Category: Uncategorized

Is It Really Biblical Stoicism When . . .

The personal testimony of April Farmer was stirring and heart-wrenching!

It was well worth the listen and reminded me about what life is really like for many who live life outside of our awareness.

As I listened, I was moved by her aspirations to reach the place of “forgiveness.”

Nevertheless, I left her testimony with great ambivalence as to whether or not her view on forgiveness was actually biblical — once again!

The word “forgiveness” faces the same defining headwinds as other biblical words.  Like the word “love,” there are those who grossly misuse that word.  “Forgiveness,” like “love,” may be far removed from its biblical meaning.

Let me offer a series of 4 questions that reflect my ambivalence.

^

#1 – Does the word “forgiveness” have different biblical meanings?

Is it one size fits all?

The answer is obviously, “no,” and the reason is equally obvious.  While Jesus was being crucified, He uttered these words — “Father, forgive (“aphiemi”) them for they know not what they do.”  If the prayer of Jesus was answered, forgiveness was granted!

Does that mean all those who crucified Jesus that day had their sin of rejection and crucifixion canceled?  Not according to Peter in Acts 2:23, as Peter calls on them to repent!

The word “forgive” (aphiemi)is the same word used in Matthew 6:14, 15 (“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”), Matthew 9:2, 6, 12:31, 32; 18:21, 27, 32, 35; et al! [1]

The word is legitimately, properly, and most often translated “suffer.”  Permit it to be, suffer it to be.  The words of Jesus to His Father were a call to suffer it to be.  Had not Jesus prayed that, all involved might well have been struck down straightway.

The word “forgive” (in the sense that we popularly use the word) can mean that, but it does not always mean, nor should it be translated as such!

^

#2 – Is there “forgiveness of sin” (in the sense that we popularly use the word) without confession or repentance?

Does God “forgive” or “cancel the debt” without any confession that what was done was wrong.  Does God expect a repentant heart that seeks to make it right?

The Scriptures state that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.”  What if we do not confess them?  Are they forgiven by God? “Biblical forgiveness” requires confession.

In fact, it requires confrontation.  How do you even know if someone actually sinned against you if you do not confront them?  What if, in confronting them, they indicate that this-or-that is not even true!  It never happened.  That is why we are instructed to go to someone who sins against us. [2]

^

#3 – What is a biblical response to wrongdoing?

If confession took place, forgive!
And if it happens again, and confession is made, forgive — 70X7.
The only requirement is a confession of wrongdoing.

Without confession that any wrong was done, there is no biblical forgiveness.  [3]  Nevertheless, there is the requirement of love, and that showing “love” may look very much like forgiveness.  I Corinthians 13 says you are to . . . . .

  • suffer it
  • show humility as an equal wrong-doer in life
  • not act unseemly — inappropriately
  • find no pleasure in one’s calamity
  • bear it
  • believe the best
  • hope that one day it will be made right
  • endure it

Are we to carry a grudge / offense?  Are we to go through life requiring that the “debt be paid.”

No!

We are to suffer it to be for now and maybe for all of our lives.

But there is no biblical forgiveness without confession/repentance.

Wrongdoers will have to deal with unforgiven sin in eternity, because it was never confessed to man and to God!

^

4 – “What does it matter? Just forgive them!”

After listening to the testimony of April Farmer (and others before her), I am primarily concerned that we are being taught to be “spiritual stoics.” [4]  That we are to smother our sense of wrong and wrong-doing, to douse wrong-doing with the word “forgiveness” and “act like” it no longer affects us.

If you doubt me, listen to the testimony (and that of others) as April shares how she has forgiven him yet betrays that she still has those feelings of anger and hurt.  Because you cannot wave the “forgiveness wand” over veritable wrongdoing. [5]  That betrayal of one who was your friend and even closest friend (Psalm 41:9), abandonment (or worse) by your covenantal spouse (II Samuel 11:3), seeing another unfairly mistreated (and worse) (I Samuel 20:34), friends who fail to stand in the hard days (Matthew 26:40,71) hurts and hurts deeply.

While one can suffer all things, one still suffers – bears -endures it!

To deny such hurt and pain is to deny the reality of who we are, and not sinful reality, but human reality!

We have been created as social-relational-emotional beings that feel hurt, anger, betrayal, insult, exploitation, injury, and more!

That does not mean we carry it around for life, but that over time, as we suffer all things and bear all things, we work our way through it.  Sometimes, working out way through it happens very slowly — and that is okay as long as we are on a path to that end.

“Just bear with me, I am trying to get there!” is real life and living, not the fake words of some kind of stoic “arrival.” Those words are the Christian’s reality in life and living in a fallen world and broken people.  It is the reality that I think even April Farmer states — though unwittingly.

^



1 – Matt 6:9-15; 18:21-35; Luke 7:36-50; 11:1-4; Eph 4:31-32; Col 3:12-13
Two other words are translated “forgive.”

  • “charizomai” – which most realize comes from the word translated “grace”
  • “apoluo” – only two times translated “forgive” in one verse Luke 6:37

“charizomai” and “aphiemi” are used interchangeably in Luke 7:42, 43, 47, 48

^

2 – “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.”

Let me assure you that one day what is going to be judged and condemned by God —  is not the sins of a man, but the man for his unconfessed sins!

^

3 – There is a lot of self-righteous forgiveness when one states that they have forgiven another(s), or repeatedly forgiven so-in-so, when they do not even know if they have been sinned against.

^

4 – John Dryden:

And none can boast sincere felicity,
With equal mind, what happens, let us bear,
Nor joy, nor grieve too much for things beyond our care.
Like pilgrims to the appointed place we tend

“Accept it and take it as from the hand of God for your life.  He brought this into your life, and you are to praise Him and rejoice in that He has allowed this!” — is just another one of those theological ditches that lacks the balance of Scripture!

^

5 – Yes, there is real/veritable wrong-doing, and there is perceived wrong-doing.  All of us have been wronged — real or imagined.  But when there is veritable wrong, confession is necessary for biblical forgiveness.  Nevertheless, we are commanded to still love — and to biblically love even our enemies!

^

Audio Link: Her personal testimony

Let’s Kill Some Of These Disingenuous Arguments!

As a past pastor and college professor, let’s call out some of the terrible arguments that “explain” why church services are canceled this coming Sunday. 

#1 – “Christmas is not biblical.” — You are right! Christmas” is the artificial day of celebration, not the Lord’s Day.  If you would like to cancel Christmas as a day of celebration, go at it.  It has no biblical basis.  The Lord’s Day has biblical, historical, and experiential support!  Churches aren’t canceling Christmas celebrations, but the established service(s) of God’s people on the Lord’s Day.

#2 – “Few will attend.” — Decisions on whether one should have a service on the Lord’s Day are not based on whether all or some of God’s people attend or don’t attend.  Those who would like to worship and praise God during “Sunday School,” Sunday Morning, Sunday Evening, Mid-week, et al . . . .  should have that opportunity provided to them by their pastor.  In fact, the pastor should want to provide such opportunities for those who are the most “committed.” 

#3 – “Only doing it one day this year.” — Christmas is a recognized religious “holyday” celebrating the incarnation!  Remarkedly, it is the most likely day that people who are not church-going people – go. (along with Easter/Thanksgiving / Mother’s Day).  Many non-church people may not attend on Christmas Sunday evening, nor do they throughout the year!  Nevertheless, over the years, we have had hundreds attend our Christmas Sunday evening drama and because it was on Christmas Sunday. Pointing out that the culture is removing Christ from Christmas while removing Him from your regular Sunday services, is just duplicitous!  And then we wonder why fewer attend church or trust their pastor’s pulpit ministry.

#4 – “We are replacing/moving it. — “Saying that you “replaced the Sunday evening service with a Saturday candlelight service, fellowship time, singspiration, etc. is an abuse of words at best and deceptive at worse.  Call it what it is!  You didn’t “replace” or “move” anything!  You canceled the Sunday evening service because it fell on Christmas!  You are allowed to have both and/or more than one seasonal service, without canceling another.  Such statements are underhanded!

#5 – “Romans 14” — Romans 14 isn’t about having or not having the regularly scheduled services on the Lord’s Day when Christmas Day falls on a Sunday. —  talk about expository preaching and properly exegeting what the Scriptures teach!  No more of this talk about what others believe and teach when we ourselves can make the Scriptures say what we want them to say to justify a bad decision!

#6 – “It is legalism to judge.” — It is not “legalism” to follow a biblical, historical, and experiential practice, such as Sunday worship, any more than it is legalism to expect God’s people to read their Bibles, pray, praise Him in song, witness, etc.  There is no reason to stop or pause in doing any of these godly disciplines.  None of them make you godly, but godly people follow such practices.  Else, it is legalistic to expect people to come to church on Superbowl Sunday (or an anniversary, a birthday. . . .)  if God’s people would rather watch football than attend church!  — “Let’s not be legalistic” — since choosing football over church is a legitimate and proper option.

#7 – “We don’t have an evening service.” — Some churches no longer have Sunday evening services.  These churches and pastors have nothing to say about the matter!   They have already put into practice what will be happening around America in a few days.   They have already decided that the Lord’s Day is also their day to do whatever!  While they protest about the moral decline of our culture, they have been and continue to be part of the problem, not the solution!  

#8 – “What does it matter!” — There are people, who know not Christ, who would be and are willing to celebrate Christmas — for good or for bad, for the right reasons or the wrong reasons — if the church would provide some opportunities.  With many churches, it used to be a cantata, “The Living Christmas Tree, a Christmas instrumental concert, a Christmas drama, etc.  Those people are more and more left to the seasonal secular events and shows available across American culture.

#9 – “It was not my decision.” — I truly doubt that the decision regarding Sunday services is made by the deacons, trustees, elder board, or God’s people.  Yes, that decision comes from the lead pastor!  He decided it!  He is the one who should be held responsible — and will be!  Unfortunately, the other church leaders and the flock lack the will, position, or strength to say — “Not in our church.  That is not who we are!”

#10 – “Other pastors around us are doing it also.” — Too many”Shepherds” are no different than the sheep (and maybe worse)! They want the time off, just like many of the leaders and/or God’s people.  That is the reality!  They have their plans and/or don’t want to minister to the smaller group that may attend!  It reflects the declining love of ministry, commitment, and work ethic of many pastors in our present-day pulpits.

^

The arguments being made about canceling Sunday services are just another reagent, a revealer of where the shepherds of the flock are in their ministries! Most of the “explanations” (at best) and pastoral hypocrisy (at worse) communicate the shallow and superficial love of their calling and of the Lord’s ministry.  While many of God’s people may well remain quiet, they understand what their pastor is saying – verbally and non-verbally — about our Lord, the local church, corporate worship, commitment, and about himself!

 

 

Matt Chandler — It’s Over!

A new horrific chapter was written yesterday.

What I see as a systemic problem within today’s New Calvinist/Calvinist/Reformed movement, [1] of which Chandler is/was a significant part, was again affirmed.

Yesterday’s latest chapter only further reveals the nature of this ideological-theological movement!  The mission is to promote Neo-Calvinism, even if it means overlooking the sins of their most prominent leaders. 

Listen to . . . .

  • The applause when Chandler stepped onto the stage.
  • The suggestion by Chandler was that his indiscretions were due to the removal of his right frontal lobe. [2]
  • The playing of a Christmas hymn that began mid-lyric, “Come let us adore him,” upon his leaving the stage.
  • The lack of any words of meaningful contrition or repentance by Chander — “my foolishness.” [3]
  • The deafening silence of so many key religious leaders within the movement, as well as those around, connected to, or part of Acts 29.

. . . . and you will understand more about this present-day movement. 

Nevertheless, let me say (as with Ravi) the reality is . . . .

It’s over! 

Matt Chandler has lost his pastoral and ministry platform! 

As RZIM tried to hold on, Chandler may seek such a strategy, but no one in the day-to-day world cares to take him seriously any longer!  Only those committed to his theological-ideology will continue to applaud him on stage, play such hymns that were meant for only our Saviour, and/or accept what he did as mere foolishness!

 



1 – Let me also note that another key leader of this movement is John Piper.
Like I said . . . .  John Piper, who will be preaching in more churches this coming Sunday than any contemporary religious leader, through the voice of many local church pastors, does not believe in “eternal security.”  The work of Christ, his righteousness and perseverance, were not sufficient and/or were not applied to our account.

2 – Apparently, there is an unknown causal relationship between such a medical operation and moral indiscretion that has yet to be fully identified as resident among others who have experienced the same operation.

3 – The continued lack of transparency as to what actually led the church leaders to discipline Chandler remains firmly in place.  

 

Is Matt Chandler A Believer?

[1]

One of the dynamics that seemingly operates among those in the New Calvinist (and many Calvinists) ideological camp is a questioning of one’s salvation experience —  Are you actually a Christian, a believer in the person and work of Jesus for your forgiveness of sin, if you are not living that out consistently in your life?

Much more could be said about that dynamic.  Nevertheless, it is interesting that this dynamic is not in play when it comes to the pastors and teachers of the Scripture who experience significant moral failures in the ministry! I only need to cite one of the most immediate examples, Matt Chandler. [2] There are others who illustrate this dynamic and about whom could be asked the same question. 

Why is no one asking (and no one is!), including Chandler himself, whether he was a Christian, a genuine believer, all the years of his pulpit ministry?  Shouldn’t that question be asked?  Should he publicly confess his new faith in Christ through the waters of baptism now that he has “repented” from such sinful practices — a sinful pattern that lasted for an extended period of time? 

While preaching to others the truths found in the Scriptures, he himself was sinfully hypocritical and found to be so by those closest to the situation within his local church. That ought to be sufficient reason alone for those who hold to this theological-ideology to call on Chandler to declare that he was not a believer and has since come to Christ as Saviour!

Yes, it is an interesting dynamic within the New Calvinists camp! Calling into question one’s salvation and/or shaking one’s faith in Christ doesn’t seem to operate when it comes to some of the most primary fallen preachers within the movement!  They themselves neither claim lostness, nor do other leaders within the ideological movement call out those who, like Chandler, occupy the pulpits while living a duplicitous sinful life

In contrast, there seems to be little hesitation when it comes to those sitting in the pew, struggling with real-life issues of Christlikeness as they navigate their lives outside of the local church employment.

Is Matt Chandler A Believer In The Person & Work Of Christ? 

I have no doubt that he is, but not based on what some pastors are teaching from the pulpits of their local churches! [1]

^


  1. “Humble Calvinism” — A Good Read!

    “We Calvinist leave behind a trail of destruction in our churches and families and friendships . . . .
    . . . We Calvinist might be the ones who don’t ‘get it’ yet.”

     

  2. https://julieroys.com/matt-chandler-steps-down-after-admitting-inappropriate-online-relationship/
  3. The same question could be asked of Robert Louis Dabney, an undeniably ardent racist yet a theological luminary.*  His writings may be some of the most cited works by men like John Piper, John Mac Arthur, et al.  Should we be citing the works of “lost men” like Dabney? 

*
Visionary???
Really!! 
He never repented in the slightest of his ardent racism!

Are Angels Friends With Other Angels?

God gave us things to use and people to love, and we use people and love things! 

I am not sure where I first heard that or perhaps something like that.  Nevertheless, I was reminded of it when I was reading C. S. Lewis’ book — “The Four Loves.” 

Lewis was speaking about “Friendship.”

Friendship . . . . love, free from instinct, free from all duties but those which love has freely assumed, almost wholly free from jealousy, and free without qualification from the need to be needed, is eminently spiritual. It is the sort of love one can imagine between angels.

A friendship between angels is a unique thought that I have never considered.  If they bear the image of their maker, do they have personal, relational, and/or social interactions like mankind?  And as Lewis states, free from all the sinful aspects that may mark our friendships.

If the truth were known, earthly friendships are, more often than not, as Lewis suggests, un-spiritual.  They are marked by instinct, duty, jealousy, and subject to qualification.  When Lewis uses the word “instinct,” he is making a comparison with the animal world, where it is just part of natural-born impulse.  It is not willful, but natural human instinct. 

Why does the friendship between Jonathan and David stand out in such spiritually BOLD TYPE?  The friendship was not instinctive, not born of jealousy, and subject to no qualifications.

May I suggest that one of the reasons that the local church has fallen on hard days was initially due to Covid.  It was a REAGENT!  

A reagent is a substance that is added to another substance that is being tested.  The reagent is looking to trigger a reaction.  That reaction reveals something about the substance being tested.  A reagent is aimed at producing a reaction, usually visualized by a change in color on a test strip.  Reagents are used to determine blood glucose, ketones, pregnancy, chlorine, and now the well-known COVID-19.

COVID-19 was a crisis that produced a reaction
suddenly visible by a wide swath of God’s people 
in the local church setting.

Most other times, the lack of sincere concern for God’s people happens periodically and intermittently.  It is seen and realized by a family here and an individual there —  a teenager today and a young adult tomorrow — a new member now and a longtime servant years later. 

It is typically seen in dribbles and drabs over time.

It is seen when . . . . 

  • a pastor never even calls to check on how one is doing after a serious situation
  • no deacon, or only one or two, call to say that they are concerned and praying
  • a text replaces a call or visit
  • a pastor talks about the importance of prayer but never even calls to personally pray with someone in need
  • a pastor or staff member evades the trip to the hospital that is rather far away
  • a family member dies, and no-one-to-few from the church even makes a personal call or visit
  • past years of service mean little to nothing to those who once claimed that they cared and appreciated all that you do
  • “our prayers and thoughts are with you” fails to translate into some personal concern and care
  • those who called us brothers and sisters in Christ, or “friends,” now no longer care because we no longer have anything to bring to the table.
  • a senior pastor time and time again passes off the responsibility of personally visiting a member or friend of the church to other members of the staff [1]
  • few-to-none make it to the funeral home and/or stay for the memorial service

While selfishness is seen in small dribs and drabs — over time — unlike Covid — that self-serving spirit pervades the atmosphere, and the smell is recognized. 

The church is in for some hard days ahead, as well as some hard-to-face realities because there is a new and stark sensitivity to how un-spiritual friendships can become within the body of Christ. 

Lewis goes on to say . . . .

And it is no doubt easy enough to love the fellow-creature less and to imagine that this is happening because we are learning to love God more, when the real reason may be quite different. . . . Those like myself whose imagination far exceeds their obedience are subject to a just penalty; we easily imagine conditions far higher than any we have really reached. If we describe what we have imagined we may make others, and make ourselves, believe that we have really been there.

You May Think You Know & Understand John Piper!

^

“In every generation there arise men from within the church who stumble into the Roman Catholic view of justification, and having stumbled, then attempt to import that Roman Catholic error into the Church of God so that the children of God might stumble with them. John Piper is just the latest in a long line of such men, and he will not be the last. Remarkably, on the eve of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Piper attempts to show that neither the Scriptures nor the Reformers held to final justification by faith alone apart from works. On September 25, 2017, Piper published “Does God Really Save Us by Faith Alone?”3 In the article, he maintains that initial justification is by faith alone, but introduces a concept that is completely foreign to the Bible: the concept of “final salvation” on the basis of our works and obedience. He writes, “In justification, faith receives a finished work of Christ performed outside of us and counted as ours — imputed to us…. In final salvation at the last judgment, faith is confirmed by the sanctifying fruit it has borne, and we are saved through that fruit and that faith.4

In Piper’s view of final salvation, he makes a distinction between justification and salvation in which we are justified by faith alone apart from works at the beginning, but we are saved by faith plus works at the end. He writes,

These works of faith, and this obedience of faith, these fruits of the Spirit that come by faith, are necessary for our final salvation. No holiness, no heaven (Hebrews 12:14). So, we should not speak of getting to heaven by faith alone in the same way we are justified by faith alone.

Essential to the Christian life and necessary for final salvation is the killing of sin (Romans 8:13) and the pursuit of holiness (Hebrews 12:14).5

Final salvation from future judgment is conditional. It will not happen apart from our persevering faith. … “salvation” refers to our future deliverance from the wrath of God at the judgment and entrance into eternal life.6

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

I have included the full PDF for those who are sincerely interested in reading a remarkable and documented presentation of Piper’s position.

Two Trends – Left Unchallenged

Who Is John Piper, by Barnabas Piper

Meet John Piper

Jonathan Edwards, Robert Dabney, John Piper, and Daniel Kleven

Perseverance of the Saints

Mac Arthur / Piper / Your Pastor: There is a theological-ideology in play!

One Reason You May Be Speaking Past Your Audience — Maybe It’s Near The Top?

Taking into account to whom you are speaking is basic to all communication. You do not speak or preach to children, teens, young people, adults, women, men, and/or seasoned saints the same way. In several ways, they are different audiences — intellectually, emotionally, in life experiences, and in their spiritual growth.

There is a brand of preaching that disregards that broad span of Christian spiritual growth. Most every speaker-preacher-teacher would quickly acknowledge that his audience includes those who may not even profess Christ, or who are new believers in Christ, or who have walked with Christ for a number of years, as well as those who are mature believers.

However, their preaching falls far short of that reality, not in content but in prospects or expectations. It is not that what is being said cannot be understood by most all the listeners. Rather, it is that their spiritual maturity — or lack of it as new believers — gives them different ears. Being told that they need to be where others are, or where the preacher believes mature believers ought to be, (or where the preacher “humbly states or implies” that he is), can easily lead to great discouragement!

One could preach about the faith of Abraham in the offering of Issac, Daniel in the lion’s den, Shadrack, Meshach, & Abednego in the fiery furnace, Samson in the final day of his life, Peter’s boldness to speak the Gospel in the book of Acts, Joseph’s response to his brother’s presence, et al. However, all of them had many chapters of life that preceded any one of those great events.

They give the impression that “this” is where one who names the name of Christ needs to be NOW. The implication is that there is no real-life progression. In fact, even more extreme tendencies imply that one may not even be truly saved if they are not there in their Christian walk.

There is little difficulty in calling up a response of struggle, difficulty, and/or failure. Any preacher knows that he can preach a message on prayer and easily challenge everyone in attendance (and if honest, it includes himself).

  • There are areas of Christian life and living that all believers generally struggle with. 
  • There are areas of Christian life and living that some do, and some do not struggle with — some find sharing the Gospel with others easy, and others fail and fail at it!
  • There are areas of the Christian life that some struggle with early in their Christian lives, and others later in their lives.
  • There are areas that come with age, circumstances, finances, marriage, child-rearing, old age, etc. . . . . .

Often, I would say this . . . . 

“The question is not — “Are we where we should be?” or “Are we where this passage presents?” Rather, can we be “more” or “better” in this? It is not “we are” or “we are not,” but can we be more than we are?

Do we fail, over and over, when it comes to temptation? The truth is that most of us cannot even resist that brownie; how will we ever claim consistent victory on this side of glory? But we can continually confess and repent and go at it again — and again — and again!

You preach differently when you genuinely take into account the spiritual span of those listening, the wide variety of people who are seeking to live for Christ in real life and living. God’s people are encouraged to continue the battle. There is hope (and there is – ask Peter) for those who stay in that battle. 

When God’s people are told (over and over and over) that they are not where they should be, they are dispirited! The preacher-teacher confuses and stifles them because he fails to take into account that they are babes, or still children in Christ, or young men — but are not old men in the faith (I John 2).

Let me also say that there are some preachers-teachers, not all, but far more than we would like to admit, who need to get out of their ivory tower and/or lay aside their own disingenuous self-confidence. Such ministries are marked by dispirited and disheartened people who may have concluded that they never will reach this-or-that measure! They are not done a disservice at best, and great damage at worse. When God’s people could be striving and pursuing, they have lost all heart. They are not even sure they are saved.

Some will find a different ministry that again speaks to their heart’s desires. They may not be able to pinpoint the difference, but they know their hope of living for Christ in this world has been renewed.  They will re-enlist and get back on the road with newfound excitement.

Sadly, some will just drop out of church, never to return. Not only because of them but also because of a pastor who made it hard to live for Christ! They put burdens on mens’ spiritual shoulders. They could never reach the standard held out as a here-and-now absolute rather than our aspiration. Like some fathers who have provoked their children and discouraged them! They do it with God’s children, over who they claim to be shepherds.

No, like in families, there is a shared responsibility between both children and fathers, between pastors and people, when we dishearten! 

 

Trend #2 – Sadly Left Unchallenged

As stated, two preaching-teaching trends seem to be repeatedly showing up in our day. They are found in local church ministries and subtly appear in online Bible studies, magazine articles, books, or podcasts.

Some congregations may not recognize what is unadmittable being taught. Nevertheless, the groundwork for extreme theological-ideological positions is being laid.

Theological Trend #2: A Denial Of Our Security In Christ.

There seems to be a willingness and even a wantingness to conclude that someone is not a Christian if they are not living as they ought — and, indeed, may not be living as Christ would have us live.

Of course, being a Christian is more than making a profession.

However, this is kind of strawman statement that is used to obscure what is actually being said.  This is where the duplicity and nuanced double-talk shows up.  The existent theological position on eternal security is unexpressed and/or wittingly left unclear.

When it is subtly intimated that one can lose their salvation, or that one’s faith is suspect because he/she is not living for Christ, what IS seemingly being suggested is typically papered over.  

Even the preacher-teacher knows that what he is saying sounds like what he actually believes. Therefore, even though overly unchallenged as he speaks (or when actually challenged), he calls up that obvious truth upon which we all agree. . . . 

 “Well, we all know that one can be professing and not possessing.” 

“We would all agree that there must be some fruit in one’s life if one is truly a Christian.”

 “I am not saying that you can lose your salvation, but when there is no fruit, no life of faith . . . .” 

While he claims that he is not saying what he is saying, he sure sounds like he is saying just that.

Who can disagree with “no,” or “some fruit,” or the reality of professors?  “No” and “some fruit” are the weasel words that leave the real question unanswered. 

And “Yes,” we all know that you can profess and not possess, but that is not the point. That is a diversion!    

But what about inconsistent, sporadic, or a very erratic pattern/trajectory?  

The real question is — “Can a person who has truly professed Christ as their Saviour lose their standing in Christ even if they live a very inconsistent “believer’s” life that we might believe is a reflection of those who are lost?”

It may take “twenty more questions,” (and maybe by someone who holds to and knows the biblical position on eternal security)  to get at what the preacher-teacher actually believes.

^

“Assurance of salvation” affects the way we live life as a believer — confidently or with great uncertainty. Uncertainty breeds all sorts of troubles.  

Go to work every day with the feeling that you are about to lose your job.  

Experience a marriage that feels like your spouse is going to walk out on you one day.

OR fall into some sin, or fight a sin that so easily besets you!

^

Instead of seeking to encourage those who struggle in their faith, some pastors-teachers seem to find their intentional focus on such uncertainty. It is intentional because their theological-ideology pushes them into that ditch.

Of course, there is good reason to challenge some who are living inconsistent lives about their faith, and to periodically preach a message on being in the faith. But again, such is used as part of the “papering job” to cover what is really believed and being covertly taught — THAT . . . . at the end, some might not make it if they do not persevere to the end. Oh, they are saying that without saying that!

I suggest we might ask these individuals about perseverance. . . . 

  • Saul — who consulted a witch before he died
  • Moses — who floundered at the end and was forbidden by God Himself to enter the promised land
  • Solomon — who seemingly lost his wisdom when it came to obeying God’s commandments
  • Samson — who did more in his death than his life
  • Lot — one of the most immoral characters of the Bible
  • Peter and the other disciples — who walked with Jesus (24/7/365/3 years, and saw and heard what we have but a small record of, and denied their Lord
  • The Corinthians — one of the most carnal churches we have a record of in the Bible
  • Uzziah — who died of leprosy
  • Many of the other godly kings of Israel — who did not wholly follow the Lord
  • David — and it’s far more than only Bathsheba.
  • The many preachers-Bible teachers, who into the middle 20th century, supported chattel slavery, owned and sold slaves, and/or were truly racist all their lives and ministry [1]
  • Disgraced preachers-teachers of today — who do not claim that they were lost during their sinful escapades and now have found Christ.

What about those levels of inconsistency?
Let’s talk about those sins and their “trajectory” in life.   

√ Which sins do we want to identify as indicators of lostness when it comes to those who claim Christ as their Saviour? Which “inconsistencies” and sins do we want to use as our markers for unsettling God’s people about their faith in Christ?

√ Can a person who has called on His name (Acts 9:14; Romans 10:12, 13, 14), has been born-again from above (as Jesus says to Nicodemus — a believer?), or who is justified (Romans 8:35) — also be a person who can lose the “eternal life” they were given (John 10)

√ Can a Christian be a person who will not persevere?

Rather than repeatedly shaking the faith of God’s people, let’s strengthen them and individually deal with those questionable cases as they arise.  

Rather than quickly and easily concluding that some must not be a believer because someone is struggling in their Christian life — and even significantly struggling — Let’s talk to them about the love of Christ . . . . . 

“Come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden.” — Matthew 11:28

“that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me — John 17:23

When someone has called on Christ, in their earliest years, as teenagers, or beyond, and have sought to follow Christ over years (and even decades), but are now facing some real spiritual battles, do not glibly assert — “Well, you are probably not a believer” — as your diagnosis. Such a simplistic diagnosis disregards the nature of the spiritual battle all of God’s people face DAILY. [2]

Their need is not salvation, but the call is to move on to maturity, not find some more comfortable resort by which to explain their worldly walk, such as, “Well, maybe I’m not really saved.” 

“No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit.”

We well understand that you can repeat the words — “Jesus is the Lord” without the Spirit’s work in your heart. The obvious point is that it takes the work of the Spirit of God to say that and mean it in your heart.  

However, when you have said — Jesus Is Lord — and it is from your heart, you mean it. It is because the Spirit has done a work in your heart. That supernatural work the Spirit will not repent of, or the Godhead will disavow. God did not adopt you, place you in Christ, forgive your sin, promise you life and life eternal, and seal you with the Spirit — only to take it away at some point in time.

There is a great deal of duplicity and dexterity when it comes to being theologically honest with God’s people. These trends [3] are more subtle and, at times, reflect a level of artifice in order to avoid questions about what is being taught by the ministry.  While the typical layman-woman may not fully grasp or understand what is being taught in their church, the groundwork is being laid for the acceptance of a dangerous twisting of what the Scriptures teach about our security in Christ.

♦♦♦♦♦

I am so grateful for the works and words of men like D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, whose works and words are still available today.  He provide great clarity, argument, and insight on this doctrine!

Link: D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Eternal Security . . . .

“If this doctrine (Eternal Security) isn’t true, well then if you ever find yourself in glory, the glory will have to go to you for holding on.

The position would be this — that you like a number of other people, have been given the same gift of salvation and eternal life — They foolish didn’t hold on it, but that you did.  And therefore the glory goes to you for holding on.

But that’s a blank contradiction of the teaching of the Scriptures everywhere. . . . Man has nothing to boast of at all.  And when you and I arrive in heaven — my dear friends — we realize that we are there not because we held on while others gave up — but because He held on to us. . . . and we’ll give Him all the praise, the honor, and the glory.”     [4]



1. Check out the works of Robert Louis Dabney, the oft-quoted preacher and reformed theologian of the 1800-1900s.  

Oft quoted by John Mac Arthur, John Piper, Joe Rigney (President of BC&S), and their oft conference speaker, Doug Wilson.

Reformed White Supremacist
(Reformed, not as in “changed,” but as in theology)

In his time, Robert Lewis Dabney (1820–1898) was considered one of the greatest teachers of theology in the United States. Revered theologians such as Hodge, Shedd, Warfield, Bavinck, and Barth viewed him with appreciation and respect. Dabney was a thoroughly Reformed, five-point Calvinist who believed in the supremacy of God in all things. However, his view of God’s sovereignty, a true and beautiful doctrine, tragically became interwoven with his racism, as he consistently used the doctrine of “providence” to reinforce his white supremacy.

Read on for more of the horrid position Dabney held on race.
https://biblioskolex.wordpress.com/2021/12/16/love-your-enemies-john-piper-and-robert-lewis-dabney-part-2/

2. I might suggest that this trend seemingly travels with those who have adopted Trend #1, as well as a theological ideology that embraces the edges extreme ditches of Calvinism. 

This trend dates back to and includes John Mac Arthur and his position on “Lordship Salvation.”

3. That is Paul’s argument in Hebrews 6. As Paul states, let us move on to maturity-perfection! For it is impossible for those who have been enlightened and partakers of the Holy Spirit . . . . that if they have fallen away as you might believe, it is impossible to renew themselves unto repentance for Christ would have to be crucified anew!

4. Link To Lloyd-Jones’ Full Message

External Link To Lloyd-Jones Full Message

https://jameslau88.com/2020/05/10/the-doctrine-of-being-saved-eternally-by-martyn-lloyd-jones/

♦♦♦♦♦

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Eternal Security . . . .

“If this doctrine (Eternal Security) isn’t true, well then if you ever find yourself in glory, the glory will have to go to you for holding on.

The position would be this — that you like a number of other people, have been given the same gift of salvation and eternal life — They foolish didn’t hold on it, but that you did.  And therefore the glory goes to you for holding on.

But that’s a blank contradiction of the teaching of the Scriptures everywhere. . . . Man has nothing to boast of at all.  And when you and I arrive in heaven — my dear friends — we realize that we are there not because we held on while others gave up — but because He held on to us. . . . and we’ll give Him all the praise, the honor, and the glory.”     

Two Trends – Left Unchallenged

Two preaching-teaching trends seem to be repeatedly showing up in our day. They are found in local church ministries and subtly appear in online Bible studies, magazine articles, books, or podcasts.

Two reasons they are so subtle are congregational discernment and pastoral duplicity! [1].

√  The theological nuances and subtleties within a sermon are often lost on the average layman-laywoman. Fellow pastors easily pick up on the subtleties and nuances. What is artfully promoted or subtly being preached and taught is readily recognized by those who live full-time in ministry.

√  Secondly, pastor-teachers can be duplicitous. They can be teaching something that is not generally accepted by the congregation. What he is preaching-teaching is cloaked in a way that precludes it from being clear, transparent, challengeable, and/or even creating ministry problems — such as unemployment.

I believe that this is what is happening when it comes to these two new theological trends.

Theological Trend #1: A “One Size Fits All” theological axiom.

After decades of repetition, one of the most damaging theological aphorisms has been left unchallenged, accepted, and/or reiterated by many pastors-teachers . . .

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” — John Piper —

Anytime you make a single theology axiom the focus around which all other truths revolve, you are bound to end up in a theological ditch. The obvious damage that this theological ditch creates continues to emerge. [1]

God is not only “most glorified” when we are satisfied in Him.

God is most equally glorified when we . . . .

  • obey His commandments,
  • share the Gospel,
  • read His Word,
  • meditate on His precepts,
  • love our spouse, neighbors, enemies, the lost,
  • suffer for His name,
  • come to Him in prayer,
  • worship Him on His day,
  • sacrifice for others,
  • train up our children in the fear of the Lord,
  • in all our ways acknowledge Him,
  • separate from ungodliness,
  • serve Him in ministry,
  • tithe,
  • go beyond our tithe,
  • behave selflessly,
  • reflect the fruit of the Spirit,
  • obey His call on our lives,
  • resist temptation,
  • are humble,
  • walk in the Spirit
  • confess our sins,
  • repent daily,
  • sing hymns of praise,
  • intercede and pray for others,
  • are compassionate
  • work hard without eyeservice
  • pray for the “king”
  • forgive others
  • trust Him through the toughest trials of life
  •  . . . . . .

Piper, and others, would like to stuff these (and any others) under being “satisfied in Him.” He would like to link all these to being “satisfied in Him.”

That is how “one size fits all” theology works, whether it is Piper or another theological fad of our day. A single truth becomes the sole focus, and a “new religious crowd” is born and identified by that singularity — Seventh-day Adventists / Ruckmanites / Holiness church / Free-will Baptist / etc.

However, one could do that kind of cosmetic linking with many a theological concept such as “loving” (Him & others), “sacrificial” (no greater love than a man lay his life down for another), “spiritual” (walk in the spirit), pride (the original sin of Lucifer),or “obedient” (if you love me, keep my commandments).

Let’s make “obedience” the “most glorified” link!
— “God is most glorified when we are most obedient.” —

First of all, Piper’s overstated principle dilutes the biblical instructions for each and every one of those specific areas of Christian living.

For instance, while “acknowledging Him in all thy ways” CAN spring from being satisfied Him, and does glorify Him, there is far more specific biblical instruction about following God’s will than only being satisfied in Him — i.e. reading His Word, seeking the wisdom of others, waiting on Him, praying for wisdom, observing (I went by the field of a sluggard), be not hasty, staying humble (for He resists the proud), etc.

Second, it is overly simplistic. Not every area of Christian life and living is addressed by extolling — “be satisfied in Him.” If it was, there would no need for much of Scripture.  It may be one answer, but it is not the full biblical response.

For instance, when facing temptation, being satisfied in Him is not the whole of God’s instruction. There is far more than the application of one axiom.

The Scriptures includes . . .

  • putting on the armor,
  • putting on and putting off,
  • turn from that path,
  • abstain from fleshly lust,
  • make no provision to fulfill the lust of the flesh,
  • take heed,
  • walk circumspectly,
  • pray without ceasing,
  • He will provide a way of escape,
  • “Resist the Devil, and he will flee,”
  • “Listen my son,”
  • “add to your faith,”
  • die to self
  • etc.    

Piper offers one solution to all of life and living — find your satisfaction and pleasure in Him.

Third, obedience is expected whether or not it comes from a heart of satisfaction or pleasure. As stated, let’s make “obedience” the “most glorified” link! “Obedience” might be the more foundational issue — from the beginning — in the Garden.

Fourth, it misstates temporal and/or secondary avenues of satisfaction and pleasure that the Lord has provided. There are many avenues of satisfaction and pleasure that the Lord has provided and included as part of life and living. All of them are legitimate pleasures and satisfactions of life! They all come from His hand and plan. And even the lost world share in these God-ordained pleasures and satisfactions of life, even though they may have no interest in glorifying Him — the rain falls on the just and the unjust!

^

Piper’s singular solution produces aberrated answers for life and living!

For instance, John Piper teaches that even when your husband abuses you verbally and physically, a wife is to accept it, and loving pray and tolerate such abuse, to be satisfied in Him, to find her satisfaction in Jesus and for what He has sovereignly allowed to be part of her life (I can assure you I am not overstating his position.). [1]

♦ As if the Lord did not provide marriage to be just the opposite, a place of security, peace, fulfillment, and warmth — which are all part of the pleasure that He has planned for us through godliness.

♦ As if stoically tolerating and/or willingly declining those avenues of satisfaction and pleasure is being Christlike — while desiring the satisfaction that ought to flow out of a godly marriage is not being satisfied in Him.

♦ As if refusing to accept such spousal abuse, and demanding some level of decency and godlines, is deemed not being satisfied in Him — or worse yet, is a rejection of a husband’s leadership!

♦ As if renouncing the ungodly abuse, and desiring the satisfaction and pleasure that the Lord has essentially designed for marriage, is an unspiritual response.

There is satisfaction and/or pleasure that God has ordained in the temporal, the here and now. Such pleasure and satisfaction would have been part of our daily living were it not for the Fall and will be part of life and living in the new heavens and the new earth.

There is, and we find, satisfaction and pleasure in knowing that your spouse loves us.

There is, and we find, satisfaction and pleasure in seeing your children follow the Lord.

There is, and we find, satisfaction and pleasure in watching the sunset, the mountains, the trees in Fall, and the snow blanketing the ground.

There is, and we find, satisfaction and pleasure that comes out of living in a safe and secure environment — as will be the case in that eternal and holy city.

There is far more in the Scriptures than one axiom that seemingly and dangerously frames all other truths.

Theological Trend #2: (TBC)



^

1. Check out John Piper’s most recent absurd position, which is ideologically driven — fresh off the press!

It is Piper’s position on spousal abuse.

“If it’s not requiring her to sin, but simply hurting her, then I think she endures verbal abuse for a season, she endures perhaps being smacked one night…” (John Piper)

Link: https://baremarriage.com/2022/06/john-piper-tells-women-with-harsh-husbands-to-basically-do-nothing/

“If we keep reading the same books,
we will keep thinking and saying the same things”