October 23, 2014

Singing Lies by Dr. Clay Nuttall

The underlying purpose of Shepherd’s Staff is to create discussion. By choosing controversial subjects, we often manage to “tick off” some segment of our readers. That is done on purpose, since it is at the heart of what we do and also because it gets people’s attention. This issue is bound to get just about everyone thinking, because it has to do with the lyrics of music used in churches today.

Our concern for truth in music is not confined to what is often called “contemporary” music. One only has to pick up a well-worn old hymnal to find endless illustrations of non-truth in some of the lyrics. An error, no matter how old, is still an error. While some statements might be borderline, there are those that are downright offensive to scripture. Some of this has to do with ignorance on the part of the writer, while others are a deliberate repetition of doctrinal error held by religious groups or movements.

Old standard hymns have often reflected a brand of universalism. Many current items of music sound like a gathering of proof texts thrown into a blender, in that they do not represent the clear statements of scripture. Some of the old, as well as the new, are so egregious in theological error that they approach heresy. Music is often chosen just because we like it, when it’s “foot stompin’ fun” or rises from a current rock style. In pleasing ourselves, however, we may fail to please God. Frankly, God is not pleased when we are singing lies and then daring to call it worship.


The serious Bible student will pick up on doctrinal error, even in music. People who are bent on having their own way and accommodating the flesh argue “What's the big deal, anyway? The big deal is that God has condemned false witness, lies, and the doctrines of man and devils.

The big deal is that God has condemned false witness, lies, and the doctrines of man and devils.

Does it really matter why people write and sing lies? Many song writers don’t have the slightest idea about what God has clearly said on certain subjects. If it sounds good and feels good, it has got to be good. Ignorance is a terrible thing, but ignorance of God’s Word could be eternally fatal. The majority of worship leaders - past and present - do not have enough theological understanding to know the difference. They often plead that they carefully go over lyrics to make sure they agree with the Bible. The question is, how can you candle music by the Bible when you know so little of the Bible?

The underlying problem here is that church members in this day and age seem to know less and less about what God has said. The translation issue is one of the reasons. Another is dependence on elite scholars for theological answers. Those who tout excellence in grammatical interpretation can’t agree, and they leave us wondering if anyone could possibly know what God has said. Thankfully, every believer can know what the clear teaching of God’s Word is, but many are too lazy to expend the energy necessary to do so.


You are keenly aware that I avoid using names in this publication, because the minute I do, those who worship that person will stop reading. In this situation, however, a few theological subjects may be able to put us to shame in our lust for entertainment when we offend God’s Word. The sloppy use of the word “kingdom” is high on the list. It is sung with boring repetition and constantly thrown into conversations. What kingdom are you talking or singing about? Even an elementary student would know that there is more than one. A Bible student might know that there is the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of Darkness, the Old Testament Theocratic Kingdom, and even The Millennial, Messianic, Davidic Kingdom, just to begin with. So, which kingdom are you talking about? You say it doesn’t matter? It may not to you, but it does matter to God when we sing lies. You say that many good people disagree. The Bible isn’t about good people; it is about a good God. The liberal crowd used to talk about “growing" or "building” the kingdom or “enhancing” the kingdom. What kind of arrogance is that? God is building His own Kingdom, and He neither needs nor wants your help. I'm sure you get the point.

The things that are missing from “misunderstood” worship are just as dangerous. When was the last time you heard a song, hymn, or chorus that clearly taught the any-moment return of Christ for His church, the Blessed Hope? Erroneous prophecy provides a boatload of lyrics, and so much of it is error. If it isn’t what the text clearly states, then it is error and a lie.


You don’t have to listen to me; I know that lies are popular and are well hidden in the skin of a truth. The Bible is not a dart board, and you don’t get to create your own truth. The Bible has nothing but truth in it; we don’t have the luxury of private interpretation. Yes, I read the article last week, even if you didn’t. If we are not careful about the plain, clear statements of the Bible, how could anyone believe what we have to say about any part of it?

It seems to me that each of us needs to back up and ask, “Am I actually singing a lie?” “Does it matter to me?” “Does it matter to God?” My wife and I just returned from several months on the road. I could not count the times when, in various churches, I simply stopped singing and thought, “Am I the only one in this room who realizes that we are singing lies?” All I ask is that you think, and don’t run from the obvious.

SHEPHERD’S STAFF – October, 2014

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 http://shepherdstaff.wordpress.com.
Shepherd’s Staff is prepared by Clay Nuttall, D. Min

October 15, 2014

Northland Joins Southern Seminary: Culmination of a Modern Day Tragedy

Not that today’s joint NIU, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) announcement should come as any surprise, but NIU made it official, and has come under the umbrella of the SBTS.  Is it, however, simply a “strategic partnership,” or has something deeper transpired here?

Daniel Patz, president of Northland since 2013, attended the meeting and told trustees “This is a gift from Northland to The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. But really, I feel almost, even more so, it is gift to us in order for this legacy and this mission to continue....

The NIU website carries the same announcement and quote from Daniel Patz. The Southern News headline, “Southern Seminary Trustees Accept Gift of Wisconsin University Campus.”

From those joint statements one might reasonably conclude that NIU has been sold to or otherwise turned over to the Southern Baptist Convention.
NIU has become the property of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary!

In the same Southern News release the irony of this note should not be lost, “Trustees also celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry.” Billy Graham, the high priest of New Evangelicalism, honored by SBTS.  Today, the former Northland Baptist Bible College (NBBC) is now in formal partnership with Graham’s legacy of betraying the Word of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

For the many fine former NBBC faculty, staff and graduates this is indeed a tragic and closing chapter for their alma mater.  Northland once was unique and unwavering in its fidelity to the whole counsel of God.  Under Matt Olson’s tenure as president the school was steadily lead into compromise and ultimately ruined for the cause of Christ.

The slide that Matt Olson initiated finally landed Northland in the mire.  One need look no further than Daniel Patz warmly shaking hands with Al Mohler to understand that NIU has aligned itself with a modern day leader of New Evangelical like compromise.

So ends the once fine ministry of Northland Baptist Bible College.  We have been witness to a modern day tragedy for the New Testament church.

Links to the Announcements:
Northland Joins SouthernSeminary

Southern Seminary Trustees Accept Gift of Wisconsin University Campus

Related Reading from NIU:
A Woman Preaches in Northland’s Chapel

October 14, 2014

Kevin Bauder: Revisiting The "Rant & Tirade" of 2009

A few weeks ago Pastor Brian Ernsberger posted an article titled, So, Who Exactly is Critical of Allegory? Really!

On July 18, 2014, Dr. Kevin Bauder posted an article critiquing the national FBFI conference held a little more than a month before in June. Now, right up front I want to note that I too was at the conference…. Towards the closing of his article, Dr. Bauder gets to the real reason for his writing, the criticism of Calvinism. Now, I give him credit for coming to this in a much better tone than he did back in the early summer of 2009 when he ranted and ran off on his tirade against about five minutes of Pastor Danny Sweatt’s message at the southeast regional FBFI conference in the spring of that year. Back then, Dr. Bauder didn’t just tirade and rant in one article but did so in two articles and finished with snippets from his inbox about his self-made brouhaha.
From the archives is a three part series, a record of and reaction to Kevin Bauder's "tirade, rant, self-made brouhaha." From June 2009 please read, Even More than "Nuff Said" to Warrant Kevn Bauder's Removal from the FBFI Annual Fellowship Platform.

Some Would Like Me to be Removed From the Platform of the FBFI this Summer,” (Dr. Kevin Bauder).

In recent days there has been a great deal of controversy and sharp contention among Independent Fundamental Baptists (IFB) within and around the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International (FBFI).

In my previous article I issued, A Call for Dr. Kevin Bauder’s Removal From the National Platform of the FBFI Annual Fellowship. That followed The IFB & Calvinism: Flashpoint!, which at the time I thought would be a single treatment of that particular issue.

Among other reasons given in my two previous articles for recommending Dr. Kevin Bauder’s removal from the national platform of the 2009 FBFI Annual Fellowship included:
1) His rhetoric about Dr. Bob Jones Jr. has never been retracted. Dr. Bob Jr. was a big part of the FBF in yesteryear. Should an FBFI speaker be allowed to publicly (as one man noted to me) “throw Dr. Jones under the bus and nothing be done about it?” What message is sent when an open attack against Dr. Bob Jones is tolerated with no response or consequences whatsoever?

2) Missionary John Himes (grandson of John R. Rice) wrote,
Again, I am very disappointed at the language Bauder uses against his fellow fundamentalists, evidently chiefly against Rice: ‘pugilistic and bellicose,’ ‘alpha males,’ ‘the big boys,’ ‘bullies,’ ‘chieftains,’ etc. Is this the kind of language a fundamentalist leader should use?”
3) And as I noted,
With an opportunity before him (Bauder) to promote unity, healing and reconciliation in the IFB community Dr. Bauder chose to pursue a different tact. Instead he further polarized factions, alienated many and fueled further division among men in and around the FBFI. I can’t imagine a more unnecessary, unwise and ill-timed moment as this juncture in the chain of events for Bauder to publish sharp criticism of widely respected men from our own IFB heritage.
4) And contra to the FBFI’s call for men to Speak the Truth in Love,
“Dr. Bauder’s criticisms of Dr. Jones and Dr. Rice was not speech that edifies. It was not a display of Christ-like love. Bauder’s tone was not the sound of humble integrity. The caricatures of Jones and Rice, while barely skirting personal attacks, certainly did not honor the Lord or those men. It is irrefutable that the speech with which Dr. Bauder described Drs. Jones and Rice is antithetical to what the FBFI leadership called for.”
If Dr. Bauder had limited his commentary to the first article, Time to Speak Up,  there would be some degree of just cause for his removal from the national platform. His second Nuff Said, a continuation and expansion of the same themes as the first, raised grave concern over his appearing on the national platform and legitimized calls for serious consideration that he be removed.

Following Bauder’s second article, Nuff Said, one might have assumed enough had been said by Bauder, but he had not yet, Said Nuff.
On Friday (5/29) Kevin Bauder, at Nick of Time published another and third installment of what has become a series. The title is, From the In Box.

In Bauder’s From the In Box, after some opening commentary, he published a long series of private correspondence he received in regard to his two previous articles, Time to Speak Out & Nuff Said. Bauder stated that he,
…believes in giving one’s opponents a hearing…that I (Bauder) would give my opponents the final word in any discussion. For this series, I am doing the same thing. I have made a point of including words of opposition from both sides—and I will offer no rejoinder.”
I did an informal content count of the e-mails Bauder presented. You will find 35 responses that support Bauder’s two previous articles. There are 4 that object and 5 others I felt were neutral. How does that kind of lopsided numerical make up constitute a sincere effort to give his opponents a hearing and/or the final word?

Making matters worse some letters continue Bauder’s critical themes of historic fundamentalists. Some are a continuation of angry reactions to the message by Dr. Sweatt. Calls for greater censure of Dr. Sweatt by the FBFI were included. Following are examples of the more egregious letters Bauder posted,
As a young fundamentalist and a Calvinist, I cannot thank you enough for going to bat against the big talkers who are spoiling fundamentalism. It is refreshing to see a man in leadership such as yourself speaking out against what I perceive to be atrocities committed in the name of Christ.” (bold mine)

The Calvinism issue is definitely one of our questions, and I thank you for addressing it. But, I believe that the greater issue at stake is how long will this ‘duplicitous and abusive leadership...pulpit tirades, doctrinal tomfoolery, and political gamesmanship’ be allowed and tolerated in mainstream fundamentalism?” (bold mine)
How does Bauder’s inclusion of incendiary and vitriolic commentary such as that contribute to a constructive, healing discussion of the issues? Why would Bauder include statements as extreme as these?

Occasionally, I receive articles for my blog that include statements I feel are excessive and needlessly inflammatory. In good conscience before God, to protect the character of men I disagree with and to avoid needlessly stirring emotions I revise or remove inflammatory commentary. If Bauder had any thought that the e-mails cited above might be over-the-top he would not have included them. Is it possible he let those anonymous men say for him, what he could never get away with saying himself?

Dr. Bauder publishing anonymous correspondence from other men perpetuates controversy. Why does Bauder bolster his views and flank himself with others men’s private e-mail? Does he think piling on more rhetoric legitimizes his own? Is he lobbying to keep his seat on the FBFI Annual Fellowship platform?

It has become clear through various on-going blog discussions that most of the men who were offended by Dr. Sweatt’s message are not satisfied with the FBFI’s Speak the Truth in Love response. In Nuff Said Bauder did acknowledge, “We need to give credit where credit is due.... The leadership did what they needed to do for this moment. They took a step that was intermediate but adequate.” There are, however, others who are agitating for stronger more immediate punitive measures to be taken against Dr. Sweatt, to IMO make an example of him. For example from the e-mails,
The FBFI statement is either arrogance or timidity. And I think they’re bed partners, frankly.”

When I read the FBFI statement, I thought that it was a non-statement that was laughably vague, yet here you describe it as courageous!”
No other recognized “leader” I am aware of in the IFB community or featured speaker for the upcoming FBFI Annual Fellowship is at the present publicly airing grievances (his own and those of others that were meant to be private). No other IFB leader is stirring the pot of controversy, taking on a political tone and essentially ignoring the FBFI’s recent attempt to calm the waters. Kevin Bauder is the only recognizable leader perpetuating controversy in the public forum. Other men who are slated to speak at the annual fellowship surely have a position on current events. They are, however, keeping out of the public fray most likely preferring private prayerful discussion. However, we have in Bauder, a high profile seminary president, engaging in public blog commentary (blog warfare as some call it).

Calls for Kevin Bauder’s removal from the national platform are not doctrinally motivated. Instead we have a pattern of behavior from Bauder that is working against unity, harmony and reconciliation in the IFB community.
Kevin Bauder’s on-going commentary has fostered hard feelings and is contributing to a polarization of factions within the broad base of IFB believers and the FBFI membership in particular.

Dr. Bauder has fashioned himself into a lightning rod for controversy! He has done nothing less than *increase the voltage being introduced into the atmosphere of the IFB community. On his own initiative he has made himself a flashpoint of controversy. Bauder’s perpetuating and expanding controversy is a major contributor to what is becoming a “toxic climate” for fundamentalism. In my opinion Bauder’s From the In Box, his third foray into controversy, erases any lingering doubt as to the necessity of his being relieved of any speaking responsibilities at the 2009 FBFI Annual Fellowship.

I do not envy the difficult position that Bauder has put the FBFI leadership in. The FBFI is at a crossroads. Whatever the FBFI decides on Bauder’s appearance at the annual fellowship there will certainly be some level of fallout. Concerns over potential political fallout must be set aside. Name and reputation must be set aside. The only question is: What is the right thing to do?

With his third article Dr. Kevin Bauder has Said (way more than) Nuff to warrant his removal from the national platform of the 2009 FBFI Annual Fellowship. There is sufficient reason...to call for and/or agree that Kevin Bauder must be removed from the platform of the [2009] FBFI Annual Fellowship.


*I chose the photo of lightning bolts over the Chicago skyline for a purpose. In Bauder’s Time to Speak Out article speaking of, “a more historic species of fundamentalism” he wrote,
Fortunately, I do not have to look very far to find a better, more biblically faithful, and more historic species of fundamentalism…. It shows up here and there in the toxic climate of Illinois….
Kevin Bauder is creating a highly charged “toxic climate” in Chicago, Illinois for the FBFI Annual Fellowship.

Important Related Reading:
In February 2013 Kevin Bauder incredibly annouced that he believed it is his "duty" and "responsibility" to clean up the FBFI. His self-declard duty to clean up the FBFI included "hauling out the trash." This is typical elitist, arrogance laced rhetoric from the pen of Kevin Bauder. See, Kevin Bauder: Haul Out the Trash in Your Own Home, First!

Updated (2/11/10):
I attended the FBFI Annual Fellowship in 2009. During the Q&A Symposium fears that Kevin Bauder might once again launch another unprovoked attack against historic Fundamentalism were realized.

Toward the end of the Q&A Bauder dodged a direct question put to him by symposium moderator Dr. John Dr. Vaughn about the conservative evangelicals, which was the subject of the Q&A. His dodge extended to an open attempt to besmirch Bob Jones University for its having hosted various candidates for political office.

Bauder just could not let his three previous attacks on the legacy of Dr. Bob Jones, Jr. and John R. Rice be “Nuff said.”

The irony is that current BJU president Stephen Jones was ill and, therefore, could not appear in the Symposium as scheduled. So, Bauder lowered the crosshairs on the most recognized personality from BJU that was available to him on the panel: Dr Mark Minnick.

Dr. Minnick was obviously uncomfortable with Bauder ambushing him with criticism of BJU administration decisions and calling on him to explain it. Dr. Minnick graciously tried to leave the discussion for the BJU administration to answer since he (Minnick) it not a BJU administrator and cannot speak for the administration, but Bauder kept up the pressure.

IMO Bauder, with that final performance, gave all the reason necessary to ensure he should never again be given a platform presence at an FBFI sponsored event.

September 25, 2014

Repentance Facts by Dr. Rick Flanders

The repentance involved in New Testament salvation has been given special attention in recent years by Christians concerned that the Gospel be correctly preached. A lot of this concern arose because of the justifiable dismay in many godly minds over the lack of holiness these days in the lives of professing believers in Christ. Some have decided that the problem must be in how the Gospel has been preached. Some of the representatives of this theory have concentrated on the way preachers handle the issue of repentance. What exactly is the “repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18) taught by the New Testament scriptures? This has become a major issue among groups of conservative preachers and among church members in some good congregations. Interpretations of repentance have swung to the right and to the left, have drawn extreme conclusions, and have fomented heated arguments. Books and articles have been written on the subject, and some of them leave people confused and unsettled. The debate in some arenas has done more harm than it has done good. Certainly we will be helped if we can discern clear facts about repentance from the Bible. And there are several which are both clear and even undeniable. Consider these:

There is no doubt that sinners are called to repent, and that their repentance is required for their salvation. Jesus said,

“I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance," (Luke 5:32).

Jesus called sinners to repentance. Had Tyre and Sidon seen the mighty works done in their cities in their day that were done by Jesus in Chorazin and Bethsaida, these wicked cities would have “repented” and avoided judgment, said the Lord (Matthew 11:21 and Luke 10:13-14). “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,” Jesus said on another occasion (Luke 13:3). Sinners who don’t repent will perish. And He told us that there is joy in Heaven over “one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:7). The salvation of the sinner occurs when he repents. The risen Christ stated that the remission of sins results from the repentance of sinners (Look up Luke 24:46-47). The words of Jesus remove any doubt about the requirement of repentance for salvation. “All men every where,” according to God’s requirement (Acts 17:30), are commanded “to repent.” “The riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering” represent (in Romans 2:4) “the goodness of God” which “leadeth thee to repentance.” God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (Second Peter 3:9b). Sinners who want to be saved will have to repent! So the Bible teaches.

2.                   REPENTANCE IS A CHANGE OF MIND.

The Greek word for repentance used in the New Testament is metanoia. Without question it means “a change of mind.” Unfortunately, in all the flurry of discussion on this subject, some have ventured to argue that repentance is not a change of the mind. But by its etymology the word clearly refers to action fundamentally in the mind. The root of the word is based on a word that means “mind” (nous, mind; noieo, to exercise the mind). Our word “paranoia” identifies a disease of the mind. The Greek word “anoia” adds the negative prefix to “-noia,” and means “unreason.” It is used in Luke 6:11 in the phrase translated “filled with madness.” Dianoia is an intensive word for “thought” and is used in Mark 12:30 in the phrase “with all thy mind”. Eunoia means “good mind,” and is used in Ephesians 6:7, “with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.” Metanoia fundamentally means a change of mind, and that’s what repentance is. In Luke 16, the Lord Jesus tells a story of a man who died and went to Heaven, and another man who died and went to Hell (verses 19-31). In the telling of the story it is said that sinful men must “repent” (verse 30) “lest they also come into this place of torment” (verse 28). Then it says that to repent in this way is to “be persuaded” (see verse 31), using a word in the Greek that indicates the winning over of the mind. Certainly genuine repentance can be expected to affect other aspects of a life, but essentially it is the changing of the mind.


Often men are told in the New Testament to “repent” (change their minds) in order to be saved. However, it is not only of sin that sinners are to repent. Scripture makes it clear that they are to change their minds about more than one thing. Matthew 3:1-6 indicates that sinners must change their mind about sin. Mark 1:15 says that men must change their minds about the gospel and about their unbelief. Hebrews 6:1 speaks of “repentance from dead works.” Sinners must repent of their good works as well as of sin and unbelief in order to be saved. This is illustrated in the words of Philippians 3, where Paul testifies that he had to count whatever was “gain” to him as loss, in order to have Christ as His Savior (read verses 4-9). To trust Christ as Savior requires a decision. That’s why the word “repent” or “repentance” is sometimes used in connection with it. The sinner must change his mind. To offer salvation on the basis of accepting a creed, or praying a prayer, or agreeing to a set of facts, is to miss the point. The sinner must decide about the gospel. He must change his mind about sin, about believing, and about depending on his own religion or good works. He must decide to look to Christ alone for his salvation.


Does the book of John ever address the question of eternal life? Of course it does. More than a dozen times the terms “eternal life” or “everlasting life” are used in John. This could be said to be the theme of the book, which often tells us how individuals may receive eternal life. Yet never once does the book of John use the word “repent.” Since repentance is required for salvation, isn’t it strange that the book in the Bible that has eternal life as its theme would never use the words “repent” or “repentance”? John says that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, through believing in Him or coming to Him. Very many times the word “believe” is used in reference to the way to eternal life. Yet the decision for salvation is never called “repentance.”

The book of Luke also shows us the way to salvation, but strangely says little about faith in Christ in this connection. The term most used to describe the decision for salvation in Luke is some form of “repent.” We see this, for example, in Luke 5:32. But then, in Luke 7:50, Jesus tells a woman who had committed many sins, but had come to Him for forgiveness, “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” It is really the only place in Luke where faith is mentioned in connection with the salvation of a sinner. In chapter 5, Jesus calls sinners “to repentance,” and in chapter 7 He tells a sinner that her “faith” had “saved” her. Which is it then, repentance or faith, which brings salvation? The answer to that question obviously is “Yes.” Either one brings salvation. People who repent are saved, and people who believe are saved. Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin when scripture uses them to describe the salvation decision. This is why Luke can tell us to repent and not perish, and John can tell us to believe and have eternal life. When a sinner believes on Christ for his salvation, he has repented. When a person repents of sin, unbelief, and dead works, and it is real repentance, he has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. “Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21) are not two steps to salvation; they are the one step described in Acts 16 as “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (verse 31) viewed from its two sides. Salvation repentance is the change of mind necessary for a sinner to trust in Christ for deliverance from sin. If a man says that he has turned from his sin but has not turned to the Remedy for sin, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, he has not really repented, no matter how many tears he may have shed or how may changes he has promised to make in his behavior. Salvation repentance is turning from darkness to light, and unless a sinner has turned to the Light of the World, he hasn’t really turned from the darkness. To believe on Christ for salvation includes wanting to be saved. It involves renouncing good works for salvation and deciding to place one’s full trust in Jesus to do the saving. It isn’t faith for salvation unless the sinner wants salvation from his sins, and trusts Christ alone to save him. So Luke says, “Repent,” and John says, “Believe.” Both books are telling us to do the same thing.


Many times in the Bible, men are called to repent without using the word. In Acts 3 where one of Peter’s sermons to Jews in Jerusalem is recorded, in verse 19 we find him telling them, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted.” Then in Acts 4:4, where the response of thousands of those who had been called to repent is recorded, we read, “Many of them which heard the word believed.” In other words, they were told to repent and in response they believed. Nowadays some sermons, and some public invitations, and some gospel tracts include language that suggests that the writer or speaker feels compelled to use the word “repent.” If people understand the gospel, and the meaning of the salvation decision, it certainly would not be wrong to say “repent,” but it is not always necessary to include the word because repentance and faith are two ways of looking at the same choice. Jesus offered His salvation with words such as, “Come unto Me” (Matthew 11:28 and 19:14), “eat of this Bread” (John 6:51), “come unto Me and drink” (John 7:37), “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” (John 9:35), and “believe in the Light” (John 12:36). The decision to turn to Him for eternal salvation can be described in different ways.

Sadly, many of those who insist that we must actually tell the sinner to “repent” somewhere in our gospel presentation have accepted the false idea that there are two steps to salvation. I have heard it explained in such a way that it seemed as though the explainer thought that the converts of John the Baptist were only half-saved (although he actually preached both sides of the coin according to Acts 19:4 and John 3:26-36). He told men to repent, some imply, and then Jesus told them to believe. It is a false teaching that one must repent first in order to be prepared to believe. It connects somehow back to the wrong ideas related to the old “mourners’ bench” where sinners were expected to weep and agonize over their sins for a period of time before they could be saved. Men are saved in one step, and not in two, as illustrated by incidents in the Bible like the conversion of the Philippian jailor in Acts 16. In response to his question, “What must I do to be saved?” the apostle told him, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”


Christian churches are the ones addressed in Revelation 2 and 3, seven congregations to be exact. They are given direct messages suited to their situations from the risen Christ, and five of the seven are called upon to repent (the Ephesian church in 2:5, the church in Pergamos in 2:16, some in the church of Thyatira in 2:21, the church in Sardis in 3:3, and the church of the Laodiceans in 3:19). In these significant cases, the issue is the revival of saints, and not the salvation of sinners. Repentance is definitely not exclusively a salvation issue. In any dealing between God and man, sinner or saint, repentance in man will be a necessary step in setting things right. The prophet Zechariah spoke the words of the Lord when he said,

“Turn ye unto Me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts,” (Zechariah 1:3).
The call to revival under both the Old Covenant and the New is always a call to God’s people. It is not the call to personal salvation. Revival is the work of God in which He brings His people back (Psalm 85:1-6) and lifts them up (James 4:8-10) to the level of faith and submission where He can bless them. The issue is a need for His people to come back to God. And in revival, God’s people always have to repent. When Job the servant of the Lord saw the error of his self-justification in the time of his awful trials, he cried, “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). But Job wasn’t getting saved when he prayed with these words. He was already a believer with a deep and genuine devotion to His God. What he experienced on that day was revival. The phrase, “the LORD turned the captivity of Job,” used in verse 10 of Job 42 is a term describing an Old Testament revival that is used in several other revival scriptures (such as in Psalms 14, 85, and 126). The repentance required in the salvation decision does not necessarily involve self-abhorrence. Probably an unregenerate man is incapable of having such a deep awareness of the implications of sin. Most Old Testament references to men repenting speak of revival, not salvation, and cannot be used properly to illustrate salvation repentance. Interestingly, the One spoken of most often in the Old Testament as repenting, with the word being used, is God. From this fact it is clear that to repent does not necessarily mean to turn in grief and anguish from wicked ways and deeds. God never has to do that. It means to change one’s mind, or, in the case of God, to appear to change One’s mind from the perspective of human observance.


Sometimes sorrow, tears, and mourning are associated in the Bible with repentance. However it is clear that the weeping is not the repenting. Second Corinthians 7:10 tells us that “godly sorrow worketh repentance.” It can lead to repentance (as we see in verses 8 through 11 of the chapter) but sorrow for sin is not part of repentance. Repentance is the change of mind that the sorrow for sin has generated.
Surely we must face the facts about repentance. It is time for Christians to get back to calling sinners to repentance. When the gospel is preached in the power of the Spirit, sinners will be brought to salvation repentance. We have fussed about the details of the matter enough, and have the duty now to spread the light of the gospel of the grace of God. Making sinners jump through more hoops to come to Christ does not make the salvation they receive from Him more effective. Regeneration happens whenever a sinner comes to the Savior, and believers ought to get back to inviting them to come.

Dr. Rick Flanders
Revival Ministries

Related Reading:
See Dr. Flanders prior article, Isn't Repentance a Decision?

Terms of Salvation, by Ps. George Zeller

Lordship Salvation: A Misuse of Scripture

September 15, 2014

What is Congregationalism?

God blesses only what He orders. For a local church that desires peace, tranquility, love, and effectiveness, this is no light matter. For several years I served as moderator for a statewide fellowship, and it seemed as if at any one time there were only a handful of churches that experienced the kind of peace that God planned for them. For much of the time, these churches were on a pendulum between anarchy and tyranny. I outline this issue in my book The Weeping Church, now published by Faithful Life Publishers in North Fort Myers, Florida. The book has been in constant publication for over 35 years and sets the bar for dealing with the crisis in church polity.
The purpose of Shepherd's Staff is to create discussion in key areas. Most of these areas appear to be too sensitive for others to handle. I have dear friends who do us a wonderful service by providing devotional material and subjects for application. My concern is for a theology that is biblical, one that will let the Bible speak for itself. We get that truth by asking questions of the text. The center of this particular effort has to rest on the one biblical hermeneutic. When people ignore this system for the use of language, it is impossible to come up with a right answer. This is the problem with human definitions of congregationalism. Human systems are the result of ignoring the one biblical hermeneutic or misusing the rules that God has provided for us.
What some people have done is to use a partial hermeneutic to invent their definition, which in turn allows them to insert personal or collective ideas into the text. The major problem with these additions to the text includes the insertion of their view of the culture or the current government under which they have lived. It would be one thing to just admit that they added it to the text; it is another and more serious matter to force the text to support a specific cultural view.
Admittedly, the Bible is used in their conclusions, and that is the problem. The Bible is used rather than allowing the Bible to use us in the pursuit of truth. The original languages are used as well, but it ends up being a grammatical pretzel rather than biblical principle. As in many doctrinal inventions, the process is meant to "complicate to confuse."  Our task is to simplify to clarify, which is why God has given us some effective tools to test theological inventions. I would remind you that the Bible was not written for scholars; it was written for the common man and woman.
The Weeping Church details the many errors I have referred to, and you can read it for that information. In this article, I want to focus on some of those simple things God has given us to shine a light on error. You can compare your personal view of polity and congregationalism with those tools. Let me warn you that this is where an individual will discover his/her own system of interpretation. Is your polity system a monarchy, a dictatorship, a republic, a democracy, or a form of socialism? Is it papal, Episcopal, Presbyterian, congregational, or a theocracy? You just might be surprised!
The Body of Christ is the heavenly church, and it includes all those who have been redeemed, from Pentecost to the Rapture. Entry to this heavenly congregation is through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. (I Cor. 12:13) This heavenly truth is pictured on earth through the local church. The local church is a congregation, a body. God illustrates the heavenly truth through an earthly body. Since baptism is a local church ordinance, entrance to the local church is by water baptism. The earthly body is not perfect, and there may be unsaved people in the local congregation. The desire of Christ is that we emulate the heavenly body as well as we are able. A disjointed body is painful, and this often happens when a particular body does not pay heed to the things that provide good health.
God is good and has given us a way to understand how the local church should function. Good health, joy, peace, and comfort rest in understanding how God intended for the body to function. The body has a local resident head; we all should easily understand how that works, how it makes decisions and implements them. This collection of body members, or congregation, illustrates for us how the local church should function, make decisions, and stay healthy.
So how does your church government stand up to God’s clear illustration of the body? I know we are tempted to insert our own system into this, so be very careful.
Jesus Christ is clearly identified as the Shepherd of the heavenly congregation, the flock. This heavenly truth is best displayed on earth with the local church. It is a flock with a local under-shepherd, a pastor who is appointed by Christ. The function, decision making, good health, and safe setting are simply displayed in this humble illustration. God knew we could understand this. He also knew we wouldn’t like it and would insert anything we could, including our cultural context, so we could have it our way.
There is more - for instance, the church as a family. That one is so simple that it is embarrassing that anyone would even try to corrupt it! So how does your church government compare to the simple illustrations that God has given us? It is by this simplicity that we can discover if the elite has been pulling our leg about congregationalism. We both really know why they don’t like it, and that is because it reveals the human system of hermeneutics that they use.
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