Friday, January 04, 2013

Your Weekly Dose of Gospel
...could I be called a Christian?

"Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves..." -2 Corinthians. 13:5

We all have PhD’s in rationalizing our behavior; we have all graduated with high honors. Most people are "good Christians" in their own judgment and by their own assessment. But we can never render the final verdict upon ourselves for our own conscience is defiled and our discernment skewed. The Apostle Paul gives this insight on the flawed value of self-analysis, "For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord" (1 Corinthians 4:4).

The Narrow Road
If Paul, being one of the greatest Christians to ever live, would not trust - dare not trust his own self-evaluation, how much more we?. It is a narrow road that leads to heaven (Matt. 7:12ff) and few are they that find it. As Matthew Mead so appropriately states, "...self-love deceiveth truth for its own interest." The heart of man is the greatest imposter and cheat in the world; God himself states it, "The heart is deceitful above all things [and is desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)]. Despite that astounding appraisal of the human condition, we are still commanded to take self-inventory. We must judge ourselves not by the standard of ourselves, but by the Word of God; by the Lord's standard and rule (2 Timothy 3:16-16); by the Lord's wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:24-25); by the Lord's divine verdicts (Psalm 19:9)..

The Almost Christian
Therefore, we must examine ourselves--eliminating ourselves as the standard, the rule, the judge and jury. Sunday morning worship services in America are littered with thousands of people pretend­ing to be Christians. They enjoy the music, support church programs, find benefit and solace in a stirring sermon, relish in the fellowship, and may even serve as an elder, deacon or sunday school teacher - "yet be no better than an almost a Christian" as Mead decisively proclaims. They have come to church but have never come to Christ! They haven't taken stock of their spiritual condition - they have not examined themselves. And if by chance they do, it is not with the probing double edged sword of God's Word (Hebrews 4:12), but with the crooked plumbline of moral standards, good works, philanthropic gestures, acts of kindness or good will, and worse -religion. They are moral people headed for a "moral" hell. Jeremiah Burroughs, a Puritan divine, cuts through that illegitimate prideful system of useless righteousness when he says, "repent not that you are civil, but repent that you are no more than civil." One of the marks of a true Christian is that he embraces a life of repentance - he loves God and hates sin (2 Timothy 2:19).

To still be in love with your sin and "wedded to your idols", as Spurgeon says, is to "insult the gospel, pervert the truth and turn the grace of God into lasciviousness." The Christian life is not marked by a life of disobedience, unbridled passion, unbroken pride and unguarded pleasure. The true Christian is one that is evidenced by a life of obedience, a life of holiness, a life of righteousness, a life of godliness, a life of Christ-likeness. Note: this does not mean a life of perfection for we all sin everyday even if it is only in our thoughts. But with grace as our teacher (Titus 2:12) may we strive to have a life that is daily repent and submissive to the Lord and His truth. This is what it means to be filled with the Spirit or better yet, Spirit controlled (Eph. 5:17-22).

May I Know for Certain That I Am Truly a Christian?
YES! The Apostle John writes: "I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:13). From that same Apostle comes a five fold test so that we may truly examine the fruit of regeneration in our lives. This is not works righteousness y'all--but the evidence of sanctifying grace working in and through our lives. Grace has saved us; grace santifies us; and grace will glorify us. Titus 2:11-13 says, "For the grace of God has appeared, with salvationa for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ."

We've died once to the penalty of sin:
we die daily to the power of sin;
and one day we will be free from the presence of sin.

Therefore, by God's grace, a genuine believer in the Lord Jesus Christ:

1. Practices Righteousness
1 John 2:29 If you know that He is righteous, you know this as well: everyone who does what is right has been born of Him.

2. Stops Practicing Sin
1 John 3:9 Everyone who has been born of God does not sin, because Hisa seed remains in him; he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God.

1 John 5:18 ¶ We know that everyone who has been born of God does not sin, but the Onea who is born of God keeps him,b c and the evil one does not touch him.

3. Loves Other Christians
1 John 4:7 ¶ Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

4. Believes that Jesus is the Christ
1 John 5:1 ¶ Everyone who believes that Jesus is the •Messiah has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent also loves his child.

5. Is An Overcomer of the World
1 John 5:4 because whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.
Notice: as we do what is right, we stop doing what is wrong. No one in this life stops sinning altogether. That is a dangerous slope to be on thinking that you can achieve a sinless state in this life. We will love other believers in the Lord; believe that Jesus is the only sacrifice for our sins; and that we live in victory as an overcomer of the world.

Sanctification is a process, beloved, and these things above should not lead us to despair, but to rejoicing in the wonderful salvation that our Lord has graced us with. Take refuge in this: God is a much greater Savior, than you are a sinner. Do you believe that? Can you rest in that truth? Will you find security in His grace? Amen and amen that "salvation is of the Lord."

Make Your Calling and Election Sure
"Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you." -2 Peter 1:5-11

Picking up on this theme, A.W. Pink gives seven points of reflection that I would also urge you to use as a thermometer to take the temperature of your spiritual health.

First by the Word of God having come in divine power to the soul so that my self-complacency is shattered and my self-righteousness is renounced.

Second, by the Holy Spirit convicting me of my woeful, guilty and lost condition.

Third, by having had revealed to me the suitability and sufficiency of Christ to meet my desperate case and by divinely given faith causing me to lay hold of and rest upon Him as my only hope.

Fourth, by the marks of the new nature within me - a love for God; an appetite for spiritual things; a longing for holiness; a seeking after conformity to Christ.

Fifth, by the resistance the new nature makes to the old, causing me to hate sin and loathe myself for it.

Sixth, by avoiding everything which is condemned by God's Word and by sincerely repenting of and humbly confessing every transgression. Failure at this point will surely bring a dark cloud over our assurance causing the Spirit to withhold His witness.

Seventh, by giving all diligence to cultivate the Christian graces, and using all diligence to this end. Scripture encourages healthy self-scrutiny.
"Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you" (2 Peter 1:10a). No where more important should this examination occur than when approaching the table of grace - holy communion (1 Corinthians 11:28). John MacArthur reminds us, "Self-examination is as important today as ever. When statistics tells that more than a billion people in the world are Christians, one must wonder who established the criteria. Such figures certainly do not square with what Jesus said about many on the broad road and few on the narrow." (Matthew 7:13-14).

Even those who belong to the right church can be deceived and utterly devoid of the righteousness of God through Christ... The Bible teaches clearly that the evidence of God's work in a life is the inevitable fruit of transformed behavior (1 John 3:10). Faith that does not result in righteous living is dead and cannot save (James 2:14-17). Professing Christians utterly lacking the fruit of true righteousness will find no biblical basis for assurance they are saved (1 John 2:4). These words are not meant to spark feelings of doubt about your salvation if you are genuinely saved. However, they are meant to prick the hearts of those who have a false security in themselves, based on good works absent of true faith. I would implore you to turn the penetrating laser of the Word of God upon your life. Is it "wood, hay and stubble", that will ultimately burn, or will your life stand the test and be proved to be "gold, silver and precious stones"? (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). Is there enough evidence to convict you of being a Christian?

*"The Almost Christian Discovered" by Matthew Mead
*"The True Christian Love For the Unseen Christ" by Thomas Vincent

1. Think of one example from the past week in which you rationalized or made excuses for some sinful action or attitude on your part.

2. Why is the Word of God the only sure and absolute standard by which we are to examine ourselves, as opposed to our own moral preference or presupposed religious/social expecta­tions?

3. Ponder the following Scriptures: 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 2 Corinthians 6:11; Romans 12:1-2; 2 Timothy 2:19; Ephesians 4:15. Do you think sanctification (growth in holiness and conformity to Christ) is in any way optional for the believer?

4. What is the evidence of a true believer? Is this evidence characteristic of your won life in light of 2 Corinthians 13:5?

5. What areas in your life would cast doubt in the minds of those around you that you are indeed a Christian? Will you commit these areas to the Lord?


donsands said...

Thanks for the excellent thoughts Steve.
We need to make our election and calling sure. And that's an ongoing thing for me. Though I have blessed assurance that Jesus is mine, and I love Him and His Word, there seems to be different degrees of struggling within me at times, and this is good and healthy for the genuine follower, I would think, though I hate it. God knows my heart, and He knows just how to keep me steadily growing in His grace and love which is in Christ, so that I bring Him honor and glory.
Matt. 7:21

bluhaze said...

Good Steve, I would examine the following verses to make sure.

Luk 11:39
(ASV) And the Lord said unto him, Now ye the Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter; but your inward part is full of extortion and wickedness.

We can be sure of our salvation.

Luk 1:77
ASV) To give knowledge of salvation unto his people In the remission of their sins,

Stephen Morse said...

Thank you for this post. It seems to me that the Puritans perfected this, hence the name: Puritans. "The Almost Christian Discovered" is a wonderful book about this! John Owen's writings on the mortification of sin in a believer also brought a great challenge into my own pursuit of Christ's perfection in my life.
Thanks for your blog.

Christa Blakey said...

Steve, thanks for this challenging post. This subject has recently been of much discussion among my friends and I. You approach it with such uncompromising distinction to biblical clarity. Reading this entry has been helpful in sharpening my judgement and examination of my own standing before Christ.

Joel said...

This is an excellent post, Steve, and one of the times I have the pleasure of agreeing with you!

CAT said...

Oh Wow!! This is so exciting. The Lord has been ministering this to me over the past few days. I woke this morning with my mind directed to Stephen in Acts. Now, there is the mark of a true Christian!! They first saw his face as it were an angel (ministering spirit), they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. Then at the end of chapter 7, he was steadfastly looking to heaven at Christ(this is where his faith has rested) who he was in covenant with, beholding that glory that came from him. Christ as the high priest before the throne of grace at the place of authority pouring himself into his brother. In this case it wasn't Paul I know, and Jesus I know, but who are you. They knew this one was God Almighty's. Faith truly is the evidence of things hoped for!!! I used to ask my self why the New Testament church had the power that seems so lacking today. Maybe it is because we are almost "Christ-ains" and not the real deal, receiving our true life from him. He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness by faith. GReat and precious promises have been given, that by these we CAN BE a PARTAKER of the DIVINE NATURE. Question is ? Where is our faith in our own works or in the operation of God? MAKE IT REAL!

donsands said...

Hey cat,

"Partakers in the Divine Nature can be misunderstood, if we're not careful, I'm sure you agree.

We're never partakers of God's essence. God sanctifies us or sets us apart from the corruption of the world and its lusts, and we become partakers of His holiness, glory, and virtue. And then we add faith to virtue, virtue to knowledge, etc. 2 Peter 1:3-10 And this is how we make our election and calling sure. Difficult passage of Scripture. At least that's how I see it.
We are saved by faith alone, at that's forever, through grace alone, by Christ alone, and for the glory of God alone!

Doug E. said...

Amen! Thanks for the post.


CAT said...

I am not sure what you mean. To add all the things Peter is talking about means to partake at that table Christ prepared for me. The Word does state that Christ before his crucifixion was the only begotten of God, but after his death and resurrection he was the first born among many brethren. I believe what it says. I am a partaker of the Divine Nature. No longer I but Christ that liveth in me. I am crucified with him, nevertheless I live, yet NOT I, but Christ that liveth in me. I believe that Stephen was partaking of the very Essence of God Almighty or He could not have stood up boldly as he did.
Please explain further, with scripture. Thanks, Cat

donsands said...

There is One God in three Persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
God the Son became man, and He is the God-man, the perfect human, who never sinned.
We are humans, men and women, sinners through and through not divine whatsoever, even when we are washed clean from our sins and clothed in His righteousness.
We worship God. If we were divine, then we could also be worshipped.
That's why we are not partakers of His divine nature.
We are His brothers and sisters, but we worship Jesus Christ the Son of God as the 2nd Person in the Holy Trinity.
That's short and sweet for now. I'm not sure if we should be discussing this on Steve's blog. But you can e-mail me.

donsands said...

Sorry. I meant "divine essence". There's a difference.

Antonio said...

I am wondering, if someone came to you for counsel and did not pass the tests that you give but says that he believes in Christ for eternal life, by your tests, he must have a spurious faith.

What then becomes your counsel?

Believe harder?

or Work harder?

Calvinism has a doctrine of temporary faith, you may go to my blog and find it, but according to it, a reprobate can be given graces by God and consider himself elect.

Isn't it sad that some of you here could quite possibly be reprobates and not know it?

John MacArthur says, "You can be a spiritual defector who hasn't defected yet!"

Wouldn't it be sad that you worked to hard in order to pass your tests yet at some point, because of your reprobation, you fall, and go to hell?

If that can be the case, why sacrifice for God if you can't be sure that Christ sacrificed for you?

You could merely be the reprobate who thinks himself elect but shall LATER fall away!

I guess that is the breaks, huh?


donsands said...

Another good book, and an incredible blessing to the Church, is Holiness, by J. C. Ryle.

I urge you to take the time to read it, and set his teachings against the Holy Scriptures.

1 John 3:6-12

Matt Waymeyer said...

Antonio, do you have some kind of Internet search engine that sniffs out blog posts that run contrary to your "Free Grace" theology??? :-)

Hey Steve, great stuff. My wife and I had a friend of ours sing your song "Consider the Cost" at our wedding 11 years ago after a different friend preached the gospel. Thanks for your ministry and your music.

Your brother,

Matt Waymeyer

Bhedr said...

Affliction builds assurance.

You must step out of the boat of a intelletual storm tossed doublemindedness and onto the crashing waves so that all your moorings are shattered and you are made to trust in God alone not only in theory but also in practice.

It is only then that you will hear the voice of "Let not your heart be troubled."

Jesus said in John 14:12 that whoever believes in Him will do even greater works than He.

He said that. I didn't.

While it is true that Israel couldn't repent and so the fig tree must be the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has given us the power to repent when faith in Him possesses the reigns(Kilyah) of the mind.

Do not deny the power thereof, but believe...Believe that his yoke breaks the bonds of the slavery of sin and enslaves us unto righteousness. Give people hope Antonio. Give people hope that they can indeed walk and that faith in Christ is power and that they don't have to stay trapped in their sin if they but Believe with all their heart.

Perhaps *some* and I say SOME Puritan logic does enslave us to despair, but your theology gives me no promise of hope either. No power to break the bonds of sin.

Anonymous said...

Forgive me if I'm getting off topic, however, I am compelled to defend Steve Saint's decision to retain Chad Allen as the lead in "End of the Spear." I was not sure how to respond otherwise, so I must intrude on this line of comments.

On Thursday, before the release of the film, Steve Saint and Bill Ewing were interviewed on Michael Medved's radio show. When Medved asked about the controversy over Allen, Saint commented that Allen had simply been the best audition, and they hired him. Fair enough. Saint, not being an American citizen, was originally unaware of Allen's "politically corrupt" (PC)sodomite lifestyle. When he was informed, he was very let down.

His initial response was much as your own. He feared this would tarnish the missionaries' good names and bring undue stress to the Woudani people from any controversy over Allen's participation, and Saint realized that the only way to rectify this would be for him personally to fire him. He found it hard to bring himself to do this. As Saint began to give it a second thought, he decided to keep him in the hopes that the message of the film would somehow affect him toward righteousness; undoubtedly, Saint prays for his salvation, as your post encourages all of us to do. Seems Steve's "evangelistic" motives are paying off. A lot of Christians are praying for Allen who weren't previously doing so. To Steve Saint's own Master he stands and falls. His motive was honorable and I believe defensible. Forgive him if your faith is not such as can approve him in his decision, but he made the decision with the heart of a forgiving Christian himself.

Now, if I may offer my own two-cents' worth on Saint's decision to keep Allen: I believe there is nothing inherent in film that is able either to promote the Kingdom of God. It is, after all, specifically the Gospel preached which is the power of God to salvation. Western Christianity is too turned on by the modern spirit of "Christian" commercialization and entertainment, as if it's going to "help" advance God's Kingdom. This is a pipe dream. Preaching is preaching and art is art, and outside the intervention of God, rarely shall the latter "assist" the former; rather Christians need to learn to leave the entertainment to the entertainers. To discriminate against the best audition because of his outside commitments is to consciously choose to make a film of lesser quality than possible. To consciously lower your production standards to satisfy a bunch of trigger-happy brethren is to compromise the quality of art.

Sure, it may not have been the greatest work of art ever made, but they did what they could with what they had; Saint's sanctified conscience is clear on the matter, he regrets the controversy this may cause, but he stands by his decision because Jesus and his dad both died for unlovely characters such as Chad Allen in the past. Steve's honestly trying to follow in his dad's footsteps.

SJ Camp said...

Captain Headknowledge:

Here is a link to read the complete story.

Steve Saint is wrong on this... The spin he is trying to do to justify his actions are shameful and probably driven by the motive that he doesn't want this to hurt box office support (always follow the money).

He should own this, repent of it, and ask forgiveness from the Christian community that he is desperately trying to market this film to.

In the meantime, don't go see the movie, but pray for Chad Allen that he comes to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Antonio said...

Did I miss the answers to my questions and the responses to my comments?

That is the trouble with Reformed theology. This apparant disconnect. The advocates think their system is so strong yet they can't answer my simple questions to it or attempt to respond to my comments. It is either weak or disingenuous; and in either case not willing to face the implications of its own theology, or own up to its own dark side, pursuing its theology to its logical ends...


The Steve Camp Experience said...

There are lots of interesting points here. Can I ask the bloggers on here about a comment I had when I was in Scotland one day?

I was walking along the street and was stopped by two guys, they had a certain look and I don't want to judge them but to give the picture... They looked like traditional scots or irish cavinistic protestants - dark suits and actually a bit scary. Well they stopped me as I was going into a Baptist church, a good solid evangelical baptist church, on the conservative right of the church as it were. Well they questioned why i was going in and after some discussion on salvation I said that yes I was saved - Blessed Assurance - and it is their response that worried me and I would like to raise with the group. They said that they could not say if they were saved - "only the Lord knew that " Ok you can see my concern, What should I have said and has anyone else met with this response. Surely me can have some assurance?


The Steve Camp Experience said...

1 corinthinas 4v4-
Steve, from the outside looking in it somtimes appears it is your own plumbline you are using. All measures are imperfect and your certainty therefore comes across as judgemental rather than loving and truthful...which I am sure is not your intention.

Bhedr said...

Two things I've noticed.

Yes, it is the money in many cases and sometimes it the buddies.

Follow the buddies.

I don't see consistency here either.

donsands said...

1 Cor. 15: 1-2 "I preached to you [the gospel], which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are being saved. IF YOU HOLD FAST THE WORD WHICH I PREACHED TO YOU, UNLESS YOU BELIEVED IN VAIN." Faith that does not persevere is a vain and empty faith--what James calls "dead faith" (James 2:17,26) - Jonh Piper

Also read 1 John 3: 6-12. There must be righteousness in a genuine believers life as evidence of his election.

Please explain this verse of Scripture for me: "If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ let him be accursed." 1 Cor. 16: 22

the steve camp experience,
"The Word of God appears to me to teach distinctly that a believer may arrive at an assured confidence with regard to his own salvation.
I lay it down fully and broadly, as God's truth, that a true Christian, a converted man, may reach such a comfortable degree of faith in Christ, that in general he shall feel entirely confident as to the pardon and safety of his soul, shall seldom be troubled with doubts, seldom be distracted with fears, seldom be distressed by anxious questionings and, in short, though vexed by many an inward conflict with sin, shall look forward to death without trembling, and to judgement without dismay. This, I say, is the doctrine of the Bible." -J. C. Ryle
I believe this speaks for most all reformed Christains.
But not everyone who says he is reformed is born again.
1 John 5:13-14

Bluegrass Endurance said...


Which of A.W. Pink's writings did the 7 points of reflection come from?

Thanks for posting them

Antonio said...

Brian, more posturing?

Why evade my questions and comments. Steve as well has nothing to say. This is quite telling.

To believe your theology is to be dangled above a pit of despair, for you sacrifice for one in whom you cannot know if He truly sacrificed for you.

Terry Rayburn said...


I believe the reason no one is answering your questions is that the questions are not serious. They are merely taunting jabs that you believe have no answers.

You see the "tests" for salvation as outward working, when actually they are things of the heart. They are observable fruits of a New Creation.

Until you understand that the New Birth makes a New Creation, and that New Creation inevitably results in fruit, and that fruit is at least somewhat observable, your questions border on silly.

For example, you ask what a Reformed person would say to someone who has none of the test "fruits", yet says they believe in Christ for eternal life. "Believe harder? Work harder?"

You ask the question assuming that one could help this unfortunate person. But if the preaching of the gospel won't change him, nothing we say can do it. It must be by the miracle of the New Birth. Then he will exhibit "fruit".

Yet I will answer your question this way: "Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar." (Rom. 3:4)

God, through His Word, is the one who has described the true believer, most clearly in 1 John. Who are we, to throw out God's description, essentially calling God a liar, while believing the professor who SAYS he believes in Christ?

Again, you repeatedly ask the question, "why sacrifice for God if you can't be sure that Christ sacrificed for you?"

And again, you are mockingly asking a question you think has no legitimate answer. The truth is one CAN be sure that Christ sacrificed for us. That's the purpose of the "tests" of faith in 1 John, "that you may KNOW that you have eternal life".

Don't whine if nobody answers your rhetorical "questions" that you think somehow prove your point. Such questions only prove you don't understand the New Birth with its resulting fruit.

Bhedr said...

Good answer Terry. I doubt it will satisfy our friend though.

I am learning that this is much like dialoging with Jus Divinum or Steve Hays. So I am letting it go already and finally.

As far as my friends Steve Camp and Doxo and others who feel we must not attend "The End of The Spear." So be it.

I went and wept through the whole thing.

I respectfully disagree with them. Some of them recomend movies that are questionable and perhaps I have watched movies that are questionable. I sometimes wonder if I should have watched "Braveheart" seeing that I was supporting Mel's use of Pornographic scenery in the film.

The gay guy in this one? Yeah I'm troubled about it. The watered down gospel? That too.

Hey, its hollywood...Christians involved or no. At least it was a clean movie. Don't look in hope toward this stuff. Pro or Con.

Perhaps the gay activist guy will see that not all Christians have persecuted Homosexuals and that some Christians have actually taken the spear and been persecuted within the right context.

Either way, it is not the Local Church and so for me its nothing but a thing, a little chicken wing. If you don't wish to go, then fine..if you do, then thats fine too. Psalm 131

Anonymous said...

An old Junior College philosophy teacher, who happened to be a Presbyterian, if I recall correctly (but I'm unsure if he was liberal or evangelical), once brought up the Scripture in reference to "iron sharpening iron" in the sense meant by Steve and the rag "ragging" (excuse the pun, I c(w)ouldn't resist!) on Steve Saint and "End of the Spear." He made the point that much of the time when two debate a topic, they only "sharpen" their own points of view, and rarely is persuasion achieved on either side. Of course, I have no "Barnafied" stats to confirm this "empirically" however, I can say that such is the case in this case.

I am further convinced by reading the article on "Spear" that "Western Christianity is too turned on by the modern spirit of 'Christian' commercialization and entertainment, as if it's going to 'help' advance God's Kingdom. This is a pipe dream." Michael Horton recently wrote an article on Christianity and Culture in Christianity Today Magazine which reflects the point I'm trying to make about this tempest in a teapot:

"So what is the relationship of Christians to culture in this time between the times? Is Jesus Christ Lord over secular powers and principalities? At least in Reformed theology, the answer is yes, though he is Lord in different ways over the world and the church. God presently rules the world through providence and common grace, while he rules the church through Word, sacrament, and covenantal nurture.

This means that there is no difference between Christians and non-Christians with respect to their vocations. "We urge you, brothers, to [love one another] more and more," Paul writes. "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody" (1 Thess. 4:10–12). There are no calls in the New Testament either to withdraw into a private ghetto or to "take back" the realms of cultural and political activity. Rather, we find exhortations, like Paul's, to the inauspicious yet crucial task of loving and serving our neighbors with excellence. Until Christ returns, believers will share with unbelievers in pain and pleasure, poverty and wealth, hurricanes and holidays

Or perhaps this line sheds a little more light on my point: "If Christians as well as non-Christians participate in the common curse and common grace of this age in secular affairs, then there is no "Christian politics" or "Christian art" or "Christian literature," any more than there is "Christian plumbing." Same goes for "Christian films" and "Christian production companies." They may be run by or made for Christians, but there is no biblical call for an art "ministry," but Christians may and should engage in business in a godly way, but not in a way that creates a "Christian subculture" so that we as Horton also says, may find ourselves "of the world but not in it."

Bhedr said...

Aye Aye Capt.

sf021 said...

The more I read of your site the more I become aware "Who is there like our god Steve Camp" My suggestion is that you go and get a decent theological education before you 'fool around' with the scriptures. Your knowledge of the word of God (written) needs to be enlightened by a less infantile interpretation of the word. You seem to think that in your repetition of some verses you are engaging in a reading of the scriptures. Look at the life of Christ and the teaching of Paul through the eyes of the writers themselves. You have become nothing more than a narrow minded bigot. You do not understand the concepts of accurate biblical interpretation, such as midrash and those who read and believe the comments on your site need to engage in a more adult approach to the Bible. There are real dangers in the literalistic approach to the both the teachings of Christ and the letters to the churches. I am reminded of the young convert flicking through the Bible who found the texts 'Judas went and hung himself' he flicked some more and found 'go and do thou likewise' It is a poor comment but given that there are so many things we choose not to take literally we must engage our brains before we pontificate. 'If anyone of you harms the least of these it would be better that you be cast into the very depths...:


donsands said...

Hey sfo21,
Why is it when I clicked on your name, you don't have any info on who you are?
I'd like to go over some of your belittling statements of Steve and all who read his teachings, and are encouraged and edified, as I am.
It is sad to read statements like your's. Why not e-mail me, and share your interpretation of the Holy Scriptures of our Lord.
To mock and belittle is not loving one another.

Bhedr said...

It amazes me that when substance is offered then people attack the intellect or become insultive.

They say they believe in grace yet they are so ungracious toward us and accuse us of teaching works when all we are doing is calling for fruit observation like the apostle John did.

SJ Camp said...

Antonio was wondering why I hadn't answered his questions? I was ministering this past weekend and traveling a lot (2,500 miles in three days).

So Antonio, here are your answers:

1. I am wondering, if someone came to you for counsel and did not pass the tests that you give but says that he believes in Christ for eternal life, by your tests, he must have a spurious faith.
Even the demons believe and they tremble (James 2:19). Just saying you believe is not the fruit of a regenerated life. "Faith without works is dead" - meaning, what is the evidence or fruit that should exemplify genuine saving faith?

Salvation and sanctification are two separate things; but at the same time inseparable. You can't say you're saved and have no fruit... unless you read Zane Hodges.

What then becomes your counsel?
I would have him/her apply the five fold test of 1 John (2:28; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1; 5:4) and examine his own life. I am no ones Holy Spirit and they must examine themselves against the standard of God's Word. I would also ask if they are harboring any unrepentant sins in their life. For though we are forever "in Christ" once we are His and can never be taken out of Christ if we are truly saved... sin can never rob us of our salvation, but it can rob us of the assurance of our salvation (2 Peter 1:4-11).

Believe harder?
You make believing a work don't you...

Work harder?
You're not a Romanist are you?

Calvinism has a doctrine of temporary faith, you may go to my blog and find it, but according to it, a reprobate can be given graces by God and consider himself elect.
You speak falsely here. The doctrines of grace and Calvinism can be summed up in one phrase, "Salvation is of the Lord." Zane's brand of Christianity wants to make an emotional ascent to the person of Christ all that is required for salvation. He preaches a sandy, Arminian, weak, cheap grace gospel.

Isn't it sad that some of you here could quite possibly be reprobates and not know it?
Examine yourself Antonio... (2 Cor. 13:5) You could be. I don't know you nor see your life nor can look into your heart.

John MacArthur says, "You can be a spiritual defector who hasn't defected yet!" Wouldn't it be sad that you worked to hard in order to pass your tests yet at some point, because of your reprobation, you fall, and go to hell?
Again, you are confusing the roots of Romanism with the biblical fruit of genuine regeneration. Read Romans 12-16...

If that can be the case, why sacrifice for God if you can't be sure that Christ sacrificed for you?
The Scriptures contradict you again. 1 John 5:13 says that we can know assuredly about our salvation in Christ. If repentance to you Antonio is just a verbal believing with no change of life, then I can understand your quandary.

You could merely be the reprobate who thinks himself elect but shall LATER fall away!
Read 1 John 2:20-27; Matthew 7:21ff; 16:24-26; etc.

I guess that is the breaks, huh?
No, it's just bad theology from the Zane Hodges camp giving false hope and a Arminian gospel.

SJ Camp said...


You speak too kindly of me sir; I am unworthy of such high praise from you. If you only knew the depths of my own depraved heart as I do, you wouldn't shower me with so many kind words.

Matthew 5:40-44

The Steve Camp Experience said...

dosands...and having the Arminian Hall of Shame is not belittling?? Perhaps belittling is in the eye of the beholder!

The Steve Camp Experience said...

PS I respect Steve greatly yet can still disagree

sf021 said...

Dear Donsands

I agree entirely with your comment.

"To mock and belittle is not loving one another."

Let me direct you to a number of blog comments on this site.

Those directed to TD Jakes, Roman Catholics, The pope, people who take an Arminian perspective just for starts. There are a number of groups who are in receipt of a less that graceful presentation.

And as for who I am let me make it full public for the record.

My name is Stuart Fraser. I am 39, live in Scotland, in Fife. I came to a personal faith when I was 16, having left the Roman Catholic church in which I was raised as a child. I became a Christian in a presbyterian church, and was baptised as a believer at the age of 18. At the age of 20 I studied theology at an evangelical bible college for three years.

And Mr Camp I apologise if I do you a dis-service. To know one's self is a gift that is rare. If I have offended you I apologise. I was in the wrong and spoke as one distressed by your comments. I was wrong to question your nature or person, and should only have questioned the way in which you communicated your point. I ask for your forgiveness for the offence I caused. I have no right to talk of grace if I am not willing to show it. I also appreciate the text you suggested as a reading. If you ever come to Scotland look me up and perhaps we could pray with each other as well as for each other.

Stuart Fraser

donsands said...

steve camp experience,
I'm not sure what you mean by the Arminian Hall of Shame.
I am a member of an E-Free Church which is not reformed, and I have many brothers and sisters in the Lord, who are better Christians then I in so many ways, and I love them dearly, and we are serving the Lord together, and they allow me to serve with them.
We have had our theology discussions, and even arguments, but we love one another for the cause of Christ.
There are those who are false disciples, and false teachers in the Church, who may be Arminian's, who I may point out as heretics, because they are. T. D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, many Catholic teachers and priests are falsly teaching the Scriptures. This is not belittling. Paul said to make note of those who are false teachers, and avoid them, and protect the sheep from these wolves. This is one of my callings as an elder in my local church, Stillmeadow E-Free in Baltimore Md. 410-525-3500. You are more then welcome to call my pastors and inquire and share any concerns you have.
I am unworthy to be counted with so many non-reformed Christians that I admire and love. I could list so many, but I will stop now. I have a difficult time conveying my heart, and this is one of those times. May the Lord help you see my heart through these crude words.
In His grace and all for the Cross.

donsands said...


I forgot to include your name on my above message. Thanks for sharing who you are.
Lord bless.

SJ Camp said...

To all concerned...

It should have been "hall of Fame" - not shame.

My bad and thanks for pointing that out... Please forgive me; no offense intended.

Bhedr said...

2,500 miles in three days? Thats a lot of miles...even for a trucker.

BTW, Steve. I understand your reasoning in saying you have a wicked heart. We have a new heart now though a clean one.

We do have our wicked flesh to contend with.

I will say that some have not come to terms with their hearts and have need of a change and are unwilling to look at the deceit that is there.

I meant what you knew thought and I think you know what I mean. I am not trying to patronize you since perhaps in your thought this is just a use of words.

I don't wish to misrepresent or patronize you. This can be draining as it has happened to me on other blogs.

Joel said...

Stuart, if anybody were to be offended by Steve's comments on his blog, I'd be it. :) And sometimes his writing HAS gotten seriously under my Papist skin. But on the whole, Steve's first priority has been to keep his words as orthodox as he knows how and to chastise what he believes are heterodox believers or even false ones. His idea and mine of which people those are, are a long way apart; nevertheless, in areas where we're not in direct conflict, I have to say that Steve speaks a lot of wisdom.

I've also noticed that Steve speaks a lot more gently in the comment boxes than in his initial posts. The posts are proclamations to the world at large; the comments are more personal.

Incidentally, you say you were raised Catholic in Scotland? I'd been given to understand that Catholics were fairly rare there. I'd be curious to know more about your Scottish Catholic background, if you'd be willing to e-mail me. the address is jbmartin at nwi dot net. (If you'd rather not discuss it, that's fine too. I was just curious.)

SJ Camp said...

To Tony:

Sorry for the lateness of this information to you.

The source for the "How May I Know I'm Elect" by A.W. Pink was a John MacArthur message that you can access here.


SJ Camp said...

To Stuart:

The examples you cited as deserving much "scorn" on this blog have all to do with propagating a false gospel. Paul had very strong words for those who would bewitch those with error and represent it as truth (Gal. 1:6-9).

Even the Lord Himself reserved his harshest words for those who claimed to represent God but were in fact "...sons of hell." He addresses in His seven woes in Matthew 23 calling them hypocrites, blind guides, white-washed tombs, brood vipers, etc.

Read Peter's righteous anger against false teachers and therefore a false faith in 2 Peter 2; or for that matter the entire epistle of Jude. Same language used there to describe their character, false message and eternal punishment.

So yes, T.D. Jakes represents a different god than the God of the Bible, but is being heralded as the next Billy Graham--and that doesn't concern you?

Romanism according to Tridentine doctrine to present represents salvation by faith plus works; grace plus merit; an infused righteousness obtained by Papal decree from the Treasury of Merit and obedience to the church's Magistarium as a surrogate Christ--and that's acceptable to you?

Arminianism at its core represents a cooperative act in salvation between God and man and therefore displays man as not being completely depraved or sinful, but still good enough to decide his eternal destiny for himself on his own "free will" and intellect. Arminianism is anthropocentric in its central claims, not Christocentric--and that is acceptable to you?

If you love the Lord Jesus Christ how can you not speak out with passion and precept against those whom by their message are leading untold millions into error and eternal perdition? Have you no love for the lost and for God's elect that you can remain silent?

Read your heritage in Scotland my friend of John Knox--now there was a preacher of the gospel and Word of God! Was Knox wrong in his assertions against these same things? Oh for a preacher to invade Scotland again with Knox's passion and theology.

I do not apologize for calling these false teachers what they in reality teach - "doctrines of demons." If that seems to harsh for you, you can always subscribe to Christianity Today... they like to walk the ecumenical line by an inclusive tolerance all day long.

Lastly, I welcome sound biblical discussion and exegetical discourse on this blog. If you have a case to make, make it biblically, theologically, exegetically and historically. You can insult me and take cheap shots at me all day long--I am not offended. But if you're going to take me on on any issue, you better come at me with more than innuendo and name calling, you better come at me with the Word of God... agreed?

Grace and peace,
Titus 1:9

steve d said...

SJ Camp said...


I like Steve Taylor very much. He is a friend and was way ahead of his time in his song-writing and use of video.

Thanks for the link...

Marcia said...

Hey, Captain guy, you said, "He made the point that much of the time when two debate a topic, they only "sharpen" their own points of view, and rarely is persuasion achieved on either side."

I beg to differ. Perhaps I'm just the odd man out, but I have learned so much from civilized debates I have either participated in or read about.

Marcia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marcia said...

Hey, did y'all ever notice what a comment killer I am? As soon as I post, the comments stop.

I do wear deodorant.

(I'm just kidding. I'm here to learn; I don't have a lot to contribute.)

I hope I'm allowed this one off-topic comment--can I have one a year, or something? I wanted to invite you all over to my place to help me celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary. Thanks be to God; no way it would have happened without Him.

john said...

I think posts like this can be good or bad. On one hand, true believers should take heart and not waste time wondering if their salvation is secured. On the other hand, Jesus talked about many who would stand before God - genuinely assured of their own salvation - only to find they were fooling themselves.

Where do you think Matthew 25 fits in as evidence of salvation? I noticed that in your bullet list of how to be sure, you left out caring for the needy and the sick. Jesus didn't specify only believers here.

Isn't a sign of belonging to God that we love even our enemies and bless them? Doesn't God love the lost as much as the saved? Shouldn't we do the same?

Is personal holiness enough? Isn't the main teaching of Christ to think less about ourselves - and in doing so, holiness is the byproduct? Not the goal?

Just some thoughts. I certainly agree with the thoughts from John on holiness.

Also - just a side note - what do you make of the reports from Polycarp about the Apostle John? When Polycarp was a child, he was taught by the Apostle John. He tells a story of how - in his old age - John got so frail that he had to be carried to gatherings. Every time he was asked to speak or his opinion on something, he would say "Love each other". Over and over - to the point where people got tired of hearing it. When asked why that's all he ever preached anymore, he replied "if we love each other, it is enough."

Is love in and of itself enough?

Unknown said...

My good brother in the Lord:

What Bible version are you using?
As a teacher, a defender, and a protector of the Word of God, you don’t wish to minimize the Word of the Lord! You don’t want to water down the strength of the Gospel.

I am not a King James Version Only Bible believer, but whatever you are using is nothing short of shaming the truth contained in God's Word. Pray the lord for more discernment in that matter. Compare the version you used to the NKJV below.

In Him, and in truth,

Guy R. Mompoint
OSS Ministry

1. Practices Righteousness
1 John 2:29 If you know that He is righteous, you know this as well: everyone who does what is right has been born of Him.

1John 2:29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.

2. Stops Practicing Sin
1 John 3:9 Everyone who has been born of God does not sin, because Hisa seed remains in him; he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God.

1John 3:9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

1 John 5:18 ¶ We know that everyone who has been born of God does not sin, but the Onea who is born of God keeps him,b c and the evil one does not touch him.

1John 5:18 We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.

3. Loves Other Christians
1 John 4:7 ¶ Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

1John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

4. Believes that Jesus is the Christ
1 John 5:1 ¶ Everyone who believes that Jesus is the •Messiah has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent also loves his child.

1John 5:1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.

5. Is An Overcomer of the World
1 John 5:4 because whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.

1John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world——our faith.

Maria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maria said...

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