April 20, 2014

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ


The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the LORD out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.



And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.

But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my LORD, and I know not where they have laid him.

And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.


Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the LORD, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD.

Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.


The Gospel of John Chapter 20

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April 18, 2014

The Sacrificial Death of Jesus Christ


Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him.


Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.

And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.

Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.


Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son. Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.

Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.


There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.


The Gospel of John 19:1-42



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April 14, 2014

Northland Takes Giant Step Toward Closure

Northland and Central Seminary will not survive having abandoned their fundamental heritage, disdain for those who have gone before, and pursuing a path toward [so-called] ‘conservative’ evangelicalism.” (Closure of Calvary Baptist Seminary: Predictable and Repeatable, Aug. 2013)
On April 7 NIU President Daniel Patz made an announcement to the student body.  You can read his announcement in its entirety under April 2014 Announcement1 at the NIU website. 
“…It’s clear that we need to make more changes in order to live within our means…. reduce and eliminate programs and schools…the Discover. Develop. Deploy. program, our music department, and our education department, as well as our 5 school/outcome-based approach.”
In the article it is plain that NIU is taking a giant step closer to closure.  The closure of NIU, and its camp ministry, has been predictable and is IMO imminent.  The only question is when will NIU be shuttered.  A key contributor to NIU’s closure was the betrayal of clear statements of doctrine and practice stated in Northland’s Academic Catalogs and Articles of Faith. See, Is NIU “Opposed to the Modern Day Charismatic Movement?”
We have three statements from the Northland Graduate School Academic Catalog that unequivocally opposes and rejects the Charismatic Movement signs and wonders teaching.  The academic catalog explicitly rejects cooperation with the Charismatic Movement.  Yet, Matt Olson has honored the men and embraced the ministry of a church within the Sovereign Grace, Charismatic Movement.
The “NIU is unchanged” changes Matt Olson instituted at Northland alienated a vast swath of the Northland Baptist Bible College alumni and core base of support.  New enrollment fell sharply and some existing students transferred out because of Olson’s changes to the school.  For example see, Dr. Matt Olson, “I Apologize to You for…” What?
No, we do not doubt Matt Olson’s sincerity – we doubt his wisdom. He brings in Josh Beers and other men, possibly including Jason Janz for a “Day of Prayer.” Matt leads the young people to mix, that which is most holy (Prayer) with that which is profane (the world’s CCM/Rock music) and then renders an apology. Why doesn’t he inform and apologize to their parents and pastors? The students who are learning how to be involved in mixed-worship may not want to come home to the old ways.
Does Matt Olson believe he can succeed where others have failed? Matt Olson’s hard left turn put NIU on a trajectory to suffer the consequences, which began with losing most of the alumni. Significant numbers of alumni have already seen enough of Matt Olson’s leftward turn to decide they’re not going with him. (What Do Pillsbury, Tennessee Temple & Northland Have in Common? Oct. 2012) 
Northland is about to realize the same fate that Pillsbury Baptist Bible College did in 2010, only NIU has been brought to ruin far more quickly. It was the radical changes that Matt Olson brought to NIU that has brought the once fine fundamental Baptist separatist school to ruin.  Those who never wanted to see the historic and biblical foundation of Northland Baptist Bible College dismantled have been affected.  Pray for these as they are or soon will be in transition to another place of service in God’s good will and timing for them. (Isaiah 65:24; Phil. 2:12-13)


LM

Footnotes:
1) Daniel Patz, April 2014 Announcement

Related Reading:
It is my belief that the closure of Calvary Baptist Seminary was predictable and will be repeated. Calvary joins Pillsbury Baptist Bible College and Tennessee Temple in their demise. I also believe we will see the closure of Northland International University (NIU) and Central Baptist Seminary (Minneapolis, MN). For drifting far from their original markers as fundamental Baptist separatist schools NIU and Central will not survive. NIU and Central will not survive having become non-separatist, evangelical schools. They will not survive having alienated their base and alumni! NIU and Central cannot compete for students with the star personalities of and/or high-profile schools in the so-called “conservative” evangelicalism.  Northland and Central will not survive having abandoned their fundamental heritage, disdain for those who have gone before, and pursuing a path toward [so-called] “conservative” evangelicalism.
Is NIU “UnChanged?”
Has NIU remained unchanged? In 2010-11 school year would NIU hand the Northland Baptist Bible College Position Statement on Contemporary Issues in Christianity to a visiting pastor and/or parent and state that the university still abides by the philosophy and practice it defines? Is the NBBC Position Statement still in force, or has it been set aside to allow for what has the appearance of a change in direction for NIU?
With the imbedded video and accompanying pages at NIU’s web site the downward spiral of compromise of a once fine school continues. For some NIU has hit bottom. It’s one thing (not a good thing) for NIU to be participating in CCM/Rock concerts, which I have documented. It is quite another to have officially brought the CCM/Rock genre to the campus itself.
This video is another sad revelation of what happened to the remaining faculty and student body once Northland’s leadership took a tolerant view toward CCM and RAP, yet tells the public NIU has not changed. The students know the real position of the administration on such matters….  And it is only a matter of time until this kind of behavior is seen in the chapel hour and on ministry tours.

April 7, 2014

Understanding Carl McIntire: Important Insights into Our Present World

“Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the king of the Jews?  Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?  Pilate answered, Am I a Jew?  Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?  Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.  Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then?  Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king.  To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.  Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.  Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?”
(John 18:33-38)
Dr. Rick Flanders
Many Christians today have never heard of Dr. Carl McIntire, but back in the 1960s he hosted the most widely syndicated independent religious radio program in the country.  It was called “The Twentieth Century Reformation Hour,” and the thrust of its message was that there needed to be a new reformation, with churches that are true to historic Christianity withdrawing from the mainline denominations because of their tolerance of “liberal” false teachers.  Dr. McIntire was the pastor of the Bible Presbyterian Church of Collingswood, New Jersey, but his voice was heard regularly by millions who never darkened the doors of his local church.  His broadcast was carried by more than 600 stations at the peak of its influence, which is roughly the same as the number of stations that carry Rush Limbaugh today!  It was a daily (weekdays) half-hour program put on the air by thousands of contributors stirred by its message.
Those who heard Dr. McIntire knew that his no-nonsense talk show (only he did the talking—there were no phone calls taken) focused on many more topics than heresy in the churches.  He was known as a “right-wing” political voice, and was targeted by several administrations for special persecution by the F.C.C. for his conservative influence.  Eventually government pressure put McIntire off the air.  To say that he was controversial would be to understate the situation tremendously.  He named names and accused both religious and political leaders of socialist views, softness on communism, treasonous activities, and antagonism to the true Christian faith.  Many were converted to the rising conservative movement in American politics through Dr. McIntire’s influence, as well as to fundamentalist Christianity.  No one can deny that his influence was felt in the ‘60s and ‘70s, although whether his influence was for good or for ill is an issue that has been debated hotly.
Both liberal and conservative churchmen found McIntire’s message and methods disturbing.  The “new evangelical” element rising in the conservative churches joined the liberal leaders of the mainline churches in denouncing, castigating, and even ridiculing him.  But now, with the passage of time, we can get a better perspective on the man and on what he was telling us, and he doesn’t look as crazy as he did to some back in his heyday.
Dr. McIntire Marching
Carl McIntire died in his nineties, in 2002.  It really wasn’t until after his death that a few evangelical spokesmen acknowledged the accuracy of some of his seemingly radical opinions.  This is particularly true of the charge he made repeatedly that clerics of Soviet-bloc churches that had been welcomed into the World Council of Churches were actually KGB agents.  Communist influence in the church councils was a regular theme of his radio addresses, but his direct charge against the Russian Orthodox and other Soviet churchmen seemed to be based on information he received from his contact with the persecuted “underground” churches behind the Iron Curtain.  These claims were mocked by liberal media and liberal clergy alike, and disregarded even by conservative writers both religious and political.  But it turns out he was right.  Intelligence released after the collapse of the Soviet Union confirms that the clerics in question were indeed Red agents.
Upon news of McIntire’s death, Richard Mouw of Christianity Today, wrote, “In the world of ecumenical Protestantism, some owe Carl McIntire an apology for dismissing his warnings.”  He went on to say, “To my knowledge, no one in the world of ecumenical Protestantism ever apologized to McIntire for the cavalier manner in which they dismissed his charges.  I, for one, believe we owed him an apology.”
Many Christians who agreed with McIntire’s Christian fundamentalism did not agree with his strong emphasis on the radio and in public addresses on the danger of Communism and on predominantly political issues.  I was one of those who wished he would focus more on preaching the Gospel and on the exposition of the Bible.  Carl McIntire was skilled in Biblical exposition and was effective in evangelistic preaching, but so often his subjects were the Red menace and the evils of the liberal trend in the government.  Why was he doing this?  It may well be true that McIntire’s approach was imbalanced in some ways, but it is more and more clear that he saw something many of us missed about the connection between doctrinal heresy and political error.
The relation between one’s perception of eternal truth and his civil and political viewpoint is taught in the Bible and especially clarified in the interrogation of Jesus Christ by Pontius Pilate.  This conversation is recorded in the book of John, chapter 18, verse 28, through chapter 19, and verse 16.  The governor was supposedly seeking to determine if the Nazarene were guilty of treason.  “Art thou a king then?” he asked and pressed for an answer.  “My kingdom is not of this world,” replied the Son of God.  “Thou sayest that I am a king.  To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.”  The governor responded with a telling comment in the form of a question, “What is truth?”  The governor did not believe in absolute truth.  Like many leading our world today, this politician lived by the assumption that all matters of principle are really matters of opinion, and that one opinion is as good as another.  No principles, political or moral, are set in stone.  No God above determines the difference between right and wrong.  A political decision will be made on the basis of its probable effect, and not based on absolutes.  Pilate’s politics were determined by his spiritual bankruptcy.  What he did in the case of Jesus of Nazareth reveals how his actions as governor were affected by his attitude toward truth.  The man who denied the existence of truth found a man innocent of any crime, but then had him scourged and eventually crucified.  He did not have the moral fortitude to do anything else.
Men in authority have always become benefactors or oppressors based upon their attitude toward eternal truth.  This is repeatedly taught in the Bible book of Proverbs.
“Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.  Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.”
(Proverbs 25:4-5)
“For the transgression of a land many of the princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged.”
(Proverbs 28:2)
“Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.”
(Proverbs 28:5)
“The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor: but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days.”
(Proverbs 28:16)
“When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase.”
(Proverbs 28:28)
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”
(Proverbs 29:2)
“If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.”
(Proverbs 29:12)
Our understanding of the times will improve as we factor in the principle that theological bias is behind political ideology.  And it is.  Socialism arose as a philosophy to oppose the Gospel assertion that man is innately sinful.  As the great revivals spread the truth of man’s depravity, those who rejected it and the salvation offered by God on the basis of it, developed explanations of where evil originates if it does not “proceed” (as Jesus taught) “out of the heart of men” (Mark 7:21-23).  Socialism and the various forms of communism insisted that evil came from our economic system.  Replace the competition-based system mankind has always used with a system based on cooperation, and evil will disappear.  Utopia will be created.  The politics of the left is based on theological heresy.  Psychology and evolution also arose to oppose the teachings of the Gospel.  Every political “ism” that believes that society can save itself is really a false Gospel. 
Rejection of God as the Lawgiver is behind the gay-marriage and abortion-rights movements in the political field.  The “social issues” debated in every political campaign today are really religious issues.  Traditional Christians find themselves under more and more pressure from the government, not by the accident of changing social mores, but because of specific and deliberate opposition to what they believe by those who are gaining political power.  Many who are seizing power in the country hate the God of the Bible and the laws by which He says we must live.  They are not neutral to Bible Christianity; some of them are sworn to destroy it.
Christian doctrine cannot be divorced from politics, if both of them are understood correctly.  The theological apostasy of the churches had everything to do with the political shift in America from the protection of individual freedom to the total collectivism we can all see coming.  Dr. McIntire recognized and exposed the role liberal churches and church councils were having in socializing the country, but his taking the Bible to the heart of American politics was for deeper reasons than labeling the culprits that were taking us down the road to tyranny.  It happened because the perversion of our politics comes from our departure from the Christian faith.  When the churches failed to be guardians of the truth, the whole of our society was affected.
To understand this fact is to discover another compelling reason for God’s people to speak the complete truth about what God has said and how it applies to all areas of life today.  Caution about getting too political or offending people with our old-fashioned morals, or standing up on controversial issues may not be as wise as we once thought.  Dr. McIntire was called a kook, but he may well have been right in ways that we must note in our day. Christians are largely derelict in their role as salt and light today, and must face that fact, confess their sin, and step up to the plate.  The response of men to the truth of God ultimately determines the nature of their politics.  Christians have the duty to say something about that.

Dr. Rick Flanders

March 24, 2014

Lordship Salvation: A Misuse of Scripture, 1 Thessalonians 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.

March 19, 2014

Lordship Salvation Requirements

Last week I took some time to interact with Kent Brandenburg around an article he wrote, at his What is Truth blog, in support of the Lordship Salvation (LS) interpretation of the gospel. Kent has continued his discussion of LS with a new article. Kent makes various claims that are virtually universal among advocates of Lordship Salvation. I would like to address some of his claims here.  Kent opened his new article with this,

As a pejorative, inventors of a new doctrine of salvation have titled what is the historical and biblical plan of salvation, “Lordship salvation.” The terminology doesn't sound bad to me, so I own it. However, all sorts of garbage have been dumped on it to where it must be defined. One risk is cherry-picked quotes taken out of context. Lordship salvation isn’t hard to defend, just avoiding tortured sound bytes. (LS for Dummies, bold added)
Men who reject the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the gospel have documented scores upon scores of quotes from various LS advocates. The most prominent and prolific of these is Dr. John MacArthur. Dr. MacArthur’s core themes of LS run like a thread through all of his works on the gospel. When MacArthur speaks on LS, he is speaking in the context of the gospel, what he believes to be the requirements for a lost man to be born again, justified. We can know what teachers of Lordship Salvation believe, preach and defend by reading and/or hearing how they define their position in their own words. In the following article Brother George Zeller answers the question, What are the “Lordship Salvation Requirements” for Salvation?


What do Lordship Salvation advocates actually require of the sinner? What do they say a person must do to be saved? John MacArthur is recognized as a leading proponent of Lordship Salvation. If you search through John MacArthur’s three books on Lordship Salvation [The Gospel According to Jesus (abbreviated GATJ), Faith Works (abbreviated FW) and Hard to Believe (abbreviated HTB)] you will find numerous statements that indicate different salvation requirements. Consider the following:

Lordship Salvation Requirements

A person must have “a transforming commitment to the living Christ” (GATJ, p. ix, written by J. I. Packer).
 
“Follow Him in submissive obedience” (GATJ, p. 21).
 
Deny self, take up a cross, forsake all and follow Christ (GATJ, p. 30).
 
Repent, surrender and have an eagerness to obey (GATJ, p. 31).
 
Obey Christ (GATJ, p. 45).
 
Yield one’s life to the Lordship of Christ (GATJ, p. 67).
 
Be willing to forsake everything (GATJ, p. 78).
 
Commit yourself to obedience (GATJ, p. 79)
 
Make Christ the highest authority in your life (GATJ, pp. 86-87).
 
Be willing to obey (GATJ, p. 88).
 
Repent and follow Jesus (GATJ, p. 106).
 
Turn from sin (GATJ, p. 112).
 
Forsake oneself for Christ’s sake (GATJ, p. 135).
 
Be willing to sacrifice everything to acquire the kingdom (GATJ, p. 138–parables of hid treasure and pearl).
 
Give up all for the kingdom (GATJ, p. 138).
 
Totally abandon self-will (GATJ, p. 140).
 
Exchange all that you are for all that Christ is (GATJ, p. 140).
 
Make a full exchange of self for the Savior (“absolute surrender”) - (GATJ, p. 141).
 
Turn from sin, abandon self and intend to obey God (GATJ, p. 161).
 
Repudiate the old life (GATJ, p. 162).
 
Turn from evil and intend to serve God (GATJ, p. 163).
 
Surrender to Christ and choose to obey Him (GATJ, p. 170).
 
Deny self and follow Christ (GATJ, p. 196).
 
Love Christ more than your own family members, be unquestionably loyal to Him even above your families (GATJ, pages 200-201).
 
Obey Christ’s divine authority (GATJ, p. 204).
 
MacArthur teaches that James 4:7-10 is “perhaps the most comprehensive invitation to salvation in the epistles” (GATJ, p. 218). Based on this statement we must add the following requirements:
  • Submit yourself to God
  • Resist the devil.
  • Draw nigh to God.
  • Cleanse your hands.
  • Purify your hearts.
  • Be afflicted and mourn.
  • Humble yourselves.
Turn to Christ in full self-surrender (FW, p. 49).

Turn from your sins (FW, p. 74).

Surrender heart, mind and will to Christ (FW, p. 194).
 
Deny self (HTB, pages 2, 6).
 
Take up your cross daily (HTB, p. 6)
 
Follow Christ (HTB, p. 6).
 
Refuse to associate any longer with the person you are (HTB, p. 7).
 
The requirement for eternal life is to be willing to give up all your earthly possessions if the Lord should ask this (HTB, p. 9).
 
Be willing to give up as much as it takes (HTB, p. 11).
 
“If you want to become a Christian, slay yourself! Refuse to associate any long with yourself, reject all the things your self longs and wants and hopes for. Be willing to die for the sake of Christ.” (HTB, pages 11-12)
 
Totally and absolutely deny self (HTB, pages 14-15).
 
Be willing to hate your father and mother (HTB, p. 15)
 
Be willing to dump all your earthly goods (possessions)–Luke 14:33 (HTB, p. 15).
 
“The complete surrender of all possessions is the essence of salvation” (HTB, p. 16).
 
Give yourself totally to Him which involves self-denial, cross bearing and following Him in obedience (HTB, p. 67).
 
Deny yourself and give Him your life (HTB, p. 69).
 
Die to yourself (HTB, p. 70).
 
You must obey the Sermon on the Mount (HTB, p. 81).
 
Leave all your possessions behind (HTB, p. 85).
 
“Salvation isn’t the result of an intellectual exercise. It comes from a life lived in obedience and service to Christ as revealed in the Scriptures” (HTB, p. 93).
I have learned that this last quotation (page 93 in Hard to Believe) was not written by MacArthur, but erroneously made its way into the text by way of an editor. I’ve been told that subsequent editions of the book have corrected this. However, I do not find this quote to be out of harmony with MacArthur’s Lordship position. If self denial, full surrender, loving Christ more than anyone else, forsaking all possessions are all requirements of salvation, then why can’t obedience be added as well?
Affirm your commitment to the lordship of Christ to the point where you are willing to forsake everything (HTB, pages 132-133).
 
“You can’t receive His salvation if your family means more to you than He does” (HTB, p. 134).
 
Give up your life and embrace His (HTB, p. 178).
 
On the back flyleaf of the book HTB, it says, “The hard truth about Christianity is that the cost is high, but the rewards are priceless: abundant and eternal life that comes only from faithfully following Christ (emphasis mine).”

Observations

1. These Lordship salvation requirements all focus upon what the sinner must do. When it comes to salvation by grace, the true focus should be upon the finished work of Christ and what He has done. See our study entitled Do or Done? Salvation is based on God’s mercy, and it is not based on “works of righteousness which we have done” (Titus 3:5). “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom. 4:5). See also Ephesians 2:8-9. It is not our sacrifice that saves us, it is the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:18). MacArthur says, “We contribute nothing to our salvation” (HTB, p. 188), but if you read the list of requirements above, it seems that man does contribute a great deal.

2. As you consider this list of Lordship requirements, it is obvious that MacArthur and others like him believe that the terms of discipleship are the same as requirements for salvation. To them “What must I do to be saved?” and “What must I do to be a disciple?” are identical questions. See our paper, A Contrast and Comparison Between Discipleship and Salvation. The only requirement for salvation is faith in the Person, Work and Word of God’s only Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. The requirements for discipleship are many and are essential for the believer’s sanctification. Lordship Sanctification is biblical; Lordship salvation is not!

3. One example of a discipleship requirement is loving Christ more than your own family members, and being unquestionably loyal to Him even above your own loved ones (GATJ, pages 200-201, HTB, p. 134). In other words, Christ should be the supreme object of my love. I should love Him more than family members, more than my own possessions, even more than my own life. This discipleship requirement is merely a re-statement of the greatest commandment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt. 22:37). Thus, Lordship salvation men are essentially telling us that the greatest commandment is a requirement for salvation, and since the greatest commandment sums up the 10 Commandments (Matt. 22:40), then this means that salvation is obtained by keeping the Law. And yet we know that none of us have kept the law perfectly, and none of us have loved God supremely. The greatest commandment (along with the other laws which it summarizes) condemns every one of us to hell! If loving God supremely is a salvation requirement, then all of us are doomed! We have all failed to do this. How thankful I am that Christ Jesus came into the world to save guilty lawbreakers! See 1 Timothy 1:15.

4. Lordship men actually soften the requirements of discipleship, something which our Lord never did. In many of MacArthur’s requirements we read phrases like this: be willing to forsake everything, have an eagerness to obey, be willing to sacrifice everything, be willing to hate your father and mother, etc. But the Lord said, “If you hate not father and mother....you cannot be my disciple.” He didn’t merely speak of a willingness to do it, but He spoke of actually doing it. “Whosoever he is of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). The Lord did not just speak of a willingness to forsake all possessions, but He spoke of actually doing it. So MacArthur is actually softening the requirements of discipleship. Believers do not measure up to the full demands of discipleship (even the Lord’s original twelve disciples lacked faith and full commitment on numerous occasions). The good news is that every believer completely measures up to the full demands of God's righteousness in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). God has fully provided the righteousness which we could never attain to on our own.

5. On page 9 (HTB) MacArthur states that the requirement for eternal life is to be willing to give up all your earthly possessions if the Lord should ask this. This means that the requirement for eternal life varies for different individuals. For some individuals, the requirement for eternal life would include being willing to give up all earthly possessions if the Lord should ask this. But if the Lord has not required this of other individuals, then they are exempt from this salvation requirement. According to this teaching, the requirement for eternal life varies depending upon what the Lord has asked each person to do. If this teaching is correct, then we would conclude that there is not just one plan of salvation but there is a unique and special plan of salvation specially designed for each individual. This would make personal evangelism very challenging because we would never be sure just which plan of salvation is required for the person we are witnessing to.

6. Fulfilling all the Lordship requirements is complicated indeed. According to MacArthur, salvation is not easy (GATJ, p. 182) and it is very Hard to Believe (the title of his book). How would a person under Lordship teaching ever gain assurance of salvation? Could he be sure that he has loved the Lord supremely? Has he given up all his possessions if the Lord has required him to do so, and how does he really know whether the Lord wants him to do this? Has he measured up to all the demands of discipleship? Is his level of commitment sufficient to satisfy the Lord? Has he surrendered enough? Is he sure that he has surrendered all or are there some things he is holding back? Are there areas of his life where he has not denied self? Has he “turned from sin” in every area of his life or is he still harboring some sin somewhere? If he were to examine his life based on all the requirements listed in this paper, how would he measure up? Would this self-examination lead him to full assurance of salvation? Remember, the more we look at SELF the more discouraged we will be. How wonderful it is to rest on the all-sufficient, finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. May our only boast be in the crucified One (1 Cor. 1:29 31)! “Nothing in my hands I bring; simply to Thy cross I cling!”

“And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. 3:9).


Lordship Salvation Requirements

George Zeller
Middletown Bible Church
349 East Street
Middletown, CT 06457
860-346-0907