Soteriology 008Matthew 3:2 • Dr. Andy Woods • March 2, 2016 • Soteriology
Soteriology 08, Matthew 3:2
March 2, 2016
Good evening everybody. Let me, as we’re getting ready to turn to the Scripture tonight, make folks aware of the fact that not a week from tonight but the following week we’re not having class. So we’re having class next week but we’re not having it the following week, which I believe is the 16th, right? Spring break. You guys thought you were too old for spring break, right. But we have a substitute, we’re not going to be meeting here at the church but the Chafer Theological Seminary Conference is going to be going on at West Houston Bible Church, and I believe it starts Wednesday at 1:00 and it goes all the way through Thursday and all the way through Friday. And the keynote speaker in the evening sessions is Dr. Steven Austin of the Institute of Creation Research, so he’s one of the most well-known young earth creationists. And this is a conference that Dr. Robby Dean puts on every year at his church, West Houston Bible Church, which is only about 20 minutes from here. And there’s going to be just some phenomenal talks. Dr. Charlie Clough is going to be dealing with global warming issues, you know, how do we as Christians think about that. Dr. Thomas Ice is going to be there, he’s going to be dealing with the trend toward anti-Israelism in the church, sadly. I’m going to be speaking dealing with Hebrews 6 which is a hard passage to interpret so they gave that to me so they can make fun of me I guess, or something. And we have brochures on the name tag table on your way out, so take a look at that schedule and see if you can catch some of that. We’re going to be having that in lieu of our normal Wednesday class here on the 16th. Does that make any sense? Okay.
All right, well let’s take our Bibles and open them to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 3 and verse 2. And if you have been tracking with us in our study of soteriology, which is what we have been going over this quarter, which is the doctrine of salvation, we’re in an area that we call God’s one condition of salvation. And it’s here that we’re emphasizing that there’s only one verb that must be employed by the unsaved sinner to get saved, and that’s the verb believe. And we looked at that biblically. That’s the overwhelming teaching of the Bible.
Now when you get into that subject you get a lot of questions and controversy because people say well wait a minute, the Bible says “repent.” So we took a look at that word “repent” a couple of sessions ago and I tried to show you what that word actually means. It means change of mind which is a synonym for belief. And the last time we were together we said well, wait a minute, aren’t there verses that say you must submit every area of your life to the Lordship of Christ in order to be a Christian. And this is a doctrine called Lordship salvation. It’s in tremendous ascendency for some reason today. It wasn’t like this thirty years ago but almost everywhere you look today someone within our camp, the Bible believing camp, is promoting Lordship salvation.
Lordship salvation would contradict belief, the one condition of salvation. So Robert Lightner, a critic of Lordship salvation, defines Lordship salvation as follows: Lordship salvation refers to the belief which says the sinner who wants to be saved must not only trust Christ as his substitute for sin but also… see, the word “also” should scare you because we believe salvation is by faith alone, “but also surrender,” now some would say at least be willing to surrender, “every area of your life to the Lordship of Christ.” So there’s not one thing that’s necessary to do to be saved according to Lordship salvation, there are two things that are necessary.
And this is a very popular view called Lordship salvation. One of the biggest proponents of it in our world today is Dr. John MacArthur, and a lot of times when you mention a name like that people say well, he didn’t say it, he didn’t say it, or they like John MacArthur and I like a lot of the things John MacArthur says also, but not on this. And so there’s this desire people have to protect their favorite teacher. So that’s why I use these quotes, which we went over last time, to show you that yes, he is in print, and also in sermons, teaching this view quite clearly and aggressively. So we went through some of those quotes last time.
We went through this quote by J. I. Packer, that basically teaches the same idea. And Lordship salvation is the idea that if Jesus is not Lord of all, then He is not Lord at all. And you hear this so frequently, people start to believe that this is true. And what I tried to explain last time is a lot of this stuff started… now it did not start with John MacArthur, this is actually the teaching of the Puritans, going back to those that founded America. As you go into their… they were voluminous writers, as you go into their writings they were very strong on this, what I think is a false view of this Lordship salvation.
And John MacArthur, around 1980, there’s different theories as to why he went this direction but he got sort of disillusioned with what he called the low level of Christian living, not only within his church but within Christendom. And I’d have to concur with him, that is very depressing. But he diagnosed a problem really well, but he came up with the wrong cure. He reached back into the Puritans and brought back to life this doctrine of Lordship salvation which basically says if people aren’t living for Jesus, claiming the name of Christ, then they’re not Christians at all. Whereas I would say well maybe they aren’t Christians but maybe they are Christians and just haven’t grown a lot yet. So you know, we have different approaches to this. But I’m just trying to explain to you what Lordship salvation is.
Lordship salvation says in order to be a Christian at the point of personal faith in Christ you also must have a sincere willingness to obey Christ’s commands, take up one’s cross and forsake sin, or sins. And if you are not willing to do all of the above then you were never a Christian to begin with. That’s basically what Lordship salvation is. And because of the volatile nature of this debate I went rather slowly last time through… what we’re looking at are seven problems with Lordship salvation. We’ve looked at the first four last time and then we’re going to look at the remaining three tonight and then we’re going to open it up for question and answer, because no doubt many of you have been exposed to Lordship salvation just by hanging around Christian TV, Christian radio, Christian literature and so forth.
But the first problem you remember that we said with Lordship salvation is it changes the gospel. The gospel is no longer what Jesus has done for me and my willingness to receive it as a free gift by faith, it’s now what I do for Jesus. And I think that’s how you can always recognize a false gospel. You have to ask yourself where does it put the spotlight? Does it put the spotlight on Christ where it belongs or does it put the spotlight on you, and what you must do and what your performance is? Because God, as we have studied, is not interested in justifying people on the basis of their personal works. But Lordship salvation is an alteration of that. Lordship salvation, beyond that, places an impossible burden upon the unsaved. How in the world do you tell someone who’s dead in their trespasses and sins and doesn’t even have the Holy Spirit in them that they need to pick up their cross daily and follow Christ?
Lordship salvation, number 3, because they don’t have the resources to do that is the point. After the Spirit enters them then it’s different; then you teach them to grow according to the resources that they have but you don’t dump all of that on them when they’re not even saved yet. So we talked about that. Lordship salvation confuses justification with sanctification. Justification, as we have studied, is the past tense of our salvation; we’re saved from sin’s penalty at the point of faith. Sanctification is the present tense of our salvation, where we are gradually being delivered from sin’s power by walking according to God’s resources moment by moment. So there is one condition for justification, faith alone, but there are multiple conditions for progressive sanctification, one of which is making Jesus Lord of your life. So we dealt with that.
And then we talked briefly about how Lordship salvation confuses the result of salvation with the requirement for it. And you might remember that one of the verses that I used was 1 Peter 3:15, which says “sanctify Christ as Lord … always be willing to give an answer to everyone that asks you for the hope that lies within you.” You see, Lordship and the command to make Christ as Lord relates to sanctification, not to justification. Justification is by faith alone. So hopefully that makes sense, that’s what we did last time, that was review.
And now we come to number 5, 6, and 7, and that’s going to be our lesson tonight. The fifth problem with Lordship salvation is it fails to make basic dispensational distinctions. So there I just used the dreaded “d” word, “dispensation.” And what does dispensation mean? And let me explain a little bit about what that means and then I’ll try to show you how this becomes very significant in the whole Lordship salvation controversy. The word translated “dispensation,” you’ll find a translation of it, depending on what Bible version you’re using, in Ephesians 1:10 and Ephesians 3:2. [Ephesians 1:10, “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:” KJV. Ephesians 3:2, “If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:” KJV]
Those are the two places where the word “dispensation” is translated in some Bible verses. But the Greek word that translates that word “dispensation” is the word oikonomia; oikonomia is a compound word, meaning two words making up one word. It comes from two words, oikos, which means house, and nomos which means law or rules. So oikonomia simply stated means house rules.
So what a dispensationalist is, is somebody that looks at the Bible and notices that from age to age the rules change. Now the plan of salvation is always the same, no matter what age of time you’re in, in the Scripture. In the Old Testament they were looking forward to a Messiah that would come and they were saved by faith. We look backwards to a Messiah that already came, we know His name, we’re saved by faith, so the plan of salvation is always the same for personal salvation from age to age. However, as you go through the Bible you’ll discover that there are dramatic changes of rules. For example, in between Genesis 1 and 2 and Genesis 3 do the rules change?
Well absolutely, Genesis 3 isn’t anything like Genesis 1 and 2. Genesis 3 you have death entering the picture, pregnancy becoming difficult, you have people working by the sweat of their brow. None of that’s happening in Genesis 1 and 2. So what happened in Genesis 3 with the fall of man is the rules changed. You see? God’s basic governing structure changes just in the first three chapters of the Scripture.
And a traditional dispensationalist, like myself, would look back at the Bible and say there’s about seven times where the rules have changed. For example, how many of you brought with you to church last weekend an unblemished lamb? Let’s see a show of hands. Well, the Old Testament tells God’s people to do that. And by the way, why did you show up on Sunday, you should have showed up on Saturday. And you shouldn’t have gone to your church, you should have gone to the temple in the Middle East, if you’re really going to follow the Bible. Right?
Well, we all recognize that the rules have changed, in between the Old Testament and the New Testament, after the beginning of the church age we don’t bring animal sacrifices any more. And because Christ resurrected on Sunday we show up on Sunday rather than Saturday. And we understand that we’re not part of the nation of Israel; Israel was a nation, the church consists of people all over the world in multiple nations.
So there’s obviously a change of rules. So everybody is a dispensationalist whether they want to admit it, of one kind or the other. Now the reason this is such a big deal is I had you open up to Matthew 3:2 which is the preaching of John the Baptist. He says, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Now Lordship salvation people believe that’s the gospel. You know, that is the gospel that we are to proclaim to the unbelievers today, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” And they say there it is, it’s not just faith alone, it is personal repentance of sins. I’m not sure how they interpret “kingdom” but you notice the words, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” is thrown in.
And what I’m trying to argue here is early Matthew is a different stage of house rules in comparison to what we’re governed by today. And you see if you don’t understand basic dispensational distinctives within the Bible you get very confused as to exactly what gospel it is, what Scriptures we’re supposed to use to preach to unbelievers.
So what Matthew 3:2 is, is God’s program with Israel. Now the nation of Israel began, really in Genesis 12, and in Genesis 15 God made to Israel a covenant called the Abrahamic Covenant, given to the patriarch Abram, who later became Abraham, and He gave Israel an unconditional covenant consisting of three blessings: land, seed (or descendants) and personal blessing. So that’s the foundational structure of God’s beginning work with the nation of Israel.
God, later on in the Scripture, comes along at later times and He amplifies those promises. So He amplifies the land promises in what’s called the land covenant, Deuteronomy 29 and 30. He amplifies the seed promises in what’s called the Davidic Covenant, 2 Samuel 7. He amplifies the blessings in what’s called the New Covenant, Jeremiah 31:31-34. And what you have to understand is Israel is the owner of those blessings. She will always be the owner of those blessings because they are a promise that God made to national Israel unconditionally, meaning with no strings attached.
Now where it gets tricky, as you go to the book of Exodus just for a minute, chapter 19 and God brings the nation of Israel out of Egyptian bondage, they had been there for 400 years, takes them to Mt. Sinai, and now He makes them a different covenant, called the Mosaic Covenant. The Abrahamic Covenant is unconditional, the Mosaic Covenant is conditional. And if you take a look at Exodus 19:5-6 you’ll see this. It says, “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples,” of the earth.
See that if-then language? That’s not an unconditional covenant like what He gave to Abraham, this is a conditional covenant. [Exodus 19:5-6, “’Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine,  and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”]
So how does this whole thing fit together? The best conceptual tool I know of to explain it is the distinction between ownership and possession. See, I can own a beach house in the Hamptons, let’s let me use my imagination on that, I don’t actually own one but let’s pretend. But I’m so busy working I never have time to possess or enter or enjoy. See that? So the nation of Israel is the owner, they have always been the owner, they always will be the owner of these covenantal blessings from the Abrahamic Covenant, land, seed and blessing. But whether a generation of Jews enjoys or actually enters into or possesses what they own they have to respond to the Mosaic Covenant. If a generation of Jews ever responded to the Mosaic Covenant they would not just be the owner but the possessor and the kingdom of God would manifest itself upon the earth. See?
Now who does the Mosaic Covenant point to, ultimately? Jesus! Deuteronomy 17:15, take a look at that just for a second, Deuteronomy 17:15 makes this very clear and it says this, it says: “you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen” so look at his birth certificate carefully and make sure he’s one of your own, “from among your own countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman.”
If Israel ever enthroned the king of God’s choosing they would satisfy the condition of the Mosaic Covenant, and they would not just be the owner but the possessor, and the kingdom of God would come. This is why Jesus, in John 5:39 and verse 46 says to the Pharisees if you read Moses you would read about Me for he spoke about Me. [John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;”  “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me.”
So consequently, going back to Matthew 3:2 [“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”] here’s basically what’s happening in Matthew 3:2. The kingdom, which is earthly and it’s very well predicted in the pages of the Old Testament, it’s a time period when the nations will beat their swords into plowshares, the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, no human need will be unmet, agricultural prosperity is going to break out all over planet earth. This is the kingdom that was offered to Israel on a silver platter in Matthew 3:2. That is what Jesus means when He says, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Enthrone Me, the King of God’s choosing, and the kingdom which ultimately comes from heaven to the earth, will be established. So Israel had a bona fide offer to enthrone the king of God’s choosing and the kingdom would have come.
John the Baptist preaches, Christ preaches the exact same message in Matthew 4:17 Preach what John preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” . [Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”] Now take a look over at Matthew 10:5-7, Jesus now is sending out the twelve to preach the exact same message. And what does he say in verse 5, “These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;  but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” I mean, are you going to use this passage for your missions conference at your church, your Christ for the nations conference? Obviously not, this is an offer, given early on in Matthew only to national Israel. And what are they to teach or preach? Verse 7, “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” See, this is the offer of the kingdom, this is a chance that first century Israel had to enthrone Christ, who was right there in their midst and had they done that the kingdom of God, long anticipated in the Old Testament, would have been established, Israel would not just be the owner but the possessor.
But the tragedy that the Gospels reveal to us is that this offer was turned down. In fact, the Pharisees attributed Christ’s miracles to the devil, in Matthew 12:24. [Matthew 12:24, “But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, ‘This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.’”] And the moment that happened is the moment this offer is withdrawn. The language, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand” disappears from Matthew’s Gospel, and actually doesn’t surface again until the distant future, in Matthew 24, which deals with the tribulation period.
Then the offer will be re-extended to Israel, but in the interim Christ begins to outline an interim age of time that the Old Testament prophets never foresaw, a mystery age. He explains it through eight parables in Matthew 13. And He begins to make reference to a church, something that’s never been alluded to before thus far in the Bible, and he says, “I will build My church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” [Matthew 16:18, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”]
Well, what is the church? It’s a different man Paul calls it, a new man. It started on the day of Pentecost and continues up until the rapture. This is what we’re part of. We are not Israel, we are those that have trusted in the Messiah that Israel rejected, and the moment we trust in Christ we are inducted by the Spirit through Spirit baptism into this new man, the church. God has been working through the church for the last 2,000 years. One of these days the age of the church will end, with the rapture. And then God, who has not forgotten His covenantal obligations to Israel will re-extend the offer of the kingdom to them in the tribulation period, “repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” [Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”] You’ll see it there, called the gospel of the kingdom, in Matthew 24:14, and then the kingdom will finally materialize. [Matthew 24:14, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”] So this is a basic outline of what’s happening in the Gospels.
So what you have to understand is there is a massive dispensational shift after Matthew 12. Matthew 1-12, Christ’s public ministry; Matthew 13-28 Christ’s private ministry. Matthew 1-12 Christ is ministering to the nation, offering them the kingdom. But that’s not what He’s doing in the second part of Matthew’s Gospel. He’s ministering only to a remnant who would be the foundational leaders of the coming church. His miracles in Matthew 1-12 is proof to the nation that He’s the Messiah but when you get into the second part of Matthew’s Gospel the miracles are only for the remnant, to prepare their faith, so to speak, and train them for the coming kingdom. That’s where Peter walks on the water and sinks and those kind of stories.
The offer of the kingdom is dominant in Matthew 1-12 but it virtually disappears in the second half of Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus never taught in parables in Matthew 1-12; His teaching is open and plain so the nation could understand it but once you get to the turning point, in the second half of Matthew’s Gospel he starts talking in parables. He doesn’t want to be understood by everybody because the nation has already made a decision to reject Him. So He is speaking in parables to conceal truth from them but reveal it to this faithful remnant. And in Matthew 1-12 you don’t have any record whatsoever of an interim program involving the church, but suddenly that theme starts to get very prominent in the second part of Matthew’s Gospel.
Now why bring all this up? Because it relates to what we’re sharing with the unbelievers; which Scriptures do we use to preach the gospel today? Jim McGowan in his excellent PowerPoint writes this: The problem arises from the fact that Lordship theology presupposes a theological construct which in turn dictates to the text. For example, notice how John MacArthur responds when asked about his personal theology. Notice the trashing, if you will, maybe that’s too strong a word, lack of respect for dispensational distinctives in John MacArthur’s comments:
“I was raised in a dispensational environment, there was no question, but as I got into seminary I began to test some of those things. I have been, perhaps aptly designated a leaky dispensationalist. Here’s my dispensationalism, I’ll give it to you in one sentence: There’s a difference between Israel and the church, period.” That part of the sentence I agree with. “At the same time in seminary I began to be exposed to reading among more Reformed theologians,” Reformed theologians would be Lordship salvation people, “non-dispensationalist,” he’s basically talking about Puritan writers. “…and over the years of exegeting the Scripture it has again yielded to me a Reformed theology,” Reformed theology is another way of saying non-dispensational. “I was convinced of it, Reformed theology, when I started and I’m more convinced of it now as I’ve gone through the text. I was convinced of it when I started because I read so many noble men who have held that view.” i.e. Reformed theology. “It was more at that point hero worship and now it’s become my own.”
Jim McGowan writes, “My point here is to demonstrate how John MacArthur, who claims to be a dispensationalist has arrived at his position on Lordship salvation. Incredibly, due to the imposed perspective, Lordship adherents like John MacArthur, in spite of the undisputed lexical meaning of the word ‘repentance’” which we looked at a couple of sessions ago, “insists on changing the basic meaning of metanoeō and its derivatives to include concepts beyond its clear meaning.”
John MacArthur writes, quote: “There is a tendency however for dispensationalists to get carried away with compartmentalizing truth to the point that they make unbiblical differentiations. An almost obsessive desire to categorize and contrast truths has caused various dispensationalist interpreters,” like Chafer, Ryrie and Hodges, who we by and large follow in this church, their teachings anyway, or respect their teachings, has carried these people “far beyond the legitimate distinction between Israel and the church. Many,” now look at this sentence here, “would draw hard lines between salvation and discipleship, justification and sanctification,” that’s what I did last week, I drew a hard line between those two. MacArthur says there is no hard line, “between the church and the kingdom,” I just explained to you why God’s program of the kingdom through Israel is completely different than His program through the church, “faith and repentance,” look at this, “Christ’s preaching and the apostolic message.” See, I’m going to show you in just a moment that there is a big difference between what Jesus preached, in terms of “repent for the kingdom of God is at hand” and what Paul preached. MacArthur won’t acknowledge that distinction. “..between the apostolic message, faith and repentance, and the age of law and the age of grace.”
You see he’s saying these are compartmentalization’s where getting carried away. And what I’m saying is these divisions are necessary so you understand what gospel we preach and from what text. You would probably think it strange if I tried to put you under the Mosaic Law, wouldn’t you. Similarly I think it’s very strange to put the church under Matthew 1-12, when Matthew 1-12 is dealing with the offer of the kingdom to Israel that was rejected, turned down and God’s program for Israel is in postponement.
Jim McGowan says, “A most critical point in the discussion of dispensational distinctives has to do with the use of the term “good news” in the New Testament.” Charles Ryrie, who just, sadly passed away recently, points out the important dispensational distinctives when he writes: “Even the New Testament uses the word ‘gospel’ to mean various types of good news. So one has to describe what good news is in view.” And what he is talking about here is the difference between what Jesus, John and the Twelve preached in early Matthew, versus the gospel that we give out today. “A distinctive feature of traditional dispensationalism,” which is basically where our church is at, “is that it is always held to the inherent difference between the gospel of the kingdom,” see those verses that we just went over, “and the gospel of grace as Paul preached it to unbelievers. Lordship advocates deny these clear distinctions resulting in a coalescing of law an grace and they end up teaching a very confused message in the process. As has been stated above, Lordship proponents insist that repentance is always presented as the resolve to forsake sins or the actual turning from sin, and that this fact is a prerequisite for salvation. They seek to find support for this view” where, in the preaching of John the Baptist, or in the preaching of Jesus and the apostles prior to the dispensational turning point in Matthew 12:24. [Matthew 12:24, “But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, ‘This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?”]
Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, says, “It is an error to require repentance as a preliminary act preceding and separate from believing. Such insistence is too often based on Scripture which is addressed to the covenant people, Israel. They, like Christians, being covenant people, are privileged to return to God on the grounds of their own covenant by repentance. This is much Scripture, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament that calls the nation of Israel to its long-predicted repentance and is usually placed before them as a separate and unrelated act that is required.”
The translation is when John the Baptist and Jesus and the Twelve were saying to Israel, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand,” they were saying to Israel enthrone the King on His own terms so the kingdom will come. They were not… in other words, it was a national offer, it was not an offer of personal salvation to an individual sinner.
Chafer says, “The preaching of John the Baptist of Jesus and the early message of the disciples was repent for the kingdom of God is at hand, but it was addressed only to” who? Israel. Now you get into the second part of Matthew’s Gospel and Jesus says this: “Go and make disciples of” what? “all nations.” Well, how do you harmonize Matthew 10, “go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” with the great commission, “go and make disciples of all nations.” The answer: there’s a dispensational shift in the middle of Matthew’s Gospel. Now that Israel has turned down the offer God is on the precipice of raising up a new man that has a calling of missions to the world, and it isn’t even called to be the instrument by which God is going to bring the kingdom to the earth. The instrument that God is going to use to bring the kingdom to the earth is Israel because they’re the nation with the Covenant. You see? A cursory look at a few pertinent passages will assist the student of the Bible in determining whether the claims of Lordship proponents are justified and will in fact reveal that this is not the case.
This is a quote from the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, “In Matthew 3:2, we are told that John came preaching ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ and also that he preached a ‘baptism of repentance’ It is noteworthy that most, if not all commentators and scholars, understand John’s preaching of repentance to be parallel with the Old Testament preaching” and there the Hebrew word for repent is used …resulting in the force of ‘turn away from sin.’”
See, what’s going on in the book of Isaiah, what’s going on in the book of Amos, Jeremiah, what is happening. These prophets are saying come back to the covenant so that the curses that are built into the covenant can be averted. And John, Matthew 3:2, Jesus, Matthew 4:17, The Twelve, Matthew 10:5-7, are basically saying the exact same thing. [Matthew 3:2, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” Matthew 10:5-7 are basically saying the exact same thing. [Matthew 10:5, “These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: ‘Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;  but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”]
The King was there and they’re saying enthrone the King and then the kingdom which comes from heaven is at hand, will manifest itself on planet earth because Israel will not just be the owner but the what? The possessor. So you have to look at the early preaching in Matthew’s Gospel, not as a soteriological salvation message we’re giving today, it is something germane to God’s program with His covenant nation, the nation of Israel. This is significant because according to The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, theological uses of repent in the Old Testament were expressed in the context of the covenant community and their return to God and thus were non-soteriological,” meaning they weren’t designed to save people the way people are saved throughout the ages, which is to trust in Messiah.
So I gave you a lot there, didn’t I. The bottom line to the whole thing is you have to learn to figure out the basic dispensational framework. What verses apply to the unbeliever today and which ones don’t. And if you don’t have this offer of the kingdom framework and you don’t see the basic dispensational shift in Matthew 12 you’ll be confused your whole Christian life because you’ll be going to the wrong passages as a basis for communicating to the unbeliever. And you’ll be giving them the wrong message.
For example, look at Acts 16, I mean, what are we supposed to say to unbelievers? Is that what you’re going to say to an unbeliever? Tell me about Jesus. Are you going to say, “repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” No, what you say, what we say is church age gospel. Notice Acts 16:30-31, this is the Philippian jailor. “And after he brought them out, he said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Don’t you wish your evangelistic opportunities were that easy, a golden opportunity, “what must I do to be saved.” So Paul said repent for the kingdom of God is at hand…. NO, he didn’t say that. First of all, he’s in Philippi, so if he’s still preaching “repent for the kingdom of God is at hand” he should have been back in the land of Israel. Secondly, the Philippian jailor is a Gentile, the offer of the kingdom was only to first century Israel. What we say is in verse 31, “They said,” what? “‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved,” that’s the gospel. So why is Paul saying something totally different than what John the Baptist was saying early on in Matthew, Jesus was saying early on in Matthew, and the twelve were saying early on in Matthew.
Answer: A basic dispensational shift. So the concept of dispensationalism is not there to scare people and give them a scare word because the word intimidates them, it’s simply to show them how to rightly divide God’s Word and explain what verses go with what circumstances. And in Lordship salvation what you’ll discover is this basic dispensational framework that I’ve tried to articulate is not respected. And that’s one of the reasons we’re coming to different conclusions with Lordship salvation people.
Dispensationalism is the Bible. Dispensationalism always thrives in a Bible teaching environment because as you are going thru the Bible you’ll quickly see different rules in effect. It’s not something that we are imposing on the Bible, it is something we are observing happening as we read the Bible. You see? But if you’re spending all your time reading Reformed theologians, who don’t honor dispensational distinctives you’re going to end up preaching a very, very confused gospel. And I won’t even get into the issue of tithing right here.
Number 6, because a lot of people say you’ve got to bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, right? Malachi 3 says that, right? Test Me in this, says the Lord, see if I will not pour out so great a blessing upon you that you do not have enough room to contain it. How man of you have heard that preached? You can just turn on so-called Christian TV, you’ll hear that over and over again. And what the preacher is basically saying is bring your tithe to my ministry and God will bless you. Right? Financially. Well, the problem is that verse comes from Malachi where Israel was functioning under her own covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, which had blessings and curses built into it, financial curses and financial blessing. So the whole concept, and because people don’t understand dispensationalism they hear the preacher use the Bible, they say it must be true. But they don’t really understand, they don’t have enough sophistication to know that that’s another dispensation.
There is no verse in the New Testament, particularly the church age, which says bring a tithe into the church and God will financially bless you. In fact, we don’t even have a number that we’re supposed to give. Israel had a number because it was a country, right, with borders and a military and priests to support. It’s a mandatory tax, just like in America. April 15 is not optional because we have to keep the country afloat, although it’s becoming harder to do that as time goes on, but nevertheless…. So Israel was a country, the church is not a country, so there is no New Testament passage that tells us to bring 10% of our income to the Lord so the Lord will financially bless us, because we’re not under the suzerain vassal Mosaic Covenant that Israel had, which had blessings and curses in it.
So what are we supposed to do? What we’re supposed to do is to follow adverbs given in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9. You know what adverb is, it modifies a what? A verb. 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 you’ll find a ton of adverbs that tell us how to give, give cheerfully, give hilariously, give sacrificially, give proportionately as the Lord has blessed you. There is no ironclad number. Now why does Malachi 3 have a number but the church age doesn’t have a number in terms of giving? The answer has to do with a dispensational shift. And if you don’t have any teaching on dispensationalism you get very confused; different house rules govern at different times.
Now 4th of July will come up and you’ll hear a bunch of sermons everywhere on 2 Chronicles 7:14, you guys know that verse, don’t you, let’s look at that for a second. 2 Chronicles 7:14, when I was a kid I remember hearing this preached. And what 1 Chronicles 7:14 says is “and My people who are called by My name if they humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” And the preacher says the land is who? The United States of America. So if we just get rid of some national sin, usually it’s abortion, or pornography, which obviously we’re all against abortion and pornography but they use this verse as a way if we could just get rid of those sins and turn back to God then God somehow is obligated to financially bless us.
Now may I just say that God is under no such obligation. The reason I know that is because only Israel had this Mosaic Covenant with these built-in blessings and curses. God can bless America if He wants to, He has blessed America but we’re not in a type of relationship with the Lord where if I do X He’s obligated to do Y. Israel had that kind of relationship because they were functioning under a prior dispensation with a covenant. The United States of America is not Israel. The closest you can get to saying the United States of America is Israel is spell out the word Jerusalem, and you’ll see the letters u-s-a after the r, but other than that… I’m being a little bit facetious, America is not the nation of Israel. I love America, if you cut me open I’d bleed red, white and blue. But that doesn’t give me the right to go into 2 Chronicles 7:14 and rip that verse completely out of context and hold it up to people as if God is obligated to bless America if we do X, Y and Z. We’re in a totally different age, a totally different dispensation.
I’m just trying to explain why this concept of dispensations that sometimes we harp on around here is actually a big deal. It will save you from multiple interpretive errors in terms of your view of finances, it will save you from multiple interpretive errors in terms of how you share the gospel itself. In evangelicalism we’re confused amongst ourselves about how we share the gospel Some people are going to Matthew 3:2 [“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”] We’re not, why the difference of opinion? Because of the fundamental misunderstanding of the concept of dispensations.
Real quickly, number 6, the sixth problem with Lordship salvation is it ignores the reality of the carnal Christian. Take a look at 1 Corinthians 3:1-3. Now we’ve gone through this passage before, Paul says…, let me back up for a second, if you believe in Lordship salvation you do not really believe there can be a carnal Christian, either that or you take the concept of the carnal Christian and you heavily marginalize it and de-emphasize it. Why is that? Because according to Lordship salvation the way you’re justified is you have to submit every area of your life to Christ, or at least be willing to do so. So if that’s true, then all the people that are saved should be submitting every area of their life to Christ. You don’t even have room in your theology for a Christian who is in a state of carnality.
Now what does Paul say, “And I,” what’s the next word, “brethren,” is he speaking to believers or unbelievers? Believers. “And I, brethren could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.” Wow, you mean I can be carnal and a babe “in Christ.” Yes you can. Well, how do you know if you’re in that category? Verse 2 “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,  for you are still carnal. For since there is” envy and strife and divisions, sounds like church life a little bit, “where there is envy, strife and divisions among you, are you not carnal, and behaving like mere men?”
Lordship salvation says you’re saved or you’re not, period. Paul says the unsaved is the natural man but within the ranks of the saved there are three kinds of saved people. The spiritual man, that’s the believer that’s growing; the infant, that would be the very new Christian, and then the carnal. Carnal, you recognize the word “carnal” from the word carnivorous, which means meat, right? Ever had any chili con carne? Chili with meat. That’s where we get this word carnal; carnal means devoted to the flesh. It’s a Christian that really continues to live on in the patterns of the sin nature and they haven’t been taught correctly or they’re not in an environment where they can grow, so that can start to discover their resources in Christ, where they can start saying no to the sin nature and its yearnings.
Paul says there’s a whole category of Christians like that called carnal Christians. And I have many, many verses here which reveal the reality of the carnal Christian. Peter was… backing up for a minute, the nation of Israel was carnal, was it not, coming out of Egypt traveling to Sinai, complaining against God constantly? And yet those people are saved. How do I know that? Hebrews 11:29 tells me they were saved. [Hebrews 11:29, “By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.”] They were in the hall of faith.
Peter had lapses into carnality, he was told in a dream to “Arise and eat.” That would be the animals that he was no longer bound to abstain from under the Law of Moses, because we’re in a new dispensation now, “Arise and eat.” What does Peter say in Acts 10:14, “Not so, Lord,” well, if He’s your Lord why did you just tell Him no? You can’t say “Not so, Lord,” those are two terms that don’t go together. That’s like saying reasonable attorney’s fees, or jumbo shrimp, or government intelligence, or postal service, or all that kind of stuff.
See, Peter’s rebellion against God right there demonstrates rebellion. He was in a state of carnality at that point. This is the guy that preached on the day of Pentecost and 3,000 people saved. There’s no doubt Peter is a believer. He drifts into legalism in Galatians 2, to the point where Paul has to rebuke him. The whole book of 1 Corinthians is about carnal Christianity. Ray Stedman used to call 1 Corinthians 1 Californians. But you go to 1 Corinthians 1:2, these folks are called saints, [1 Corinthians 1:2, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:”] Verse 7 of chapter 1 says, they were lacking in no spiritual gift. [1 Corinthians 1:7, “so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”] They look saved to me but go through that book, they’re not acting very saintly are they.
Chapters 1-4, they are dividing over their favorite teachers. Chapter 5 a guy is involved in incest to the point where Paul says the pagans don’t even act like this. And this is what Paul is getting at back in 1 Corinthians 3:3, are you not acting mere men? [1 Corinthians 3:3, “for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?”] A carnal Christian can out sin an unbeliever. Chapter 6, they’re involved in prostitution and suing each other. Chapter 7 there is rampant divorce and remarriage.
Chapters 8-10 the stronger brothers are flaunting their freedoms in the presence of the weaker brothers. Chapter 12-14 they are totally out of whack related to the spiritual gifts. They are putting people that speak in tongues on a pedestal. And they’re just blabbering things that don’t make any sense because there’s no interpreter. Chapter 15 they’re denying resurrection.
And what you’ll discover as you go through that book is Paul never once says you all aren’t Christians. Lordship salvation would say you’re not a Christian. What does Paul say in chapter 6, verse 19, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?” When you join yourself to a prostitute you’re bringing the Holy Spirit into that relationship. Don’t you know what you’re doing? He’s not second guessing whether these people are saved. What he’s saying is you’re in a state of carnality and God will discipline and you’ll lose major rewards at what’s called the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ. Paul explains that in chapter 3, verse 15. [1 Corinthians 3:15, “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”]
You know, Paul, in 1 Corinthians 9 he himself was worried about drifting back into carnality because he says, “I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified” for the prize. [New American Standard, 1977] What’s the prize? Going to heaven? NO, because if the prize is going to heaven then Paul just taught salvation by works because he says, “I buffet my body and make it my slave” so that I might gain the prize. The prize is a reward at the Bema seat, above and beyond salvation. And he says I’m worried that lest I preach to others I myself might be disqualified for the prize.
That’s an impossible series of verses to interpret unless you acknowledge the reality of the carnal Christian. Notice what we said at the top there: “an unfortunate possibility” because a lot of people when we say carnal Christianity think we’re saying yeah, we like carnal Christianity. We’re not saying that at all, we think it’s a terrible place to be in. What we’re simply doing is acknowledging that it’s a possibility. You move into heavy lordship salvation and the possibility many times isn’t even acknowledged, which I think makes nonsense of all of these verses.
Euodia and Syntyche, I call them Odious and Syntouche, were fighting with each other like cats and dogs in the church at Philippi. Now were they saved? Yeah, they were. Do you know how I know that? Because verse 3 of Philippians 4 says their names are in the book of life. [Philippians 4:2-3, “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.  Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”]
And they once stood with Paul in ministry. So their names are in the book of life, yet they drifted back into carnality and they are fighting with each other and Paul says… he doesn’t say you’re not Christian, what he says is your behavior is unbecoming of your identity, that’s what he says.
And then my last example of carnal Christianity is an Old Testament example; it’s Lot. A good sermon title is Are you a Lot like Lot, because Lot, Genesis 13:12, “pitched his tent towards Sodom.” He started fantasizing, visualizing about Sodom, a wicked city, you get to Genesis 19 and he’s sitting at the city gate, meaning he’s in a position of authority in that city. And then the Sodomite crowd surrounds his house and he says take my two virgin daughters. Does that sound like a guy that’s walking out the spiritual life? Offering his virgin daughters to a Sodomite crowd.
And then when he gets spiritual and says you guy’s got to get out of here because God’s going to destroy everything they all start laughing at him. They thought he was jesting. Oh, there goes Lot again, just goofing around, because the man lost credibility and the whole story of Lot concludes with Lot in an incestuous relationship with his two daughters. He’s in a drunken state, there’s incest taking place, and from those unholy unions came the Moabites and the Ammonites, who became perennial enemies of Israel. And yet, despite all this, Lot was saved. Why do I think he was saved? Because Genesis 19:22, God says I cannot bring judgment on this city until you’re removed. [Genesis 19:22, “Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.”] Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar.
Beyond that you get into 1 Peter 2:7-8, the New Testament, and those verses, not once, not twice, but three times call Lot a righteous man. [1 Peter 2:7, “and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked  (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard);”]
And to be completely frank with you if I didn’t have those verses in my Bible I would never think Lot was a believer at all. How could he be a righteous man when he acted like he did in the book of Genesis? He was a righteous man positionally, he was a believer in a coming Messiah. And yet his practice had not caught up with his position. And let me tell you, Lot paid dearly for this when you study the story of Lot. So I’m not saying, yeah, let’s go out and be carnal because you lose big time. What I’m simply saying is carnal Christianity is an unfortunate possibility. Lordship salvation, on the other hand, would hear some of the things I’m saying and they would just be aghast that I’m saying it, because in their mind the condition for being justified in the first place is laying down every area of your life to Jesus Christ. Or at least being willing to do so. They would deny.. . if they don’t deny it they heavily minimize the doctrine of the carnal Christian.
And one other thing, they heavily minimize the Bema Seat Judgment, the judgment of rewards, have you had teaching on that? We’re going to stand before the Lord one day, as Christians, and He’s not going to determine whether we’re saved or not, He’s going to either give us rewards or withhold rewards based on our faithfulness to Him in the here and now living under His resources. Some Christians will be radically rewarded, others will not. Paul talks all about it in1 Corinthians 3:15. [1 Corinthians 3:15, “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”]
But you see, in Lordship theology the Bema Seat Judgment gets heavily minimized. It’s almost like everybody gets a participation trophy. We’re all going to be rewarded equally. Why do you think that? Well, because the condition for being justified in the first place is submission of every area of your life to Christ. If you haven’t submitted every area of your life to Christ you’re not a Christian. So the Bema Seat to them is everybody just gets a participation trophy.
That is not what Paul is saying at all about the Bema Seat Judgment. 1 Corinthians 3:15, he says, “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” Some people get heaven and they smell the smoke on their garments; they’re still in heaven, it’s just their reward that they could have had above and beyond heaven is consumed.
So the bottom line, I’m going to save that last one for next time. The final two, numbers 5 and 6, two problems with Lordship salvation, we covered tonight are a failure to make basic dispensational distinctives, and then it also ignores the reality of the carnal Christian. I’m a little bit over so I will stop at this point. We can open up the floor for Q & A if you want to do that.