It is a warning about the very sad and disturbing change in doctrine at Grace Baptist Bible Church of Newcastle, NSW.
From the first time I heard that the preachers at Grace had rejected the Pre-tribulational Rapture and were wandering in the tribulational wilderness, I had hoped and prayed that they stop going down that road.
Tribulational wilderness is an apt term. To reject the Pre-tribulational Rapture is to believe that New Testament saints will go through at least part of the tribulation, if not all of it. The views of Mid-tribulation Rapture, Pre-wrath Rapture, and Post-tribulation Rapture land one in a wilderness of uncertainty. It is impossible to interpret prophecy in a consist literal manner and hold any of these views; one must spiritualize at least some of the prophecies, which I refuse to do.
These men are showing every sign of being true heretics, so I am repeating my warning of February 26 and adding some relevant information. I do not believe that their heresies will end with a rejection of the Pre-tribulational Rapture, because there is something strange going on at a heart level, which has surprised me and many others who have tried to help them.
It is sad that this issue would come to the fore among fundamental Baptist churches in Australia at a time when they need to be focused on standing against the invasion of a contemporary evangelical philosophy (“judge not, lighten up, don’t be so strict, keep the message positive, don’t be divisive, don’t warn, be cool, treat music and dress as non-issues, downplay separation, broaden the tent”).
Our prayer about this matter.
God is on the throne and all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.
We are praying that, and believing that, this issue will stir up many preachers to be more serious in their study of prophecy, more diligent in teaching and preaching it, more zealous about the imminency of Christ’s return, more studious and passionate in all areas of the ministry, more aggressively protective of the flocks, and more careful about church membership and discipline.
We are praying that many churches will experience spiritual revival because of this.
I am very encouraged.
As for me, I am very encouraged these days. The Lord is so very good. It is so wonderful to be able to face old age in Christ and in God’s will and in the sure hope of eternal life. This is the gift of grace that the Son of God purchased with His own blood. One day I will die, but I will be more alive than I have ever been.
By God’s grace, we have kept our hands to the plow in our foreign missionary work since we first began it in 1979 when we were 30-year-old kids, and today we are seeing great fruit in souls saved (turn around and go the other way, changed from the inside out conversions), in the spiritual growth of the church members, in the surrender of young people to God’s perfect will and the renunciation of their secular dreams, and in true unity. The church split a couple of years ago was very hard, but it has proven to be a great blessing in the purifying of the congregation to have the Acts 2:42 church that we have longed for and labored for. The Judas preachers stole more than $40,000 and half the members, but the church has remained self-supporting, the offerings have increased, and the membership has doubled in size. The Judas preachers have threatened to harm us in various ways, but by God’s grace all they have been able to do is huff and puff and gradually disappear like a salted slug. Their boomerang missed and is coming back on their own heads.
New doors are opening for preaching the gospel with the potential for starting new churches.
We are seeing excellent fruit from the preaching and teaching in many places by the writing ministry. I receive communications from preachers and teachers every day, thanking me for the materials, many of them very fervent in expression. God put Way of Life Literature on my heart as a new Christian in about 1974, one day when I was reading Proverbs 6:23, and God is so richly blessing this ministry these days that I can’t keep up with the blessings.
I have very good health for the time being, though one never knows about tomorrow. I had a major heart attack in 2018 and nearly died. Many were sad about that, but others were glad. But there was no permanent heart damage and I’m doing my prayer power walk most days, two miles in a half hour. Old age is like the optimist who fell off the Empire State Building, and as he passed the 90th floor, someone heard him say, “So far, so good.”
I am accomplishing more than I ever have, preaching and teaching in the weekly church services, in our full-time Bible college, and in the multi-day Bible conferences we have two or three times a year, gospel tract distribution, gospel Bible studies, writing new Bible courses, writing verse-by-verse commentaries, not to speak of daily FBIS articles and the weekly Friday Church News Notes and the monthly O Timothy magazine, traveling on research and preaching trips, enjoying times with my wife in our very comfy easy chairs (not recliners) and on dates, enjoying hearing from my kids and grandkids, watching (online) a 14-year-old and a 13-year-old grandkid get baptized recently, having shown good evidence of salvation for some time.
It doesn’t get any better that this. I am living out the reality of Psalm 37:4, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
Now, back to this business at Grace Baptist Bible Church.
They have endless questions.
One man of God who tried to help one of the preachers at Grace said to me, “We supported ------ for years in prayer and gifts but cannot continue our gifts. I am corresponding with him but find that he only raises questions. He is not able to expound scripture, just attack and question the truth. He airs his ignorance.”
Endless questioning is a mark of a heretic.
They are deceiving.
I don’t know any softer way to characterize what they are doing. They are saying and implying that no one loves them enough to help them, that everyone has quickly rejected them, that no one will answer their questions, that Independent Baptists are mean-spirited, etc. The truth is that some men have spent a lot of time trying to help them.
I spent time trying to help them, even though they are pretending that I didn’t. I have a record of all of that communication. When they sloughed off everything of substance I had to say and misconstrued what I was trying to say, turning it against me, I decided that it would be a waste of time to answer further questions. And why should I have to give a personal answer to questions when the answers are already in print and have been print for more than 100 years? There are no new questions and no new answers on this issue.
These men were educated at Sydney Baptist Bible College and had two years of Bible prophecy under a capable man of God. They should have been 2 Timothy 2:15 students and settled the right division of God’s Word then, before being ordained and before starting churches. The should have understood and settled the fundamental fact that the timing of the Rapture is not decided by any one verse; it is decided by an understanding of prophecy as a whole, interpreted from a literal standpoint. It is decided by a right understanding of Israel and the Church. It is decided by a right understanding of the imminency of Christ’s return as taught by the apostles in their epistles to the churches. It is decided by a right understanding of the day of the Lord and of prophecies such as Jeremiah 30:7 and Daniel 12:1 and God’s promise that church-age saints will be saved from the wrath to come. It is decided by a right understanding of Daniel’s great 70 Week prophecy.
I have the names on file of seven other preachers who have graciously spent time with them on this issue, and there are others, as well. Some men have spent entire days with them. Many have talked with them on the phone. Some of these preachers are very well educated in Bible prophecy. I have copies of some of the communications.
One Australian preacher told me, “Your experience with them resonates with mine too. Their attitude toward me has shifted even though I gave them hours of time I needed elsewhere. They claim that you never answered Joshua's 'rebuttal' of your article, so I did, and they haven't answered it.”
Another Australian preacher, who has focused on prophetic studies for many decades, has tried to help one of the preachers at Grace and even invited that preacher to spend a week at his home dealing with the Scriptures.
Does this sound like no one has tried to help them and no one has answered their questions?
Lying is a mark of a heretic.
They don’t receive the truth.
The fact is that all of their questions have been answered, and the doctrine of the Pre-tribulational Rapture has been demonstrated to them, but they aren’t receiving the truth.
Endless questioning combined with a refusal to receive the truth is the mark of a heretic.
They are trying to hide behind a smokescreen.
The sole issue here is their doctrine. Everything else is a smokescreen.
Instead of owning up to the fact that they have rejected the doctrine of the Pre-tribulational Rapture and letting the chips fall where they may, they are raising all sorts of other issues.
They are using the cheap tactic of attacking the messenger instead of dealing with the message.
They are using the cheap tactic of claiming that someone wouldn’t talk to them on the phone. I have been in the ministry for going on 50 years, and there is a time to talk on the phone or face to face, and there is a time to deal with issues by other methods. There is a time to have a written or recorded record of the conversation. There is a time when an issue should be dealt with in writing. In a phone conversation, the parties don’t have opportunity to pray about things and weigh things and research things. Such things are best done in writing. Either way, the phone thing is a cheap smokescreen. If I didn’t talk on the phone with them, many others did.
The fundamental issue is that they have heard the Pre-tribulational Rapture and have rejected it. That they are wandering in a wilderness of not knowing the timing of the Rapture is neither here nor there. That’s where you end up when you reject the Pre-tribulational Rapture. I thank Joshua Koura for manning up and stating plainly to me that he no longer believes the Pre-tribulational Rapture. When I asked Pastor Charlie, “Do you believe in a Pre-tribulational Rapture,” he refused to answer, but that is the answer. He is the founding pastor, and he has allowed this mess to develop and to continue without shutting it down.
Fudging and hiding behind smokescreens and not being candid about what you believe is the mark of a heretic.
They have become of strange spirit and hateful and slanderous.
They are half my age, but they have ordered me around as if I were just another of their young associates (all the while pretending to be humble and, oh, so loving). They have demanded that I answer every question to their satisfaction, that I turn aside from what I am doing and spend a lot of time dealing with this issue, that I talk on the phone with them, etc. They have rebuked me and publicly tried to injure my reputation for not jumping through their hoops and dancing to their tune.
They have charged those who use my material as blind followers of “the Baptist pope,” which is absolutely ridiculous, as the Lord knows. In fact, I have been called that before, but it is a vicious slander. I don’t want anyone to follow me, and to my knowledge, no one does. I have described my credentials at times, but I have not puffed myself up. In fact, I humbled myself before those young preachers as an Agur. “Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man. I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy” (Proverbs 30:2-3). Anyone who knows me knows that I am strictly a “Bible as sole authority preacher,” and I teach God’s people to test everything and every preacher by Scripture. That is one of my theme songs. I absolutely despise preachers who require unquestioning loyalty of people and who hold themselves up as the authority.
In fact, they have slandered pretty much everyone who has tried to help them and have slandered those who have left the church over this mess.
If they renounce their heresy, I will re-examine this issue, but until then I will obey God’s Word, as follows:
“But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself” (Titus 3:9-11).
The terms “heretic” and “heresy” refer to a willful choosing of error. The Greek hairetikos, translated “heresy” in Titus 3:10, is from hairtezo, which is translated “chosen” in Mt. 12:18. A heretic has a heart problem, not an ignorance problem. Heresy is a work of the flesh (Ga. 5:20). An individual can be sincerely ignorant of sound doctrine, but the evidence that he is not a heretic will be clear when he responds to the sound teaching of God’s Word and rejects error. A heretic will not receive the truth.
Biblical heresies come in two categories. First, there are “damnable heresies” (2 Pe. 2:1), which are heresies that bring eternal judgment. In this verse, Peter gives an example of a damnable heresy: “denying the Lord that bought them.” Any false teaching about the Person of Jesus Christ or His substitutionary atonement brings damnation because this is a false christ and a false gospel.
But heresies are not limited to fundamental errors. In 1 Corinthians 11:19, hairesis is used for error pertaining to the practice of the Lord’s Supper. A true brother in Christ can “walk disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received,” and he is to be noted and separated from (2 Th. 3:6-15).
For more about heretics, see the report “Dealing with Heretics” at the Way of Life web site.
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Way of Life Literature
Publisher of Bible Study Materials