. 133-138.

Footnotes:
9) John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus: What is Authentic Faith,
p. 178.

10) John MacArthur, Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles, p. 33.

For related reading see, Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page of John MacArthurs The Gospel According to Jesus.