Welcome, my friend…and thanks for visiting the May blog. I trust it will prove worthy of your reading time.
The Light Doctrine: Is it biblical?
In a nutshell, the “light doctrine” is the designation given to the theory that the full gospel of John 3:5 and Acts 2:38 was completely lost or perhaps “hidden” during the Dark Ages, and those who lived during that period of time and obeyed all the gospel they were taught or knew—i.e., “walked in all the light they had”—will be saved. Some versions stipulate that they will be in the body but not the bride, and that they will rise in the second resurrection to inherit the new earth but won’t have access to the new heaven.
Many proponents probably have their relatives and special friends in mind when favoring this doctrine. It is a compassionate heart that hopes there will be some way that God will not require John 3:5 or Acts 2:38 or Hebrews 12:14 to get to heaven. It is painful to know that your mother, your grandfather, or the kindly preacher one knew in his youth will not enjoy eternal life. They reach for scriptures like Romans 11:22—“Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off”—hoping that the “goodness” of God will mercifully erase the individual’s life history and save them regardless of whether they have believed, obeyed or even heard the gospel. Another passage often called upon is Luke 12:48—“But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” Both are removed from their context and stretched in order to make them apply to the matter at hand. To make either of those scriptures the basis for one’s eternal salvation is an exercise in eisegesis and subjective judgmentalism. Ignorance of truth is to be desired if this interpretation is pressed upon these verses.
Some common phrases one hears when this topic arises include, “I hope we are right enough to be saved and wrong enough that others will be saved.” Right out of the liberal theologian’s playbook, that expression is nothing less than a confession of doubt that Jesus meant what He said to Nicodemus. It is a backdoor attempt to discredit the apostolic gospel so unbelievers can be saved. The kingdom belongs to God Himself and He is the one who has the final word on who gets in: “Ye must be born again.” (Emphasis mine.) Those who have a problem with the narrowness of that concept need to take it up with the Lord Himself.
Another common phrase associated with the light doctrine is “progressive revelation.” This term is generally used to describe the doctrine that the unfolding drama of redemption as it relates to this dispensation has been progressively revealed in time, the bud gradually opening into a full-grown flower. That definition has been corrupted by some to support their concept of fundamental Christian truth regarding salvation being “revealed” little by little throughout the present dispensation, as though on a sliding scale. This approach has been utilized by groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses to accommodate failed apocalyptic predictions. As each prediction failed, they would claim “new light” and understanding was being revealed about Bible doctrine and prophecies. It has also been used to release from personal accountability those who lived between the first century and the time of the supposed “revelation” of the Oneness, Jesus name message in the early twentieth century. Still others take it a step further to hold that if no revelation came to a person about God’s salvation plan, and the person died, let’s say, in 1935 without ever obeying Acts 2:38, then that person will be saved. That flies in the face of the clear teaching of the Word.
There is progress in revelation from the earlier to the later books of the Bible, but that is not the same as assuming that the plan of salvation for Jews and Gentiles in this age has been progressively revealed. For instance, the concept of redemption by Christ is in the prophecy of Genesis 3:15, but it took centuries for men to comprehend how it would come to fruition. Additionally, God always planned for the Gentiles to participate in the redemptive process, but it was a mystery until it was revealed in Christ (Ephesians 1:9; 3:3-9). This unfolding of God’s eternal plan is not the same as individuals or groups of people in this dispensation either not knowing or refusing to obey the plain teaching of the Bible, perhaps ignorantly following false prophets and erroneous Christian cults.
“Revelation” is a poor term to speak of the understanding of the gospel. It puts responsibility for hearing and obeying truth squarely on the shoulders of the Lord. It is incumbent on each individual to know the gospel and obey it (Acts 17:29-31). The Great Commission passages (Matthew 28:19,20; Luke 24:47; Mark 16:15,16) are sufficiently plain that “all nations [people]” from that time forward would be accountable to the message He left with the apostles. God clearly revealed His plan of salvation for our dispensation at Pentecost two thousand years ago. He also left prophecies concerning the future of His people. New revelations to replace those in the Scriptures have not been given. Men’s personal understanding of doctrines and prophecies may gradually develop, but new revelations from God, as though essential truth has been kept hidden, are not being given. Some wonder about Isaiah 28:13, which includes the phrase “precept upon precept; line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:13). Some try to make the application that God may reveal the plan of salvation to individuals a little at a time. We certainly may grasp the entirety of the gospel incrementally as we are considering the scriptural plan, but that has nothing to do with whether we were obligated to obey it.
Anecdotal testimonies about one’s “revelations” may sound exciting and spiritual—“I see it! I see it!”—but such experiences do not trump the infallible, unchanging Word of God. If the only way one can come to faith in Christ and understand the requirements of the gospel is by direct revelation from God, then there is no sense in making a sustained and sacrificial effort to fulfill the Great Commission. By that standard, if one receives the revelation of what he must do and obeys—he is saved. If he does not get a revelation, he is still saved by ignorance. That amounts to universalism for all who have never heard the gospel and discrimination against those who have heard it but failed to grasp its demands. I can find no scripture that suggests that ignorance is the plan of salvation. Paul’s plain teaching is found in I Thessalonians 1:7-9: “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”
Some great men in Christian history just did not “see” the plan of God as plainly revealed in the Scriptures. It does not take a rocket scientist to read and understand Acts 2:38. Over the years ignorance, prejudice, fear, and false teaching interfered with the forthright acceptance of Bible truth. The problem has not been the absence of light, but rather the poor sight men have to see the light—“The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Corinthians 4:4). A careful reading of Christian history will reveal that many of the prominent leaders faced the full apostolic message and chose not to accept it. Others came close to embracing it, even heralding elements of it, but were discouraged by threats, scoffers or those with agendas other than discovering and obeying the truth. “Close” only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes, someone said.
A word about terms is necessary. If we should use the popular term “restoration” in regards to the endtime latter rain, that does not mean that the apostolic gospel had been completely lost or totally hidden. The meaning is that a “revival” of apostolic teaching and methods has taken place. When something is revived is when it has been “near death,” or badly mauled, and is brought back from the precipice of expiration. One does not get “revived” if he has died, only if the life forces have merely been dormant or virtually immeasurable for a period. When I say that the New Testament church has been “restored,” I mean that its expansion, its influence and its previous power has been renewed. As a rain suddenly renews the flowers in a desert place where they have formerly been out of sight, so the church has flowered in this last day by the latter rain.
Another word is “dispensations.” When I use that term it means periods of time, in distinction to other eras, in which God deals with men in a specific way, obligating them to certain requirements to attain acceptance by Him. The current dispensation is often referred to as the grace dispensation, or the dispensation of the church. It began at Pentecost and will be in place until the rapture of the church. The idea that there have been dispensations within the current time frame when God required something different from Acts 2:38 is unsupportable by Scripture. From Pentecost until today God’s standard for salvation—or as some refer to it, initiation/entrance into the kingdom—has been faith in God, repentance, baptism in the name of Jesus, and the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
The plan of salvation has been available in a clear form since the time of the apostles. One does not have to be a linguist or a scholar to understand Acts 2:38. After the institutional version of Christianity was established they rejected anyone who attempted to return to the gospel that was presented at Pentecost. It seems clear from bits and pieces of history that there was always someone, some group somewhere, who baptized in the name of Jesus and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. That underground river of truth surfaced occasionally throughout the last two millennia, even during times of severe persecution.
Most who were members of churches in the early twentieth century when the expansion (not “revelation”) of apostolic truth was occurring, found it difficult to cut loose from their traditional doctrinal moorings and emotional ties. The break with family and friends was very painful. Some mitigated this pain by tinkering with theories that later became known as the “light doctrine.” They were influenced by the notions of their times and those with whom had had fellowship. It was difficult for some people that I personally knew to break away from the classical Pentecostal organizations that were taking shape in the 1900s and 1920s. Some had held ministerial licenses in those denominations. They had worshiped and prayed and fellowshipped with those people and to now say they were not saved was difficult indeed. They were “good” people, praying people, and clean in their living—and some say just as good and prayerful and clean as those who believed and accepted the apostolic message when it was preached. But “good’ by our judgment, or prayerful and generous (Acts 10), or clean living does not constitute the plan of salvation. Human logic and emotion should not be viewed as substitutes for truth.
Some prominent Pentecostal personalities of the early twentieth century embraced, at least at times, the hope “that there still could be a type of salvation outside the New Testament church, similar to that of Old Testament saints, particularly for people who walked in all the ‘light’ they had received.” These personalities include G. T. Haywood, Frank Ewart, Andrew Urshan and possibly Howard Goss. They struggled with the tension between their experience and what the Bible actually taught. It was as difficult for them to break with their “brethren” as it was for Luther or Calvin to depart from the stand they had taken and go with other groups who were coming closer to accepting the full gospel. They attempted to split theological hairs to make allowance for their friends, such as differentiating between “begotten by the Word” and being “born again.” Other theories developed, such as those who had the Spirit but were not baptized in the name of Jesus would miss the Rapture and be subjected to the great tribulation but would eventually inherit the new earth. Eternal salvation, current “light” believers say, must be left to God, deferring judgment to Him, “for only He knows the heart and only He has the prerogative of evaluating the individual fulfillment of His plan.” (Parts of this paragraph adapted from David Bernard, The Whole Gospel, 2001 SPS Paper)
What about one’s experiences with God? Doesn’t that count? An “experience” with God can come in a thousand difference flavors. We cannot accept everyone’s claim of experiential revelations. Most contradict each other. Paul’s experience on the Damascus Road was moving and real, but it was not a salvation experience; it was prevenient grace, a call, an invitation. He could have chosen to disregard it. God never removes free will from any man. Cornelius had visions and angel visitations but they did not embody salvation. He could have ignored them or counted them as figments of his imagination. While we don’t discount anyone’s experience with God, we are not authorized to classify it as salvific unless it incorporates the elements new birth.
In any discussion of this topic, we must refer to Galatians 1:6-8: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Also II Corinthians 4:3 must be considered—“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.” Did not Jesus say, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12 NIV)? The light doctrine forces these words of Christ to be spoken in error. The Bible says the saved are supernaturally conveyed from the kingdom of darkness into His marvelous light: “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:12,13).
Some boldly declare, “But I believe my loving and faithful old grandmother was saved, even though she never obeyed Acts 2:38.” Regardless of what we think about our friends and relatives, the Word of God is the only criterion for determining salvation. When we try to put loved ones or friends into heaven without the new birth, we are setting ourselves up as prejudiced judges of men’s souls. Who is qualified to say, “He was a good person, or a faithful person, or a loving individual and therefore I believe he went to heaven regardless of his obedience to the gospel”? Who can justifiably set aside the words of Christ and the apostles and create their own plan of salvation? God is the ultimate and only judge of every soul: “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right” (Genesis 18:25)? Since the Word is forever “settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89), He will not circumvent it when judging the souls of men. God “remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself…God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are His, and those who claim they belong to the Lord must turn away from all wickedness” (II Timothy 2:13, 19 NLT).
What about the Aborigine in the Australian outback who never heard the name of Jesus? According to the Scriptures, if he dies in this dispensation of the gospel without the new birth, he is lost. That is not my judgment, it is “what saith the scriptures.” If people who never heard the name of Jesus are saved anyway, then we should recall every missionary. Since more people decide not to obey the gospel than do when they hear it preached, we are causing people to be lost by preaching it to them. Some bring babies and small children in the equation. Are they saved? That should be the least of our worries, especially if the parent(s) are saved (I Corinthians 7:14).
It seems best to leave assignment of men’s souls to heaven or hell up to God who will righteously judge according to the Word. We are given a message to preach and we must be faithful to it or come under the curse of Galatians 1:8. Let’s do what Jesus said: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
Suicide among US troops
Doubtless you have read the recent reports of some of our soldiers in Iraq committing suicide. Those reports are shocking. This is another reason I have lifted up my voice against the psychological way of counseling and particularly the psychiatric medications that are destroying so many people. Click on the following link for more information on this.
Please, pastors…grasp the fact that taking psychiatric medications is not like taking an aspirin for a headache. Practitioners like to call them “medications” in order to maintain their medical image for insurance purposes and credibility. Pills like Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft and similar “meds” are designed to skew the brain in the attempt to change the way one responds to the stimuli of life—slowing down, speeding up, or altering the way the brain processes information. Serious physical and/or mental side effects can result. Follow the reports of those who murder their families, shoot their classmates or colleagues at work and you will find that virtually all of them are on psychiatric medications. Doctors, many of whom are paid in some way by the pharmaceutical companies, are prescribing them for nearly any reason. Inform yourselves, brethren. “Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16)
Old Glory upended
You will not see this heart-stopping photo on the front page of the NY Times, nor will it make it as the lead story of the major news networks. Hispanic students and others on their way to a march in Los Angeles stopped at Montebello High School, took the American flag off the school’s flag pole and hung it upside down while putting up the Mexican flag over it.
President Obama has made no comment about this and the mainstream media is evidently ignoring it. What do you think would have happened if a group of students from the U.S. had done that in Nuevo Laredo?
Obama’s Youth Brigade: Church Attendance Forbidden
President Obama has been in office for three months and already we are looking more and more like Germany in 1933. Now we have HR 1388. The Bill was sponsored by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and 37 others. The Bill was introduced in the House of Representatives where both Republicans and Democrats voted 321-105 in favor. Next it goes to the Senate for a vote and then on to President Obama. This bill is called “Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education” (GIVE).
It forms what some are calling “Obama’s Youth Brigade.” Obama’s plan is require anyone receiving school loans and certain others to serve at least three months as part of the brigade. His goal is one million youth! The Bill would forbid any student in the brigade to participate in “engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of religious proselytization.”
That means no church attendance or witnessing. Again, is this what America voted for?
Here is part of the HR1388 Bill’s wording:
SEC. 1304. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES AND INELIGIBLE ORGANIZATIONS.
Section 125 (42 U.S.C. 12575) is amended to read as follows:
SEC. 125. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES AND INELIGIBLE ORGANIZATIONS.
(a) Prohibited Activities- A participant in an approved national service position under this subtitle may not engage in the following activities:
(1) Attempting to influence legislation.
(2) Organizing or engaging in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes.
(7) Engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of religious proselytization.
Here are some additional sources of info on this subject.
(Adapted from an article composed and distributed by Jonas Clark and William Fitzgerel.)
Isn’t pastoring wonderful?
“Coughing, sneezing and gagging in the afternoon, so I had some soup, told my wife I was staying home from church and went to bed.”
These words were sent to me a few day ago from a pastor who did (probably once or twice in the last twenty years) what lay people do on a regular basis. He played hooky because he was plain ol’ sick! But as he lay in bed during service, he thought of other ways that he was ailing. He said he was sick of:
•Good people that don’t want to be challenged with more of God.
•Move-ins with $$ who want influence if I will just say TV is OK.
•Self-righteous saints who expect new converts to be just as “holy” as they are immediately.
•Angry parents who expect their kids to live it and love it, when they don’t.
•Spoiled youth that are basically running the twenty-first century church because they think they’re God’s gift and maybe Dad and Mom are out of touch.
•Scheduled church events that do nothing ultimately to better people or the effort for souls.
•Preachers with private “My Group” agendas.
•Intimidation and demeaning of honest hearted, pure spirited, little fish by the Big Fish.
•The kingdom building techniques of big meeting promoters.
•Special services with no altar calls.
•Altar calls without tears or repentance.
•Special meetings that are nothing more than pep rallies.
I finally prayed through, at home, alone, and fell asleep about 10 p.m. The family came home late, it must have been a good service, I did hear about folks laying on the floor weeping and the whole church praying through!
Imagine that—without the ugly, mean old Pastor to push them! I feel better this morning.”
I should think so, having gotten all that off his chest. Anyone else feeling sick?
The Apostolic Ministerial Conference is coming up on May 5-7 at the Opryland Hotel in beautiful Nashville, TN. To experience the unique Apostolic conference and the unbelievable hotel simultaneously is a rare treat indeed. For ministers and their families only. You won’t be sorry you dropped everything for a few days and relaxed in a preaching conference that will feed your soul.
Thoughts from thinking men
“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” – H. Richard Niebuhr, in The Kingdom of God in America, on the process by which the liberal movement in American theology gradually divorced itself from its roots in the Reformation tradition, paralleling the decline of religious vitality and dynamic.
“It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.” – James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, 1785
“[R]eligion, or the duty which we owe to our creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and this is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.” – Virginia Bill of Rights, Article 16, June 12, 1776
“Let the pulpit resound with the doctrine and sentiments of religious liberty. Let us hear of the dignity of man’s nature, and the noble rank he holds among the works of God… Let it be known that British liberties are not the grants of princes and parliaments.” – John Adams, Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1765
“It is necessary for every American, with becoming energy to endeavor to stop the dissemination of principles evidently destructive of the cause for which they have bled. It must be the combined virtue of the rulers and of the people to do this, and to rescue and save their civil and religious rights from the outstretched arm of tyranny, which may appear under any mode or form of government.” – Mercy Warren, History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution, 1805
Healthy as a (two-legged) horse
Some have asked about my health. Thanks! I am glad to report that they did another scan of my leg and found no trace of the blood clot. It either broke up into minute particles and was absorbed by the lungs or dissolved. Either way, I am glad to be rid of it! Thanks for your prayers.
Blog poll: “Shoot first…?”
In the last posting of this blog, I asked you to express your thoughts on how you would handle the situation if government agents came to confiscate your guns. One man had said he would be prepared to shoot them. Below are the results of the poll. To avoid redundancy, I won’t print all of the responses.
Most said they hand over the guns, although not voluntarily or willingly. Search warrants would have to be shown. They might hide those that are not registered or not known to be in their possession.
One said, “If we try to save ourselves God may just let us. In every situation the Lord has kept my family and me from harm. Why stop a good thing by doing it myself? We don’t protest, we preach. We don’t use carnal weapons because the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (weak) but mighty through God! It’s time to get back to the basics of faith and trust in the Lord!”
Another: “If the founding fathers of our country had been willing to surrender their guns, there would not be such thing as the US of A would there? My idea of gun control is to use two hands. No, I am not willing to surrender my guns to anybody. Nor I do not want to have to shoot anybody. At the same time I’m going to keep my options open….If you do not think that there is real concern about Obama coming after gun owners just visit a gun store in your area. They are selling guns like crazy….It looks like to me that there could very well be a revolution if things keep going as they are. So keep your powder dry!”
I thought this response was interesting: “Hand over the gun(s). Then ask, ‘Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?’ You might be the ‘epistle of Christ’ or the only Bible they ever get to read.”
At any rate, let us pray that there will never come a time when such decisions will have to be made. Pray for our government, for our President, for our Congress. And let’s be Christians in all situations.
We all know that ultimately “God has everything under His control” and that in the end it will all amount to the unfolding of His eternal plan. Therefore some feel we should not worry about anything. That is the “positive” outlook. But how does this jive with history? Did it keep horrible things from happening to God’s people? Christians in the past were of two minds—resist tyranny and stand up for one’s legitimate and legal rights, or take the pacifist’s role and let our nation and our families suffer the fate of the citizens of Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. We have traditionally made heroes out of prominent believers in both camps. Some think if we resist the current administration’s efforts to move America into socialism and making it vulnerable to terrorism that we might be found fighting against the plan of God. Others are of the opposite mind. Where do you stand? Share your wisdom with us.
Try laughing to keep from crying
We proudly salute our veterans on Memorial Day on May 25th.
New books on creation and evolution:
by Henry M. Morris III
Some Call It Science
by Henry M. Morris
Encouraged by the spirit and thrust of the current political administration, our youth are being bombarded as never before by atheism and humanism, often coming at them in the context of evolution. They need constant reinforcement. While there are many books published on the topic, here are a couple that are inexpensive and brief enough to encourage reading by both young people and adults. Written by Henry Morris, the noted authority on creationism, and his grandson who has followed in his footsteps, these little books are treasure troves of helpful information on biblical creationism. Only 3.95 each.
This apostolic pastor has put together a verse-by-verse commentary on the Book of Revelation that will help any student of the Word find his way through the maze of symbols and prophecies. Regardless of your view of eschatology, the truth seeker will benefit from the studied reflections on this final book of the Bible. Scholarly, yet easy to use and reader friendly. 365 pages; only 17.95
Now available…INTO HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT based on the NIV!
The highly effective Into His Marvelous Light Bible study has added a new dimension. It is now available using the scriptures from the New International Version. This is in response to many requests to use a version other than the KJV. New converts and those not familiar with the Bible to whom we are witnessing find it much easier to understand. It will likely prove to be even more effective as a soulwinning tool. Same format, and the doctrines are just as strongly worded, if not stronger, in the NIV. Of course, the Bible study is still available in the KJV for those who prefer it. Price: as low as $1.00 each in quantity.
How to order: order securely online at advanceministries.org or call 936-856-3419. If you call and we are away from the office, please leave your contact information and we will get back to you. Thanks for making Advance Ministries THE source for your book and Bible needs. More new titles will be forthcoming soon. Watch for them!