This response to Dr. Strouse’s critique replaces an edition I sent out privately to a few men and that was inadvertently posted to Dr. Waite’s mailing list on October 19. I’m glad that Dr. Waite sent it out, because I was leaning toward not publishing this at all. I simply wanted to get some feedback from a few men, particularly my own pastor and Dr. Strouse, but I believe that these things need to be aired and discussed.
A lot of men seem to be deeply fearful of doctrinal controversy, but it is a necessary thing in this fallen world.
The Bible says, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” (Prov. 27:17).
Iron sharpening iron produces heat and sparks, but it can be very profitable in keeping our Swords sharp. If done in a right spirit and if received in a right spirit it doesn’t have to make us enemies. Of course, sometimes controversy does divide, and sometimes it should divide. But not always.
The type of controversy I am referring to is not a matter of trying to get men to take sides. That is the carnal Corinthian spirit. Rather, it is a matter of trying to get men to think seriously and prayerfully and biblically about the issues that face us.
An excerpt from “Are You a Baptist Brider or Local Church Only?” September 17, 2013:
“In my experience, many proponents of the ‘local church only’ doctrine try to bully people similar to the way that many Calvinists do. They want to force you into an either-or position. You are either a Calvinist or an Arminian. You are either ‘local church only’ or ‘universal church.’ But I won’t be bullied in this way. I am neither Calvinist nor Arminian, local church only nor universal church by the standard definitions. I am just a Biblicist. That has been my passionate objective since the first day I was saved, and I have held to promises such as John 7:17 and 8:31-32 for encouragement that I can know the truth. I don't believe in a Protestant universal church composed of all denominations or all churches or all professing Christians or the churches in a country or region. I don’t believe in a ‘Protestant church’ or an ‘evangelical church’ or a ‘fundamentalist church.’ But I do believe that there is a full aspect of the church that goes beyond any local church and that this entity exists today and not just in prospect. It exists spiritually; it exists in God’s mind; and is described in Scripture, and that’s enough for me” (Cloud, “Are You a Baptist Brider?").
Continue reading this article……
IRON SHARPENING IRON: A REVIEW OF DR. STROUSE’S CRITIQUE
The following is a reply to Dr. Thomas Strouse’s report entitled “Dr. David Cloud’s Ecclesiology.” Having long considered him a friend and having received various high honors from him in the past, I was surprised at the tone. I suppose that he justifies this as a zeal for church truth, but am I suddenly a dangerous heretic because I interpret a couple of verses differently than he does on this issue, even though I am so nearly “local church only” that many people have charged me with being a “Brider”?
Dr. Strouse says that a “dark cloud” is now over my ministry. If it is, I haven’t seen it. Maybe the “dark cloud” that Dr. Strouse sees is merely the view through his own dark glasses. In fact, I have never experienced more evidence of the Lord’s pleasure and of His blessing on our work, both on Way of Life and on the church planting in South Asia.
Howard J. Van Till, professor of Physics and Astronomy at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, says: “[The early chapters of Genesis] were never intended to answer questions about precisely what happened. ... The seven-day chronology that we find in Genesis 1 has no connection with the actual chronology of the Creator’s continuous dynamic action in the cosmos. The creation-week motif is a literary device ... [containing] imaginative illustrations of the way in which God and the Creation are related” (Van Till, The Fourth Day: What the Bible and the Heavens Are Telling Us About the Creation, Eerdmans, 1986, pp. 83-85).
The New Bible Commentary, published by InterVarsity Press, takes the same position. (The consulting editors include D.A. Carson, who is influential in fundamentalist circles through his book The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism. I have seen this book for sale in the Bob Jones University bookstore as well as in many other fundamentalist bookstores.) The fourth edition (1994) of the New Bible Commentary says: “Most of these stories [in Genesis 1-11] deal with periods long before writing was invented, so they cannot be ‘history’ in the strict sense of the term or be verified by evidence from outside the Bible. ... T. Jacobsen has coined the term ‘mytho-historical’ to describe such literature ... ‘Myth’ has negative overtones, so ‘proto-history’ is probably a better way to describe Genesis 1-11. In the present state of knowledge it is difficult to know how to relate these chapters to modern scientific discovery. ... In that these are days of God’s activity not human work, it is unlikely that they are supposed to last twenty-four hours.”
It is impossible to integrate such statements with the Bible’s own testimony, and the chief reason for denying the historical nature of Genesis is the capitulation to evolution.
Continue reading this article……
I have published my position on the church in the Way of Life Encyclopedia of the Bible & Christianity, which is available to anyone who is interested and has been available since its publication in 1993, and there is not a hint of Briderism in it.
There are issues that I did not raise in the Encyclopedia, though, and I have decided to publish my reply to a letter from a Bible college student in which he asked me five questions in relation to church matters. This was first published in 1999. Since then I have extended and edited the original reply so that it more thoroughly and clearly explains my position, as I have had more time to consider the issue and have come to what I believe to be a better understanding from Scripture.
Continue reading this article……
Concerning my position on the church, I can say that I don’t exactly fit in anywhere.
During the early part of our missionary work in South Asia, I determined to research the issue of the church for myself. We arrived on the mission field in 1979 and a year or so later I came to the conclusion that I did not understand the church and missionary work properly. At the time I had not been ordained by a church. Rather, I had been commissioned by a mission board. My home church at the time was totally mission board oriented and there was an emphasis at Tennessee Temple in those days on a “universal church” position. Highland Park Baptist Church, the home of Tennessee Temple, was so large that it didn’t really function as a New Testament church. In fact, massive numbers of its members were “invisible” because of the practice of Quick Prayerism and lack of discipline!
The issue that brought the matter of the church to the fore in my thinking as a young missionary was a Bible School. After we had been on the mission field for about a year (and had not yet started a church plant) I was asked by some national men to start a Bible School to train preachers from the various churches that already existed in the country. I was excited because the need for training was great and I love to teach. But as I worked on writing out the government and discipline of the school, I was struck by the fact that everything pertaining to discipline in the New Testament is in the context of the church. There is no pattern for the government of an entity other than the church, so I determined to study the issue of the church and missionary work for myself before the Lord.
The following study is part of the new edition of the Advanced Bible Studies Series course Give Attendance to Doctrine that we plan to publish later this year.
Jehovah is the personal name by which God is revealed in the Old Testament. In the King James Bible, Jehovah is translated by LORD in all caps and it appears more than 6,500 times.
Jehovah is both Saviour and Judge. He is the covenant-keeping Redeemer to the believer as well as the holy God of judgment to the unbeliever (Deut. 7:9-10).
The book of Psalms is a book of praise to Jehovah God. Forty-one times the Psalmist says, “Praise the LORD” or “Praise ye the LORD.”
Jehovah is to be praised because of His goodness and mercy (Psa. 106:1; 103:8-14). Sixteen times we are told that Jehovah is good (1 Ch. 16:34; 2 Ch. 5:3; 7:3; Ezr. 3:11; Psa. 34:8; 100:5; 106:1; 107:1; 118:1, 29; 135:3; 136:1; 145:9; Jer. 33:11; Lam. 3:25; Nah. 1:7).
Jehovah’s mercies are great (1 Ch. 21:13), manifold (Ne. 9:19), tender (Psa. 25:6), plentious (Psa. 86:15), multitudinous (Psa. 5:7; 51:1; 69:16; 106:7, 45; lam. 3:32), everlasting (Psa 100:5; 118:1, 2, 3, 4, 29; 136; 138:8). The believer is compassed with Jehovah’s mercy (Psa. 32:10). His mercies are as high as the heaven is above the earth (Psa. 103:11). He is full of compassion (Psa. 145:8).
Jehovah is the Redeemer. Jehovah sought Adam after the fall and clothed him in coats, which signified the salvation provided by Jesus (Genesis 3:8-9, 21). The believer is clothed in Christ’s righteousness (Rom. 3:21-22; 2 Cor. 5:21).
The greatness of Jehovah’s mercy and salvation can only be understand in light of His terrible holiness (Lev. 11:45; 19:1-2; Psa. 11:4-5; Isa. 6:3; Hag. 1:12-13). Jehovah is the lawgiver and the punisher of lawbreakers (Ex. 20:1-18).
Continue reading this article……
“I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee” (Job 42:2).
“Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee” (Jer. 32:17).
“But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Mat. 19:26).
“For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37).
We are so thankful for God’s omnipotence. If God were good but not omnipotent, He could be overthrown by some power at some point in time. Some Satan could pull God from His throne and replace God’s righteous rule with unrighteous chaos. At the present time there is unrighteousness and chaos in creation, but it is temporary and limited in scope; it is under God’s control and will result in the working out of His ultimate purposes. God’s omnipotence guarantees this.
God is called “Almighty” 57 times in Scripture, beginning with God’s revelation to Abraham in Genesis 17:1. This is from the Hebrew word Shaddai, which means “to be burly, i.e. (figuratively) powerful (passively, impregnable)” (Strong).
a. God’s omnipotence is seen in that He can do anything (Job 42:6; Jer. 32:17; Mat. 19:26; Luke 1:37). We cannot begin to understand this, but we can believe it and we can rejoice in it, because the God who can do anything is a good God who will only do that which is right. The only limit on God’s power is His moral character. For example, God cannot lie (Titus 1:2) and He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13).
b. God’s omnipotence is seen in that He created the universe from nothing by His spoken Word (Gen. 1; Heb. 11:3). The universe is so large and complex that it is incomprehensible to man, yet it did not tax God’s power to create it. He does not faint nor grow weary (Isa. 40:28). This is omnipotence.
Continue reading this article……
“Perhaps if the men in many of our Baptist churches got on their knees and prayed a little more or got out to witness in their communities a little, God would not have to use women as much as He does. Do you yourself allow women any voice at all in the church? If you do, then you are guilty of a double standard because of your stand. Why don’t you send them all home and let the men do all of the teaching and all of the praying and all of the testimony if you really believe what you preach? The women can always ask the men what it is the preacher said and ask questions. Sorry my brother, but double talk don’t cut it with God!”
REPLY FROM BROTHER CLOUD
First of all I have a couple of verses that I would like to quote:
“He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” Proverbs 18:13
“Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?” Job 38:2
These verses describe precisely what you are doing in your e-mail. You are speaking from ignorance: ignorance not only of the Scripture but ignorance of what I teach on this subject.
As for what I preach about the woman’s service to Christ, I do not teach that they cannot do anything or that they are nothing in the work of God. Far from it. Women are very valuable in the work of God and they have always had a great place in our missionary work, but the Bible plainly teaches that there are restrictions upon the woman’s ministry. There are restrictions for men, too. Not all men, for example, can be pastors or deacons, because God has specific standards for these offices. Likewise, God has certain restrictions on the woman’s ministry.
As for the women leaders in the Old Testament, I have replied to that in the article “Women Leaders in the Bible.”
The following is what I teach about the woman’s spiritual ministry.
WOMEN IN THE WORK OF GOD
There are two errors among Christians in regard to the woman’s ministry: (1) Some teach that women can do anything. (2) Others teach that women can do almost nothing. Neither position is Scriptural.
Godly women have a large and important role in the work of God. Though there are some restrictions upon their work, they should not be despised by the churches. The Bible often mentions women in an honorable manner. They held an honorable place in the life of Christ as well as in the ministry of the apostle Paul.
Continue reading this article……
Were, as the common modern notion affirms, the vowels of the Divine Name simply lifted from Adonai, the yod of the Tetragram would have a hateph pathach underneath it, not a shewa. Furthermore, all the names in Scripture that begin with portions of the Tetragrammaton possess the vowels of Jehovah, not of Yahweh.
If one wanted to maintain that the vocalization of God’s Name had been corrupted in Scripture, contrary to His declarations that nothing of the kind would happen (Psalm 12:6-7; Matthew 5:18), one would also need to maintain that every name in the Bible that begins with part of the Tetragrammaton has also been corrupted. Jehoadah would really be something like Yahwadah; Jehoahaz would be Yahwahaz; Jehoash would be Yahwahash, and so on.
Furthermore, no theophoric names anywhere in Scripture end with an eh, the expected ending were the Name pronounced Yahweh. Similarly, the word Hallelujah and the Greek Alleluia validate the ah at the end of the Divine Name.
Furthermore, the Mishna states that the Name was pronounced as it was written, that is, as Jehovah.This pronunciation is also consistent with Talmudic evidence.
The plain facts concerning what the vowels on the Name actually are in the Hebrew text, other theophoric names, the Mishna, and a variety of other evidences demonstrate that the Tetragrammaton is correctly pronounced Jehovah.
In contrast to the strong evidence in favor of the pronunciation Jehovah, very little favors the pronunciation Yahweh. Since this latter pronunciation is not favored by any evidence in the Hebrew of the Bible, nor in other ancient Jewish documents, its advocates must look outside of Scripture and Jewish texts for evidence in its favor. This they find in the late patristic writers Theodoret and Epiphanius, who give Iabe as the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton, although the former distinguishes this vocalization as the pronunciation of the Samaritans.
These statements constitute the most substantive and strongest argument in favor of the pronunciation Yahweh. Also, papyri involving pagan magic, and in which every possible and impossible designation of deities, Greek, Egyptian and Semitic, is found in profuse variety, contain invocations that sound like the word Yahweh.
To use the speculations of two patristic writers—one of whom even specifies that Yahweh was a Samaritan pronunciation, and that the Jews used something else—to overthrow the vocalization of the Name in the OT Textus Receptus, Jehovah, is entirely unjustifiable.
To use a name found in some pagan papyri that are invoking numberless idols and demons to reject Jehovah is even worse.
The evidence for the pronunciation Yahweh is very poor, and totally insufficient to overthrow the powerful and numerous evidences in favor of the pronunciation Jehovah.
Thus, it is evident that Jehovah is the correct pronunciation of the Name of God. Jehovah has not allowed the pronunciation of His Name to be lost.
The error that Yahweh is the correct pronunciation of the Divine Name is connected to the error that only the consonants of the Hebrew text are inspired, while the vowels were invented by a class of Jewish scribes around the tenth century A. D. On the contrary, Scripture and solid evidence demonstrates that the words of the Hebrew text—including the vowels—are inspired and were recorded by the Biblical authors. Extensive evidence for the inspiration of the Hebrew vowels is provided in my essay “Evidences for the Inspiration of the Hebrew Vowel Points” in the Bibliology section of my website (http://faithsaves.net/bibliology/). The evidence for the pronunciation Jehovah above is a summary of Appendix 1 of the same essay on my website, where extensive documentation and a more detailed discussion is provided. The question is also discussed in lecture #1 of my class on Trinitarianism (http://faithsaves.net/trinitarianism/). My essay "The Debate over the Inspiration of the Hebrew Vowel Points" should also be mentioned.
Furthermore, the fact that Jehovah is the correct pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton is one of a number of strong reasons to reject the critical Hebrew text (the Leningrad MS) underlying the generality of modern English Bible versions. While the Old Testament Received Text that underlies the Authorized Version properly and fully vocalizes the Tetragrammaton, the Hebrew critical text corrupts the Divine Name by omitting one of its vowels in thousands of passages. Other serious corruptions are also present in the Leningrad MS.
Finally, the King James Bible is found to be correct in its vocalization of the Divine Name as Jehovah, while it properly omits the modern fictitious pronunciation Yahweh. God’s people should do the same, and call, not on Yahweh, but on the Triune Jehovah.
The previous report by Thomas Ross is re-published by permission of the author.
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Distributed by Way of Life Literature Inc.’s Fundamental Baptist Information Service, an e-mail listing for Fundamental Baptists and other fundamentalist, Bible-believing Christians. Established in 1974, Way of Life Literature is a fundamental Baptist preaching and publishing ministry based in Bethel Baptist Church, London, Ontario, of which Wilbert Unger is the founding Pastor. Brother Cloud lives in South Asia where he has been a church planting missionary since 1979. OUR GOAL IN THIS PARTICULAR ASPECT OF OUR MINISTRY IS NOT DEVOTIONAL BUT IS TO PROVIDE INFORMATION TO ASSIST PREACHERS IN THE PROTECTION OF THE CHURCHES IN THIS APOSTATE HOUR.
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Revelation 21:14 says there are 12 apostles whose names are in the foundations of the eternal city of God, the New Jerusalem. Also Matthew 19:28 says there are apostles who will sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel.
Who is the 12th apostle that takes Judas’ place? Matthias or Paul?
Sixteen times Paul said that he was an apostle. He was personally called of God for this (2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:1).
The argument that Paul took the place of Judas as the 12th apostle is made as follows by George Sayles Bishop:
“The one who takes Judas’ vacant place is Paul, not Matthias. Matthias was the suggestion of Peter, and Peter made mistakes. He made a mistake when he said: ‘Be it far from Thee, Lord.’ He made a mistake when he denied his Master. He made a mistake at Antioch when he overturned the Gospel and taught circumcision: ‘Building again the things which he had destroyed.’ ‘I withstood him to the face,’ says Paul ‘because he was to be blamed.’ Impetuous Peter steps forward to make an apostle. He gives the Lord, so to say, a choice between two, Matthias and Justus. The lot falls on Matthias and they number him with the twelve and that is the last that is heard of him. The Lord keeps silent. By and by, He comes down from heaven and, Himself in Person, adds to the original eleven, another twelfth apostle, ‘one born out of due time.’ ... The twelfth name on the ‘twelve foundations’ of the New Jerusalem will not be that of Matthias but that of Paul: not only an apostle but ‘not a whit behind the very Chiefest apostles’ though in himself, nothing” (The Doctrines of Grace, New York: Gospel Publishing House, 1910, p. 373).
We disagree with this for the following reasons:
First, the Bible specifically says that Matthew was “numbered with the eleven” (Acts 1:26). Twelve verses are devoted to this scene. While it is true that Peter made mistakes, the Bible plainly identifies the mistakes. The situation in Acts 1 is different. It is not merely Peter acting on some personal whim, it is the entire 11 acting in one accord with the other brethren assembled together. Twelve verses of Scripture are devoted to this scene and there is no hint that they are acting contrary to God’s will. In fact, they are acting in accordance with prophecy (Acts 1:20; Psalm 109:8). And they were acting prayerfully (Acts 1:24-25).
Second, while it is true that Matthias is not mentioned by name again in Scripture, it is also true that most of the apostles are not mentioned again by name. When the apostles are mentioned thereafter in Acts 2:37, 42, 43; 4:33, 35, 36, 37; 5:12, 18; 11:1; 15:2, etc., Matthias was doubtless one of them because he had been elected to that position.
Continue reading this article……
“I know pretty well what evidence is; and I tell you, such evidence as that for the resurrection has never been broken down yet” (Lord Lyndhurst or John Singleton Copley, Attorney General of Great Britain, Lord Chancellor of England, High Steward of the University of Cambridge, original source probably from Theodore Martin, A Life of Lord Lyndhurst).
“Let it simply be said that we know more about the details of the hours immediately before and the actual death of Jesus, in and near Jerusalem, than we know about the death of any other one man in all the ancient world” (Wilbur Smith, Therefore Stand, p. 360).
“Non-miraculous explanations of what happened at the empty tomb have to face a cruel choice: either they have to rewrite the evidence in order to suit themselves or they have to accept the fact that they are not consistent with the present evidence. The only hypothesis that fits the evidence is that Jesus was really resurrected. Could the Man who predicted His death and resurrection, only to have it come to pass exactly as He had said, be anything but God?” (Winfred Corduan, No Doubt about It: The Case for Christianity, p. 227).
1. The Bible says there are “many infallible proofs” of Christ’s resurrection (Acts 1:3). In fact, it is one of the best documented events of ancient history. Bible-believing Christianity is not BLIND RELIGIOUS FAITH!
2. Jesus and the Bible and Christianity rise or fall on Christ’s resurrection!
Continue reading this article……
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
In the Old Testament men were to come to God with an offering and confess that they had sinned in that thing. This implies definiteness in confession. I am afraid many of us really never get to God in confession because we are so indefinite. Somebody prays and says, "If Thou hast seen any sin, anything amiss in me, forgive me." Hold on a minute! Is there anything amiss; do you know of anything amiss?
The proper way to make confession is to come to God acknowledging the wrong I have done.
Oh, dear friends, if you want blessing, get into the presence of God and tell Him all about it, about that bad temper, about that scandalous tongue, about all the things that grieve His Holy Spirit.
Some of you say, “I Pray for my husband, I would like him to be converted.”
He is more likely to be converted if you will say, “O God, I confess that my bad temper is hindering my husband from being saved, it is alienating my children; I am not surprised that my friends are not converted.”
Then go to them, too, and make confession.
If you have been saying it was nervousness when it was really bad temper, confess that it is temper, and stop trying to excuse sin.
He will cleanse us by the washing of the Word, and give victory in our lives, and enable us to
live here to His praise and glory.
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I know of dozens of families and churches in five states that are moving in this direction.
The Charity Fellowship (which I have written about elsewhere) has had considerable influence in popularizing the plain clothes position among some independent Baptists.
Following are some comments I would like to make about the “plain clothes” position:
1. I believe in liberty.
The believer is free to dress as he or she pleases before the Lord within the bounds of biblical modesty. When Romans 14:4 says, “Who art thou that judgest another man's servant?” it is talking about judging others on the basis of the Bible’s silence. When the Bible is silent on a matter, there is personal liberty before God, and to make laws that go beyond Scripture is legalism. This is obvious from the context. Paul used the example of diet to illustrate his principle (Romans 14:2-3). There is no divinely-ordained New Testament diet, so this is a matter of liberty.
Immodest and unisex styles of clothing aside, there is individual liberty in dress. As far as I am concerned, you can wear a 1930s B.C. Ur of the Chaldees pleated robe or a 1930s A.D. Zoot suit!
Please understand that nothing I intend to say here is with the objective of taking away your freedom in Christ or discouraging earnest people who are seeking to please God. If you want to dress in some kind of plain uniform, that is your business at the end of the day.
You say, “It is my choice; I don’t make it a law for others.” Well and good. I’m not here to condemn godly people who want to do right before the Lord, but I would challenge you to examine why you have chosen a particular style and its possible repercussions.
Continue reading this article……
“In this Divine and Infinite Being there are three subsistences, the Father, the Word (or Son), and Holy Spirit, of one substance, power, and eternity, each having the whole divine essence, yet the essence undivided; the Father is of none neither begotten, nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son, all infinite, without beginning, therefore but one God, who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties and personal relations; which doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and our comfortable dependence on him.”
The following is adapted from a message entitled “The Trinity” by the late fundamental Baptist preacher I.M. Haldeman, pastor of First Baptist Church, New York City, 1884-1933.
Scripture always speaks of God as One God.
“There is none other God but one...” (1 Cor. 8:4).
The Son of God, our Lord, defines God essentially as spirit (John 4:24). The Holy Ghost defines God as person (“the express image of his person,” Hebrews 1:3). But this word “person” in the Greek is hupostasis--which signifies “substance,” “essence,” and, in final analysis, ‘Being.”
So that, speaking correctly, we should say: “God is One Substance--One Essence--One Being--The Supreme Being.”
In this one and indivisible Being there is a plurality of persons--subsisting.
“God said, Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness” (Gen. 1:26). The Hebrew word for God here is Elohim. It is a plural noun and is always joined to a verb in the singular, indicating that the act of this plurality of persons--is always as the act of ONE.
Scripture reveals that in this One Being, this One Substance--Spirit--there subsist three distinct persons. They are known as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Scripture teaches that these three persons constitute what is called the Godhead (Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20; Colossians 2:9).
Each person of this Divine Being is God. And each of them is all that God is.
The Father is God (John 6:27). The Son is God (Heb. 1:8; Titus 2:13; John 20:28). The Spirit is God (Acts 5:1-4).
Each one of these persons is entirely God, but the three persons are not in any sense three Gods.
Not one of them can be God without the other two. The Father cannot be God without the Son and the Spirit. The Son cannot be God without the Father and the Spirit. The Spirit cannot be God without the Father and the Son.
Each is God only as each is in the one Being of the Godhead.
As this Godhead cannot be divided, there cannot be three Gods.
As this indivisible Being constitutes One God and no one of the persons can take any degree of Being from the other, then, the Three, being in and of the one substance, constitute one indivisible Being, or God.
Correctly and theologically speaking we are to say, concerning God, that “we neither confound the persons nor divide the substance.”
And therefore, God is a Triunity of Being in One Godhead. He is three Persons in a unity of Being.
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In Genesis we learn that man has had revelation from God since the very dawn of his history. Luke 1:70 and Acts 3:21 say that God has spoken “by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began.”
1. The details of the revelation God has given man from the beginning
a. Adam and Eve walked and talked with God directly in the Garden of Eden. After they sinned, God personally taught them about the coming Saviour through direct prophecy (Genesis 3:15) and through the typology of clothing them in the skins that were required through the slaying of innocent animals (Gen. 3:21).
b. Abel, Adam’s second son, was a prophet who preached salvation by grace without works through the death of an innocent substitute (Lk. 11:50-51). Abel offered by faith (Heb. 11:4), meaning he offered according to God's Word, because "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17).
c. Enoch was a prophet who proclaimed the Second Coming of Christ and the end-time judgment of mankind (Jude 14-15). He was Noah's great grandfather (Gen. 5:21-32).
d. Noah was a preacher of righteousness and probably preached for 120 years as he was building the Ark (2 Peter 2:5).
Continue reading this article……
The next major event on God’s prophetic calendar is the Rapture of church-age believers.
The word “rapture” does not appear in the Bible, but it describes the catching away of the church-age saints at the end of the age.
There are two major passages that describe the Rapture: 1 Thessalonians 4:13 -- 5:11 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-58.
The Greek word translated “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is used in Acts 8:39 of the Spirit of God snatching away Philip after the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 -- 5:11
1. The Rapture is an event in which the dead in Christ will be raised (1 Th. 4:14-16) and the living New Testament saints will be changed and glorified (1 Th. 4:17).
2. The dead in Christ are presently with Him in heaven (1 Th. 4:14). The dead in Christ do not “sleep in the grave” as some false teachers claim.
3. The Rapture is the believer’s hope and comfort (1 Th. 4:13, 18). This is what we are waiting for. We are not looking for the antichrist and the Great Tribulation. If the Rapture did not occur until the end of the Great Tribulation, it could not produce hope and comfort for the Christian.
4. The Rapture occurs before the Day of the Lord’s wrath (1 Th. 5:1-10).
a. The “Day of the Lord” is the time of Tribulation when God will judge the world for its sin and idolatry. In that “day,” God will be exalted and rebellious men will be humbled. See Isaiah 2:10-21.
b. Note the change in pronouns in this passage. In verse 3 the pronoun “they” is used, because the Day of the Lord will come upon the unsaved world. But in verses 4-5 the pronoun “ye” is used, referring to believers. That day will not overtake us.
c. The Rapture will occur as a thief in the night (1 Th. 5:2), but this is not how the Lord’s return in glory will occur. It will come with unmistakeable signs in the heavens and will be seen by all (Mat. 24:27-31). The Rapture pertains to the church, whereas Christ’s Second Coming pertains to Israel and the world.
d. The believer is to be watching for the Lord’s return at all times (1 Th. 5:6). We do not know when it will happen. It is imminent.
a. In 1 Corinthians 12:31, Paul tells the church at Corinth to covet the best gifts “and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” That way is the way of charity. He is saying that the chief thing that the churches and individual believers should seek is charity.
b. This chapter vividly exposes the carnality at the church at Corinth. Walking carnally, after the flesh instead of the Spirit, they were impatient, unkind, envying, puffed up, acting unseemly, seeking their own, easily provoked, thinking evil toward one another, and rejoicing in iniquity. This chapter, therefore, exposes the error of the old nature that is in every man, including every true believer.
c. This chapter expresses the highest will of Christ for His people. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).
d. Question: Is “charity” an accurate translation? Should it not rather be translated “love” as in the modern English versions?
(1) The Greek word translated “charity” in the KJV is “agape.” Strong defines it as “love, i.e. affection or benevolence.” It appears 106 times in the New Testament and the King James Bible usually translates it “love” but also translates it “charity” 27 times, “charitably” one time (Rom. 14:15), and “dear” one time (Col. 1:13). Agape love is God’s love (1 Jn. 4:8).
(2) Either word (whether “charity” or “love”) must be interpreted by its context and by comparing Scripture with Scripture. The Bible is a self-interpreting book. If we take the context of 1 Corinthians 13, we are given a clear definition of the Greek word “agape.”
(3) “Charity” is an excellent translation of “agape” when it is not allowed to assume its more narrow 20th century definition of benevolence to the poor and needy (e.g., giving to social organizations such as the Red Cross). Webster’s 1828 dictionary defined “charity” thusly: “In a general sense, love, benevolence, good will; that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow men, and to do them good. ... In a more particular sense, love, kindness, affection, tenderness, springing from natural relations; as the charities of father, son and brother.” That is the meaning of the Greek word “agape.”
(4) The term “love” has changed even more in meaning since the 17th century (when the King James Bible was first published) than “charity,” having assumed a more emotional, sensual definition. In the 21st century rock & roll culture, love means lust. It refers more often to “eros” love rather than “agape” love.
e. This is one of the most lovely passages that has ever been written in the English language and it shows off the literary glory of the King James Bible. Well has the KJV been called --
“unquestionably the most beautiful book in the world” (Leland Ryken, The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation, 2002, p. 267)
“a well of English undefiled” (William Muir, Our Grand Old Bible, 1911, p. 192)
“the noblest monument to English prose” (John Livingston Lowes, Essays in Appreciation, 1936)
“a piece of literature without parallel in modern times” (Arthur Clutton-Brock, “The English Bible,” The English Bible: Essays by Various Writers, Vernon Storr, editor, 1938)
“probably the most beautiful piece of writing in all the literature of the world” (Henry Louis Mencken, cited by Gustavas Paine, The Learned Men, preface)
“the greatest work ever written in the English language, period” (Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post, quoted in Adam Nicholson, God’s Secretaries, “Praise for God’s Secretaries,” which follows the table of contents).
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It is under attack by theological modernists with impressive credentials. They say that the Bible is filled with myths. They claim that Ur of the Chaldees, the Hittites, Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylon, Belshazzar, Sargon, King David, and Solomon were mythical. They say that Moses couldn’t have written the first five books of the Bible since writing was unknown in his day. They say there were no ancient complex law codes and no Babylonian captivity. They say that parts of the New Testament were not written until at least 100 years after the events and were based on mythical stories passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. They say that the book of Acts is filled with historical inaccuracies. A chorus of voices have joined that of the infidel Thomas Paine who wrote in his popular book The Age of Reason that Genesis is “an anonymous book of stories, fables, and traditionary or invented absurdities, or of downright lies.”
The Bible is also under attack by Darwinists. Charles Darwin claims that his doctrine of natural selection explains the origin of species. Thomas Huxley claims that Archaeopteryx is evidence that birds evolved from small dinosaurs. Ernst Haeckel, one of the world’s most influential scientists, claims that the doctrine of recapitulation proves that evolution is true and he has impressive embryo charts to demonstrate it. He says that life is continually formed at the bottom of the sea through simple lifeforms called monera and that these primitive lifeforms are the foundation of the “tree of life.” He has even given monera a scientific name and has drawings of them in his books. Othniel Marsh at Yale’s Peabody Museum claims that his horse chart proves evolution. Evidence is growing for the doctrine that man ascended from apes. There is Neanderthal Man, Java Man, Piltdown Man, Peking Man, and Nebraska Man. Why, we even have drawings and models of them and their families and entire books describing their culture and habits! Percival Lowell is publishing books describing the canals he has observed on Mars through his 24-inch telescope near the Grand Canyon. He is even deducing many fascinating details about the lives of the Martians who built these canals.
What would you do in such a time as this, confronted with such an onslaught of apparent evidence against the Bible’s authenticity?
Those who held fast to their faith in God and in the Bible as God’s Word were vindicated, while the skeptics and the Darwinists were proven wrong.
Continue reading this article……
There is a Hindu saying, “The truth is One, but different sages call it by different names.”
This is a common misconception that is held by many non-Hindus, as well.
But it can’t be true that “all paths lead to God” for the simple reason that they point in different directions!
If I said to you that I am planning to go to Washington D.C. tomorrow from Nepal and that to get there I am just going to board any airplane and start flying in any direction I please, you would think I am crazy. We all know that you have to follow the right path or you will never arrive at your intended destination.
Likewise, the only way to get to heaven is to follow the right road, and Jesus Christ claims to be that Road. If He is not, he was either a liar, a lunatic, or a deceived man.
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
Consider four ways that the major religions teach different doctrines about the most important things:
The religions do not teach the same morality.
For example, Hinduism has a caste system that locks men into a certain status from birth, and the low caste are considered inferior to the high. In places where Hinduism is still followed in its purest forms, such as Nepal and rural India, the caste system is very strong. In Nepal, low castes are not even allowed into the homes of high castes. In many villages, the low castes are not allowed to drink out of the same wells and fountains as the high caste. In parts of India there is even an “unseeable caste” whose members are required to work at night. Though some Hindu scholars claim that the caste system is not an integral part of Hinduism, it has been practiced by Hindus for thousands of years and has support from the Hindu scriptures.
The Bible, on the other hand, teaches that all men are the same “caste.” We came from the same original father and mother, and God commands us to treat all men alike. God’s law as given in the Bible is, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Galatians 5:14). If I love my neighbor as myself, I will not treat him as an inferior and try to “keep him down.” The Bible commands men to treat one another with perfect justice. “Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's” (Deuteronomy 1:17).
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The following is from J. N. Darby’s (1800-82) Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, which was written between 1857-1862. Darby’s five-volume Synopsis with the complete index volume is available as part of the Treasure of Dispensational Commentaries in the Fundamental Baptist Digital Library from Way of Life Literature:
We must all be manifested before the tribunal of Christ, in order that each may receive according to that which he shall have done in the body, be it good or evil. A happy and precious thought, after all, solemn as it may be; for, if we have really understood grace, if we are standing in grace, if we know what God is, all love for us, all light for us, we shall like to be in the full light. It is a blessed deliverance to be in it. It is a burden, an encumbrance, to have anything concealed, and although we have had much sin in us that no one knows (perhaps even some that we have committed, and which it would be no profit for any one to know), it is a comfort--if we know the perfect love of God--that all should be in perfect light since He is there. This is the case by faith and for faith, wherever there is solid peace: we are before God as He is, and as we are--all sin in ourselves alas! except so far as He has wrought in us by quickening us; and He is all love in this light in which we are placed; for God is light, and He reveals Himself. Without the knowledge of grace, we fear the light: it cannot be otherwise. But knowing grace, knowing that sin has been put away as regards the glory of God, and that the offence is no longer before His eyes, we like to be in the light, it is joy to us, it is that which the heart needs, without which it cannot be satisfied, when there is the life of the new man. Its nature is to love the light, to love purity in all that perfection which does not admit the evil of darkness, which shuts out all that is not itself. Now to be thus in the light, and to be manifested, is the same thing, for the light makes everything manifest.
We are in the light by faith when the conscience is in the presence of God. We shall be according to the perfection of that light when we appear before the tribunal of Christ. I have said that it i a solemn thing--and so it is, for everything is judged according to that light; but it is that which the heart loves, because--thanks to our God!--we are light in Christ.
In recent months I have become aware of some heresies pertaining to John’s first epistle that are spreading among fundamental Baptist churches.
Though there are difficulties in 1 John, these can be resolved by applying sound principles of Bible interpretation. The first two of these are to interpret Scripture according to context and to compare Scripture with Scripture.
Applying these principles we find that there are two “keys” to the proper understanding of John’s first Epistle.
First, the epistle was WRITTEN TO BELIEVERS that their fellowship with God might be perfected and their joy might be full.
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:3-4).
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13).
The word “fellowship” is used four times in 1 John 1:3-7.
The epistle is clearly and definitely not written to unbelievers. It is not about how to be saved; it is about how to stay in fellowship with God after you are saved.
There is a heresy that 1 John 1:9 is for the unbeliever and that the believer cannot be out of fellowship with God.
This is taught, for example, by Guided By Truth Ministries, as follows.
“For the believer, verbally ‘confessing’ our sins through prayer does not cause us to be forgiven. We may ask God to forgive us but He has told us through His word that He already has. We can certainly thank Him for forgiving our sin, but to keep asking for it means we are ignoring Him and His Word. He teaches us to rest in forgiveness, not keep seeking it. ... With this truth in mind, we must ask, what does 1 John 1:9 actually mean? Can we actually break fellowship with God and not be in His good graces if we have un-confessed sin? ... Those who admit their sin will be saved. Those who already have are already forgiven. There is no teaching here to the contrary. This passage is referring to the one time event that happens to those who are saved. It is not teaching how a Christian should receive forgiveness but rather how those who admitted they had sin became Christians. ... Knowing that it is impossible to be in darkness after accepting the light of the world we can further understand that in 1 John 1:6, 8, & 10 John is speaking of those who have never accepted Christ. ... GOD NEVER DECLARES A ‘BREAK IN FELLOWSHIP’ WITH US. This concept is not found in Scripture. ... The Bible tells us that we will still sin, but when we accept Christ as our Savior, we are referred to as saints. He has forgiven all of our sins. There is no need for us to keep dwelling on our sin. He took them away to be remembered no more. This confession idea is out of sync with the truth of Salvation and only keeps our mind on sin rather than on the forgiveness already imputed to us” (“Forgiveness and 1 John 1:9,” Guided By Truth Ministries, n.d.).
One of the theme songs of the ecumenical movement is “God is destroying denominational lines.”
This was one of the goals of the Promise Keepers movement. At the Promise Keepers Clergy Conference in Atlanta in February 1996, the more than 39,000 pastors were urged to commit themselves to the “Atlanta Covenant,” one of the points of which urges pastors to reach beyond racial and DENOMINATIONAL barriers.” Promise Keepers founder Bill McCartney made the following statement at this conference: “Contention between denominations has gone on long enough. If the church ever stood together, Almighty God would have his way.”
This is a gross error that ignores the apostasy of our time and the reason for such divisions, as well as the Bible’s commands to separate from error.
The “Breaking Down Denominational Walls” Mentality Ignores Apostasy
Continue reading this article……
This thinking sounds good to this itching-ear generation (2 Timothy 4:3-4), but it ignores the wretchedly apostate condition of a great many of the denominations.
Evangelical leader Harold Lindsell gave this testimony in regard to the mainline denominations:
“It is not unfair to allege that among denominations like Episcopal, United Methodist, United Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, the Lutheran Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. THERE IS NOT A SINGLE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY THAT TAKES A STAND IN FAVOR OF BIBLICAL INFALLIBILITY. AND THERE IS NOT A SINGLE SEMINARY WHERE THERE ARE NOT FACULTY MEMBERS WHO DISAVOW ONE OR MORE OF THE MAJOR TEACHINGS OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH” (Harold Lindsell, Battle for the Bible, Zondervan, 1976, pp. 145-146.)
“Apostasy” refers to the falling away from the true New Testament faith, and it is not a figment of a “fundamentalist’s” imagination; it is a Bible doctrine. The New Testament describes two separate streams of “Christianity” operating side by side throughout the church age.
In the name of “freedom,” people frequently leave good Bible-believing churches to join one of the looser, easy-going congregations that abound in these apostate times. Commonly, they are lackadaisical about church attendance, putting more emphasis upon personal and family relaxation and recreation, upon sports and the great outdoors and an endless variety of fun. They exchange their feminine dresses for pants and shorts and other immodest attire, even joining the near-naked crowd at the poolside and on the beaches. They trade the sacred hymns of the faith for jazzy charismatic “praise” music and Christian rock. They develop a more tolerant attitude toward doctrine, emphasizing, instead, “love” and “unity,” fellowshipping with anyone who “loves Jesus.” As they pursue this new path, their ecumenical sympathies and appetite for “liberty” increases, as does their aversion to biblical separation.
When asked about the change, they say: “I feel more liberty now, more love; I am having fun; I am glad to be free of legalism; I don’t hear criticism at my church; no one judges what others do. It’s a breath of fresh air. We’re finally free of Pharisaical bondage.”
Through the years, I have witnessed with sorrow a number of Christian friends who were captured in this fleshly trap.
They are confused about the nature of biblical Christianity, having been willfully enticed by the siren song of the “live according to your own lusts” philosophy of apostasy (2 Tim. 4:3-4).
Consider the following Bible preachers whose sermons were recorded by divine inspiration. Would a person who focuses on liberty and fun be comfortable under such preaching?
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“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4).
The Corinthian church was careless and carnal and tolerant of error, and Paul was afraid that if false teachers came to them with “another spirit” and preached “another Jesus” or “another gospel,” they would put up with them instead of separating from them. It was not that they would necessarily follow or accept the error; it was that they would be tolerant of it.
This is a perfect description of those who are committed to the unity principle today. Instead of testing everything carefully by the Word of God and plainly exposing false christs and false gospels, they glory in their “unity in diversity.”
A perfect example of this is the March for Jesus rallies which are held annually in many countries and which seek to draw together all professing Christians for a united “testimony for Jesus.”
Marty Klein, the national coordinator for March for Jesus in Canada in 1996, testified that Mormons were welcome to participate.
Alan Sharpe of Ottawa wrote to Klein on May 2 of that year and asked, “I am interested in the March for Jesus. Can a devout Mormon who loves Jesus march in the march?”
Klein replied: “ALL are welcome to join us. However, we make it clear that this is a march FOR Jesus. It is not a protest--we are not promoting anything, but a person (Jesus) and we will not allow Christians or otherwise to parade their various causes.”
“‘Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men…. ……And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition’ (Mar 7:7 & 9). Jesus clearly denounced and rebuked those who taught a man-made tradition (a commandment of men) as if it was a divine truth (a commandment of God)” (M Tossell, ‘Bible truth or Baptist tradition’, Biblical Builder, July-Aug 2011, p. 14-15).
“… I am thankful that I saw the error of these religious customs. I was encouraged that our Independent Baptist churches are free from such traditions because we adhere to the principle of Sola Scriptura -- Scripture only. That is, we believe and teach that the Bible is our sole authority for faith and practice” (ibid., p. 14).
After making this statement, the author of this article makes the point that he believes that in some cases Fundamental churches are guilty of teaching the commandments of men as if they were inspired Scripture. He finishes by warning that some such churches have exchanged liberty for bondage (ibid., p. 18).
I will be the first one to concede that the believer who is in earnest about living a holy life is in a far greater danger of legalism than a believer who is not so intent on pleasing God, (see sermons from Romans series The Law of God and the Heart of Man Part B and especially Part C, Rom. 7:7-25) (The Law of God and the Heart of Man, audio recording, Tamworth Bible Baptist Church, Tamworth, 2008, www.tbbc.org.au).Continue reading this article……
The following is by Pastor Buddy Smith, Malanda, Queensland
My study is a small room at the end of our garage, but I have a “window on the world” that lets me browse libraries around the world and study the works of wise men. My window is the good websites on the internet that offer sermon downloads, study helps, or books I have longed for.
I recently stumbled across two intersecting lines of Divine Providence. A book I had wanted to buy for forty years was reprinted and is now available at a good price, and the same day I saw the ad for the book I found a website that offered the book as a free download. The book is by Harry Ironside and is titled Except Ye Repent. You can download it or read it at http://www.wholesomewords.org/siteindex.html (a good website to bookmark.)
The doctrine of repentance has fallen on hard times in many churches. We preach much about faith, but are strangely silent on the subject of repentance. These two essential doctrines, repentance and faith, are the femurs of the body of Christ. By that I mean that they are the longest and strongest bones in our doctrinal skeleton. They are the load bearing framework of truth in our preaching that makes the long strides of evangelistic work possible. They provide the balance we need to stand against the wiles of the Devil. On these we run the race with patience. By these we bear one another's burdens. This is not to make light of the glorious gospel of Christ. Surely that is the heart of the body. Nor is it intended to ignore the authority of Christ as head of the church, But the femurs must be repentance and faith. Dr. Paul Brand once told of a man he examined who had no tibia in one of his legs. His foot was held in place by a brace he wore over the outside of his leg. So it is in the body of Christ, the loss of any part of our doctrinal skeleton will require us to replace it with an invention of man, and will impede our walk, our warnings, and our warfare. Fundamental churches are in dire need of sound, doctrinal preaching. In a world that resembles Ezekiel's valley of dry bones with all its scattered and lifeless philosophies, pastors who are committed to preaching the whole counsel of God display to men the skeletal framework of sound doctrine. There is a tendency, as Tom Malone once said, for modern churches to be composed mostly of jawbone and wishbone and lacking in backbone. It is only when we assemble the whole “skeleton” together, including the femurs of repentance and faith, that the life of the body of Christ can be what God intended.
I receive many e-mails from people who tell me that I have no love because I judge other professing Christians and I warn plainly of sin and error. The following is typical of these:
“And to question the faith of both Jim Cymbala and Billy Graham? Do you not know God? Do you not know how He works? You can spend your whole life debating over issues as such, but until you receive the gift of genuine love in your heart, you’ll never understand or gain anything” (Letter from a student at Cedarville Christian College, Oct. 7, 2002).
(Note: I have NOT questioned these men’s faith; I have questioned their doctrine and practice. There is a significant difference.)
The writer is convinced that my preaching against the errors of men such as Cymbala and Graham is evidence that I have no love in my heart. By this philosophy, which is popular and dominant today, one who loves will not judge doctrine or rebuke those who are perceived to be false.
Those who write in this manner will quote verses such as John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, If ye have love one to another.”
Continue reading this article……
Was Paul the last one to see the resurrected Christ? In “Heaven Is For Real: A Dangerous Book for an Apostate Age” (August 18, 2011) I stated the following:
“The book is contrary to the testimony of the Apostle Paul, who said that he was the last to see the resurrected Christ (1 Cor. 15:8). This experience is described in the book of Acts and there is no further mention of Christ appearing to anyone.”
This statement is not accurate, and I appreciate those who wrote to challenge me on this.
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul was not saying that he was the last one ever to see the resurrected Christ, he was saying, rather that he had seen Christ after the other apostles had seen Him. Seeing the resurrected Christ was a sign of apostleship (Acts 1:22; 1 Corinthians 9:1; 15:7). The last apostle to see Christ was John on the island of Patmos as described in Revelation 1.
We are publishing a corrected edition of the “Heaven Is For Real” critique today.
Evangelical bookstores typically feature many writers who hate the doctrine of an imminent Rapture of the saints, in spite of the fact that it is plainly described in Paul’s writings and the early saints were living in expectation of it.
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
“Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:44).
“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 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” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).
James and Peter and John also taught that the Lord is at hand (James 5:9; 1 Peter 4:7; Revelation 1:3).
In contrast, consider the following heretical statements against the imminent return of Christ:
Tony Campolo hates dispensationalism and rejects the doctrine of Christ’s imminent return. He calls it “a weird little form of fundamentalism.” Speaking at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s annual meeting in June 2003, Campolo said: “That whole sense of the rapture, which may occur at any moment, is used as a device to oppose engagement with the principalities, the powers, the political and economic structures of our age” (“Opposition to women preachers evidence of demonic influence,” Baptist Press, June 27, 2003).
1. The issue of divine healing has been confused by the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement.
The absolute promise of healing has always been a part of this movement. Following are a few examples:
John Alexander Dowie (1847-1907)
Dowie was the father of modern healing movement. In 1901 founded Zion City north of Chicago as a place of healing. His magazine Leaves of Healing had a worldwide distribution and a vast influence. He taught that healing is promised because of Christ’s atonement. He did not believe in seeking medical care and taught that doctors are of the devil. Three of the original eight members of the Assemblies of God general council were from Zion City.
Charles Parham (1873-1929)
He founded the Bethel Healing Home in Topeka, Kansas, in January 1901. He, too, believed that healing is promised because of Christ’s atonement. Continue reading this article……
In May 2008 we made a tour of each of the sites of the seven churches addressed in Revelation 2-3. Accompanying me on the tour were Pastor David Brown of Milwaukee and Brian Snider of Alabama.
Our genial tour guide, Kemal Capar, is a very knowledgeable professional who spends part of each year in archaeological excavations.
In the apostle John’s day the seven cities were located in a province of the Roman Empire called Asia, but today they are located in western Turkey. This part of the world is also called Asia Minor. The seven cities are situated in a rough crescent about 400 miles in length, beginning with Ephesus on the coast by the Aegean Sea. About 60 miles north is Smyrna, and about 100 miles further north is Pergamum. From Pergamum you go southeast about 100 miles to Thyatira, then another 50 miles southeast to Sardis, then 40 miles southeast to Philadelphia, and finally 50 more miles southeast to Laodicea.
Asia Minor was part of the Byzantine Empire, with its headquarters in Constantinople. The ruins of churches that exist today are from that period and represent the Greek Orthodox faith.
In the 15th century the Muslims conquered Constantinople and renamed it Istanbul. It was the headquarters for the Ottoman Empire until its dissolution in 1918. Today Turkey is a democracy but the vast majority of the people are Muslim and Christians are often persecuted if they attempt to evangelize.
The following study is from the Way of Life Encyclopedia of the Bible & Christianity:
The fact that Jesus Christ is fully God is proven by the following Bible passages:
1. EVERYTHING SAID ABOUT GOD IN THE O.T. IS ALSO SAID ABOUT JESUS CHRIST IN THE N.T.
O.T. Titles for God Applied to Jesus Christ
The first reference refers to Jehovah God, the second to Jesus Christ.
Stone of stumbling
1 Pe. 2:6-8
2 Ti. 1:10
King of kings
1 Ti. 6:14-15Continue reading this article……
Enlarged December 28, 2010 (first published December 8, 2009) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article)
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:1-8).
We see in Romans 12 that God has a great work in this world and He has called on His people to participate. There is a perfect will of God for each believer. If you are saved, you are called.
We see that the will of God must be proven. Salvation is a gift but God’s will is a prize to be sought.
Further, the will of God is not a future possibility but a present reality. If you don’t do the will of God today you won’t know the will of God tomorrow.
Following salvation, there are five steps that are emphasized in Romans 12 for those who want to know God’s will.
October 13, 2010 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, email@example.com; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
“Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:128).
There is a fierce attack today on a strict Biblicist position. It is hated by evangelicals, the emerging church, Southern Baptists, most Presbyterians and Methodists and Lutherans.
Brian McLaren said the emerging church is targeting our children and grandchildren with the objective of leading them away from separatism. Recently Gabe Lyons (shown above) said he is excited about (supposed) death of separatist Christianity (“End of Christian America is Good, Says Young Evangelical,” Christian Post, Oct. 12, 2010).
Even among those who still claim to be fundamentalists and who say that they are opposed to New Evangelicalism and the Emerging Church, there is a softening of stance, a moderation of militancy, less forthrightness, less naming names, less plainness in warning. How many Independent Baptist schools/churches even have warning conferences? When is the last time that you hear of a large IB school that had a conference on Separation? Continue reading this article……
One of the root problems with the lack of spiritual power and zeal in Baptist churches today is the neglect of discipline. This affects the nation as a whole. When President Bill Clinton committed adultery and lied to the country about it and tried to pervert the judicial system to cover himself, there was a call for his home church to exercise discipline. Bill Clinton is a member of Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. At that time, an Associated Press article quoted Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University (Southern Baptist) as follows: “Church discipline was common among Baptists until early this century, when it faded as people abused the system to carry out vendettas” (AP, Sept. 12, 1998). Dean Register, president of the Mississippi Baptist Convention, confirmed this, saying: “It’s very unusual for Southern Baptist churches to take disciplinary action against an individual” (The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Mississippi, Sept. 13, 1998). Continue reading this article……
The Great Commission is a name for the work of world evangelism that Christ preached after He rose from the dead. It is called Great because it is repeated five times in the New Testament (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:44-48; John 20:21; Acts 1:8). Repetition in the Bible has two very important purposes. First, repetition is for emphasis. By repeating this command so many times, God is saying it is important. Second, repetition is for instruction. Each mention of the Great Commission adds more instruction. We will examine four of the passages:
1. We see the authority for the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18). Jesus has all authority, and when we preach the gospel we do so in His authority. Thus, we have the authority to go to any nation and to speak to any person in His name. Many people have the idea that “religion” is a private matter, but Jesus has made it our business to proclaim the gospel. The Bible says that every born again person is an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-20). We go in His name and authority.
2. We also see the work that is involved in doing the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).
Many wonder why God allows suffering and catastrophes.
To answer this we would say, first, that the trouble in this world is man’s fault, not God’s. When God made man in the beginning, there was no suffering. God made a perfect world for man to live in and provided for man’s every need. God placed the first man and woman in a paradise called the Garden of Eden and gave them only one commandment. But they were not satisfied with God’s provision and they disobeyed God’s commandment and fell into sin. As a result, the world became a place of evil and suffering. This is man’s fault. It is men that lie and cheat and steal and rape and kidnap and bully and kill.
Second, God is holy and judges sin. He is not only a Saviour, He is also a Judge. God warned the first man and woman, that if they disobeyed His law they would be punished, and that is what happened. Because of sin, the world came under God’s curse. This is described in Genesis chapter 3. It is God’s curse that is the cause of sickness and death and many other troubles that men suffer. Men are not innocent before God. All men have sinned and broken His laws; and all men, therefore, deserve to be punished.
Updated March 9, 2010 (first published via the FBIS January 10, 1998) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) –
In a book on the subject of Christian funerals, a writer gives the following advice regarding cremation:
“Personally, the minister may or may not approve of such proceedings. Privately, he is free to hold any opinion that he will. But officially he should keep an open mind. In the Christian religion there is nothing that frowns upon cremation or requires burial.”
Is this sound advice? Is cremation a matter of Christian liberty? In certain places land space is so crowded that burial plots are very expensive and in some cases there are efforts by the governments to discourage burial in preference to cremation. That this problem has become acute in Singapore is referred to in the following official statement made by the Bible Presbyterian Church of Singapore in May, 1987--
October 29, 2009 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, email@example.com; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The following is excerpted from the new Sunday School course “Fundamental Lessons in the Old Testament,” which is available from Way of Life Literature.
It is impossible for us to imagine in a precise manner man’s condition in the Garden of Eden before the fall, but a little sanctified thinking can doubtless give us a vague idea. This world, though fallen, contains the basic elements of paradise lost.
There was a perfect environment
There would have been an ideal climate, not too hot or too cold, gentle breezes, sparkling sunlight, the clear moon reflected through the earth’s firmament.
Not Even Cats, Cows or Crows....
October 13, 2009 (Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The following is by Don Boys, P.O. Box 944, Ringgold, GA 30736, 706-965-5930,
Today I enter into a controversy that I cannot win. It is in fact, like sitting on a buzz saw: Do animals go to Heaven? Most sensible people, not controlled by their emotions, would declare that our time, talents, tithes, and teaching, etc., should be spent trying to get people to go to Heaven.
Please note that I admit that animals can be fantastic companions especially to lonely people. They are very important to the blind and efficient in apprehending drug pushers. They are often great as watchdogs and often beneficial to children. But dogs don't go to Heaven. Neither do cats.
Les Kinsolving is an excellent writer for whom I have great respect, even admiration for him holding politicians' feet to the fire; however, in a recent WND column Les went off the rails in a column advocating that dogs and other animals will be in Heaven! He was writing from his heart not his head. He was not driven by facts but by fantasy.
The following is excerpted from The Tragedy of Compromise: The Origin and Impact of the New Evangelicalism by Dr. Ernest D. Pickering (Bob Jones University Press, 1994, Greenville, SC 29614) --
Franky Schaeffer put it this way: "The clear, loud call for accommodation comes wrapped in the name of the Gospel of Niceness. Sin as the source of all human problems is banished and a call for repentance is rarely made" (Schaeffer, Bad News for Modern Man, p. 45).
Evangelicalism today is consumed with relationalism, the fine art of getting along with people. Bruce Larson, a leading New Evangelical author himself, advises us that "the quality and scope of relationships and the ability and willingness to relate are marks of orthodoxy rather than doctrine" (Larson, The Relational Revolution, p. 32). In other words, the emphasis in theology becomes relational and not conceptual. This tendency, by the way, accounts for a major shift in expectations of the average church member toward the ministry of the pastor. Many want the pastor to center his preaching around "how to" themes rather than doctrinal themes. More will be said about this later.
Continue reading this article……
The following discerning message by Jack Stephens is from the Ohio Bible Fellowship (OBF) Visitor (3865 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43214-3797, 614-262-2006). We do not agree with the OBF in some matters, church polity and the Bible text issue among others, but we do appreciate their willingness to take a bold and unpopular stand against the all-pervasive new evangelical spirit. Pastor Stephens demonstrates a clear understanding of a damnable phenomenon that is occurring widely among fundamentalist churches, including fundamental Baptists.
THE CREEPING KUDZU OF COMPROMISE
By Jack Stephens
A few decades ago, an Oriental creeping vine called "kudzu" was introduced into the Southeast of our country for the purpose of providing ground cover and erosion control. Any Southerner can tell you the result. This vine gradually encroached on the land and, where it was not constantly kept in check, it choked out all other plant life, climbing utility poles and following the connecting lines to span roadways and other obstacles in its steady onslaught to take over every inch of available land. In short, from its innocent beginnings, it has become a bane and a pest to the land.Continue reading this article……
The following was written by Robert Haldane in 1874 --
Many religious persons have a dread of controversy and wish truth to be stated without any reference to those who hold the opposite errors. Controversy and a bad spirit are, in their estimation, synonymous terms. And strenuously to oppose what is wrong is considered as contrary to Christian meekness. Those who hold this opinion seem to overlook what every page of the New Testament lays before us. In all the history of our Lord Jesus Christ, we never find Him out of controversy. From the moment He entered on the discharge of His office in the synagogue of Nazareth till He expired on the cross, it was an uninterrupted scene of controversy. Nor did He, with all the heavenly meekness which in Him shone so brightly, treat truth and error without reference to those who held them or study to avoid giving its proper appellation to those corruptions in doctrine or practice that endangered the interests of immortal souls. His censures were not confined to doctrine but included the abettors of false principles themselves.Continue reading this article……
1 Corinthians 11:3-16
3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.
5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.
7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.
9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.
11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.
12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.
13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.Continue reading this article……
The SharperIron blog ran a post on January 7, 2009, entitled “Dreams and Visions: Confessions of a Soft Cessationist” by Steve Davis. SharperIron is a forum for “younger fundamentalists” who are, in my opinion, moving rapidly in the direction of New Evangelicalism (e.g., Davis is a graduate of The Evangelical Divinity School).
The post begins as follows:
“Recently, I had a conversation with a Muslim-background Christian. He shared the story of his childhood in a Muslim village in a North African country. There were no Christians, there were no Bibles, there was no testimony to the gospel, and there had been no missionaries. He had a dream in which Jesus spoke to him and told him that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The dream did not lead to an immediate salvation response, but it led him to acquire a New Testament, and he began a journey that eventually led to his conversion and transformation. What would you say to this man? Continue reading this article……
January 8, 2009 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, email@example.com; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The following is an excerpt from the Advanced Bible Studies Series “PROVERBS,” which is available from Way of Life Literature.
THE VIRTUOUS WOMAN (Proverbs 31:10-31)
This book, which has warned frequently of the danger of the strange woman and the foolish wife (e.g. Prov. 2:16-19; 5:3-14; 6:24-35; 7:5-27; 9:13-18; 11:22; 14:1; 21:9; 23:27-28; 25:24), concludes with the glory of the virtuous wife.
It is a wonderful token of grace that this description of the virtuous woman was written by Bathsheba (assuming, as we do, that it was). She writes that the husband of the virtuous woman can safely trust in her, yet she betrayed the trust of her first husband by responding to David’s sinful invitation. Of course she might have put herself and her husband in jeopardy by refusing David’s lust, but she would have kept God’s Law and maintained her honor. Yet God forgave her sin and she became a prophetess of truth and righteousness and a spokeswoman for virtue!
Bathsheba exhorts her son to find a virtuous woman. This was probably taught to him as he was growing up. That he disobeyed his mother’s counsel resulted in his terrible backsliding and the loss of most of the kingdom (1 Kings 11:1-13).
This lengthy description of the virtuous woman teaches us the immense importance of the godly wife. She is mentioned in many passages of the New Testament as well (Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18; 1 Timothy 2:9-15; 3:11; Titus 2:3-5; 1 Peter 3:1-6). “And with good reason is so much stress laid upon it, since it contributes as much as any one thing to the keeping up of religion in families, and the entail of it upon posterity, that the mothers be wise and good; and of what consequence it is to the wealth and outward prosperity of a house every one is sensible. He that will thrive must ask his wife leave” (Matthew Henry). “In choosing a wife, fools will follow their fancy, and the wise will act according to reason and the word of God” (George Lawson).
In the Hebrew language Proverbs 31:10-31 is an acrostic. Each verse begins with a different character in the Hebrew alphabet, beginning with Aleph and ending with Tau. This facilitated memorization by Jewish children.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE SAVED THROUGH CHRIST WITHOUT BELIEVING IN CHRIST?
October 16, 2008 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
A popular doctrine among evangelicals, emergents, and contemplatives today is the idea that a sinner can be saved through Christ without actually believing in him.
In January 2007 Tony Campolo told the Edmonton Journal (Alberta, Canada) that he is not sure who will go to heaven. Asked by the paper, “Do you believe non-Christians can go to heaven?” Campolo replied:
“That’s a good question to ask because the way we stand is we contend that trusting in Jesus is the way to heaven. However, we do not know who Jesus will bring into the kingdom and who He will not. We are very, very careful about pronouncing judgment on anybody. We leave judgment in the hands of God and we are saying Jesus is the way. We preach Jesus, but we have no way of knowing to whom the grace of God is extended” (“Canada’s Different Evangelicals,” Edmonton Journal, Jan. 27, 2007).
This is contradictory emerging church gobbly-gook! If we believe that “trusting Jesus is the way to heaven,” then we most definitely DO know who Jesus will bring into the kingdom. He will bring those that trust Him and He will not bring those that do not trust Him. As for pronouncing judgment on people, it is not our judgment; it is God’s.
Brian McLaren says, “I don’t think it’s our business to prognosticate the eternal destinies of anyone else” (A New Kind of Christian, p. 92) and offers a quote from a C.S. Lewis novel as his authority. In this novel Lewis’s character was a soldier who served a false god named Tash all his life, but he was accepted nonetheless by Aslan, who represents Christ.
“Alas, Lord, I am no son of Thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou has done to Tash, I account as service done to me. ... Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him.”
According to C.S. Lewis, who is deeply loved by all branches of the emerging church, an individual might be saved even if he follows a false religion in this life and makes no personal profession of faith in Jesus Christ.
Karen Ward XE "Ward, Karen" says:
“I affirm no other Savior than Jesus Christ, yet at the same time, I feel no need to know with certainty the final destination of those of other faiths who either have no knowledge of Christ or who do not accept the Christian claims of the atonement” (Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches, p. 46).
This is typical emerging church gibberish. Ward thinks she can hold these contradictions in perfect harmony, but it is impossible. If Jesus Christ is the only Saviour, then we CAN know with certainty the final destination of those who do not receive Him, and that destination is Hell! This is not our judgment; it is Almighty God’s as revealed plainly to us in Scripture!
Leonard Sweet XE "Sweet, Leonard" says:
“One can be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ without denying the flickers of the sacred in followers of Yahweh, or Kali, or Krishna” (Quantum Spirituality, p. 130).
What does this mean? Have those “flickers of the sacred” put their adherents into saving relationship with Almighty God and take them to heaven?
Henri Nouwen XE "Nouwen, Henri" , whose writings are constantly referenced by the emerging church and the contemplative movement, said:
“Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, ALL HUMAN BEINGS CAN WALK THROUGH THAT DOOR, WHETHER THEY KNOW ABOUT JESUS OR NOT. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God” (Sabbatical Journey, New York: Crossroad, 1998, p. 51).
Dallas Willard also holds this heresy. In an interview he was presented with the following question:
“I still struggle with how I should view those who have other beliefs. I’m not sure I am ready to condemn them as wrong. I know some very good Buddhists. What is their destiny?”
To this he replied XE "Universalism" :
“I am not going to stand in the way of anyone whom God wants to save. I am not going to say he can’t save them. I am happy for God to save anyone he wants in any way he can. IT IS POSSIBLE FOR SOMEONE WHO DOES NOT KNOW JESUS TO BE SAVED. But anyone who is going to be saved is going to be saved by Jesus” (“Apologetics in Action,” Cutting Edge magazine, winter 2001, vol. 5 no. 1, Vineyard USA, http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=14).
REFUTATION OF THIS HERESY
The idea that someone might be saved who doesn’t know Jesus might sound wise and compassionate, but it is plainly refuted by Scripture and is therefore a fool’s dream.
Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). The new birth is a very real spiritual event, and it happens only when a sinner consciously puts his faith in Christ. In the same passage Jesus explained how to be born again. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). He plainly stated, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).
Therefore, if a person does not consciously believe in Jesus Christ he is condemned. Jesus concluded that sermon by saying, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). Words could not be clearer.
Jesus said further:
“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9).
A man can enter in through Christ and find acceptance with God, but any other door leads to destruction. And to say that an individual could enter into salvation through Christ and not know it is as ridiculous as it is unscriptural.
“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:10-12).
The person that “hath the Son” is the person who believes on him, and the person that “hath not the son” is the one that does not believe. There is no such thing as “unconscious saving faith.”
There is simply no other way of salvation than to put one’s faith in Jesus Christ and to receive Him in such a manner that one is born anew.
Beware of those who refuse to accept the plain teaching of God’s Word. They are heretics, regardless of how cleverly they cloak their unbelief.
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JAMES 3 AND CHURCH SPLITS
September 16, 2008 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, email@example.com; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (James 3:13-18).
THE WISDOM FROM BELOW IS DESCRIBED IN VERSES 14-16.
1. The fruit of evil wisdom is bitter envying and strife.
Envy is jealousy. One can be envious because another person has more money or has a better position or is better looking or is better gifted or is perceived to be better liked or more popular or whatever. Envy does not have to have a basis in reality; it can be the mere product of one’s imagination.
Envy is a trait of the old fallen flesh (Rom. 1:29; Titus 3:13). It means that I am not content with what God has given me. Instead, it bothers me when others prosper and when they advance and when they have things and positions that I do not have. To envy means I am unwisely comparing myself with others. It means I am selfish. It means I am lacking in compassion and that I do not love others as myself. (1 Cor. 13:4).
Envying embitters. “Though these may not be expressed by words, or actions: envy at the happiness of others ... is a root of bitterness in the heart, which bears wormwood and gall, and produces bitter effects in the persons in whom it is; it embitters their minds against their neighbours and friends; it is rottenness in their bones, and slays and destroys those who are so silly as to be governed by it” (John Gill).
Strife is the opposite of peace. It refers to quarreling and stirring up trouble. It refers to backbiting and gossiping, talking against the brethren because I don’t like them and I don’t like what they do. Such strife is not caused because I love the truth but because I care more for my own selfish interests and my own desire to injure others than I do for the work of God. Even if the church splits apart, that will not bother be greatly. There is a hardness of heart caused by the sin of envy. It is the opposite of gentleness and compassion and longsuffering.
Observe that envy and strife are intimately associated. Burkitt says, “Envy is the mother of strife.” If I have envy toward others I will eventually cause trouble among my brethren. The Philistines envied Isaac and stopped up his wells (Gen. 26:14-15). Rachel was envious of Leah and caused strife in her own home (Gen. 30:1-2). Korah and his followers envied Moses and Aaron and stirred up opposition against them (Psa. 106:16-18; Num. 16:1-4). Joseph’s brothers were envious of him and sold him into slavery (Acts 7:9). The Jewish religious leaders envied Jesus and stirred up the people and the government against Him and caused His death (Mark 15:10). They also envied the crowds that followed the preaching of the gospel and stirred up strife against it (Acts 17:5).
2. Envying and strife produce confusion and every evil work.
When envy is nurtured instead of confessed and rejected, and when strife begins to run its course, there is no telling where it will lead. It led Joseph’s brothers to disregard their father’s feelings and the great love he had for Joseph and to dishonor their father by kidnapping their younger brother and to harden their hearts against his crying and even to contemplate murdering him. All of this started when they envied Joseph and nurtured this envy in their hearts month after month instead of renouncing it to God (Gen. 37:11). This led to hatred, strife, kidnapping, and lying.
3. James is emphatic that this type of thing is not of God but is of the earth or the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Worldliness does not consist merely of external things such as drinking and smoking and wearing immodest clothing. It is also a matter of one’s heart condition. One can be impressively clean on the outside and worldly on the inside. This was the condition of the Pharisees (Mat. 23:25). Worldliness consists of “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16), and those are sins of the heart that have external fruits.
The world, the flesh, and the devil are closely associated. If I walk according to the evil ways of the world and the flesh, then I am walking according to the devil, because he is the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4) and the one that “worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2).
The devil is the father of envy and strife and of the selfish pride and lack of compassion that produces it (1 Tim. 3:6). When we commit these sins, we are walking in the devil’s own footsteps.
4. James warns us not to be deceived and to lie against the truth. This describes many professing Christians. They live in carnal strife and gossiping and backbiting and envy and hatred and other sins, but they claim to be right with God. Some judge themselves only by the externals. They even think of themselves as wiser and more spiritual than others. They refuse to heed reproof and repent, even though they fail the test of true wisdom.
5. Those who say they are walking in light and wisdom but live like this are liars (v. 14). They deceive themselves (Jer. 17:9), and they try to deceive others, which is hypocrisy.
6. The first step toward true wisdom is to acknowledge one’s actual condition. If I agree with God’s Word and confess my sin of walking according to the world, the flesh, and the devil, I can obtain God’s mercy and life-changing power. But if I pretend that everything is fine and refuse to acknowledge my sin, there is no spiritual progress, because I am walking in the darkness rather than in the light (1 John 1:5-9).
7. In this context, confession of sin is not a once-for-all thing but a continual, day-by-day process. Spiritual victory in the Christian life is a matter of growing in grace (1 Peter 2:1-2; 2 Pet. 3:18).
THE WISDOM FROM ABOVE IS ALSO DESCRIBED IN THIS PASSAGE.
This is a description of Christ, whereas the wisdom from below is a description of the devil.
It is FIRST PURE (Jam. 3:17). This refers to being pure from sin; it refers to holiness (1 Tim. 5:22). The same Greek word is translated “chaste” in 2 Corinthians 11:2; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:2. God is first and foremost holy, and if He is effectively working in a person’s life, then that person will pursue holiness. This shows the error of “rock & roll Christianity” which emphasizes the love of God and tolerance of sin more than moral purity and holy separation.
It is PEACEABLE (Jam. 3:17).
True wisdom always inclines toward peace if there is any godly possibility of it. It desires peace, and will not cause strife based on its own selfish and sinful purposes.
This does not mean that true wisdom keeps peace at any cost. It does not care more for peace than for truth and righteousness. The Lord Jesus said that He did not come to bring peace to the earth but a sword (Mat. 10:34). This is because this world is at war with the truth. Peace at the expense of truth is carnal and cowardly compromise. The apostle Paul did not pursue peace with false teachers. Rather, he confronted them (Acts 13:7-11), exposed them (1 Tim. 1:19-20; 2 Tim. 2:16-18), and warned the churches of them (e.g., Acts 20:28-30; Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 15:33-36; 2 Cor. 11:1-4; Gal. 1:6-9; 1 Tim. 4:1-5).
It is GENTLE AND EASY TO BE INTREATED (Jam. 3:17). True wisdom is willing to listen to others and to submit to the truth. It is not self-opinionated. It doesn’t reject good counsel. It is willing to answer questions and try to explain itself. It is eager to solve difficulties. This is a picture of Jesus. He was easily approachable. He allowed men to ask questions. He was gentle and easy to be intreated. He explained Himself clearly.
It is FULL OF MERCY AND GOOD FRUITS (Jam. 3:17).
True wisdom is merciful and patient and kind. This is what is required of peacemakers.
True wisdom is full of good fruits. It is not content to excel in only one or two spiritual things. It wants to add to “faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brother kindness; and to brother kindness charity” (2 Pet. 1:5-7). It is full of “compassion and beneficence to the poor; feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the widows and fatherless in their affliction; and doing all other good works and duties, both with respect to God and man, as fruits of grace, and of the Spirit” (John Gill).
It is WITHOUT PARTIALITY (Jam. 3:17). True wisdom does not play favorites. It doesn’t show respect to persons. It applies the truth equally to all men. Compare 1 Timothy 5:21. “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.” True wisdom does not treat the rich church member differently than the poor. It does not exercise discipline against some members while ignoring the same kind of sins of others. It does not require some workers and leaders to meet the Bible’s standards and the church’s covenant while allowing others to get by with things. It does not allow some to get away with gossip and strife while coming down hard on others for the same thing.
It is WITHOUT HYPOCRISY (Jam. 3:17). True wisdom does not preach one thing to others while living contrary to the preaching with no repentance and no intent of changing. It does not make a show of being what it is not. It does not condemn others for things that it is guilty of. It does not condemn relatively small sins in others while allowing more serious sins in itself. It does not condemn a new church member for something like wearing a modern fashion that is not exactly modest or for wearing too much makeup or such things, while allowing envy and hatred and pride and strife to rule in his own heart.
It is MEEK (Jam. 3:13). It is pride that stirs up carnal strife in churches, but true wisdom is meek. It is not self-willed. It does not think of itself more highly than it ought to think (Rom. 12:3).
THIS PASSAGE IS A TEST FOR THOSE WHO LEAVE CHURCHES.
There is a proper time to leave a church, if it is not following God’s Word, but there is a proper way to leave and many times people leave churches for carnal reasons and in a carnal manner. If someone leaves a church for biblical and spiritual reasons, the fruit will be characterized by the description in James 3:17-18--purity, peaceableness, gentleness, easy to be entreated, mercy, without partiality, without hypocrisy. Someone leaving in this mode will speak the truth in love. He leaves because he is convinced it is God’s will, but he does so in a peaceable and godly manner. He is respectful of the leaders even if he doesn’t agree with them, and he harbors no ill will toward the leaders or the church.
But if someone leaves a church for carnal reasons the fruit will be characterized by the description in James 3:14-16--bitterness, envy, strife, confusion, and other evil works. This is not of God! Many times I have observed this. People get upset at something and they leave a church, but they do not do so in a godly manner. They cause all sorts of trouble and try to hurt the church, both before they leave and after. Many times they won’t even talk about the matter with the leaders in a gracious, open manner. They are not “easy to be entreated.” All of the love they once had for the church and its leaders disappears. They deal deceitfully. They go behind the pastor’s back and despise his position.
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EMERGING CHURCH HYPOCRISY
September 10, 2008 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The following is excerpted from What Is the Emerging Church? which is available from Way of Life Literature.
There is a great hypocrisy that permeates emerging church writings.
They denounce dogmatism in the most dogmatic terms!
They reject judgmentalism in the most judgmental terms, having nothing to say of fundamentalist Christianity except ridicule and denunciation.
They reject traditional patterns of Bible “spirituality,” such as daily devotions, as dull and legalistically obligatory, but they accept the most stringent forms of Catholic “spirituality,” such as lectio divina and keeping “the hours” and monasticism, as exciting and life-giving.
And they claim to be “Red Letter Christians,” when in reality they don’t keep the commands Christ gave in the Gospels.
Tony Campolo says:
“By calling ourselves Red-Letter Christians, we are alluding to the fact that in several versions of the New Testament, the words of Jesus are printed in red. In adopting this name, we are saying that we are committed to living out the things that He said. Of course, the message in those red-lettered verses is radical, to say the least. If you don’t believe me, read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). ... Figuring out just how to relate those radical red letters in the Bible to the complex issues in the modern world will be difficult, but that’s what we’ll try to do” (“Red Letter Christian,” Oct. 25, 2007, http://livingintentionally.wordpress.com/2007/10/25/red-letter-christian/).
Jim Wallis of Sojourners says the same thing.
“In Matthew 5, 6, and 7, Jesus offers his Sermon on the Mount, which serves as the manifesto of his new order, the Magna Carta of the new age, the constitution of the kingdom” (The Great Awakening, p. 62).
But Campolo, Wallis, and other emergents are very selective in their obedience to the Sermon on the Mount. In fact, the Sermon on the Mount clearly refutes emerging church theology.
Christ warned against breaking even the least of God’s commandments (Mat. 5:19). This is in contrast to the emerging church’s position that only the “cardinal” doctrines are of great significance.
Christ frequently warned about hell fire (Mat. 5:22, 29-30), but this is a subject that emergents grossly neglect and even blatantly deny.
Christ warned about imprisonment for disobedience to God’s Word (Mat. 5:25-26), but emergents do not take this literally.
Christ warned strongly against divorce and remarriage (Mat. 5:31-32). In contrast we have the emerging church’s tendency to downplay the importance of strict morality. The emerging church is even hesitant to condemn homosexuality, but if it is adultery in God’s eyes for a man to divorce his wife and marry another woman, except for fornication, how much more is it immoral for a man to sleep with a man or a woman with a woman?
Christ taught against laying up treasures on earth (Mat. 6:19-21), yet Campolo and most other emergents and their churches and organizations have a great many treasures on earth. In an interview with Campolo in February 2008 at the New Baptist Covenant Celebration in Atlanta, Georgia, I asked him if he obeys the Lord’s command in the Sermon on the Mount to sell what you have and give alms. He admitted that he is something of a hypocrite in that area. He drives a nice car, lives in a nice house, has nice clothes, heaps of possessions, a retirement fund, etc. There are exceptions, but in general the emergents really don’t take this part of Christ’s Sermon all that seriously!
Christ taught the people to be heavenly-minded (Mat. 6:19-21), but the emerging church ridicules this mindset and instructs us to be earthly-minded.
Christ said to take no thought about food or clothing (Mat. 6:25, 31), but the emerging church typically takes plenty of thought about this.
Christ said to take no thought for tomorrow (Mat. 6:34), but the emerging church makes detailed plans.
Christ said not to give holy things to dogs (Mat. 7:6), but the emerging church doesn’t want to believe that there is a great difference between holy and unholy and does not believe in dividing people into groups and calling some dogs, disliking “judgmentalism” and “labeling.”
Christ taught that men are evil (Mat. 7:11), but the emerging church thinks that this is not necessarily true.
Christ taught that the way of salvation is narrow and few are saved (Mat. 7:13-14), but the emerging church claims that the way of salvation is broad and many might be saved, even if they don’t have personal faith in Jesus.
Christ taught that we should be on the outlook for false teachers (Mat. 7:15), but the emerging church claims that we should relax and not be uptight about doctrine and error.
Prominently in His teaching on the kingdom of God, Christ commanded men to repent of their sin. “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mat. 4:17). Yet the emerging church is exceedingly weak about the business of repentance and is not even certain that homosexuals have anything to repent of!
Further, the Sermon on the Mount reminds us that Christ was a bold and dogmatic preacher, whereas the emerging church doesn’t like such preaching, preferring story-telling and “sharing.”
Thus, this idea that we should be Red Letter Christians is not consistently followed even by its own proponents. The Gospels do not present a Christ that looks anything like the emerging church.
The hypocrisy within the emerging church is amazing to behold.
This is excerpted from What Is the Emerging Church? which is available from Way of Life Literature.
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EAT THE MEAT, SPIT OUT THE BONES
September 9, 2008 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, email@example.com; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
There are a lot of clever-sounding sayings that make the rounds among Christians, and one of these is “eat the meat, and spit out the bones.” Many have written to exhort me to do this, and they mean that I shouldn’t worry so much about exposing error. They wonder why I can’t just “eat the meat, and spit out the bones.”
There is a bit of truth to this saying, in that God’s people are always to exercise biblical discernment when hearing sermons or reading Christian books. We are to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
But the Bible also twice warns that “a little leaven leaventh the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:7; Gal. 5:9) and exhorts us to mark and avoid those who teach doctrine contrary to that which we have learned in Scripture (Rom. 16:17). There is great danger in eating the wrong spiritual meat!
What if the meat is rotten or poisoned or hasn’t been cooked or properly stored? The U.S. government regulates how restaurants must cook meat, because undercooked meat is dangerous. When I worked in a restaurant in my youth, I was taught to handle the meat very carefully and to store it properly, because it spoils easily. If you eat meat that is spoiled or poisoned or undercooked, even if you spit out the bones, you will be in trouble. The writings of men like Brian McLaren and Richard Foster and Chuck Colson and Rick Warren and C. S. Lewis contain plenty of rotten meat. Those who advise God’s people to “eat the meat, and spit out the bones,” must explain to us how they know that this “meat” is safe.
Also, what if the bones have splinters or what if you get a bone stuck in your throat? When I was growing up in Florida, I went fishing often with my dad and granddad, and they were careful about which fish they kept and which they threw away, because some had too many bones to eat safely. And Mom was very careful to keep an eye on us when we were eating fish because of the ever-present danger of getting a bone stuck in our throats. This happened from time to time anyway, and it was a very unpleasant thing and, in fact, can be fatal. Likewise, very few Christians are able to wade through sermons or books by compromising preachers on their own and expertly spit out all of the “bones” of error. One of the reasons why so many fundamental Baptists are becoming New Evangelical is because they are reading New Evangelical books and blogs and listening to New Evangelical sermons.
And what if you don’t know the difference between meat and bones? A toddler doesn’t know the difference, and if it tries to eat meat and spit out bones, it will quickly be in trouble. Likewise, the average Christian today is far too biblically ignorant and carnal to distinguish properly between truth and cleverly presented error.
My friends, beware of clever sayings that aren’t supported by Scripture.
We live in a shallow, apostate, carnal age, and it behooves us to study the Bible diligently and to think biblically!!!!
One pastor who read this article replied:
“The problem I have with this statement is that sometimes the truth is hard to swallow, so it is spit out and called ‘bones.’ The ‘eat the meat, spit out the bones’ mentality is pretty much the same as Burger King’s ‘Have it your way’ mentality. Sinful man is always prone to create a hybrid Christianity that suits his tastes and preconceived notions about what he wants God to be.”
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Updated and enlarged August 21, 2008 (first published June 13, 1999) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org) –
Any evangelist will have false converts. Even the apostles did (Acts 8:20-21). But something is seriously wrong when only a very tiny percentage of one’s reported “converts” exhibit any evidence of salvation. It would seem that this would encourage a man to rethink his methodology, but I have found that many men are content to mark up large numbers of empty professions year after year; and rather than welcoming a biblical re-examination of their evangelistic program, they take great offense when someone challenges them about the reality of the reported numbers. They would rather lash out at such a man and claim that he is an enemy of soul winning or that he preaches “lordship salvation” or “works salvation,” and blacklist him, try to dig up dirt on him, etc., than face the facts from the Word of God.
For those who do this, there is little hope for change; but we praise the Lord that there are men among our fundamental Baptist brethren are not content to accept man-made doctrines and methodologies. They are not afraid to examine what their schools and leaders have taught and to reject things that are wrong even if they must reject things that are popular with “the brethren.”
When I first published the article “Pentecost vs. Hylescost” in August 1998, I received a huge volume of response from fundamental Baptist men. Most of the replies were extremely positive. Many of the replies came from graduates of Hyles Anderson College and other independent Baptist Bible schools that promote a “quick prayerism” program. These men thanked me for tackling a very unpopular subject and for exposing an error that has seriously weakened the fundamental Baptist movement and that has damaged many souls.
One observant pastor described the fruit of the “quick prayerism” program as “SOULS BETRAYED IN THE NAME OF SOUL-WINNING.”
Biblical repentance as preached by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the apostles, is A CHANGE OF MIND TOWARD GOD AND SIN THAT RESULTS IN A CHANGE OF LIFE. IT IS A SPIRIT-WROUGHT CHANGE OF MIND THAT LEADS TO A CHANGE OF LIFE. It is not a change of life. That would be a works salvation. It is a radical, Spirit-wrought change of mind toward sin and God, such a dramatic change of mind that it changes one’s actions.
This is how I have always defined repentance. It is how I defined it as a young missionary in the 1970s, and it is how I defined it in the Way of Life Encyclopedia of the Bible & Christianity when it was first published in 1994.
Note the following summary of Paul’s message: “But showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that THEY SHOULD REPENT AND TURN TO GOD, AND DO WORKS MEET FOR REPENTANCE” (Acts 26:20). The gospel message preached by Peter on the day of Pentecost and by Paul after Pentecost required repentance and defined that as a mindset to turn to God from evil works. Paul summarized His gospel message as “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). The gospel requires that the sinner exercise repentance toward God and faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Biblical repentance is a change of mind toward God and sin that results in a change of life. To say that it has nothing to do with one’s attitude toward sin is to throw away the Bible and nineteen centuries of Bible-believing preaching.
REPENTANCE WAS PREACHED BY BIBLE PREACHERS
Those who do not preach repentance or who make light of it or who claim it is the same as faith or who redefine it so that it has nothing to do with sin are not following the Bible pattern for evangelism. They are following a manmade program. The bottom line is that Bible preachers proclaimed repentance. If faith is the same as repentance, this would make no sense. Those who follow the Bible will preach repentance and will require evidence thereof.
Repentance was preached by John the Baptist
“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Matthew 3:1-10).
Repentance was preached by Jesus Christ
“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).
“But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:13).
“Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes” (Matthew 11:20-21).
“And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-5).
“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. … Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:7, 10).
“And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:46-48).
Christ’s goal in dealing with men was not merely to lead them in a sinner’s prayer, but to bring them to repentance and genuine salvation. He described salvation in terms of coming to repentance.
Repentance was preached by Christ’s Disciples
“And they went out, and preached that men should repent” (Mark 6:12).
Repentance was preached by Peter
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
“Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31).
“Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:22-23).
Repentance was preached by Paul
“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30).
“And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:20-21).
“But showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:20).
The Bible says that God is “longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). There is no Bible example of people being saved who did not evidence a change in their lives. The Apostle Paul, reviewing his ministry before King Agrippa, noted that he went about preaching to Jews and Gentiles “that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:20). This is exactly the message we are to preach today.
WHAT BIBLICAL REPENTANCE IS NOT
REPENTANCE IS NOT MERE HUMAN REFORMATION
Men have the ability to reform their own lives in some sense. It is not uncommon for men who have gotten into trouble to come to their senses and to change their ways. Drunkards have stopped drinking; wife beaters have ceased from their violence; thieves have become honest citizens; harlots have turned from a life of infamy. This in itself is not biblical repentance.
First of all, reformation is man-centered and this-world-centered; whereas repentance is God-centered and eternity-centered. The man who merely reforms has his eyes on the people he has offended and the consequences of his actions in his present life. The gospel, on the other hand, calls for “repentance toward God…” (Acts 20:21). The Prodigal Son’s repentance was demonstrated by his change of attitude toward God as well as toward his father. “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I HAVE SINNED AGAINST HEAVEN, and before thee” (Luke 15:18).
Furthermore, reformation is problem-centered, whereas repentance is sin-centered. The man who reforms his life looks upon his actions as problems and faults, but not as wicked sin against a holy God. Those who repent, on the other hand, confess that they have SINNED against God. They do not soft-peddle their sin. This is why it is crucial that people be taught plainly what sin is from the Bible. To tell people that they have sinned is not enough, because the sinner does not naturally think of himself as truly evil. He will admit that he has faults, problems, weaknesses, lack of self-esteem, etc., but this is not the same as admitting that he is a wicked and undone sinner before God.
REPENTANCE IS NOT PENANCE
Many Catholic Bibles translate “repentance” as “do penance,” according to Catholic theology that replaces biblical repentance with a sacramental duty. Penance is a Catholic sacrament whereby sins “done after baptism” are absolved by the priest upon the confession and good deeds of the penitent. The four parts of penance are confession, contrition, absolution, and satisfaction. The satisfaction refers to various duties prescribed by the priest, such as praying the Rosary. Satisfaction is defined by the authoritative Addis and Arnold Catholic Dictionary as “a payment of the temporal punishment due to sin through works which are good and penal and are imposed by the confessor.”
This is not biblical repentance. Sinners are not commanded to go to priests for forgiveness. They are not told to confess their sins to a priest or to do good works with the hope that their sins will thereby be forgiven. All of the elements of Catholic penance are unscriptural.
REPENTANCE IS NOT MERE REMORSE FOR WRONG ACTIONS
The Bible tells us that men can be remorseful about their actions without exercising genuine repentance unto salvation. This is described as the “sorrow of the world” in 2 Cor. 7:10. There are key examples of this in the Old and the New Testaments. King Saul is the prime Old Testament example. He was sorry that he got caught in various sinful acts, but he did not demonstrate repentance because his actions did not change (1 Sam. 15:24; 24:17; 26:21). Judas is the fearful New Testament example of a man who was remorseful but did not repent toward God (Matt. 27:3-4). Like reformation, remorse is man-centered rather than God-centered. Those who repent change their mind about their relationship with God and this results in a change in the way they live. Judas regretted his actions, but he did not turn to God.
REPENTANCE IS NOT MERE CONFESSION OF OR ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF SIN
Repentance is also not mere acknowledgement of sin. Pharaoh did this, but he did not repent toward God and his actions did not change (Exodus 9:27). While working in a county jail ministry for several years, I saw many men and women who acknowledged that they had sinned, but most of those did not exercise repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
REPENTANCE IS NOT MERELY CHANGING FROM UNBELIEF TO BELIEF
The late Pastor Jack Hyles, First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana, who was an influential independent Baptist preacher, defines repentance to mean turning from unbelief to belief. He stated this in his 1993 book, The Enemies of Soul Winning. One chapter is titled “Misunderstood Repentance: An Enemy of Soul Winning.” He builds his doctrine of repentance largely on human reasoning: since unbelief is the only sin that sends men to Hell (so he claimed), unbelief is the only sin that must be repented of. That sounds reasonable, but it is contrary to the clear example and teaching of the Word of God. Biblical repentance as preached by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Apostles, involved a change of mind TOWARD GOD AND SIN. Note the following summary of Paul’s gospel message: “But showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and DO WORKS MEET FOR REPENTANCE” (Acts 26:20). The gospel message preached by Peter on the day of Pentecost and by Paul after Pentecost required repentance and defined that as a turning to God from evil works. Biblical repentance is a change of mind toward God and sin that results in a change of life. To say that it has nothing to do with one’s attitude toward sin is to throw away 19 centuries of Christian preaching.
REPENTANCE IS NOT MERE CHANGING ONE’S MIND
Another man who has widely influenced the doctrine of repentance held by independent Baptists is the late Curtis Hutson, former editor of the Sword of the Lord. His 1986 booklet “Repentance: What Does the Bible Teach?” has been distributed widely. Hutson boldly denied that repentance means to turn from sin (p. 4). He denied that repentance is sorrow for sin (p. 8). He even denied that repentance means “a change of mind that leads to a change of action” (p. 16). He claimed that repentance simply is “to change one’s mind” and that it did not necessarily result in a change of life. In an attempt to build his doctrine of repentance, Curtis Hutson quoted Scripture that appears to support his position but he ignored the Scriptures that plainly denounce his position. He misquoted the writings of men like his predecessor John R. Rice. He also mixed in a heavy dose of human reasoning. For example, he stated that repentance couldn’t mean to turn from sin because man cannot turn from all sin. That is a smokescreen, because no one has defined repentance as turning from all sin. The historic definition of repentance, as it applies to salvation, is a change of mind toward God and sin that results in a change of life. Repentance is not turning from all sin in the sense of some sort of sinless perfection; it is a change of mind toward sin so that the sinner no longer intends to walk in rebellion against God. Dr. Hutson also reasoned that to say repentance involves turning from sin is a works salvation. That is nonsense. The Thessalonians turned from the sin of idolatry (1 Thess. 1:9). Obviously, that does not mean they thought that their works had a part in their salvation. The fact that God requires that we turn from sin does not mean that salvation is by works. We know that the works are the fruit of genuine salvation, not the cause of it. Repentance, defined as turning to God from sin, is not a works salvation, as Dr. Hutson falsely claimed. It is the sinner’s obedient response to the Holy Spirit’s conviction (John 16:8). Dr. Hutson’s entire line of reasoning about repentance was unscriptural.
Hutson even carried his false doctrine of repentance so far that he modified the 1989 edition of “Soul-Stirring Songs and Hymns,” which is the hymnal published by the Sword of the Lord. Under the direction of Pastor Tom Stastny the members of Beaver Valley Baptist Church of Montrose, British Columbia, went through the hymnal and documented many changes. In an open letter to Independent Baptists of Canada dated April 1, 2000, Pastor Stastny wrote: “Several of the changes center around the doctrine of repentance i.e. #245 (The Old Account Was Settled”), #288 (“I Am Resolved”), #318 (“Give Me Thy Heart”), #444 (“Almost Persuaded”). The 1989 version greatly weakens this doctrine in its overall message.” Following are the changes that were made to these four hymns:
“The Old Account Was Settled”
4th verse -- “O sinner seek the Lord, repent of all your sin, For thus He hath commanded if” CHANGED TO “O sinner, trust the Lord, be cleansed of all your sin, For thus He hath provided for.”
“I Am Resolved”
4th verse DELETED (“I am resolved to enter the Kingdom, leaving the paths of sin...”)
“Give Me Thy Heart”
2nd verse -- “turn now from sin and from evil depart” CHANGED TO “trust in me only, I’ll never depart.”
1st and 2nd verses DELETED -- “Almost I trusted in Jesus, Almost I turned from my sin; Almost I yielded completely to the sweet striving within.” “Almost I said, ‘Jesus, save me.’ Almost submitted my will; Almost persuaded to serve Him, but I rejected Him still.”
In a letter to Pastor Statsny dated March 31, 2000, Shelton Smith promised that the Sword would publish a new edition of the hymnal that would “use the original editions” of the hymns. As of 2007 this has not been done, and the changes themselves in the 1989 edition under Hutson’s administration speak for themselves.
REPENTANCE IS NOT MERELY THE SAME AS BELIEVING
Dr. Dwight Pentecost is among those who define repentance as merely believing in Christ. “Repentance is not a prerequisite to salvation; for if repentance is required, salvation is based, at least in part on works. … We would suggest to you from the Word of God that repentance is included in believing. It is not a separate act which conditions salvation, but rather it is included in the act of believing” (Pentecost, Things Which Become Sound Doctrine, 1965, pp. 70, 71). This sounds correct to many people, but it is wrong. First, as to repentance being a works salvation, that is nonsense. To say that repentance results in works is not the same as saying that repentance is works. Saving faith also produces works, but this is not to say that saving faith is works. Repentance, in fact, is so far from a work that it is a gift of God’s grace. “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18).
I will reply to the idea that repentance is the same as faith by asking the following questions:
(1) If repentance and faith are the same, why does the Bible make such a plain distinction between them? “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). In reality, repentance and faith are two different actions though they are intimately connected and cannot necessarily be separated in time. Repentance is acknowledging one’s sin and rebellion against God and changing one’s mind about sinning against God. Faith is trusting the finished work of Christ for forgiveness. Repentance and faith are the two aspects of man’s response to God’s offer of salvation.
(2) If repentance and faith are the same, why did all of the New Testament preachers proclaim repentance? Many arguments have been given to justify not preaching repentance, but the bottom line is that the Bible preachers proclaimed repentance. If repentance is totally wrapped up in believing, why did the Lord Jesus Christ preach “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3)? Why did Peter preach, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted” (Acts 3:19)? Why did Paul preach, “God ... now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30)? Or, “[men] should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:20)?
(3) If repentance and faith are the same, why did the Lord Jesus Christ say that repentance is a part of the Great Commission? “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). The answer is that repentance is to be preached, and faith is to be preached. While these doctrines are intimately connected, they are not the same. Biblical salvation involves both: “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). That is what the Lord’s Apostles preached, and they are our only infallible guides. Those who claim that repentance does not have to be preached or that it is exactly the same as faith are denying the plain teaching of the Word of God.
A SURVEY OF THE BIBLE’S TEACHING ON REPENTANCE
In the following study, we examine most of the Bible passages dealing with repentance toward God. Our study is an expansion of one done by Bruce Lackey. He defined repentance as “a change of mind that results in a change of action.” That is a biblical definition. The Bible’s examples of repentance show a clear change in people’s behavior. The change itself does not save us from sin, but IT IS the fruit of Bible salvation.
Exodus 13:17. “And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.” God led Israel through the wilderness rather than through the land of the Philistines ‘lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.’ God knew that their change of mind would result in a change of action. In this instance, a change of mind without the resulting change of action would have been meaningless. Repentance is defined in this verse as turning.
Judges 21:1,6,14. “And the children of Israel repented them for Benjamin their brother, and said, There is one tribe cut off from Israel this day.” The men of Israel had sworn that they would not give any of their daughters as wives for the Benjamites, but they repented and gave them wives (vv. 6,14). Again, the change of mind without the resulting change of action would have been meaningless.
1 Kings 8:47-48. “Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and REPENT, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, SAYING, WE HAVE SINNED, AND HAVE DONE PERVERSELY, we have committed wickedness; And so RETURN UNTO THEE WITH ALL THEIR HEART, AND WITH ALL THEIR SOUL, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name.” God promised that if captive Israel would repent He would hear them. He defined repentance as acknowledging their wickedness and turning to God with the whole heart.
Job 42:6. “Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Here, again, we see that repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action. Obviously, the dust and ashes were a change of action.
Jeremiah 8:6. “I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.” Repentance is defined as acknowledging and turning from sin.
Ezekiel 14:6. “Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.” God defined repentance as turning from sin and idols. Surely, no one thinks that God would have been satisfied if they had merely changed their minds without changing their actions.
Ezekiel 18:30. “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.” Again, repentance is defined as turning from sin and idols.
Jonah 3:5-8. “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.” The word repentance is not used in the Jonah passage, but in Matthew 12:31 Jesus said they repented. The repentance of the people of Nineveh was witnessed in their actions. True repentance is always observable by a change in one’s manner of living.
Matthew 3:1,8. “And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. ... Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.” John the Baptist defined repentance as a change in life. He demanded ‘fruits meet for repentance,’ which obviously meant that he wanted to see some evidence that they had repented, before he would baptize them. The specific changes of action are listed in the parallel passage of Lk. 3:8-14. The various kinds of people had to show different changes of action, because their particular sins had been different.
Matthew 9:13. “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Jesus defined repentance as a sinner changing his attitude to sin.
Matthew 11:20-21. “Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” Christ defined repentance as a dramatic change in one’s attitude toward God and His Word. He said this change of mind is evidenced by a change in action.
Matthew 12:41. “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” Jesus stated that the men of Nineveh ‘repented at the preaching of Jonas.’ Jonah 3 shows that they heard the Word of God, believed God, fasted, put on sackcloth, and turned from their sin. Christ considered their actions to be a result of their repentance. Would He have approved what they did if there had been no change of action? The answer is obvious.
Matthew 21:28-29. “But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.” The son’s repentance was witnessed by his change of mind and his obedience. A mere change of mind without a change in action would not have satisfied the father’s command.
Luke 5:32. “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Christ’s objective was not merely to bring men to a mental belief in the Gospel but to bring them to repentance, which, as we have seen, means a turning from sin, a change of mind that results in a change of life.
Luke 13:3-5. “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Christ absolutely requires repentance for salvation.
Luke 15:7-10. “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” Again, we see that Christ requires repentance for salvation. God and Heaven do not rejoice merely because someone prays a prayer in the name of Christ (Mt. 7:21) or because someone makes a mental assent to the Gospel (James 2:19-20). God and Heaven rejoice when a sinner repents.
Luke 19:1-10. “And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Zacchaeus’s repentance was a change of mind that resulted in a dramatic change of life. The evidence of his repentance was that he gave half his goods to the poor and restored five-fold that which he had stolen through his tax collecting business.
Luke 24:47. “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Repentance is part of the Gospel message that is to be preached to the ends of the earth. Repentance is part of the Great Commission.
Acts 2:37-41. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” The Jews in Acts 2 who heard Peter’s sermon repented, and the evidence of this is that they gladly received his word, were baptized, and joined themselves with the hated Christians. Again we see that repentance is to turn one’s life from sin and rebellion to God and obedience; it is a change of mind toward God and sin that results in a change of life. The first church was built on the preaching of repentance!
Acts 3:19. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Repentance is God’s requirement for every sinner who will be saved. Repentance precedes and brings conversion and forgiveness of sin.
Acts 5:31. “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Repentance is required for and precedes forgiveness of sin. It is a work of Christ in the heart of the responsive sinner.
Acts 8:21-22. “Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” Peter warned Simon to repent of his covetousness, which meant he was to turn from it, to reject it, to change his mind about it and to stop it.
Acts 11:18. “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” Note that the disciples described salvation as repentance. They thought of salvation commonly in these terms. Note, too, that repentance is a work of God in the heart of the responsive sinner.
Acts 17:30. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.” Paul preached repentance to the idolatrous people at Athens. He did not even mention faith in Christ, but he explained that God demands repentance. The preaching of God’s holiness and righteousness and man’s fallen condition and need of repentance precedes and prepares the way for the preaching of the Cross.
Acts 20:21. “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” This verse summarizes Paul’s preaching and the true Gospel message: repentance toward God and faith in Christ. The sinner must repent about his disobedience toward God and exercise faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for his sin.
Acts 26:20. “But showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.” Paul preached the same message as John the Baptist, so no one can limit this to the dispensation of the law. The words of this verse, ‘that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance,’ show that repentance is not a work! When we preach repentance for salvation, we are not preaching a works salvation, as some have charged. When we say that repentance produces a change of works, it would be ridiculous to say that the two are one. Food produces energy and strength; labor produces sweat; but they are different things, so repentance and works are two separate things. Repentance produces and results in good works, but repentance itself is not works salvation. The bottom line is this: Paul preached repentance and required that repentance produce a change in the life. We must do the same today. Those who accept a mere prayer as salvation and who baptize people who demonstrate no change in life are not following the Bible pattern of evangelism.
Romans 2:4. “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” God does many things with the objective of bringing men to repentance. This is another reminder that God desires that all men repent.
2 Corinthians 7:9-11. “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” Lessons: (1) Repentance is the product of God’s Word (v. 8; Jonah 3:5; Acts 2:38-41). (2) Repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of life. The Corinthians’ repentance produced a great change in their manner of living: ‘carefulness ... clearing of yourselves ... indignation ... fear ... vehement desire ... zeal ... revenge.’ (3) Repentance is not the same as reformation or other forms of “the sorrow of the world.” Repentance has to do with God and sin, whereas reformation has to do with other people and with conditions and things in this world. Many people, when they get into trouble, are sorry for the trouble and they determine to change certain things in their lives that produced that trouble. This is not repentance, because it does not deal with one’s wickedness against Almighty God and does not result in a change of attitude and action in relation to God. (4) True repentance is permanent (v. 10).
2 Corinthians 12:21. “And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.” Repentance is not about sin in general; it involves a change of mind and a change of action concerning specific sins.
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.” This passage gives a perfect definition of salvation repentance. It is turning to God from idols to serve the living and true God. Note that repentance is directed to God (compare Acts 20:21; 26:20). Repentance results in a change of life (turning from idols to serve God).
2 Timothy 2:25-26. “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” Repentance produces ‘acknowledging of the truth’ and recovery from the snare of the devil. Repentance is a work of God in the heart of a responsive sinner. God convicts of sin and calls the sinner to repentance and faith in Christ, and if the sinner responds, God grants salvation and fulfills His work of repentance in the sinner’s life.
Hebrews 6:1. “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.” The ‘repentance from dead works’ is obviously a change of mind that results in a change of action.
Hebrews 12:17. “For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” Esau ‘found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.’ Bruce Lackey says: “Since there is no record of Esau trying to change the sale of his birthright to Jacob (Ge. 25:29-34), this must refer to his effort to get Isaac to change the blessing from Jacob back to himself (Ge. 27:34). Some interpret this to mean that Esau could not repent; I think it means that he could not get Isaac to repent of having given the firstborn’s blessing to Jacob. In either case, the meaning of repentance would be the same. Esau found a place to change his mind, but he could not find a place to change the action. This is one of the strongest proofs in Scripture that a change of action must take place, or there is no repentance.”
2 Peter 3:9. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Again, we see that the Bible frequently describes salvation in terms of repentance. God requires repentance for salvation.
Revelation 2:5. “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” Repentance obviously involves turning from actions that are wrong to doing actions that are right. It means to change one’s mind about a wrong behavior so that one determines to change that behavior by God’s grace.
Revelation 2:16. “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” The Christians at Pergamos were instructed to repent of the sin and error that they were allowing in the church, which meant they were to turn from the things that Christ mentioned.
Revelation 2:21-22. “And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.” Christ required that the people ‘repent of their deeds.’ He surely would not have been satisfied with a change of mind without a change of action.
Revelation 3:3. “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” The repentance Christ required produced a complete change in attitude and action about specific sin and error.
Revelation 9:20-21. “And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.” From these verses, we see that repentance that is acceptable before God is to reject and turn from sin, idolatry, and error.
Revelation 16:9,11. “And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.” These passages say that tribulation sinners will not repent ‘of their deeds.’ Their lack of repentance is connected with their refusal to turn from their evil doings. Repentance is a turning to God from sin, a change of mind about sin that results in a change of action.
REPENTANCE DEFINED BY BAPTISTS OF THE PAST
To define repentance merely as turning from unbelief to belief, or to claim that repentance has nothing to do with turning from sin, ignores not only the Bible, as seen above, but also nineteen centuries of Bible-believing Christian scholarship. This is not how Baptists have defined repentance in the past.
The following are only a few of the examples that could be given. Statements by men are not our authority, but it is not wise to ignore what Bible-believing men of old have believed. Though we would not agree with every detail of the following statements, we believe they reflect the true definition of biblical repentance in contrast to the shallow definition that is popular today.
“Unfeigned repentance is an inward and true sorrow of heart for sin, with sincere confession of the same to God, especially that we have offended so gracious a God and so loving a Father, together with a settled purpose of heart and a careful endeavor to leave all our sins, and to live a more holy and sanctified life according to all God’s commands” (The Orthodox Creed, Baptist, 1679).
“This saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, doth, by faith in Christ, humble himself for it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrency; praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavor by supplies of the Spirit to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things” (Philadelphia Confession of Faith, Baptist, 1742).
“Repentance is an evangelical grace, wherein a person being, by the Holy Spirit, made sensible of the manifold evil of his sin, humbleth himself for it, with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrence, with a purpose and endeavor to walk before God so as to please Him in all things” (Abstract of Principles, Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, 1859).
“Just now some professedly Christian teachers are misleading many by saying that ‘repentance is only a change of mind.’ It is true that the original word does convey the idea of a change of mind; but the whole teaching of Scripture concerning the repentance which is not to be repented of is that it is a much more radical and complete change than is implied by our common phrase about changing one’s mind. The repentance that does not include sincere sorrow for sin is not the saving grace that is wrought by the Holy Spirit. God-given repentance makes men grieve in their inmost souls over the sin they have committed, and works in them a gracious hatred of evil in every shape and form. We cannot find a better definition of repentance than the one many of us learned at our mother’s knee: ‘Repentance is to leave the sin we loved before, and show that we in earnest grieve by doing so no more’” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “The Royal Saviour,” Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, England, Feb. 1, 1872).
“…repentance … is a turning from sin, a loathing of it; and if thou hast that, thou hast sure repentance; but not else. Repentance is also a sense of shame for having lived in it, and a longing to avoid it. It is a change of the mind with regard to sin--a turning of the man right round. That is what it is; and it is wrought in us by the grace of God. Let none therefore mistake what true repentance is” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “Mistaken Notions about Repentance,” Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, England, April 20, 1879).
“Repentance is a change of mind or purpose. Until a man repents he commonly feels comfortable about himself and his ways; but when the Saviour, through the Spirit, gives him repentance, he changes his mind about himself, and seeing nothing good in his heart or in his works, his whole soul cries out, ‘Lord, be merciful to me a sinner’ (Lk. 18:13)” (William Cathcart, The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881).
“Repentance and the firstfruits of repentance [baptism and other steps of discipleship mentioned in Acts 2:38-42] were generally inseparable. The former could not be genuine without manifesting itself in the latter. And in the circumstances of that day a willingness to be baptized was no slight evidence of a new heart” (Horatio Hackett, Commentary on Acts, American Baptist Publication Society, 1882).
“To repent, then, as a religious term of the New Testament, is to change the mind, thought, purpose, as regards sin and the service of God--a change naturally accompanied by deep sorrow for past sin, and naturally leading to a change of the outward life” (John A. Broadus, An American Commentary on the New Testament, Matthew, 1886).
“The preacher who leaves out repentance commits as grave a sin as the one who leaves out faith. I mean he must preach repentance just as often, and with as much emphasis, and to as many people as he preaches faith. To omit repentance, to ignore it, to depreciate it, is rebellion and treason. Mark its relative importance: You may make a mistake about baptism and be saved, for baptism is not essential to salvation. You may be a Christian and not comprehend fully the high-priesthood of Jesus Christ (Heb. 5 :11), but ‘Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.’ So said the Master Himself. Repentance is a preparatory work. For thus saith the Lord: ‘Break up your fallow ground and sow not among thorns.’ I submit before God, who will judge the quick and the dead, that to preach faith without repentance is to sow among thorns. No harvest can be gathered from an unplowed field. The fallow ground needs to be broken up. The most striking instance on record of repentance as a preparatory work was the ministry of John the Baptist. He was sent ‘to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’ He did it by preaching repentance, and Mark says his preaching was ‘the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.’ Here is the true starting point. Whoever starts this side of repentance makes a false beginning which vitiates his whole Christian profession. When true repentance was preached and emphasized, there were not so many nominal professors of religion. TO LEAVE OUT OR MINIMIZE REPENTANCE, NO MATTER WHAT SORT OF A FAITH YOU PREACH, IS TO PREPARE A GENERATION OF PROFESSORS WHO ARE SUCH IN NAME ONLY. I give it as my deliberate conviction, founded on twenty-five years of ministerial observation, that the Christian profession of today owes its lack of vital godliness, its want of practical piety, its absence from the prayer meeting, its miserable semblance of missionary life, very largely to the fact that old-fashioned repentance is so little preached. You can’t put a big house on a little foundation. And no small part of such preaching comes from a class of modern evangelists who desiring more for their own glory to count a great number of converts than to lay deep foundations, reduce the conditions of salvation by one-half and make the other half but some intellectual trick of the mind rather than a radical spiritual change of the heart. Like Simon Magus, they believe indeed, but ‘their heart not being right in the sight of God, they have no part nor lot in this matter. They are yet in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.’ Such converts know but little and care less about a system of doctrine. They are prayerless, lifeless, and to all steady church work reprobate” (B.H. Carroll, Baptist, Repentance and Remission of Sins, 1889).
“Repentance being, as it is, an inward change of purpose resulting in an outward change of life, cannot be performed by one person for another. Repentance is a turning from a life of self and sin to a life of submission and obedience to God’s will. Repentance, as used in the New Testament, means a change of mind, but it is a word of moral significance and does not mean merely a change of opinion. Such a change often takes place without repentance in the New Testament sense. The will is necessarily and directly involved, as well as the emotions, but in scriptural repentance there is a change of mind with reference to sin, a sorrow for sin and a turning from sin. Repentance means sins perceived, sins abhorred and sins abandoned. This change is wrought by the power of God through the Holy Spirit, the word of truth being used as a means to convict the sinner of sin and lead him to forsake it and to resolve henceforth to walk before God in all truth and uprightness” (W.D. Nowlin, Baptist Fundamentals of the Faith, c. 1897).
“The New Testament emphasizes repentance and faith as fundamental conditions of salvation. Repentance is a change of mind toward sin and God, and a change of will in relation to sin and God. Repentance is not merely sorrow. It is rather godly sorrow which turns away from all wrong doing and enters upon a life of obedience. Faith is belief of God's Word concerning his Son, and trust in his Son for salvation” (E. Y. Mullins, DD., LL.D., Late President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY, published by The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1920).
“We believe that repentance and faith are sacred duties, and also inseparable graces, wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God; whereby being deeply convinced of our guilt, danger, and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ, we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession, and supplication for mercy; at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Prophet, Priest and King and relying on him alone as the only and all-sufficient Saviour” (Baptist Faith and Message, Southern Baptist Convention, 1925).
“To repent literally means to have a change of mind or spirit toward God and toward sin. It means to turn from your sins, earnestly, with all your heart, and trust in Jesus Christ to save you. You can see, then, how the man who believes in Christ repents and the man who repents believes in Christ. The jailer repented when he turned from sin to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ” (John R. Rice, What Must I Do to Be Saved?, 1940).
“We believe that Repentance and Faith are solemn obligations, and also inseparable graces, wrought in our souls by the quickening Spirit of God; thereby, being deeply convicted of our guilt, danger and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ, we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession and supplication for mercy at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ and openly confessing Him as our only and all-sufficient Saviour” (Baptist Bible Fellowship, Articles of Faith, 1950).
“Repentance is a godly sorrow for sin. Repentance is a forsaking of sin. Real repentance is putting your trust in Jesus Christ so you will not live like that anymore. Repentance is permanent. It is a lifelong and an eternity-long experience. You will never love the devil again once you repent. You will never flirt with the devil as the habit of your life again once you get saved. You will never be happy living in sin; it will never satisfy; and the husks of the world will never fill your longing and hungering in your soul. Repentance is something a lot bigger than a lot of people think. It is absolutely essential if you go to heaven” (Lester Roloff, Repent or Perish, 1950s).
“Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior” (Baptist Faith and Message, Southern Baptist Convention, 1963).
“What do I mean by repent? I mean to turn your heart from your sin. Turn from sin in your heart and start out to live for God. … A penitent heart that turns from your sin and turns to Jesus” (John R. Rice, “Repent or Perish,” Sword of the Lord, March 3, 1971).
“The Greek words [for repentance] mean ‘a change of mind which results in a change of action.’ When that refers to man, there is a sorrow for sin involved. This definition is substantiated both by the scholarship of Trench and Thayer, as well as by the New Testament usage” (Bruce Lackey, Repentance Is More Than a Change of Mind, 1989).
“Scriptural repentance is a change of mind which leads to a change of heart, a change of attitude and a change of conduct; a change of attitude toward self, toward sin, and toward the Lord Jesus Christ. It is an about-face of a soul that has been going away from God” (Roger Voegtlin, “God’s Command to Repent,” Fairhaven Baptist Church, Chesterton, Indiana, 1998).
“Repentance expresses the conscious turning from sin, a change of mind and of the whole inner attitude to life, without which true conversion is not possible” (Chris McNeilly, The Great Omission: Whatever Happened to Repentance, 1999).
ILLUSTRATIONS OF REPENTANCE
1. Repentance is the Prodigal Son coming to himself, confessing his sin against God and his father, and returning home. “And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Lk. 15:17-20).
2. Repentance is the Thessalonians turning to God from idols to serve the living and true God. “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” (1 Thess. 1:9).
3. Repentance is Zaccheus turning from corruption to uprightness. “And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham” (Lk. 19:8,9).
4. Repentance is Nebuchadnezzar humbling himself before God. “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase” (Dan. 4:37).
5. Repentance is the Philippian Jailer running from his sin to Jesus Christ and becoming a kind helper of Christians. “And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house” (Acts 16:33-34).
6. Repentance is the Christ-rejecting Jews at Pentecost turning to Christ and His church. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. … Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:38-42).
7. Repentance is a sinner raising the white flag of surrender to God. Repentance is a sinner who is at enmity with God laying down his arms, raising the white flag of surrender, and submitting to the One against whom he was before in rebellion.
8. Repentance is a U-Turn. Repentance is when a sinner is heading one direction, which is the way of sin and self-will, and he stops and turns around so that he is now going God’s way. This definition of repentance is seen in Exodus 13:17: “Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.” The repentance of the Jews would mean they turned around from following God to return to Egypt. This is the opposite of what a sinner does for salvation, but it gives the correct definition of the term repentance.
9. Repentance is an assassin laying down the knife. “The hand that clutches the assassin’s knife must open ‘ere it can grasp the gift its intended victim proffers; and opening that hand, though a single act, has a double aspect and purpose. Accepting the gift implies a turning from the crime the heart was bent on, and it was the gift itself that worked the change. Faith is the open hand, relatively to the gift; repentance is the same hand, relatively, not only to the gift but more especially to the dagger that is flung from it” (James Stewart, Evangelism, pp. 48,49).
10. Repentance is the thief returning the stolen property. “I believe we ought to make right what we can make right. What if I was staying with a group of preachers and one of them stole my wallet while I was sleeping? The next day he comes up to me and tells me he is terribly sorry and asks me to forgive him. I would be glad to hear that he is sorry for stealing my wallet, but I would certainly want and expect more than that from a repentant thief. I would want my wallet back! I don’t believe he has really repented unless he brings my billfold back. I DON'T BELIEVE YOU HAVE REPENTED UNTIL YOU GET RIGHT AND SAY, ‘LORD, I’M GOING TO LIVE DIFFERENT FROM NOW ON,’ AND BY THE GRACE OF GOD YOU WILL LIVE DIFFERENT” (Lester Roloff, Repent or Perish).
REPENTANCE AND FAITH
Some men point to John 3:16 and Acts 16:31, claiming that it is not necessary to preach repentance since we don’t see it in these passages.
It seems to me, though, that this is a strange way to use the Bible, since it is so obvious from other passages that repentance is necessary. Jesus said it is necessary (Luke 13:1-5); Paul said it is necessary (Acts 17:30, etc.); Peter said it is necessary (2 Pet. 3:9). If preaching repentance is not necessary and we only need to preach faith, why did Christ Himself preach repentance?
I would say to the issue of why verses such as John 3:16 and Acts 16:31 don’t mention repentance is that proper saving faith includes repentance and proper repentance includes faith. I say this because repentance and faith are sometimes spoken of in Scripture as both being necessary for salvation (i.e., Acts 20:21; Heb. 6:1), while at other times only one or the other is said to be necessary.
Salvation is referred to as coming to repentance with no mention of faith in Matthew 9:13; 11:20-21; 21:32; Mark 1:4; 2:17; 6:12; Luke 15:7; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 11:18; 26:20; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:25; and 2 Peter 3:9.
Then in other passages, such as John 3:16 and Acts 16:31, salvation is referred to as believing and repentance is not mentioned.
By comparing Scripture with Scripture (rather than isolating Scripture, which is the method used by false teachers), I conclude that saving faith includes repentance.
Preaching repentance depends on the soul winning context.
The Philippian jailer was obviously under deep conviction when he cried out, “What must I do to be saved.” Doubtless Paul and Barnabas had been witnessing to him. Now he was fully ready to do whatever God told him to do. There was no need to go into repentance. He was already repenting! I, too, have met men in jails that were ready to be saved. They had heard the gospel and God was working in their hearts; they knew that they were sinners and were deeply sorry for their past lives and were ready to bow before God. All that was needed was to explain to them how to put their faith in Christ in a saving manner (e.g., Romans 10:8-13).
On the other hand, when Paul preached to the idolaters at Athens who were looking on the matter of Christ and the resurrection as merely another philosophical debate, he told them that God “now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30).
Pastor Dave Sorenson says:
“Saving faith includes repentance. Repentance is not doing anything. It is not a deed, act, work, or rite. Rather, it is a change of the direction of one’s heart. It basically means an attitude of the heart in turning from sin and self and turning to God. That’s what Paul was referring to in Acts 20:21 when he referred to ‘repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Saving faith is the human heart turning to God and then trusting in Jesus Christ. ... Even as there is the part of trusting Christ, there is also the part of turning to Him. That may seem inconsequential, but I believe that here is a spiritual reason they some go through the motions of believing in Christ but are not really born again. They seemingly want the fire escape but there is no interest in turning to God. There is no interest in repentance. They have the attitude, ‘God, gimme salvation, but I’m gonna keep on doing my own thing.’ ... However, if there is no real turning to God from the heart, they have missed the prerequisite for actually trusting Christ” (Sorenson, Training Your Children to Turn out Right, 1995).
Repentance and faith are two separate things that come together for salvation, but they act together as one thing.
“Repentance is included in believing. Howbeit, repentance is not faith, nor faith repentance. ‘He that believeth,’ implies repentance. ‘Repent and be converted,’ involves faith. ‘The hand that clutches the assassin’s knife must open ‘ere it can grasp the gift its intended victim proffers; and opening that hand, though a single act, has a double aspect and purpose. Accepting the gift implies a turning from the crime the heart was bent on, and it was the gift itself that worked the change. Faith is the open hand, relatively to the gift; repentance is the same hand, relatively, not only to the gift but more especially to the dagger that is flung from it.’ ... Repentance is one threefold action: in the understanding--knowledge of sin; in the feelings--pain and grief; in the will--a change of mind and a turning around” (James Stewart, Evangelism, pp. 48, 49).
“While it is true that upwards of one hundred and fifteen N.T. passages condition salvation on believing, and fully thirty passages condition salvation on faith ... nevertheless, repentance is an essential condition in God’s glorious Gospel. It is also true that in the last analysis repentance and faith are one and the same act. ‘Ye turned to God from idols’ (1 Th. 1:9). Repentance is included in believing. ‘Howbeit, repentance is not faith, nor faith repentance. ‘He that believeth,’ implies repentance. ‘Repent and be converted,’ involves faith. ... Repentance and faith can never be separated. ‘Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Ac. 20:21). ‘Ye repented NOT ... that ye might believe Him’ (Mt. 21:32). ... Repentance is denying (negative), faith is affirming (positive). Repentance looks within, faith looks above. Repentance sees our misery, faith our Deliverer. Repentance is hunger, faith is the open mouth, and Christ is the living food” (James Stewart, Evangelism, p. 49).
“Repentance never saved a soul by its merits; it lays the needful foundation for the temple of faith in the heart. But all the penitential sorrows of Adam’s family would not remove one faint stain of sin. If a man borrowed five thousand dollars, for which he gave security, and squandered it most foolishly, and afterwards, filled with true repentance, he solicited and expected the forgiveness of the debt because he was sorry for it, the spendthrift would only meet with contempt in his application; his sureties would have to pay the money. Faith alone in the Crucified cleanses from all sin, and repentance is God’s instrumentality for leading the sinner to the Lamb of God, the Great Remover of sin” (William Cathcart).
TO PREACH REPENTANCE MEANS TO DEAL PLAINLY WITH SIN
The sinner who would be saved must repent, which repentance will always result in a changed life. This means that we cannot have the attitude that we will only deal with specific sin after the person receives Christ. That is the philosophy of many. If the sinner brings up his love for liquor, or his love for immoral relationships, or his love for gambling, some think it best to delay dealing with such things until after that one has come to Christ. And sometimes this is the best policy, but only if the sinner is clearly under the conviction of the Holy Spirit about his sin and is clearly ready to turn to Christ. On the other hand, if the sinner obviously still wants to hold onto his sin, the personal worker must deal with the fact that he must turn from it.
When my wife and I first began our work in South Asia in 1979, our landlord began coming to our house to have Bible studies. He was a wealthy middle-aged Hindu and had a concubine that he spent most of his time with, though he was married and had grown children. After we went through the gospel a few times, he told me he was interested in receiving Christ, but he needed to know what he would have to do about two specific things in his life—his shady business practices, and the illicit relationship with his concubine. I could have said, “Don’t worry about those things. Just pray to receive Christ and those things will work out later.” I don’t believe that is proper biblical counsel. I don’t believe he could receive Christ and be saved unless he was WILLING to repent of his immorality and his dishonesty. I told him that the Christian life is not a life that I live in my own power, that Christ lives the life in me. It is not just a new religion to practice. It is Christ living in me. I told him that if he received Christ the Holy Spirit would come into his life and he would be a changed man and he would be able to do things he never thought possible. But I also told him that he was going to have to repent of his sin and BE WILLING for God to take control. I believe that this willingness, this surrender of the will, is the essence of repentance. He argued that it was not possible to be honest in his country and to be rich, and he never returned for another Bible study.
During the 17 years we have spent in South Asia, we could have gotten large numbers of people to pray a prayer if that had been our objective. If we had simply asked if they wanted to go to Heaven when they died and if they believed that Jesus died for their sins and if so would they pray a sinner’s prayer, a large percentage of them would have muttered a prayer. They are accustomed to mantras and chants and would have seen the sinner’s prayer in the same light. If we had urged them only to “believe” without dealing with them about repentance, we would have had a multitude of unrepentant, “believing” Hindus on our hands--but believing in what? They eagerly believe that Jesus was a god, that he was good, that he loved them. It is very common, though, that instead of turning to Christ exclusively as God and turning FROM their idols, they merely want to add Jesus to their other gods.
Without repentance, there is no salvation. “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:5). It is imperative to deal with people about their sin and about repentance.
Someone might say, “Yes, but that is in Asia where people have never heard the gospel; things are different here in America.” It is true that things are different in America, but the average person in North America today is almost as gospel ignorant as someone in South Asia. The average person we meet in many parts of North America has no knowledge of the Bible’s teaching, not even of its stories and basic content. His mind is filled with the evolutionary, new age myths. Someone who has been educated in the North American public school system and who has had no sound Bible training is actually more prejudiced against believing that the Bible is the infallible Word of God than a Hindu in darkest Asia. The same is true for England and Europe and Australia.
The Bible principles of dealing with people are the same no matter where those people are found, and the Bible requires repentance.
A church in Maine had a soul winning campaign a few years ago and the people were instructed to go house to house and ask the following question of those who opened the door: “If I could tell you that you can go to heaven when you die and you won’t have to change anything, would you be interested?” I believe that type of methodology is heresy and deception. It is a lie to tell a sinner that he can go to heaven when he dies without changing anything. There must be a turning, a yielding, a surrender of the will to Almighty God. There must be a change of direction, a change of mind that leads to a change of life. We must tell people the same thing that the apostle Paul told them, that “they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:20). Anything less is an unscriptural program of evangelism.
Thomas Smith, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in St. Clair, Missouri, had a conversation once with another pastor who was committed to “Quick Prayerism.” Pastor Smith said, “What if you were dealing with someone like Dennis Rodman [the professional basketball star who openly lives the most reprobate life] and you told him that he needs to receive Christ as his Saviour and he replied, ‘That is all well and good but I have no interest in changing my life,’ would you try to lead him in a sinners prayer anyway?” The other pastor replied, “Yes.”
This is definitely not what we see in Scripture.
When the Lord Jesus dealt with the rich young ruler who inquired about salvation, He did not tell him just to pray a prayer. He dealt with him plainly about his covetousness and pride and self-righteousness. The young man had to repent of such things before he could be saved. The Bible says that he went away sad because of his great riches.
Consider also Christ’s dealings with the woman at the well. He faced her squarely with the immorality that had controlled her life.
This is the way God always deals with people, and it is the way we must deal with them, too, if we want to follow the Bible in our gospel work. To preach repentance means to deal with sins that people are holding onto and to tell them plainly that they must repent of sinning against God; they must yield their lives to Him; they must change directions; they must surrender. God will do a new work in their lives but they must be ready for that to happen. They must have a change of mind about God and sin that will result in a change of life.
This is not “lordship salvation.” This is not Calvinism. This is not some kind of puritan methodology. It is simple Bible evangelism.
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ISP PULLS PLUG ON APOLOGETICS MINISTRY AFTER COMPLAINT BY ANTI-FUNDAMENTALIST
July 27, 2008 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, email@example.com; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The commercial Internet service provider IPowerweb has shut down the Apprising Ministries web site because of an unsubstantiated complaint.
Richard Abanes, who claims to be an “established apologist” and a “best-selling author,” wrote to IPowerweb, charging that Ken Silva, director of Apprising Ministries, had posted an article about him that was slanderous and demanding that they terminate Silva’s website. (Silva is an exceedingly rare animal, a Southern Baptist pastor with a warning ministry.)
Apparently without investigating whether Silva had actually slandered Abanes, IPowerweb wrote to Apprising Ministries on July 24 demanding that it remove the article in question or its web site would be terminated within 48 hours. They then carried out this action based on one man’s unsubstantiated complaint and his threat to “turn this situation over to my attorneys.”
Had they investigated properly, they would have learned that the article in question had been posted since 2005 and Abanes has never contacted Ken Silva about the matter.
IPowerweb’s policy prohibits the utilization of their ISP “for or in connection with any activities or content determined by IPOWER, in its sole discretion, to be related to ... harassment, defamation, libel and hate speech or other offensive speech or content...”
This is broad enough to prohibit anything that IPowerweb deems improper. Thankfully, there are plenty of alternatives to IPowerweb’s hosting services, but if the time comes when the entire Internet is government controlled, as it is already in China, or if “hate crimes” laws are enacted broadly, all Bible-believing Christians who try to warn about error could be shut down if God allows. (But that is a big if!)
As for Abanes, it appears that he has it in for fundamentalists. SlideofLaodicea reports:
“Richard claims he never contacted Ken about it because he thinks Ken is arrogant and wouldn’t have changed any offending inaccuracies. This is the crux of the problem. The first step in any blog or website dispute over material is to contact the offender personally and ask for corrections or removal, based on what the issue is. That isn’t just Christianity 101, that’s common sense. Richard admits that Ken is a Christian brother. How much more important, then, that this step be followed. It was not, and now Ken’s site is in serious jeopardy because of Abanes’ bullying tactics.
“I want to address something related here. There is a vast difference between someone giving a theological critique or opinion even in a hostile and unfair way, and someone posting personal attack material that makes moral slurs on your character. ...
“Ken’s choice was to either knuckle under to Abanes’ demands that he censor his own website of an opinion article, about which he has never been contacted, or be deleted. What a dangerous precedent this is if Abanes succeeds. Every blog that expresses an honest opinion, even a harsh opinion which happens to be protected by the 1st Amendment, is put at risk by behavior like this. ...
“Abanes’ site has articles attacking a number of fellow Christians, and he concludes the attacks with the words, ‘You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting’” (“Attack on Apprising Ministries,” July 26, 2008, http://www.sliceoflaodicea.com/?p=1246).
Way of Life Literature - www.wayoflife.org
copyright 2013 - Way of Life Literature
Updated and enlarged May 28, 2008 (first published December 11, 1996) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17).
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness” (2 Corinthians 6:14).
“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us” (2 Thessalonians 3:6).
“If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness ... from such withdraw thyself. (1 Timothy 6:3-5).
“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5).
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).
The entire world, secular and religious, is crying out today against separation. The Biblicist Christian who seeks to obey the Bible’s commands to separate from false teaching is mocked and slandered on every hand. With each passing year, the hue and cry against the doctrine of separation grows louder.
Let’s take a brief survey:
SEPARATION IS CALLED HERESY BY THE NEW AGERS AND BY THE WORLD
New Age is not merely a religious movement or cult; it is a spirit and philosophy that is permeating the secular and religious world in these end-times. New Age teaches that separation on the basis of religion, theology, etc., is an evil thing that hinders the evolution of the world. They teach that such separation is the opposite of love. Those who love will not practice separation, and those who separate are not loving. The December 1996 issue of “Emergence Online,” a publication of the Tara Center, Benjamin Creme’s New Age organization, contained the following statement:
“REMOVE THE WALL -- Each one of us has a wall around himself: a wall of resistance, of fear and anxiety. ... We know very well what takes place when there is a wall -- then we have resistance, conflict, everlasting battle and pain, because ANY SEPARATIVE MOVEMENT, ANY SELF-CENTERED ACTIVITY, DOES BREED CONFLICT AND PAIN. ... When we remove the division between the ‘me’ and the ‘you’, the ‘we’ and the ‘they’, what happens? ONLY THEN AND NOT BEFORE, CAN ONE PERHAPS USE THE WORD ‘LOVE’. And love is that most extraordinary thing that takes place when there is no ‘me’ with its circle or wall” (J. Krishnamurti, ‘You Are the World’, quoted in Emergence Online, December 1996).
Global oneness and breaking down every barrier that separates people is a theme that is repeatedly heard in the world today. Rock singers proclaim “We are the world.” Disney theme parks proclaim “It’s a small, small world.” The United Nations seeks to break down national barriers. International news organizations glorify global unity. All of this is a cry against separation.
SEPARATION IS CALLED HERESY BY ROME
The Pope, of course, has always considered separation heresy. The Waldenses, Albigenses, Lollards and other Anabaptist and separatist Christian groups through the centuries were charged as heretics. Force was frequently used to bring the separatists into the fold, and Rome’s attitude has not changed. It still considers itself the only true church in which the fullness of Christ and truth abide. It claims to be the “mother church.” Those who are separated from Rome are being wooed into the fold today through ecumenical gestures. In November 1964, during the Vatican II Council, Pope Paul VI issued the “Decree on Ecumenism,” which launched Rome’s direct and open participation in the modern ecumenical movement. Vatican II had also declared that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true church:
“THIS IS THE SOLE CHURCH OF CHRIST which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Saviour, after his resurrection, entrusted to Peter’s pastoral care. ... This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, SUBSISTS IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, WHICH IS GOVERNED BY THE SUCCESSOR OF PETER AND BY THE BISHOPS IN COMMUNION WITH HIM” (Vatican II, “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church,” chap. 1, 8, p. 329).
Having reiterated its dogma that the Catholic Church is the sole church of Christ, Rome then stated its ecumenical policy:
“The Church established by Christ the Lord is, indeed, one and unique. Yet many Christian communions present themselves to men as the true heritage of Jesus Christ. To be sure, all proclaim themselves to be disciples of the Lord, but their convictions clash and their paths diverge, as though Christ himself were divided. WITHOUT DOUBT, THIS DISCORD OPENLY CONTRADICTS THE WILL OF CHRIST, PROVIDES A STUMBLING BLOCK TO THE WORLD, INFLICTS DAMAGE ON THE MOST HOLY CAUSE OF PROCLAIMING THE GOOD NEWS TO EVERY CREATURE” (Vatican II, “Decree on Ecumenism”).
Rome has been very plain about its ecumenical position. It has only one goal, and that is to bring every church and denomination into its fold. It considers separation from itself to be contrary to the will of Christ. Pope John Paul II dedicated himself untiringly to the task of bringing the “separated brethren” back into his fold. He often spoke of “THE INTOLERABLE SCANDAL OF DIVISION BETWEEN CHRISTIANS.”
At an ecumenical service conducted at the Vatican in 1985, the Pope embraced the three non-Catholic observers and said, “DIVISIONS AMONG CHRISTIANS ARE CONTRARY TO THE PLAN OF GOD.”
SEPARATION IS CALLED HERESY BY THE LIBERAL PROTESTANT ECUMENISTS
The liberal ecumenical denominations (such as United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, United Methodist, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., United Church of Canada, The Church of England, the Uniting Church in Australia, and others associated with the World Council of Churches) boast of their broadmindedness. They can smile at practically any attack upon the Word of God or the Lord Jesus Christ. If a “clergyman” or “clergywoman” denies or questions Christ’s virgin birth or resurrection, that is tolerated. If he or she claims the Bible is filled with myths, that is tolerated. If he or she is an adulterer or a practicing homosexual, that is tolerated. There is one “heresy,” though, which is not tolerated, and that is the “heresy” of a dogmatic fundamentalist faith in the Word of God and the “heresy” of biblical separation.
In the early 1950s World Council of Churches’ leader Lesslie Newbigin (a bishop in the Church of South India who helped form the WCC) published The Household of God (SCM, London, 1953). He divided Christianity into Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Pentecostal. Newbigin called on Pentecostals to discard their separatist stance and join hands with the liberal ecumenical crowd:
“We must therefore assure our brethren of our willingness to learn from them in the fellowship of the ecumenical movement. ... We must tell them that in order to enter into the ecumenical conversation with us it is not necessary for them to abandon any of their distinctive convictions, but only to recognize us as fellow Christians sharing with them -- even though we be in error -- the same Spirit. WE MUST ASK THEM TO CONSIDER WHETHER BY DENYING ALL FELLOWSHIP WITH US, THEY DO NOT SIN AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT WHO IS IN THEM, AND WHETHER FAITHFULNESS TO THEIR LORD AND OURS DOES NOT ABSOLUTELY REQUIRE US TO SEEK UNITY WITH ONE ANOTHER.”
In June 1984, World Council of Churches leaders received Pope John Paul II to the WCC headquarters in Geneva. They conducted an “ACT OF PENITENCE,” SEEKING PARDON FOR “OUR DIVISIONS and for our failure to overcome them” (Evangelical Press Service, June 16-20, 1984). WCC General Secretary Philip Potter initiated the meeting with a prayer that it “be for all of us a step forward in our search for the unity of the church.”
In 1987 the National Council of Churches in America welcomed John Paul II to their nation with these words: “We join Pope John Paul’s conviction that CHRISTIAN DIVISIONS ARE “AN INTOLERABLE SCANDAL which hinders the proclamation of the Good News in Jesus Christ.”
This attitude toward separation among liberal ecumenists was illustrated when Episcopalians and Roman Catholics in Minnesota formed local ecumenical ties. A covenant was signed by representatives of both denominations, affirming the things they hold in common, and pledging members of the denominations to “ASK GOD’S FORGIVENESS FOR OUR SINFULNESS IN FOSTERING THE DIVISION OF THE CHURCH” (Episcopal News Service, Nov. 7, 1996). The covenant was signed by Episcopal Bishop James Jelinek and Roman Catholic Archbishop Harry Flynn in a solemn ceremony at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark in Minneapolis.
SEPARATION IS CALLED HERESY BY MANY EVANGELICALS
From our files we could pull hundreds of statements by Evangelical leaders who claim that biblical separation is wrong. The Promise Keepers movement was founded upon this philosophy. In an interview on the national radio program Promise Keepers This Week (August 31, 1996), PK Founder Bill McCartney said:
“Promise Keepers is going to have to understand that more and more Catholics are going to participate. And what every guy needs to do is, STOP LOOKING AT PEOPLE’S LABELS, and ask this question: ‘Does this guy know Jesus? Does he love Jesus with all his heart? Has he been born of the Spirit of God?’ And if you see that fruit, then QUIT MAKING JUDGMENTS. ... So LET’S NOT START CATEGORIZING PEOPLE. Let’s just allow God to be God and he can bless who He chooses to bless. And that’s how Promise Keepers is going to grow.”
McCartney does not believe we should make judgments and separate on the basis of doctrine, at least that is what he repeatedly states. As long as someone “loves Jesus,” we are to accept him and work with and fellowship with him.
The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) promotes the same philosophy. The 54th Annual NAE Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 3-5, 1996, had the theme: “Reaching America: ONE VOICE IN UNITY.” Speaking before this convention, Joseph Stowell, president of Moody Bible Institute, used John 17 as his text, “That they may be one.” Stowell said:
“GOD NEVER INTENDED THAT OUR DIFFERENCES WOULD DIVIDE US. We belong to Christ so our mission and purpose are the same. If you belong to Christ you are lifted above the differences, and all else becomes secondary. Promise Keepers Clergy Conference in Atlanta showed the unity that is possible. ... WE MUST REPENT OF OUR ATTITUDES as I did in Atlanta. I WENT TO A MAN WHO HELD DIFFERENT DOCTRINES THAN I HELD AND APOLOGIZED because I never cared about him. Our differences are not that big, and we must realize this is what will build trust. Revival happens when God’s people network together. The world shall know we are one by our love” (“A Report on the 54th Annual Convention of the NAE,” Ralph Colas, American Council of Christian Churches).
Robert Webber, long-time Wheaton College professor and influential voice in the contemplative movement and the emerging church, says:
“We evangelicals need to turn our backs on the old separatist model” (Ancient-Future Faith, p. 86).
SEPARATION IS CALLED HERESY BY MANY CHARISMATICS
The Charismatic movement is the neo-Pentecostal movement. Old-line Pentecostal denominations such as the Assemblies of God were separated from other groups on the basis of doctrine until recent decades. The Charismatic movement, on the other hand, has, from its inception in the 1960s, been extremely ecumenical and inter-denominational. It has been one of the chief instruments in these last days for breaking down doctrinal divisions and creating of a one-world church. The attitude toward doctrinal divisions that permeates the Charismatic movement was illustrated in 1975 at the Fifth International Lutheran Conference of the Holy Spirit. A Catholic cardinal and a Lutheran pastor publicly embraced before the 12,000 in attendance and asked for mutual forgiveness. Lutheran Pastor Donald Pfotenhauer asked Cardinal Leo Suenens to forgive Lutherans for their sins against Roman Catholics, “so the Lord may release His Spirit upon us” (F.E.A. News & Views, Fundamental Evangelistic Association, November-December 1976).
At the 1975 Atlantic City Conference, a Roman Catholic charismatic meeting which included many non-Catholics, Catholic priest John Bertolucci led in prayers for the healing of church divisions. The scene that followed is described by a participant:
“Protestants were asked to stand and Catholics who were next to them were asked to seek forgiveness from their Protestant brothers and sisters for all the pain and hurt caused by their church’s office over the past 400 years. We Protestants did the same ... This night became, for all of us, the time when the Lord chose to heal 400 years of hurt, pain and division between the Catholic and Protestant churches” (Thomas Twitchell, That They May Be One, Logos, 1978, pp. 137-138).
Twitchell ended his book with the exhortation to “hold our leaders, shepherds and ourselves accountable to do all we can to bring together the body of Christ -- today” (Ibid., p. 216).”
Influential Episcopalian Charismatic leader Michael Harper, writing in 1978 of Christ’s return, stated: “THE CHURCH MUST FIRST BE UNITED. It is as inconceivable to think of Jesus returning for a disunited Church as it is to an unevangelized world” (Christian Life, August 1978). In his book The Three Sisters, Harper called for the unity of Evangelicals, Charismatics, and Roman Catholics. “I must confess to a deep longing to see these sisters reconciled to each other; to see them openly united in Christ and the Spirit; learning from each other and humbly listening to each other” (The Three Sisters, p. 11).
SEPARATION IS CALLED HERESY BY MANY NEO-FUNDAMENTALISTS
A new generation of fundamentalists has arisen which has rejected the militancy of its forebears. These neo-fundamentalists still claim to be fundamentalists but they sound like and they act like New-Evangelicals. Two key examples of this phenomenon are Jerry Falwell and his Liberty University among independent Baptists and Cornerstone College and many of the other schools and missions associated with the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches.
Interestingly, the belligerence of the Neo-Fundamentalist toward the old-line fundamental separatist is even more vicious than that of some of the other groups. Consider a statement that appeared in Jerry Falwell’s now defunct and misnamed publication “The Fundamentalist Journal.” The author labels the old-line fundamentalist who seeks to practice separation from error and compromise a “pseudo-fundamentalist” --
“Pseudo-Fundamentalists craft their doctrines and rules carefully. THEY BUILD MASSIVE WALLS OF SEPARATION AROUND THEMSELVES and take great pride in standing ‘all alone,’ besieged by wickedness from without and compromise from within. They set themselves as the ultimate standard of orthodoxy and stand prepared to cross swords with any who attempt to breach the walls. ... What should we do? We must take the whole armor of God, and IN HIS MIGHT COMMAND THAT THE WALLS BE BROKEN DOWN, and walk through into the light of day. Fundamental Christianity, strong and robust as ever, must not succumb to these modern-day Pharisees who find contentment only when they effectively mute God’s church” (Daniel R. Mitchell, “The Siege Mentality of Pseudo-Fundamentalism,” The Fundamentalist Journal, February 1987, p. 59).
The hour is very late. The end-times spirit that will produce the one-world Harlot church described in Revelation 17 is moving powerfully. The pressure to “give up and join in” with the ecumenical movement is increasing with each passing year. Great numbers of men who once stood firm against ecumenism are weakening. There is less forthrightness in the preaching, less clarity in the identification of error.
May God give us boldness to stand! The man who has the mindset and testimony of the sweet Psalmist of Israel will not be able to join hands with anyone who errs from the Word of God: “Therefore I esteem ALL thy precepts concerning ALL things to be right; and I hate EVERY false way” (Psalm 119:128). Biblical love requires biblical hate. Biblical unity requires biblical separation. A wise pastor once said, “I you refuse to limit your message, you will be required to limit your fellowship.”
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May 27, 2008 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, email@example.com; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The following is from the new Advanced Bible Studies Series course on the book of Proverbs.
Proverbs warns frequently of the danger of the “strange woman,” referring to all forms of immorality. It also teaches us that one important way of victory over the strange woman is to ponder her end. Hollywood, as Satan’s instrument, commonly fails to show the end of sin, tending to make it appear glamorous and exciting and rarely showing its awful consequences. God’s Word, on the other hand, shows the end of sin in the plainest manner as a warning to men. Proverbs 5:4-23 describes six results of immorality. Though the deeds of the strange woman appeal to the flesh and there are pleasures in her sin for a season, her end is what we must consider, and her end is fearful in the extreme.
(1) The strange woman leads to hell (Prov. 5:4-5). The Bible warns often about hell. Jesus preached about it many times and warned people not to go there (e.g., Mark 9:43-48; Luke 16:22-31). In Proverbs 5:4-5 hell is likened to the bitterness of wormwood and the pain of a sharp sword. In fact, it is far worse because the pain of hell has no end.
(2) The strange woman leads to the loss of honor (Prov. 5:9). Consider David, the sweet Psalmist of Israel, and how that his honor is stained to this very day by his dalliance with immorality. I think of many preachers who have committed adultery during my lifetime and they are out of the ministry and their dishonor remains in spite of the good that they accomplished.
(3) The strange woman leads to the loss of wealth (Prov. 5:10). Samson lost everything to immorality. An article in the Baptist Press that described two ministers who became addicted to pornography concluded with these words: “Both of the guys I’m dealing with right now, here’s what they’ve lost: They’ve lost their marriage. They’ve lost their job. They lost a lot of friends in the sense it will never be the same. They’ve lost custody of their children and now they are both doing something that they don’t really want to do or feel called to do, and they’re just trying to get by” (“Flood of Pornography Breaching the Church,” Baptist Press, Jul. 6, 2007).
(4) The strange woman leads to the loss of health (Prov. 5:11). God has loosed special diseases into the realm of immorality. There are many venereal diseases that a person will never catch if he remains morally pure and faithful to his marital spouse. There is also often loss of health through the drunkenness and drug abuse that often accompanies immoral living. This has resulted in the early death of tens of thousands of rock & rollers. We think of Elvis Presley, who died at age 42 because of his debauched lifestyle. We also think of Hollywood movie stars such as Errol Flynn, who died at age 50 from his “kamikaze lifestyle” and lost much of his money to multiple divorces and careless sexual relationships.
(5) The strange woman leads to remorse (Prov. 5:12-14). Those who follow the strange woman are temporarily blinded by lust, but they wake up one day to find that they have lost much. They are filled with remorse that they did not listen to the voice of wisdom. They hated instruction and despised reproof and obeyed not the voice of their teachers, but it is too late to go back. What is done is done and cannot be undone. We must understand that remorse is not the same as repentance unto salvation. Paul contrasted these two things in 2 Corinthians 7:10. He mentioned the sorrow of the world as opposed to godly sorrow that worketh repentance to salvation. The sorrow of the world is to be sorry for the consequences of sin, but it is not to be sorry toward God in the sense of repenting of breaking His laws and being ready to change direction in life and submit to Him. The sorrow of the world is centered upon this world, whereas repentance is centered upon God. While working in a county jail ministry for a few years I met many men who had the sorrow of the world. They were sorry that their actions had gotten them into a lot of trouble and had brought dishonor upon them and had hurt their loved ones, but they were not repentant toward God and were not ready to be saved.
(6) The strange woman leads to slavery (Prov. 5:22-23). Solomon ends with this warning because it explains why the sinner cannot easily walk away from the strange woman after once entertaining her. There are strong cords associated with sin, and those cords grow tighter with time, and few cords are stronger than the cords of immorality. Those who are addicted to pornography can testify to this. Compare John 8:34 and 2 Timothy 2:26.
In light of these warnings we need to thank the Lord that He offers salvation to sinners, and that salvation brings cleansing from all sin. When Proverbs says the sinner “shall die without instruction” (Prov. 5:23), it is speaking from the standpoint of the Law of Moses rather than the grace of the gospel. The Bible’s Good News is that Jesus Christ died on the cross and shed His blood to make atonement for our sins, and by faith in Him we can be forgiven and converted. See 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
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Updated and enlarged May 6, 2008 (first published December 18, 2007) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
“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” -- Jesus Christ to Pilate just before His crucifixion, John 18:36
There are many heretical teachings on the kingdom of God today. There is, for example, the charismatic “kingdom now” theology with its pathetic attempt to exercise apostolic miracles in this present time. And there is the Emerging Church with its equally pathetic attempt to build the kingdom of God through social-justice and artistic endeavors.
By surveying the Old and New Testaments we can see exactly what the Bible means by the term kingdom of God.
1. In the Old Testament the kingdom of God was God’s rule over all creation (Psa. 103:19) and on earth it referred to His kingdom in Israel (1 Chron. 28:5; 2 Chron. 13:8).
That kingdom was destroyed because of Israel’s disobedience, but Old Testament prophecies predicted that the kingdom would be re-established on earth by Christ, David’s greater Son, and that He will reign in truth and righteousness (Isaiah 9:6-7; Daniel 2:44; 7:14).
2. Christ came to Israel and preached the kingdom.
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Updated and enlarged March 12, 2008 (Updated July 10, 2003; first published February 7, 2002) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, email@example.com; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) –
The following is an excerpt from our book “How to Study the Bible.” For more about Dispensationalism, see the article “Study the Bible Dispensationally.”
“Hyper-dispensationalism” is characterized by making a sharp division between the ministry of Christ and that of the Apostles, and of further dividing Paul’s teaching from that of Peter and the other apostles. Some of the well-known teachers of hyper- or ultra-dispensationalism are E.W. Bullinger, Cornelius Stam, J.C. O’Hair, Charles Welch, Otis Sellers, A.E. Knoch, and Charles Baker. There are many varieties of hyper-dispensationalism, but the following are some of the characteristics:
(1) The four Gospels are entirely Jewish and contain no direct teaching for the churches. Yet, the writer of Hebrews said that the same gospel of salvation that was preached by the apostles was preached by Christ (Heb. 2:3-4). Though we know that Christ presented Himself to the Jewish nation and we do understand that there are differences between the gospels and the epistles, yet in Hebrews 2 we do not see a sharp delineation between the gospel preached by Christ and that preached by the apostles who followed. In fact, the Gospel of John presents exactly the same gospel as that preached by Paul. Further, 1 Timothy 6:3 shows that Christ spoke directly to the church age.
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February 14, 2008 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The following is from the Advanced Bible Studies Series course on the book of Revelation (457 pages), which is available from Way of Life Literature. (It is best to order them by phone at 866-295-4143, but they can also be ordered from the newly redesigned online order form.)
There are currently 19 titles in the series, and any of them can be special ordered in large print and in ring coil binding. We don’t believe that you will find better quality, more truly life-changing Bible courses from any other source. They are based strictly upon the King James Bible and the powerful word studies assist in the understanding of the KJV but never cast doubt upon it. They are thorough and comprehensive. They are very practical and have the objective of producing well-equipped Christian soldiers that have a solid understanding of the Bible. They stress holy and obedient Christian living and separation from worldliness and error, exalt evangelism and the New Testament church, and promote world missions. They emphasize the crucial differences between law and grace and positional and practical sanctification, and they continually fortify the student’s understanding of the life-changing doctrines such as justification, substitutionary atonement, and eternal security. The courses are non-Calvinistic and interpret Bible prophecy literally. The student will be prepared to stand against the wiles of the Devil and to refute the major theological heresies of our day. One pastor said the books “are extremely helpful for any Christian, no matter where they are spiritually; the practical application is extremely helpful and edifying.”
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Updated February 6, 2008 (first published March 19, 2002) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, email@example.com; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) –
When we warn that God does not promise always to heal and when we teach that certain sign gifts ceased with the apostles, we are consistently charged with not believing in God’s miracle working power. I can’t speak for others, but I know that for me that accusation is not true. I believe in a miracle-working God.
My God can do anything He pleases. He created the world in six days. He destroyed the ancient world by a great flood. He parted the Red Sea so the millions of the children of Israel marched through on dry ground. He brought Jesus into this world through the womb of a virgin. He died on the cross for my sins, and He rose from the dead the third day! He poured out the Holy Spirit on Pentecost with mighty signs and wonders.
My God can do ANYTHING, but my God also does what He wants when He wants! And He isn’t flooding the world today, nor is He parting the Red Sea, nor is He dying on a cross or rising from the dead. And He is not giving a new Pentecost today. That part of His glorious plan has been accomplished, and He is marching on gloriously toward the End.
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One of the challenges of the contemporary Christian movement is that we shouldn’t be concerned about appearance since God looks on the heart.
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Two problems immediately emerge from Jackson’s statements: First, he presents a false gospel to the audience, and second, he completely misunderstands the role of the church in this present age. Jackson twists Scripture in an attempt to justify his social gospel, citing Luke 15:1-7 as society’s mandate to “feed the hungry” and aid the poor through welfare programs such as social security and government health care. However, the Word of God says the church is to proclaim the Gospel to all men and to contend for the faith. The mission of the church is to preach and defend God’s Word, not to reform society nor to provide for the material needs of the unsaved. While all believers should possess an attitude of compassion and live peaceably with all men, the focus and mission of the church must remain clear. To distort the mission of the church, and to pervert the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is to propagate “damnable heresy” (2 Pet. 2:1). This is a grave error that only leads the unsaved to an eternity apart from Christ. (Foundation, May-June 1999).Continue reading this article……