Saturday, November 06, 2010

'BUT' Theology - Part 5 - Conclusion

Picture removed to spare those
who are prone to stumble.
This Part 5, and the conclusion, 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. Then read Part 2 which covers most of his strongest arguments. Part 3 also deals with a large number of textual arguments, most of which the Pastor made in passing. Part 4 dealt with a number of passages where the Pastor added his own words to the Text, and skipped some important information that the Lord gives us in His words. 

I'm just going to pick up where we left off last time, because this last article may be the longest yet! Pastor Millar begins the home stretch of his sermon applying John 14:15 to the life of people who profess to have faith in Jesus Christ.
“Here’s five simple questions you need to ask yourself and examine yourself with the answer to.. now, now please hear me… I’m not saying if you fail these you’re not saved. I can’t say that about you, you can’t say that about me. We don’t see each other’s heart. I would never, Lord willing, say you’re not saved. I might say you look like you’re not saved.
When I do funerals I try to be very careful. But sometimes there’s so much fruit and so much evidence it’s like man I really really really believe they’re saved. But I’m not the judge of that, so I’m not saying you’re not. I’m saying examine your own heart before the Word of God.
Here’s just five simple tests.”
To be fair, the prime thrust of his argument is that he can’t judge your salvation and you can’t judge his. BUT (that’s for Look Up) the fact remains that when the chips are down and he’s doing the funeral of someone he knows, and who has “so much fruit and so much evidence” he’s not able to say they are saved.  You’ll see in his five questions that he sets the bar VERY low.. is there “any glimmer” of what he asks you to test for… but when there is “so much” he can’t say that salvation has occurred? To be blunt… if the test can’t be trusted then it is not of God.

Now I have written in the last couple of parts of this series that this part would start out with me agreeing with Pastor Millar. Perhaps I should have thought about that a bit more before I wrote it. I’ll start agreeing with him now… which is close to the start.. but not exactly the start.

Now here's his 5 question test.

1. Do you have conviction over your sin?

He goes on to talk about how the Scriptures say that the Lord disciplines all those who are His, and those who are not disciplined are “illegitimate sons.” Shockingly I agree with this… it is Biblical. Heb 12:3-11 However, the presence of what might appear to be conviction doesn’t indicate Eternal Salvation – because any number of things can convict us of behaving poorly. The law of the land, our peers, our family, our up-bringing. This is not an accurate indicator of Salvation… but if you are in fact saved and God’s Spirit indwells you then you will be convicted of your sin. That is until you seer your conscience…. And forget that your sins were cleansed… What’s more, Hebrews 12 makes no sense in the Lordship Salvation theology. If you truly have saving faith then you will obey… you don’t need to be trained to obey, it’s part of your faith.

OK the agreement portion of this article is now concluded, I hope it was worth the wait.

2. Do you have any desire for Jesus? “is there any sort of kindling of love in your heart?” “maybe it’s just a light flame, but is there any sort of desire in your life for Christ?”

He references Phil 3 very quickly, saying “it talks about this” but he moves quickly away from the question. I really don’t know how this can determine if you are saved or not. I find the contrast between “so much fruit” and “is there any sort of…” here to be disturbing. How can he preach such differing standards? I don’t get his point and I’m not sure it’s important.

3. Do you see evidence of growth in your life?

Again this is about maturity not determinative of if you have been Born Again or not. Does a plant grow when it is choked out by weeds? Does a plant grow when it is starved for food? Does a plant not growing mean it isn’t a plant? The constant confusion of discipleship with salvation is a great cause of offense to the Scriptures by Lordship Salvation proponents.

One notable departure from some other Lordship Salvation proponents is heard here though. He speaks of how “we” can struggle with the same sin over and over. I’m not sure how tshis fits with the rest of his theology, but at least he is not making all the mistakes that most Lordship Salvation proponents make.

4. Are you growing even a little more humble or teachable?

This is an interesting one as well. For in my inbox I have an email from one of the Pastors on his staff, who has been a dear close friend – as much a brother to me as anyone could possibly be – for about 15 years. That email says that he will not devote any more study time to the subject of Lordship Salvation. I have troubled the man very little with this subject. I offered him a single email that detailed all the good resources I knew to help him. He responded with a note about having read the foolish writings of Zane Hodges – instead of the good and credible resources I offered. Also on my kitchen counter are two boxes with books I paid for and sent to him. Lou Martuneac’s In Defense of the Gospel and Dr. Fred Lybrand’s Back To Faith. He emailed me when he received them offering three options. He could return them to Amazon, send them to me or dispose of them himself.

Are you growing even a little more humble and teachable? I’m sorry but I can’t take this question seriously. I’m also not sure it has anything to do with determining whether a person is saved or not.

Please forgive me the personal intrusion into this series. The influence of this Pastor drew my best friend away from the Gospel of Christ to another that is no gospel at all.  The personal aspects neither validate nor negate the truthfulness of his message or my challenge of it. Please determine the validity by the Scriptures alone.

5. Do you have a love for the world? “That’s not good.”

He notes immediately after asking that we all love the world at times, and asks:
“…but is that who you are? Or are you being renewed in your minds? Or how about this are you offering yourself daily as a sacrifice?”
Where in Scripture is salvation conditioned on “offering yourself daily as a sacrifice”? One might read Romans 12 and find that this is optional for a Believer, that it is something we ought to do – as our rightful service, not something that all true Believers will do.

This is where he tells his listeners to read 1John for more “tests” and we dealt with that last time in Part 4 of this series, because it fit better there.

Here he says that if you fail his test;
“there’s a good chance that you do not know God and you do not belong to Him.”
Next the Pastor offers two more questions. Do you know Jesus? Which he breaks out a number of scenarios… basically he wants to know how well you know Jesus. Do you spend time with Him? Can you tell me all about Him?

I’m at a loss to find where Scripture conditions my salvation on how well I know Christ. 1Cor 15 tells me that if I receive the Gospel – that He died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, was buried and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures that I am saved. Not if I know lots and lots about His life….

Then he asks what he says is the most important question – Does Jesus know you? This is where he brings up that those in Mat 7 who call Him “Lord, Lord” are truly mindful of the Lordship of Christ. He says:
“These people are really thinking ‘He’s my Lord!’”
 “They profess a relation ship with Him ‘We believe in You’” and goes on to remind us that He never knew them." 
Again, he adds his own theology into the words of the Lord. How can you do this? Especially in THIS of all sermons?

It’s true that if the Lord does not know you, you are not going to get into Heaven. But you don’t know if the Lord knows you by your works. You know it by having received the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 1Cor 15:1-11 tell us this clearly.

Now here is your listening assignment, and I’m being serious. Please listen to the man preach. At this point in the sermon you will hear what is either a performance worthy of lofty awards… or a broken heart desperate for those who are listening to respond to his sermon.

I think it’s a broken and desperate heart. I’ve listened to this sermon some 15 times now. As enraged as his abuse of the Text can make me, at this point my heart softens and my emotions melt and I ache for the man.

Please start listening at 37:40 thru to the end of this 43 minute sermon. You can find the recording here. The Pastor asks his worship band to come up and play a song. These guys are wonderful players. When I have been at Harvest London I’ve delighted by how well these people play.  He tells the people to pray the words of the song… or sit there silently examining themselves…

How can you pray to God and hear what God is telling you and revealing to you while a rock band is playing in front of you?  This is nothing more than guided emotionalism. It has nothing to do with seeking God.

The recording then jumps ahead and you hear the emotive music playing and the Pastor starts to speak again, now very emotional. He starts offering his solution, or rather solutions to those who failed the test. Please listen to him preach this, and consider these question – what doesn’t he say? What’s missing?

Here are the things he tells people to do, after having said there’s nothing they can “do.”

“If you’ve examined yourself and you’ve failed the test. You don’t have to do something. You have to come to the cross and fall at the foot of the cross.”
“Maybe you haven’t surrendered. Listen believing is; I turn fully and completely from myself and everything…… Trusting in myself…doing it my own way… all my own ideas and I just surrender. I open myself I just turn to Christ and it’s all Him.  It’s a faith.. it’s a believing.. it’s a following”

With 2 minutes left in the sermon He starts to pray to the Father. When he gets to those who have failed the test he prays;
“That this would be the time, right here right now they’d be willing to repent and turn fully from their sin and turn to serve a living and true God. To just let go of everything and hand it over to Christ.”
He goes on to tell the Father that is “our desire” to have this play out in all areas of our lives. I have to say “That’s a lot of doing for the people to do who he says ‘don’t have to do something.’

So we’ve reached the end of the sermon. What’s missing? 


Other than a vague reference to coming to and falling down at the foot of the cross we have no preaching here that God’s wrath has been propitiated by Christ’s death. Much earlier in the sermon he also noted that knowing Jesus died for your sins ought to humble you. We have not told that justice has been satisfied for our sins in this sermon. This man puts a crowd in fear of their eternal life, and holds back the only hope they could have! 


Here's what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1:16-17 
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

Do you hear the words of the Apostle here? The Gospel is the power of God to salvation for EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES. The just shall live by faith! Not by obedience. Not by faith + works. Not by a faith that works. The just shall live by faith!

In Romans 4:1-6
What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh?  For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.  For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,  just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:

Notice please that the Apostle did not write "But to him who does not work but has a belief that works on Him.... his faith that works is accounted for righteousness..... to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works." BUT this is what the Pastor would have you believe the Apostle meant! There's a faith that does nothing he says, and it is a false faith. A true saving faith is a faith that does something, that changes you, that works, that loves, that perseveres....

He started out saying shocking words “It’s all of grace and it’s all of faith. It’s believing. We affirm that completely BUT…” He went on many times to assure us that he doesn’t add works or obedience to the Gospel. But when he gets to the point of his sermon where he knows many people are doubting their salvation what does he tell them about? What they must DO. He doesn’t tell them that their sins have been paid for! He doesn’t tell them that Christ died for their sins and rose again victoriously so that we can have life! He doesn’t tell them to put their faith in Christ. He tells them to “repent of their sin and turn to serve a living and true God” 

What religion is this?

Friends. Beloved. Jesus Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures. He died and was buried, then rose to life again the third day according to the Scriptures. He was seen alive and in the flesh by MANY brethren for MANY days. By this we know that God has accepted His sacrifice on our behalf and if we believe this we are in fact saved because we have believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

What does God say about sermons like this? Read the book of Galatians to find out explicitly. Read it out loud. Preach it to yourself. Preach it to the wind as though it could hear! Preach it to Harvest Bible Chapel in London. Preach it to Pastor Norm Millar. Preach it, for it is true.

Paul declared what the Gospel is, that Gospel which he received from Christ Himself and that ALL the Apostles preached, and what EVERY SINGLE truly saved believer hangs his or her hope on in 1Cor 15:1-11. Beloved, if this is not your hope then you are not saved. I don’t have to waffle on this whatsoever. I don't have to change the meanings of passages, skip verses and insert my own thoughts and words. It is the truth. If the Gospel is your hope, you are saved. If it is not, then you are not.

Pastor Millar commented on Part 1 of this series saying that he would not be returning to my blog. Likewise I will not be returning to listen to any more of his preaching. 

A false gospel is poison to Believers, and to the world.

I’ll close with Galatians 1:6-9

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. 


Jan said...


I haven't read through your post all the way yet but I have something to say right off the bat about Millar's quote. He says he can't tell if a person is saved or not, only that they look like they may be or not.

This presents an ENORMOUS practical problem for Christians. Just a small sample of how this problem may manifest:

1) You have a need for a pastor. You get candidates. One of these men is going to fill the pulpit in your church. They all have orthodox salvation testimonies and all seem like they're saved- they have fruit. BUT, how can you know for sure? I mean, we can't see their hearts so only the Lord can really know for sure if they are saved. But how do you know that you won't choose one who isn't saved by accident, being that they all look like they are saved?

2) You are a single Christian dating a prospective marriage partner. You are trusting the Lord to bring you together with the person of His choice. The person you are in relationship with now seems to be a very viable candidate for marriage. He or she has an orthodox testimony. There is fruit, so you think they may be saved. In fact, you are pretty sure of it. As sure as you can be, given that you can't see inside their heart to know for sure, like God does. But, really, you can't be fully, actually sure yourself. Enter the verse that tells Christians not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. Christians are not to marry unbelievers, for what fellowship has light with darkness? You know this and have no intention of violating it. But there is that other verse, that has suddenly become quite pesky, that says whatever is not of faith is sin. can't really know if this person is saved because you can't see inside their heart so you cannot fulfill this verse no matter what you do. The best you can do is the best you can do and hope it all works out OK and you are not sinning accidentally by marrying someone you thought was a believer but really isn't, but you are trapped in that whatever is not of faith is SIN.

3) Your church has a policy that it only accepts into membership only those who have been saved and baptized as believers. By accepting these people into membership you are really testifying corporately that they are brothers in Christ. Some of these people will be leaders, teachers, deacons, what have you in positions of responsibility for the spiritual welfare of others. But, you can't really know for sure they are really saved. They all have orthodox testimonies and they seem like they are saved as they have some fruit in their lives. Some have more fruit than others, but all have some. can't know for sure they are really saved because only God can see their hearts and know for sure. So, you extend the right hand of fellowship with the accompanying public, corporate testimony in the name of Jesus that these people are recognized ( far as you can tell) as brethren in Christ...hoping you are not bearing false witness.

Does God really expect us to operate in this fashion? Of course not!!! We most certainly CAN know for sure if someone is saved! How many times have we had that inner conviction from the Holy Spirit that a person is part of the Body of Christ even as we are? I have had that conviction about people when they just walked into a room, knowing nothing else about them! That has happened twice in my life that I can think of right off the top of my head. And guess what? They really are saved! Testimony, fruit, and everything!!

You know, sometimes you just know.

Go figure!

For crying out loud. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck...

It's a brother!!!


Kevl said...

Hense forth this unknowability factor will be called - "Quack Theology"


Interesting points Jan!

I always point out that Paul didn't shy away from saying that people were saved. If Paul didn't shy away from it why should we?


Jan said...

By the way, how do you know that popular teacher you have been drawing on and modeling your preaching after is saved? I mean, he looks like's saved and he sounds like he's saved, but in the do you know??? Only God can see inside his heart.

So, is his teaching really safe?

Or not?

How do you know?


Jan said...

Alright. I have now finished reading your whole post.

I have not finished listening to Millar's sermon yet (I am part way through so I have heard some of it). I haven't gotten to the gospel part yet, about which you said this:


But I find myself disturbingly unsurprised. I am finding this to be the case more and more often. When I first started researching the LS gospel I thought they did not preach the cross. I knew they held to the substitutionary atonement (offered for some, at least), but I thought it was strangely lacking in their evangelistic preaching. That is indeed sometimes the case, though not as common as I thought at first.

One of our most prominent favorites in this camp preached a 55 minute long evangelistic sermon where the cross of Christ was just glancingly mentioned twice, one of which was clearly an "oops, I almost forgot about this part" mention amidst other things the preacher felt were more important. The other was when he quoted Romans 10:9, "and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead." That was the full extent of his gospel/Christ crucified preaching. Everything else was publicly confessing Jesus as your personal Lord for salvation. That is how you escape the judgment of hell: to publicly confess Jesus as your Lord and (oh, yeah) He's the only Savior.

Now, it must be acknowledged that in the wider body of this man's work he does preach and teach the substitutionary atoning death of Christ (for some, not all), and he does present this fact to the unsaved as something that must be believed.

But my question is, how do you EVER leave the gospel out of a gospel presentation? And why, even when it is mentioned, is it not necessarily the most salient, central point of the gospel*?

I recall a sermon preached by my (newly converted LS) pastor at a funeral (!) that became the subject of discussion among some of us at a later date. The conversation began with one person saying this message was the last time they heard the gospel preached so clearly. I countered that he did not preach the gospel at all. Another person said, "yes he did! He said, 'follow!'"

So now "follow Jesus," not, "Jesus died on the cross in your place" is the clear gospel.

I rest my case.


*Kudos to Paul Washer, as he does focus heavily on the atonement. However, since he is bound by TULIP, he is ethically constrained from making this atonement personal. He will not say, "Jesus died for you" without adding the qualifier, "for God's people," and he will not tell an individual sinner that Jesus died for him so that he can be saved. Thus, getting the truth of the atonement--which he expounds so well, except for its extent--applied to the needy sinner becomes unnecessarily cumbersome.

Kevl said...

Hi Jan,

Paul Washer is surely a mixed bag of good and bad.

I truly hope those friends of mine who are sitting under Pastor Millar read this post... and that they truly consider the fact that Gospel is missing from this presentation.

Can you imagine KNOWING that people are unsaved, and not preaching the Gospel to them? Unthinkable.

Yet this is what LS theology makes men do. They are so focused on "following" and "forsaking sin" and "turning to serve" that they forget that Christ died so that God could be just and the justifier of all the ungodly people who will believe in Him.