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Winning through Losing

September 1, 2010 Leave a comment

People don’t like to lose.  People are fond of saying that they hate losing.   They’re winners.  They’re people you’d want on your team.  However, I’m calling on everyone to give losing a second look.   Scripture says that you’ve got to lose in order to win.  In other words, if you can’t lose, you’re not going to win.  The Bible magnifies losing.

First, I point you to Philippians 3.  Paul saw losing as a necessity for the ultimate and supreme gain.  He wrote (3:7-8):

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.

Winning through losing.   Lose you, win Christ.  And Paul was saying something that Jesus had already said, using the same verb (zemioo, lemma ten times in NT), in Matthew 16:26,

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Mark 8:36,

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

and Luke 9:25.

For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

I think Paul knew he was using the same kind of talk, the exact word too, that Jesus used.  You need to lose in order to win.  If you lose your soul or life or self, you gain eternal life.  You lose everything for the pearl of great price.  Only someone who believes in Jesus Christ would do this.  It is believing in Jesus Christ to “count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.”

So you win everything by losing everything.  But I believe that a lot of our life is also a microcosm of this.  And I point you to relationships.   You could see your argument as your territory, as your little kingdom, your little fiefdom that you can’t give up.  You must win at all costs.  So even if you’re wrong, you keep arguing.  You’ve got to win.  And when you win, you lose.  If you lose, you win.  You have to make that choice.

Your wife says she didn’t.  You say she did.  Your husband says he said this.  You say that he said that.  When I said that, you gave me a look.  I did not.  Did too.  Did not.  Did too!  Did not!  Did too!!!  Did not!!!!  So she did, and you say she didn’t, and you dig in, and you win.  But not really.  You lost.  It’s funny.  At the time, you thought you were winning, but when you were done, you found out that you had lost.  You really are a looozer.

The Bible is full of paradox and irony.  This is one of those you must understand and inculcate if you are going to be that winner you think you are.

Sovereignty over Sovereignty

August 16, 2010 16 comments

God is sovereign.  No doubt.  God will always accomplish His will.  He is God after all.  I know that the term “Trinity” isn’t in the Bible, but that there is a Trinity—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  These Three are One.  You don’t find the word “sovereign” in the King James Version.  You have the terminology “only Potentate” in 1 Timothy 6:15 and perhaps that would be the closest to sovereign in the King James.   Bauer-Danker Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament (BDAG) says the Greek word there (dunastes) means:  “one who is in a position to command others. . . . ruler, sovereign.”  So monos dunastes says that God alone commands others.  He is in the highest position.

Since God is sovereign, He is also sovereign over what it is to be sovereign.  No one else defines sovereignty but God.  God has sovereignty over sovereignty.  As men, we don’t figure out what sovereignty is and then apply that to God.  We don’t go to passages about God in the Bible and fit them into our own ideas about sovereignty.  We go to the Bible to find out what sovereignty is so that to us God is still sovereign over what His own sovereignty is.  If we change God’s sovereignty into what we want it to be, God isn’t more sovereign.  He is less so.  We then become sovereign over His sovereignty.  Now that can’t take place in reality, but in discussions about sovereignty men often become sovereign over sovereignty.  We should allow God to have the say about what it is for Him to be sovereign.

If I say that a man’s salvation depends on his will, some would say that I’ve made man sovereign in salvation.  For God to stay sovereign, they say that a man’s salvation must have absolutely nothing to do with his own will.  According to this view of sovereignty, God alone wills to and for salvation irregardless of man’s.   And if someone were to believe that man willed to be saved, he couldn’t believe in the sovereignty of God.  But is this what Scripture says?  God wrote it, so Scripture is sovereign over sovereignty.  Someone isn’t more dedicated to God’s sovereignty who departs from Scripture to define it.

Someone once told me that he could do Donald Duck better than Donald Duck.  I laughed.  That’s not possible.  No one can do Donald Duck better than Donald Duck.  Donald Duck is Donald Duck.  And God alone is God.  We can’t do God better than God.  God is sovereign, but we can’t do His sovereignty better than what He has done it in His Word.  We should conform our view of God’s sovereignty to what God said.  In whatever way our view of God’s sovereignty doesn’t match up with what God said, we should alter it to fit what God said.  We can’t have any higher view of God’s sovereignty than what God says His sovereignty is.  One possesses only in his own mind a higher view of God’s sovereignty than the view that God Himself communicates in His Word.

I might say that I have a higher view of the San Francisco Giants baseball team than you do.  And I have that higher view because I believe they are not only the San Francisco Giants, but they are also the Sante Fe Giants.   Even though they aren’t the Sante Fe Giants, I say my belief that they are elevates my view of the San Francisco Giants to a higher level than others at least according to me.   However, a view of the San Francisco Giants can’t be heightened by something not true about them.  The same can be said in judgment of a view of sovereignty.  Someone’s view of God’s sovereignty isn’t increased by something not true about it.  God’s sovereignty isn’t threatened in a way that it needs some exaggeration or misrepresentation to remain sovereign.  That’s how sovereigns are about their own sovereignty—they’re sovereign about it.

We don’t grasp the concept of sovereignty without a sovereign.  The Sovereign who created the concept of sovereignty wouldn’t let someone else rule over the concept.  He would henceforth not be sovereign and, therefore, look to those who defined it to be the true sovereigns.  The Sovereign will have His understanding of sovereignty be sovereign over all other views of sovereignty.

Does God become any less sovereign by any statement of His Word?  Of course not.  God’s Word manifests God to be as sovereign as He actually is.  Since He is sovereign, He can’t be diminished in His sovereignty.  And His own Word especially wouldn’t try to weaken it.  All of God’s statements in His Word that relate to sovereignty could only serve to enhance the right view of His sovereignty.

Let’s say that I wanted to enhance people’s understanding of God’s mercy, so I said that God wouldn’t punish anyone for any wrong he had done.  When you said that God did punish men for wrong they had done, I answer that you don’t really believe in God’s mercy.  However, the truth of God’s mercy isn’t diminished by the truth of God’s punishment of sin.  God’s mercy is mercy.  All other mercy is judged by what the Bible says is His.  God still punishes sin and His mercy remains all of what mercy is.  An unscriptural innovation of mercy departs from mercy.  We’re not talking about mercy anymore when we’re talking about something different than biblical mercy.

I haven’t dimished an iota of God’s sovereignty when I report that “whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

Jesus wasn’t shrinking His own sovereignty when He said, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:34, 35).

We don’t improve upon a biblical view of God’s sovereignty.  We don’t help God’s sovereignty along by professing that a man’s will has nothing to do with his salvation, when a sovereign God said that it does.  When God says, “whosoever will,” we don’t exalt God’s sovereignty by saying that “whosoever really doesn’t mean whosoever like we think it means.”  We don’t enlighten God’s sovereignty by saying “whosoever will but only those whom He predetermined will can will.”  No, whosoever does mean whosoever.

I recently read, “God determines who shall believe and who shall not believe.”  Some might think that statement exalts the sovereignty of God.  It could do that only if God said it.  He didn’t.  Someone thinking he could embellish God’s sovereignty with his own thoughts took the rule over that sovereignty.

God’s sovereignty and “whosoever will” coexist.  “Whosoever will” doesn’t make God’s sovereignty less sovereign or less amazing.  “Whosoever will” pins the needle on God’s sovereignty.  God is equal to the most sovereign He can be while “whosoever will” exists.  We don’t need to clear away “whosoever will” to make room for God’s sovereignty.  The people who can’t cope with “whosoever will” according to their view of sovereignty need to trust God.   God is big enough to work out the details they can’t possibly comprehend.

God is sovereign.  God gets what He wants.  He wants “whosoever will,” therefore, He gets it.  No one can topple God from His throne.  He created all the possible enemies of “whosoever will.”  He didn’t create any of them with potential to overturn something He wants.  So the best they can undo “whosoever will” is in their mind and with their statements, which actually don’t do or undo anything that He already said was true.  Their thoughts and words about “whosoever will” dissipate into the ether of human invention.  They don’t change anything that God wants.  They don’t stop “whosoever will.”

A growing number of people come to the Bible with their definition of sovereignty in hand, ready to conform Scripture to their definition.   By limiting the recipients of salvation, they think they do service to God’s sovereignty.  They don’t.  They only take sovereignty over sovereignty.  And God doesn’t need their help.

“You don’t believe in sovereignty” or “you’ve made man sovereign in salvation” are often scare tactics.  They are effective, because they target a yearning of the conscientious Christian, like Sanballat and Tobiah zeroed in on Nehemiah’s legitimate concerns.  We don’t want to be guilty of ratcheting down God and magnifying man.  With such an attribute as sovereignty that defies comprehension, we could settle for a harsh extreme that hovers outside of biblical perimeters, just to protect us from proud criticism.  “Whosoever will” is there.  Be safe in the bounds of Scripture.

If Ye Continue (Colossians 1:23)

January 19, 2010 11 comments

I recently had a protracted conversation with a Wesleyan Methodist on eternal security.  He used Colossians 1:23 as a proof text for the conditional security of salvation.  I had the same verse whipped out in my week long debate with Larry Hafley from the Church of Christ to dispute the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer.  The verse does present the candidates for reconciliation and presentation before God the Father.   Jesus both shed His blood (v. 20, represented by the cup in the Lord’s Table) and died (v. 22, represented by the bread in the Lord’s Table) to reconcile to God those who “were sometime alienated from and enemies of God by their wicked works,” which is “to present them holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight” (vv. 21b-22).

Who will Jesus reconcile and who will Jesus present holy before God’s presence?  Those who “continue in the faith and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (v. 24a).  What about those who will not continue in the faith?  Well, it is correct to say that they will not be reconciled to God nor presented holy before God in the final judgment.  So, in order for someone to be saved, he must continue?  Yes.  If he does not continue, he will not be saved?  That’s right.  So it’s not enough for someone only to believe in Jesus Christ in order to be reconciled to God, but he also must continue doing the works of God in order to be presented holy before God?  No.  No?  That’s right.  No.  It seems like it follows though?  It does not follow.  And this is where the Wesleyans, the Nazarenes, many Charismatics, freewill Baptists, and the Church of Christ all fail.  They say it follows that someone must keep on doing good works in order for him to be saved.

The one being saved will do good works.  He must do good works.  The works don’t save him, however.  They have nothing to do with his salvation.  It’s that when a person is reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, he will continue in the faith.  Genuine faith will persevere.  It will continue.  It will overcome. It will bring forth fruit.  It will conform to the image of God’s Son.

The first part of v. 23 is a conditional clause.  Conditional clauses function as a part of a predicate in that they give a condition under which the action of the verb can take place.   As we look for a verb in v. 22, we see that the verb must either be “reconciled” or “present.”  I believe the condition fits best with “present,” since it is closer in proximity.  Jesus will present someone to God holy, etc., if that person continues in the faith.  People who get presented holy are the ones who continue in the faith. Those who do not continue in the faith do not get presented like that.

I’m parking on this technicality because I think it is important for you to know.  I’m explaining a textual nugget for you.   The New Testament was written in Greek.  The Greek language of the New Testament has four classes of conditional clauses.  These are all clearly and unmistakeably marked in the language itself by certain combinations of words.  Working from the fourth to the first, the fourth class is the most rare and it is the condition of assumed possibility.   The third class is the condition of assumed probability.

Example:

If at any future time this condition is met, then this will follow.

The second class is the condition of assumed unreality, that is, the assumption of an untruth for the sake of argument.

Example:

If this would have been, then that would have followed.

The first class is the condition of assumed reality, that is, the assumption of truth for the sake of argument.

Example:

If this is true (and I’m assuming it is), then this will happen.

The condition in Colossians 1:23 is the first class condition.  The writer is assuming this condition to be reality, to be true.   In other words, you should assume that anyone who will be presented to God holy, that anyone who is reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, will also continue in the faith.  Why?  Because believers do continue.  He’s not continuing in order to be reconciled.  He’s continuing because he’s been reconciled already.  Those who Jesus reconciles will also continue in the faith.  It  isn’t just possible that a person who is reconciled will continue in the faith, and it isn’t just probable.  It is the assumed reality of the reconciled, of those whom Jesus will present before God, that they will continue in the faith.

I often ask this question:  “If you have to keep doing good works in order to be saved, then who is doing the saving, you or God?”  The answer is, of course:  you.   Wesleyans and Campbellites and others add to grace and nullify grace.  As Paul wrote in Galatians 5:1-4, Christ will profit them nothing, He is made of no effect unto them, and they have become debtors to do the whole law, when they add continuing works as a basis of reconciliation.

How can you tell a true Christian?  He has prayed the sinner’s prayer?  No.  He claims to be a Christian?  No.  He’s got the date of his profession of faith written in the fly leaf of his Bible?  No.  His mother swears that he’s a saved person?  No.  He came forward at the invitation and went to the side room to accept Jesus?  No.  How?  He continues in the faith.

Jesus’ and the apostles’ teaching was riddled with this truth.  Those branches which are not cut off and thrown into the fire are those that abide in the vine (John 15).   In the parable of the soils in Luke 8, someone may receive the Word with joy, but if he has no root, he will fall away under trial.  In 1 John 2:19, John wrote that those who are of the believers would no doubt continue with believers.  If you are not with us, then you are not of us.  Jesus knew the hearts of men, and so we read in John 8:30-31:

As he spake these words, many believed on him.  Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.

We are not to assume that just anyone who has made a profession of faith is saved.  As a matter of fact, we should only consider to be saved those who Jesus and Paul would have considered to be saved.  And they will continue in the faith.  Fundamentalist and evangelical churches are filled with unconverted because we have assigned a true conversion to those whom Jesus never would.

Salvation Is Cultural Separation

Evangelicals know something is wrong.  They talk about it.  They’ve essentially ignored cultural separation for decades and they’ve gotten huge in part through their non-practice. The emerging evangelicals are compromising even more on cultural issues.  Now the especially conservative evangelicals seem to be starting to see that the Bible has something to say on it.  But if they say much about it, they might sound like fundamentalists.  If they tolerate, they’ll keep more audience, but if they do that too much, they see mounting ungodliness from their left flank.  Sound confusing?  It gets that way when you’ve been compromising your entire life.  So now, certain evangelicals are mentioning worldliness somewhat regularly, more than I’ve ever seen.  Since many evangelicals are moving further to their left on cultural issues, even they can’t stomach it any longer, and even they feel compelled to say something.

Here’s John MacArthur over at Pulpit Live—

You have no doubt heard the arguments: We need to take the message out of the bottle. We can’t minister effectively if we don’t speak the language of contemporary counterculture. If we don’t vernacularize the gospel, contextualize the church, and reimagine Christanity for each succeeding generation, how can we possibly reach young people? Above all else, we have got to stay in step with the times.  Those arguments have been stressed to the point that many evangelicals now seem to think unstylishness is just about the worst imaginable threat to the expansion of the gospel and the influence of the church. They don’t really care if they are worldly. They just don’t want to be thought uncool.

There is and always has been a fundamental, irreconcilable incompatibility between the church and the world. Christian thought is out of harmony with all the world’s philosophies. Genuine faith in Christ entails a denial of every worldly value. Biblical truth contradicts all the world’s religions. Christianity itself is therefore antithetical to virtually everything this world admires.

But what the contemporary church is into is not holy living, it is worldliness.  They think that rather than being separate from the world and thereby laying a foundation of credibility on which to witness, you need to be like the world.  They don’t call it worldliness, they have a new word for it, it’s called contextualization, which is a fancy word for worldliness.  The contextualization of the gospel today has infected the church with the spirit of the age.  It has opened the church’s doors wide for worldliness and shallowness and in some cases a crass party atmosphere.  The world now sets the agenda for the church.

And then there’s his comrade, Phil Johnson, at Team Pyro—

[N]ot all the world is charmed by worldly religion, and the apologetic value of “Disco Night in the Sanctuary” is by no means a given. In short, taking pains to demonstrate how hip and liberated we can be in our places of worship might not always be the finest “missional” strategy.

Think about it: Youth ministries (not all of them, of course, but the vast majority of squidgy evangelical ones) deliberately shield their young people from the hard truths and strong demands of Jesus. They tailor their worship so worldly youth can feel as comfortable in the church environment as possible.

And then you have David F. Wells, who writes about the culture:

What the church has to do, therefore, is to look for correlations between worldliness as I have described it and the cultural consequences of modernization that I am sketching. At the point where they coincide, the church has to become both anti-modern and carefully self-conscious about its virtue and its cognitive processes.

What Wells wrote, in very dressed up language, sounds just like what separatists have been saying for years.  When you say it in such a high-brow way, it seems easier for evangelicals to swallow.  I think it actually makes it easier for them to dismiss themselves from the actual practice of separation from the world.  However, again, they know something is wrong.

Evangelical Criticism of Cultural Separation in Fundamentalis

When evangelicals are asked to evaluate fundamentalism, a common negative is fundamentalism’s emphasis on cultural issues.  Just recently, as we ended writing this first month on culture here, very popular Southern Baptist evangelical, Mark Dever, and his 9 Marks organization published a critique of fundamentalism in their online ejournal (pdf). Here are some quotes from some of the evangelicals, critical of the emphasis of fundamentalism on cultural issues:

David S. Dockery—

Carl Henry once said that Fundamentalists cannot distinguish between the important truth regarding the resurrection of Jesus Christ and questionable matters like attending movies. In their attempt to defend the Bible and the gospel, Fundamentalists have often presented the truths of Christianity in a negative light. Their concerns with worldliness have resulted in a separatism that has no impact on the culture or society. The emphasis on holiness often results in an unhealthy legalism.

Os Guinness—

In their zeal to resist modern culture, for example, Fundamentalists have been quick to abandon such costly teaching of Jesus as “Love your enemies” and forgive as we have been forgiven without limits.

Jerammie Rinne—

Fundamentalists tended to take a hard line on drinking, dancing, movies and the like, and to withdraw into separate colleges, missionary organizations and denominations. Unfortunately, this separation too often fostered an oppressive legalism and divisive denominationalism that impeded the gospel.

So you can see that several evangelicals have a concern about modern day cultural philosophy and practices of professing Christianity, but on the other hand, they will criticize cultural separation within fundamentalism.  You really can’t have it both ways.  We either should separate culturally or we shouldn’t.

What Does Scripture Say About Salvation and Cultural Separation?

What matters is what God says, and the Bible does instruct us about cultural separation.  What I see in Scripture is that salvation is cultural separation.  When God saves us, He separates us from the culture.  A “salvation” that is not culturally separate is not salvation at all.  I want us to look at just a few passages and I believe you will see this truth with me.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

God commands Christians not to fellowship with non-Christians.  In light of a lot of other instruction in Scripture, this doesn’t mean that we don’t interact with unbelievers.  All of the nouns and verbs combined in this text help us to understand what this separation is.  Believers are not to fellowship, have communion, have concord, have part, or be in agreement with the unsaved.  Scripture nowhere teaches a believer to find common ground with an unbeliever.  A Christian as light has characteristics that pertain to his nature and lifestyle that are incompatible with the darkness descriptive of the unconverted man.  He especially does not share a common culture.  He is radically different than the unbeliever—he isn’t to cooperate, share, or associate with.

Gill writes:

Now, what “communion” can there be between persons so different one from another? for what is more so than light and darkness? these the God of nature has divided from each other; and they are in nature irreconcilable to one another, and so they are in grace. . . [W]hat part, society, or communion, can they have with one another?

In vv. 17, 18 we see this connection to salvation.  Those who do not separate from the world and its way, God will not receive and He will not call these non-separatists His sons and daughters.  Those God saves He also separates.

As a separatist, have you ever looked at a worldly evangelical (they’re all over), and thought:  “to me he doesn’t seem like a saved person”?  This passage says the same thing, that those who won’t separate culturally aren’t saved.  Their desire to associate, share, and relate with the world says something about their profession of faith.  God doesn’t receive them nor will He call them His sons and daughters.  You’re seeing them the same way He does.

1 Peter 3:18-21

During the days in which Noah built the ark, out of His longsuffering the Lord Jesus Christ preached through Noah to those on earth who mocked and persecuted him.  At the end of that time period, Noah and his family, eight souls, were saved by water.  That’s right, Noah and his family were saved by water.  Those eight souls were also saved by the ark, but not in the same way they were saved by the water.

If you were rushed down river in dangerous rapids, ready to drown, but you reached up and grabbed a tree branch just in time, you wouldn’t say that you were saved by water.  You would say that you were saved by that tree branch.  So how were Noah and his family saved by water?

One aspect of a believer’s salvation is his separation from the world.  We will not share eternity with those who oppose God, like the men who ridiculed Noah while he built the ark.  God will separate His own from unbelievers.  This is another way that God saves us.

Like water saved Noah and his family, so v. 21 says that baptism also saves.  Someone’s water baptism will separate a believer from the world.  It is one of the reasons for baptism.  When a new Christian makes his salvation public through baptism, he will separate himself from the world.  The reality of God’s salvation of Noah from the world is symbolized by baptism.  Some day God will physically and permanently separate His people from all others.  However, believers are to subject themselves to a temporal separation through water baptism.

Noah did not share the antediluvian culture.  He clashed with their way of life.  God saved him from it with the flood waters.  After the flood, he could live without their influences.  When we get saved, God wants the same for us, so he provided baptism, water that saves believers from pagan culture just like the waters of the flood saved Noah and his family.

Hebrews 13:13, 14

Gill writes concerning v. 13:

[T]he world [is] full of enemies to Christ and his people; and for the noise and fatigue of it, it being a troublesome and wearisome place to the saints, abounding with sins and wickedness; as also camps usually do; and for multitude, the men of the world being very numerous: and a man may be said to “go forth” from hence, when he professes not to belong to the world; when his affections are weaned from it; when the allurements of it do not draw him aside; when he forsakes, and suffers the loss of all, for Christ; when he withdraws from the conversation of the men of it, and breathes after another world; and to go forth from hence, “unto him,” unto Christ, shows, that Christ is not to be found in the camp, in the world: he is above, in heaven, at the right hand of God; and that going out of the camp externally, or leaving the world only in a way of profession, is of no avail, without going to Christ: yet there must be a quitting of the world, in some sense, or there is no true coming to Christ, and enjoyment of him; and Christ is a full recompence for what of the world may be lost by coming to him; wherefore there is great encouragement to quit the world, and follow Christ: now to go forth to him is to believe in him; to hope in him; to love him; to make a profession of him, and follow him.

The separation from the world is shown here to be the act of saving faith.  Believing in Jesus Christ is changing association  Jesus bore the reproach of the world and receiving Him is also receiving His reproach.  Believers don’t engage the culture, but bear its reproach.

Verse fifteen further explains.  We aren’t trying to fit in here because this isn’t our home.  We have no “continuing city” here.  We’re passing through so we’re not interested in conforming or fashioning ourselves like the world as if we had some future here.  Jesus didn’t fit in, so neither do we.

1 John 2:15

John tells us that the love of the Father does not abide in the man who loves the world.  Salvation is love for God.  Love for the world can’t be.  Worldliness is incompatible with salvation.

Evangelicals Divide Cultural Separation from Salvation

Against this teaching of Scripture, evangelicals remove cultural separation from salvation.  They do this by making cultural issues a secondary matter, distant from the gospel.  On p. 24, the 9 Marks ejournal reports:

Most of the answers focus, positively, on the Fundamentalists willingness to stand for truth and, negatively, on their tone and an inability to distinguish between primary and secondary matters.

Even professing fundamentalist, David Doran, mentions this (p. 25):

Later, in the midst of the conflict between the Fundamentalists and new Evangelicals, in some ways the focus shifted off of the gospel to secondary matters. Separation, rather than serving the goal of gospel purity, sometimes came to be viewed as end in itself.

Lance Quinn writes (p. 30):

While we can appreciate the Fundamentalists tight grip on the essential elements of Christianity, we must eschew their doctrinaire stances on issues which are much more secondary or tertiary.

Evangelicals also disjoin cultural separation from salvation by disconnecting the practice of separation from the gospel.  In their view, the gospel is something we can prize in everyone that claims the gospel, even if they are worldly too.  However, we can change the nature of the gospel by our lifestyle (1 Peter 2:11, 12).  The terms of the gospel, who Jesus is and what faith is, can both be affected by our association with the world.  The cares of this world can choke the word, so that it becomes unfruitful (Mark 4:19).  In other words, Scripture itself doesn’t separate worldly living from the work of the gospel.  Evangelicals have done and do it at their own peril.  Their ranks are full of worldly individuals, who still profess to be saved.  Doesn’t sound so secondary, does it?

Cultural Separation Doesn’t Separate from the Gospel

The Gospel separates from the culture.  The practical righteousness that we live comes out of the positional righteousness from our justification.  The Gospel does not disconnect from personal separation.  God saves us but He keeps on saving us.  That ongoing salvation through our justification also continues to separate.

The grace of God that brings salvation also teaches us to deny worldly lust (Titus 2:11, 12).  We won’t desire to act, look, or sound like the world if we have received the grace of salvation.  It won’t stop teaching us to deny wordly lust because it won’t stop saving us until our glorification.

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