Home > Brandenburg, Culture > Salvation Is Cultural Separation

Salvation Is Cultural Separation

March 3, 2008

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.

  1. March 3, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Great article. You nailed it from all the different angles. Very thorough. The evangelicals certainly try to play politics with worldliness. They try to give a little hoping to get a little. We’ll be a little bit worldly if you’ll come to some of our meetings. What a group to compromise with!?!

  2. March 4, 2008 at 5:45 am

    Brother Kent,

    I also read the 9 Marks Journal articles and was struck by something.

    These men (Dever & his associates) stress repentance and are certainly Calvinistic in their philosophy, and yet, they will not agree with the stands of their heroes. Men like Spurgeon, Pink, and Gill were quick to state that those who did not live like the Saved were not saved.

    This is a real problem for these men, and I am glad to see you put it in print. By the way, I appreciate their stand on repentance and “godly living”, but they are afraid to define “godly living” in a Scriptural sense. This must be very difficult for the more intelligent, more compassionate, more scholarly Evangelicals.

    I am so glad that I am “simple-minded.”

  3. March 4, 2008 at 9:51 am

    It is true that they act like they carry the banner of Spurgeon, etc., and then don’t take on their separation from the world. Things have changed mightily in the last 75 years regarding separation from the world. The gospel and the world are antithetical and when you bring them together, you effect the nature of the gospel.

    What I wanted to show is that Scripture doesn’t disconnect salvation from cultural separation. God saves us from the world like He did Noah and his family. To deny this is to deny Scripture.

  4. Dave Doran
    March 4, 2008 at 10:10 am


    I am trying to understand where you found the concept of “cultural separation” in the words of mine you quoted or in their original context. How did you come to that conclusion from what I said?

  5. March 4, 2008 at 10:27 am


    Thanks for visiting. When you say gospel and then secondary matters, it seems you are dividing the gospel from everything else. In light of the evangelical critique of fundamentalism, in the context, that is how it reads. I would be happy to clear that up. I don’t think that I’m the only one who understood it that way. I skimmed the comment thread over at SI on one of your sections in the 9 Marks article, and there were those who thought it different, at least, that you made fundamentalist separation, it seemed, just about the gospel.

    Again, I was in no way attempting to smear you. I was pretty much just the reporter, reporting on what I read. If you weren’t putting cultural separation within the secondary matter category, I’d be glad to find that out. When you read the whole 9 Marks journal, it seems that this is what secondary matters are—the cultural issues. The critique of fundamentalism is that they have squabbled and divided unnecessarily over cultural issues, at the expense of the gospel.

    What my article here says is that we don’t separate the gospel from cultural issues, at least I don’t, and this is how that I’ve understood it as a man who has preached expositionally through most of the Bible at this point.

    Again, help me understand how that I might be wrong, and I can clear it up. And thanks for coming over and talking.

    P.S. Dave, what do you think of the point of the article? I know your concern is I might misrepresent you, which I’m also concerned about, but what about the article itself. Would you say you agree?

  6. Dave Doran
    March 4, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Actually, I was just trying see why you thought I was saying what the others clearly said. I understand now how you arrived at that conclusion, so my curiousity is satisfied.

    I haven’t read your series, and didn’t read this one article very carefully, so I am hesitant to comment. I suppose I would express basic agreement with your main idea, but would also probably disagree with how “cultural separation” is defined. I don’t equate “world” and “culture” (and am not necessarily saying you do–haven’t read it carefully enough to make a case). So, I believe that God calls us out of the world, so we are in one sense immediately separated from it (no longer “of” it). But, we also live “in” the world, so we must diligently apply the Word to life so that we do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, and it’s the application process that probably raises differences among believers. Differences of application would qualify, from my perspective, as secondary matters.

    Thanks for taking time to help me understand what you meant.

  7. March 4, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Brother Kent,

    I think you made your point quite clearly. One of the things I tell the parents in our church is to not let their children “fit in” with the world. There seems to be a cry from the Dobson-type Evangelicals to let your children assimilate as much as possible. This includes hair styles, dress, piercings, tattoos, etc.

    The Gospel does indeed save us from the culture. Or in other words, the Gospel is not and should not be disconnected from separation from the culture. I appreciate the attitude in which you wrote this critique. I know, however, that many of the more “loving” brethren from the SI crew will not see it that way.

  8. March 4, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    I’m back from teaching a couple of classes. OK, I do equate “world” and “culture,” not “world” as in terra firma, but in the system. The world has its own culture that is separate from Christian culture from which we separate from. It is found in dress, music, recreation, etc. Yes, we overlap in the things we do—we do all eat, dress, etc.—but our underlying philosophy and views are different, and that must manifest itself from a believer. I think you should read my articles, Dave, but that will be up to you. Most people think that we separatists don’t handle these issues in a way that thinks through the Scripture and makes appropo applications, and I believe we do. I believe I have here, so that should debunk that criticism. I think the fact that they don’t care that I have says that they actually just don’t want the Bible to even touch on these things.

    The old time fundamentalists that separated culturally weren’t dunces who didn’t know their Bibles. I think a great deal of disrespect is given them and the positions they took. I think they were wrong in their interdenominationalism, but as it relates to cultural issues, I think they got it right for the most part, and I don’t think we should throw them under the bus like I see fundamentalists doing.

    Art, I know that’s what you are agreeing with, and I would think that Dave you would at least take it into consideration, if not agree.

    Dave, by the way, here is the link to a specific comment that reinforced what I thought that you wrote in the article.

  9. March 4, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Brother Kent,

    I am a little confused by what I think you are saying.

    I would agree that repentance from worldliness is essential to obeying the gospel and being saved. There must be a change in thinking that results in a change in the way we live in this world.

    However, are you saying that the actions/work/of separation is necessary to salvation?

    I certainly agree that water baptism is a decision to “walk in the newness of life.” However, are you somehow connecting this decision (water baptism) to salvation? Or, are you saying this is an additional decision to become a disciple after a salvation decision?

    It seems to me you are bordering on Lordship salvation here. (You may have crossed over if you are saying what I think you are saying.)

    Please explain.

    I think what we are seeing in these articles by New Evangelicals is the realization that the many profession of faith they have been seeing in their churches have filled those churches with “tares.”

    The vast majority of these professing Christians in these churches do not live any differently than the rest of the world. Preaching truth to these people is like trying to bring revival in a grave yard.

    Their gospel has become so inclusive that it has lost all objectivity and they have taken away the very distinctiveness that brings the power of God with those distinctive truths.

  10. March 4, 2008 at 7:33 pm


    If you just look at those four passages that I referenced, you will see that they relate to salvation. I don’t mind you showing me how they do not.

    Salvation, as you know, is what God continues to do for us all the way until our glorification that is directly related to the gospel. As far as salvation is concerned, I believe that when we receive Christ, we receive Him as a Person and He is God, Lord, and Savior. We can’t separate the titles or attributes, even as He is Who He is. When we receive Christ, we don’t remain in rebellion against Him. If we repent, we are turning from our way to His way—we can’t keep going our way and be saved, because we would not have repented.

    Look at that Heb 13 passage especially, because it says that when we receive Christ we go without the camp. We don’t stay in the realm of the world, of the cares of the world, and yet believe in Christ.

    Baptism pictures what occurs at salvation, that is, separation from the world. You can see that for Noah that the ark and the water were simultaneous. I, of course, don’t believe in baptismal regeneration, but I do believe that our baptism pictures the crucifixion of self and desires (Gal. 2:20) that occurs at the moment of salvation.

    I hope that clears up what I believe regarding this.

  11. March 5, 2008 at 5:46 am

    Brother Lance,

    May I comment on a couple of things you asked?

    You asked if baptism is an additional decision to become a disciple after salvation. I would say that it is the first PROOF of salvation, not just a decision for discipleship. There is no record of anyone being saved in the New Testament and not being baptized. As for me, I don’t believe a person is saved who will not be baptized. Of course, I am not God, but that is how I see the Scriptural principle and example.

    The “Lordship Salvation” question needs to be defined by anyone who asks it. What does the term mean to you? What does it mean to the person you are asking? Let me ask you this though, did you only get the Savior part of Jesus at salvation or the Lord part too? You can’t divide Him. I know we don’t really disagree that much here, I just liked saying that last sentence.

    As a last thought, I am not as concerned about the “tares” in so-called Evangelical churches as I am with the ones in Fundamental Baptist Churches where the hard truths of the Gospel are not preached.

    God bless all,
    Art Dunham

  12. March 5, 2008 at 6:20 am

    Brother Kent,

    I think the article as a whole is excellent. My only concern is the possibility of confusion regarding the issue of “Lordship salvation.” This results when the we fail to maintain a clear distinction between what a person must do to be saved from Hell and the issues of sanctification (separation from worldliness and unto God). Both our souls and lives are saved “by grace through faith.” This is why Eph. 2:10 follows Eph. 2:8-9. “We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” Salvation does not end with the salvation of our souls.

    The answer to the issue of “salvation” in the verses you refer to is really simple. Salvation does not always refer to the salvation of the soul from condemnation. Sanctification is the salvation of our LIVES from being wasted on sin. That is the context of 1 Peter 3:18-21.

    Noah’s soul was already saved. The “water” saved his life. This portrays the “washing of the water of the Word.” This is another aspect of our salvation in the doctrine of sanctification, which is the subject matter of the texts you quote. Sanctification is separation from worldliness AND separation unto God in “the work of the ministry.” This is why salvation is often spoken of in the past, present and, future verb tenses in the Word of God.

    This sanctification (the saving of the saved sinners life) is the subject matter of Romans 6:1-13 and the doctrine of God’s enabling grace in the indwelling Holy Spirit. Water baptism is intended to portray a believer’s understanding of these issues in “our so great salvation.” Most people completely miss this aspect of the purpose in water baptism.

    The shallowness of most evangelical preaching is that we spend all our time trying to win souls to Christ (every Sunday morning is a gospel message) and then we fail in the responsibilities of the purpose of the Church assembly in perfecting the saints for the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:11-12; discipleship).

    This ministry of edification is about teaching the doctrine of enabling grace in sanctification so that the believer can live his life to the glory of God (II Cor 5:21; note the difference here in the emphasis on the words “made the righteousness of God in Him,” this is not about imputed righteousness, but practical righteousness being created in the believer’s life through separation from the world and unto God through the enabling of the indwelling Holy Spirit).

    This is a complex issue to which I would never be able to deal with in a comment box. Therefore, if you want a more thorough answer, I might recommend reading a number of studies from my commentary on Romans in PDF.


    Read chapters 39-60. These are in depth studies on this subject that only meat eaters will work through. (They are not for the milk and cookies crowd.)

  13. March 5, 2008 at 6:35 am

    Brother Art,

    I think we agree here. However, we must be careful in distinguishing between what Lordship Salvationism teaches and what it means to receive and confess the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I deal with all of these terms in my little booklet GOD WANTS YOU TO KNOW.


    Here is the statement on CONFESS:

    Confess: To speak the same thing, to openly and publicly declare
    something to be true based upon a deep conviction of the facts. To
    “confess” the “Lord Jesus Christ” is to publicly acknowledge His
    Sovereignty, Deity and Lordship (“Lord”), His salvational purpose
    (“Jesus”) and the realization of the incarnational Messianic
    fulfillment of past, present and future Messianic prophecies
    (“Christ”). (See Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:8; John 9:22; Romans
    10:9; Philippians 2:11; I John 4:15; Revelation 3:5.)

  14. March 5, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Here are some stats. Lord in Acts—over 100 times; Saviour in Acts—twice. Lord in Romans—over 40 times; Saviour in Romans—zero. The emphasis in salvation by the apostles is on Lordship. The apostates in 2 Peter, why not saved? See 2:1. They deny the Lord that bought them. The Greek term, despotes, sovereign Lord, says that their problem is with the authority of Christ.

    From all of my reading, I have not read one person who talks about Lordship with salvation and frontloads works, that is, you’ve got to stop particular sins or do certain specific deeds before you’re saved. It seems like this argues a strawman.

    In 1 Thess. 1, Paul describes salvation as turning from idols to serve the living and true God. You can’t have Jesus up on the shelf with all the other gods. He must be there alone. We can’t trust in Him, plus ourselves. My belief is that our sanctification comes out of our justification, so that you can’t separate sanctification and justification. We are not sanctified by works any more than we aren’t saved by works.

    Regarding 1 Peter 3, I haven’t heard the water being metaphorical before. I thought it was real water, the water that killed those men who were opposing Noah’s preaching when he was preparing the ark. Noah and his family were separated from the world by the water. In the same way, the water of baptism separates us from the world. Those who subjected to baptism would be persecuted, part of the suffering theme of 1 Peter, which is why water baptism was the answer of a good conscience. A Christian couldn’t have a good conscience who would not submit to baptism. Water baptism pictures the separation from the world just like the water separated Noah and his family from the world.

    One question: do you see “confess” as synonymous with “faith” or do you see confess as post-justification in Romans 10:9, 10?

    I’m going to look over some of the other things that you said and linked to. It’s good to talk about. Thanks.

  15. March 5, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Brother Kent,

    Are you making no distinction between our positional sanctification (our standing “in grace,” Rom. 5:2) and practical sanctification in co-operation with the indwelling Holy Spirit (enabling grace, Rom. 6:1-13)?

    Our positional sanctification “in Christ” is certainly the direct outcome of justification (the impartation of the divine nature in the indwelling Holy Spirit (II Pet. 1:4).

    However, our practical sanctification is outworking of the indwelling Christ as the believer yields his will to live the Word of God through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.

    I believe there is a difference in the the issue of the Lordship of Christ in a salvation decision and the daily decisions practically in the Christian life. Lordship in salvation is the public acknowledgment of Who Jesus is. (See my definition of “confess” in the post to Art above.)

    Yes, I do see confessing Christ as LORD (Jehovah) as part of the faith decision to be justified.

    The struggle I am having with your application of water baptism is that it appears you are making water baptism efficacious to salvation (regeneration). I know you do not believe that and you have stated clearly that you do not.

    I agree wholeheartedly with what you are saying regarding water baptism being a real testimony and commitment to living separated. In fact, if that is not the case, that person’s water baptism is a lie and all he got was wet.

    Getting water baptized certainly may portray a genuine salvation decision (proof as Art says). However, I think baptism is intended to be a transitional decision, close to but subsequent to salvation, involving the true believer in the responsibilities of his new life in Christ beginning with the issues of practical sanctification (spiritual growth in being separate from worldliness and unto God as a believer priest).

    I think many of our Baptist churches really miss the boat in their responsibilities to teach these responsibilities to candidates fro water baptism. I spend much time with individuals teaching on these issues before I baptize them.

  16. March 5, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Brother Lance,

    In your last paragraph you said,

    “I think many of our Baptist churches really miss the boat in their responsibilities to teach these responsibilities to candidates fro water baptism. I spend much time with individuals teaching on these issues before I baptize them.”

    I believe we miss the boat when we don’t mention baptism and living a godly life to those who are coming for salvation. In every instance that is mentioned in the Scriptures, the candidate knew he needed to be baptized immediately. How did he know? Obviously the preacher (for example Philip & the eunuch) told them that they were commanded to be baptized. Peter preached, “Repent and be baptized…”

    Most of our Baptist Churches do not preach the whole truth about salvation and hardly ever mention baptism in soul-winning. This is not the New Testament example.

    By the way, I like the way you approach the Romans work you did. I appreciate the hard work and Scriptural scholarship.

  17. March 5, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    I believe justification is point in time, but in the grace in which we stand is our sanctification. The same grace that saves us also teaches us to deny ungodliness, worldly lust, and we live righteously. He predestines those He justifies to conform to the image of His Son. Everyone who is justified will also conform. I do divided positional and practical sanctification, but I see practical sanctification as coming out of our positional sanctification.

    When we receive Christ we say no to ourselves and the world—we relinquish our kingdom for His. Baptism pictures this break. That public profession in baptism after justification saves us from the world like the water saved Noah and his family from the world. Water baptism saves us from the world in the same way that the water saved Noah and his family from the world. I believe it is akin to Galatians 3:27, putting on Christ. This is not soteriological terminology. The toga virilis ceremony signified that a boy had reached manhood, adulthood. Baptism signifies that we left the schoolmaster. It isn’t the leaving of the schoolmaster—that is faith—but it pictures it just like putting on the toga said someone reached adulthood. Baptism is fruit of repentance.

    So baptism signfies our break from the old life, from the world, the burial of the old man, but something that takes place in reality by faith. This public profession saves us (not in a soteriological sense) from the world. Noah and his family were saved from destruction by the ark—the ark pictures salvation. The water pictures baptism, because it saves (not in a soteriological sense) from the world, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God.

    Everything that Art said about baptism, I agree with. I don’t think you minimize it, Lance, but it is minimized today, I think, mainly because of the universal church idea.

  18. Dave Doran
    March 6, 2008 at 9:16 am


    Help me understand your thinking a little more clearly. I believe I follow your line of argument, i.e., it is wrong to make cultural separation a secondary matter. Assuming I’ve understood you properly, is it possible to agree with you while wondering if there are primary and secondary matters related to cultural separation.

    In other words, let’s suppose we agree on the principle that separation from the culture is a primary, not secondary issue. Don’t we still face the potential of a disagreement between you and me on precisely what that separation looks like. Let’s say, for example, that one person (A) argues that since sports is at center of culture’s worship, a believer should not participate in them. And, for sake of discussion, let’s say another believer (B) disagrees with the conclusion that all sports must be rejected. In other word, they both agree on the primary principle, but disagree on the application. Now, if person A separates from person B over this, would it be fair to call this separation over a secondary matter?

    It seems that way to me, but you have obviously spent time thinking about this, so I’d like to know what you think about it.

  19. March 6, 2008 at 10:32 am


    Thanks for coming over again. I’m glad you think it’s possible to agree with what I wrote. I’m not attempting to be novel here. This is stuff I’ve seen in Scripture for awhile. it was the norm in fundamentalism while I grew up, but perhaps was not developed exegetically or expositionally, sort of assumed. I understand too that with the sports argument, you are going with something that we would both see eye to eye on, yet you know there are fundamentalists who take a different position. Over at Team Pyro, Phil Johnson used “wearing contacts” as an area that he was confronted by a woman when he went to a “fundamental school.” I can honestly see that happening in some places at a certain time, but to say she represented all of fundamentalism is just throwing red meat to his left wing. I’ve also got three more posts this month in which I’m planning on doing a more thorough flesh-out hopefully.

    This will be a little scattered, less organized, than a post, so bear with that.

    Churches and individual believers will practice cultural separation differently. There is only one Holy Spirit and he knows perfect applicatin of Scripture, so there shouldn’t be huge differences, as there obviously is among professing believers. Something is wrong somewhere. I understand your use of primary and secondary, but I prefer Scriptural, unscriptural, and non-scriptural. Romans 14 says that people are going to judge on non-scriptural issues; they shouldn’t. Those are secondary matters. Certain scriptural issues are easy to judge as wrong, like covetousness, but to judge when a person is covetous is more difficult, even though that is a practice we are to discern (1 Cor. 5:9-11). I believe we are to judge in these matters, because Scripture lays that out, but with forbearance and patience, because those are also Scriptural practices.

    We have Scriptural issues that are cultural issues that are Scriptural cultural separation. I’m going to guess you agree.
    Public sensuality
    Unmarried male and female touching
    Evil concupiscence
    Inordinate affections
    Women not keepers at home
    Female headship of home
    excess of wine
    worldly lust
    effeminate men
    masculine women

    I would add some more to this list including making the sacred common or profane, and I would add conforming to the spirit of the age, fashioning ourselves according to our former lusts. I believe that there should be a general distinctiveness that doesn’t go with the world’s philosophies, the wisdom of the world—relativity, subjectivity, glorification of the native and crass and unclean.

    The list I put above, however, is lifestyle or culture that I see all over evangelicalism and now in fundamentalism.

    I’m going quickly because I need to teach two classes in about a minute. Regarding the sports, I would say that each church must determine at one point we have become covetous with our sports, not seeking first the kingdom of God. It is more than a heart matter, because the heart manifests itself in what we do. If a church thinks an overemphasis will affect the direction of their church, they might need to separate from a church that overemphasizes it. I lettered in three sports four years of college and was awarded in high school in college, so I’m coming from that perspective. I might talk more about that.

    Thanks. C’ya.

  20. Dave Doran
    March 6, 2008 at 1:20 pm


    Thanks for the reply. It was helpful. It seems that we agree on this more than we disagree, at least at the idea level. The rub probably would come when we talk about certainty of application (i.e., whether something is Scriptural or non-Scriptural).

    I will look forward to your further thoughts on this.

  21. March 7, 2008 at 5:47 am

    Brother Kent,

    I agree with the terminology Scriptural, un-Scriptural, and non-Scriptural. That is the way I have been trying to teach this in our Young Married’s Class.

    Brother Dave,

    The application part is always the “rub”, isn’t it? I appreciate your questions in this thread, and I am very pleased at the Christian civility shown by you and Brother Kent.

    P.S. Please don’t say anything about sports until after “March Madness.” 😉

  22. March 8, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Isn’t the application of this idea the source of the evangelical charge that fundamentalism is legalistic?

    If so, how can we expect to find common ground with any evangelicals? Shall we throw out the idea? Will they embrace the idea? Is their a middle ground? (Man, I sound like a Hegelian!)

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  23. March 8, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    I think this is much easier to discern than what even fundamentalists say that it is. Regarding the basic point, there is no middle ground, I agree too, Don.

  24. March 8, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    The better question is, “Why would we want to meet them on middle ground?” There is precious little “middle ground” in Scripture.

  25. March 9, 2008 at 4:56 am

    Kent & Co.,

    Good stuff! I’m back after a wild month! I nearly got to the ends of the earth. What a time! And it showed me the importance of the Truth being preached there. Kent, your post is right on the mark. World and culture must clash at salvation. Obviously all the little details can’t be contemplated in that instant. However, in salvation there is a quantum shift from desiring the world (culturally acceptable things) to desiring the Lord and all that he has for us (Lordship). The rich young ruler was not willing to give up his culturally acceptable riches to be saved, and Jesus let him go. He didn’t stop him and say, “Oh, I’m sorry you misunderstood. You can get saved now and later deal with your riches.”

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