Friday, October 29, 2010

'BUT' Theology - Part 2

Imaged removed
to spare those who may stumble.
This is Part 2 of my response to the sermon preached by Pastor Norm Millar at Harvest Bible Chapel in London Ontario on 26 Sept 2010 entitled "Knowing Where You Stand With Jesus."  If you have come directly to this post, please read Part 1 first because the context of Pastor Millar's sermon is fully explained there and mostly in his own words.

Last time I went through the introduction to the sermon, and the context of what he was preaching about. I had to do a lot of quoting, and the article got long. This time I'm going to be dealing with his arguments.  I will quote him briefly and answer as explicitly as seems reasonable.

Pastor Millar's sermon is his application of John 14:15 and we previously left off with his shocking assertion of how we receive Eternal Salvation:
It's all of grace and it's all of faith. It's believing. We affirm that completely. BUT....."
To ensure all reading understand why putting the word "but" after such a statement is so shocking I have to remind everyone of the definition of the word.
Definition: "But"
On the contrary; yet: My brother went, but I did not.
So according to Pastor Millar, Salvation is all of Grace and all of Faith, but on the contrary.... He's about to disagree with his statement. And so he must, if his audience is to understand the upcoming quotes of passages the way he wants them to. He'll hide his disagreement by pretending he is amplifying the statement using the Biblical definition of belief. Perhaps "hide" and "pretend" are strong words, in some cases I can easily believe he has been led astray by his mentors. In other cases I cannot sympathise with his handling of the Text. It's our responsibility, mine, yours and his audience's, to determine if he does in fact offer a biblical definition or not. As he pointed out at the beginning of this sermon, and reminds his audience again at the end - calling someone to examine themselves is the right thing to do. I'm taking him at his word on this.

Pastor Millar says;
"we must be careful to define believing biblically - that's the key." 
He immediately explains that James 2:19 says that we can have a demonic like faith that does not save. It's a false belief. He asks with passion; "the demons aren't saved are they?" He'll return to James 2:14-26 later in the sermon and I'll respond more fully there.  The idea of a "Demonic Faith" is Bad Kool-Aid, and there is a very short answer to this abuse of Scripture.

Next up he discusses John 8:30-42 and says that in verse 30 we find Jews believing in/on Jesus but in verse 44 says they are of their father, Satan, and so obviously not saved.  When evaluating the truth of a doctrine it is very important that you believe the Bible, and hold to it unwaveringly. I admit that when I heard Pastor Millar explain this passage I was shocked. I thought to myself; "Wow... there's someone who believed in Jesus Christ but who was not saved... I can't believe it!" Why did I think this? Because I allowed Pastor Millar authority, so much as to even falsify part of Scripture, instead of letting Scripture have the authority. Shame on me!

Here's his explanation: In Jn 8:30 many Jews believe. In Jn 8:31 Jesus speaks directly to these Jews who believed in Him and tells them that if they abide in His word that they are His disciples indeed (which Pastor Millar equates with being truly saved) and in Jn 8:32 that they will know the truth and the truth will set them free. Then in Jn 8:33 they answer him saying they have never been enslaved. The Lord then engages them, and by Jn 8:44 He tells them that they are of their father, Satan, so they never truly believed in the first place. It was a false belief, or an unsaving belief. They were professors, not disciples.

Sounds convincing right? Do you remember (like I asked you to) the benefit of the doubt I gave Pastor Millar in Part 1? He was speaking to his whole congregation, and the untold numbers of people who will listen online, and said that they would probably be glad that he didn't follow them around to secretly watch everything they did. I wrote that he might be addressing part of his audience, those who could be false converts, because by his standard set out up to that point the true converts shouldn't have been fearful of such a thing.  Well, this is a similar situation here with Jesus and His audience.

Jesus was speaking to groups of Jews of various sects. The issue is who is the "they" in Jn 8:33. If it is the same Jews that John said believed, and then Jesus later says they didn't believe then we find a  contradiction in the Scriptures. For nothing is said here of the quality of belief, but simply that they believed. John says they did, rather God the Holy Spirit through John's pen says that they believed but God the Son would have said that they did not. Jn 8:45-46

So what's the truth? The entire incident is found in John 8:12-59. The Pharisees are challenging Him as He teaches the crowd. Many Jews in the crowd believe, but the Pharisees continue to challenge Him. Those who believed can not also have not believed. It is Pastor Millar's addition to the Text that says it was a false belief, this is not explained or implied in the Text at all. Adding such a view to the Text makes either God the Holy Spirit or God the Son a liar.

A fuller explanation of this can be found in Dr. Bing's Dissertation here, scroll down to just past half the page to the bolded title "John 8:30-31" and read from there.

Next up is John 2:23 and Pastor Millar explains that Jesus did not entrust Himself to them because He knew what was in man and that this means their belief was a false unsaving belief.  I have to wonder what this phrase "did not entrust Himself to them" actually means. Does God "entrust Himself" to people when He saves them? If this is what it means then I need to wonder at the Scriptures' explanation of why He choose not to entrust Himself to these particular people - "because He knew what was in man." Does He find something different, less offensive perhaps, in the people He chooses to save? Is not Salvation by grace or "unmerited favor"? NO this is not what the passage is about. The Lord Jesus Christ was performing signs as He was announcing Himself as Messiah the Prince, the King of the Jews. Not as the propitiation for our sins, the Lamb of God. These men would have sought to raise Him up as an earthly King. See John 6:15 That's what is in men.

Another helpful tidbit to help us understand the difference between Jesus announcing Himself as Messiah the Prince to Israel, and the Lamb of God to the whole world is found in Mat 16:13-20 and then the very famous Mat 16:21-23. Israel had finally fully rejected Messiah the Prince. The Lord asks His disciples "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" Then He tells them in Mat 16:20 not to tell anyone that He is the Christ, the Messiah.  From that time on, He BEGINS to tell them the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. News to which Peter famously reacts most strongly to. Mat 16:21-23

The men in John 2:23 did not demonstrate a false belief, they believed they could have their desire for a kingdom again met in this miracle working Man. This passage has nothing to do with Eternal Salvation, and should not have that topic forced on it by those who would seek to teach it.

The next verse he cites is John 3:36, he talks about the famous John 3:16 and then says that verse 36 is in the same context. He says;
"You must come to grips with this. There is a belief that does nothing....." "We're not adding works, but you've got to wrestle this through." 
He explains that this verse tells us only those who are obedient are saved. If you just read that verse alone I'm sure one could think this. However, such a statement is Bad Kool-Aid and a very simple an rebuttal of this fallacy is found here. The Pastor here does great violence to the context of the Text, so much so that those who know better ought to have rebuked the man to his face right then and there. Pastor Millar expressed in a comment under Part 1 that he doesn't like discussions and debates on blogs because God has ordered the local assemblies for that purpose. I actually have a lot of agreement with him on this. However, we read again and again in Paul's letters to the assemblies which we have preserved in the New Testament, that when an assembly fails to hold to truth that they get written to. I'm not raising my writing to that of Scripture - that's laughable... but I do say this. Had the godly men and women who know their Bibles in that assembly stood up and challenged their Pastor that day then I wouldn't be writing this blog article. 

Pastor Millar is seeking to explain the application of John 14:15 and quotes this passage over and over throughout the sermon. It serves as the emotional thrust for each of his arguments. He quotes the ESV, (not the NKJV that I link to most often) saying "If you love Me you will keep my commandments" over and over again.

At one point early in the sermon he wonders if his audience even knows what "commandments" the Lord is speaking about, but he fails to tell them at that point. Very near the end of his sermon he does get to 1Jn 3:23-24 but even then he doesn't make the connection for his audience. 1. Believe in the Name of Jesus Christ and 2. Love each other. What does the Pastor dwell on? What the commandments are? Sadly no. He dwells on "keeping commandments" speaking of obedience.
"Whoever keeps His commandments abides in God and God in them. Whoever keeps His commandments. Now again not Works Salvation don't keep His commandments to get saved but if you're really saved there'll be some keeping of His commandments."
This seems like as good a spot as any to stop for now. What we've seen so far is that it is easy to force your view on the Text, and that it takes careful examination of doctrine to determine if it is true or not. I believe this Pastor does want to see people saved and living holy lives for the Lord. Unfortunately his zeal for this combined with his training at The Master's Seminary and an on going association with Lordship Salvation proponents has resulted in his taking great, unwarranted, liberties with the Text.

Next time, in Part 3, I'll continue with his arguments in the Text; Acts 5:32, Rom 2:1-8, Rom 6:16, Heb 5:9 and James 2:14-26. Then, the Lord willing, I'll finish up the Textural arguments in Part 4. As I finish writing this part I it looks like this will be a 5 part series. God willing, the 5th part will be about his conclusion, and the solution he offers to those who "fail the test."

Please find Part 3 of this series here.


Look up said...

If those in John 8:31 were already freed with a saving belief, why did Jesus in John 8:32 say "the truth shall/will make you free" as compared to "the truth hath/has already made you free"?

Kevl said...

Hi Look Up,

You wrote "were already freed with a saving belief"

You're loading your question with preconcived ideas.

What are you instantly free from when you believe? The judgment of God.

What are you free of if you abide in the words of Christ? IE walk in the Spirit. Gal 5:16. You are free from the bondage of sin. You are only free of this bondage if you abide, if you walk in the Spirit. If you do not do this.. then sin will have power in your life.

This is one reason why proper discipleship is needed in our churches. Changing the terms of the Gospel will not produce holy living Christians - as Pastor Millar freely expresses in his message these people who sit under the Lordship Slavtion gospel week in and week out would still be ashamed to have their Pastor see how they live all week.

Why is this so? Because instead of holding saved Christians to the standards we are supposed to, we simply tell them they are "probably" not saved.. and that they should "foresake" their sins... and "turn to serve God."

Instead of discipling them, we accuse them of having a false belief.

I'll get to more on this topic in the conclusion of the series when I talk about the solutions proposed by Pastor Millar, and what I belief Scripture says.


Kevl said...

Look UP,

I should point out that you asked a good question.

I just now realized that I was loading my ideas into my writing and just assuming that everyone reading would have the same mind set.

Good question.


Jan said...

Because instead of holding saved Christians to the standards we are supposed to, we simply tell them they are "probably" not saved.. and that they should "foresake" their sins... and "turn to serve God."

Instead of discipling them, we accuse them of having a false belief.


This might be completely off topic but I am wondering about something. LS preachers sometimes preach from the pulpit to supposedly Biblically sound churches that some large percentage (anywhere from 50-85%) of that church's membership is probably not saved. And they say that the problem is in the gospel that they had heard- usually where the person is entreated to “pray a prayer” or “walk an aisle” or “raise their hand” or something similar (of course, this only concerns the response and not the message itself so we don't know what message they would be responding to). But the strange thing is, they do the same thing in their own churches where the LS gospel is preached week after week-always presupposing that the same people who sit there for years, and have been active members in that church for years, are not necessarily saved. They never say they know the people are saved because they responded to the “hard gospel” instead of the easy one. It seems not to improve assurance among the preachers that their flocks are indeed saved, else why would they treat the same people like they might not be saved week after week? I mean, these are the people who responded by making the commitment, giving their lives, bowing to Christ's Lordship, or what have you, right? But still, week after week, even thought they did what they were supposed to do to get saved, their salvation is still supposedly in question. And it's not like they make a distinction between those who are there weekly and someone who may be new or visiting. does preaching an LS gospel improve salvation statistics among church members? And when and how does the issue get settled?

Do you see what I mean?

Kevl said...

Hi Jan,

I sure would like it if Pastor Millar, or one of those he teaches, would answer this question.

I guess I have two answers.

The first one is a bit of preview of the conclusion of this series. Gal 6:12 Think of how "holy" one appears before Reformed audiences when they preach like that? Think of how evil they are made out to be if they preach anything other than that.

Why do people parrot John MacArthur, John Piper, Paul Washer.... when they preach? It's an easy sell, and if they don't... well they have to answer for it.

The other reason is when you only carry one tool... it's got to be used for every job.

The premise is that if you are saved you will be obedient, and if you're not obedient then you're not saved.

If that's true where else can you go? Person has doubt - they are not saved. Person has sin - they are not saved. They question our doctrine - they are not saved.

How can you exercise proper biblical correction? You can't. It doesn't make sense under that system Galatian 6:1 makes no sense... you can't restore him because "he who goes out from us never was of us" You can't restore what never had fellowship in the first place. You can only preach salvation to them.

Oh I'm tempted to get into the whole conclusion here. :)

Maybe some Calvinistic people will answer your question. These articles are getting a lot of reads... there must be some people who disagree with my premise who are also willing to answer your question.


Jan said...

Do you suppose they ever sing "Blessed Assurance?"


Lou Martuneac said...


This is an important ministry of warning you’ve been issuing about this works based Lordship Salvation message from Pastor Mallar. I want to address the following,

“The next verse he cites is John 3:36, he talks about the famous John 3:16 and then says that verse 36 is in the same context. He says; ‘You must come to grips with this. There is a belief that does nothing..... ‘We’re not adding works, but you’ve got to wrestle this through.’ He explains that this verse tells us only those who are obedient are saved. If you just read that verse alone I’m sure one could think this.”

You’ve landed on one of the classic misuses by LS men for John 3:36. I address this in my book.

“The active word in this verse [Jn. 3:36] is believe. If a man will believe on the Son (of God), he will have eternal life. John MacArthur cites this verse in a footnote on p. 33 of The Gospel According to Jesus. The meaning of the verse, however, is distorted to favor the Lordship Salvation view. He cites the verse as follows: ‘He who does not obey the Son shall not see life. . . .’”


Kevl said...

Hi Lou,

It's sad that half truths are used to draw disciples into bondage.