Writing Contest Winners

The winners of our first-ever SharperIron writing contest have been chosen!

They are John P. Davis for “My Journey Out of Dispensationalism” and Paul J. Scharf for “Why I Am a Dispensationalist.” These contestants will receive prize checks in the mail shortly and their articles will be published here in sequence within a few weeks.

We much appreciate everyone who participated. Several of the other contest entries will be appearing here at SI in the weeks ahead.

Learning from the Gospel Coalition, Part 2

by John Greening and Kevin Mungons

Read Part 1.

Reprinted with permission from The Baptist Bulletin.

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We believe the Gospel Coalition movement bears watching. Because the movement itself is still developing and taking shape, our thoughts here should not be taken as a full analysis of this new movement. But having attended the conference and having enjoyed many aspects of it on a personal level, we would like to offer a few tentative observations. Read more about Learning from the Gospel Coalition, Part 2

Learning from the Gospel Coalition, Part 1

Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted with permission from The Baptist Bulletin.

by John Greening and Kevin Mungons

The Gospel Coalition conference, held on April 21-23 at a suburban Chicago conference center, was an enriching and enlightening time of learning and personal fellowship with conservative evangelical brothers and sisters who share many ideals with Baptist fundamentalists. Both of us attended with a desire to learn more about a growing movement within evangelicalism.

It was an uplifting conference. The sheer number—3,300 people, primarily male—was a moving sight. The participants seemed to evidence a deep commitment to the Word of God and the primacy of bold proclamation of the Scriptures.

We were accompanied by our pastor at First Baptist Church of Arlington Heights, Ill., Dr. Bryan Augsburger. All of us are now in our middle-age years, probably at least 15 years older than the median age of the attendees, who are in ministry or preparing for ministry. Perhaps we stuck out in the crowd a bit, and for reasons other than our graying hair: Our pants didn’t have seven pockets, we tucked in our shirts, and we didn’t send any text messages to the guys sitting next to us. Read more about Learning from the Gospel Coalition, Part 1

The Law


Dispensationalists are sometimes accused of holding a contemptuous attitude towards God’s law. Sometimes this accusation is warranted. Certain versions of dispensationalism treat the law as irrelevant or even downright harmful.

While I am a dispensationalist, I do not share this attitude. When I read the New Testament, I find exactly the opposite view of the law. While legalism is condemned, the law itself is held up as a thing of glory, a thing that is holy and just and good.

Recent conversations have led me to look within and to ask myself, “How do I see God’s law? How do I feel about it?” In the following paragraphs I am going to try to answer that question. Therefore, this essay should not be taken as a normative statement. I am not arguing that my attitudes are exactly the correct ones. Rather, I am attempting a more-or-less phenomenological description of the attitudes that I discover within myself. Perhaps these attitudes need to be corrected—in fact, I am sure that they do. Both dispensationalists and non-dispensationalists are welcome to bring the Scriptures to bear so that my view of God’s law can become more accurate than it is now.

Before I describe these attitudes, however, perhaps I should say a word about the notion of “law.” In the narrower sense, I use the term to refer to the 613 commands and prohibitions of the Sinai code. These commands and prohibitions are of three kinds. Some of them directly reflect the immutable character of God. Others, while certainly consistent with God’s character, reflect His plan for Israel as a nation. Still other commands reflect God’s intention to prepare His people for the coming of His Son. These three categories correspond roughly to the ordinary distinctions between moral, civil, and ceremonial law.

When I approach the law, I do not begin by asking which part of it I must keep today. If I understand 1 Corinthians 3 correctly, even the Decalogue has been rendered inoperative as a rule of life. This abolishing of the law does not mean that I am free to live in any sinful way that I please. It simply means that the mechanism for progressive sanctification is not to be found in legal commandments. It is found in the Spirit.

The life of one who is led by the Spirit will reflect the fruit of the Spirit. That fruit results in a life that looks very much like law-keeping, even though the focus is not on the commandments. This is probably part of what Paul means when He says that the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us who walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh.

So, how do I perceive the law? When I look within myself, I discover that I respond to God’s law in several ways. Read more about The Law

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Ten Years at SEVBC, Part 3

A Memoir by Pastor Joel Tetreau

The TetreausNew Relationships—The Growing Stage (2005-Present)

Numerical growth has been a blessing. On a few Sundays we’ve been close to 250. For the future we have just recently purchased a 1.5-acre lot to the east of us. That gives us a total of four acres we can develop. We are looking and praying about the future. If the Lord tarries and provides, we see the addition of an auditorium, an additional education building, a large outdoor basketball court (you can do that in Arizona), an additional child ministry facility, as well as other plant features that will allow us to max out as a congregation around 400. Frankly after that, unless the Lord radically changes our approach and philosophy of ministry, we plan to start new churches and plant them strategically here in the metro Phoenix area.

Here are a few ministry priorities:

Expository Preaching and Teaching Read more about Ten Years at SEVBC, Part 3

Preaching on the Rapture

Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted by permission from Warren Vanhetloo’s Cogitations.

“In the last days scoffers will say, Where is the promise of His coming?” (2 Pet. 3:3-4).

Years ago, we heard a great deal of preaching about the possibility of the rapture occurring in our lifetime. As I remember, 1980 was about as long as we expected to have to wait. World affairs were such that, to our eyes, the tribulation following the rapture would soon come about. And then the world situation changed. Things settled down, and new disruptions arose. And for the last three decades, there has been little preaching on the imminent any-moment return of the Lord Jesus Christ in the air for church saints. Men’s predictions and analyses failed. God’s plan was not adjusted a bit. He didn’t change as the world changed. So many had been so wrong; it was best to keep quiet.

We cannot today predict any more accurately than those of the last century. We can be more cautious of the conclusions we reach. The one thing we ought to avoid is that of neglecting to preach of the coming rapture just because some have overstated some things about it in the past. If it is in the Word of God, it is a part of what we are to proclaim as the whole counsel of God. From our human point of view, it is just as possible of occurring any moment now as three decades ago. We know no more of God’s schedule than did our fathers or their fathers. We do have the same Scripture they had. Read more about Preaching on the Rapture

The Necessity of Personal Separation in Biblical Fundamentalism

Editor’s Note: This article accompanies FBFI Resolution 09-05 and is reprinted with permission from the May/June issue of FrontLine magazine.

Paul declares that all Scripture is “profitable” or “useful” (2 Tim. 3:16) in the sense of yielding a practical benefit (1 Tim. 4:8; Titus 3:8). The Scriptures construct our faith by establishing correct belief (“doctrine”), convict by exposing incorrect belief (“reproof”), correct by exposing incorrect behavior (“correction”), and counsel in order to establish right behavior (“instruction in righteousness”). Sound doctrine includes the moral implications which necessarily result from genuine faith in the truth: “For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:10). Read more about The Necessity of Personal Separation in Biblical Fundamentalism

FBFI Resolution 09-05

See “Note to the Readers.”

Regarding Personal Holiness

Whereas the Scripture consistently commands us to practice personal holiness,

And whereas the nature of personal holiness grows out of the very nature and character of God,

And whereas many professing believers have significantly departed from aspects of personal holiness commanded by the Scriptures and practiced by Bible believers for centuries,

And whereas God calls us be to salt and light in the world,

And whereas we recognize that failure in this area is a problem in our own lives and our own churches,

We call on all who name the Name of Christ to recommit themselves to a life of purity and distinction from the sinfulness of the world. This purity must flow from a deep love for our Lord Jesus Christ and a gratitude for the great work He has done for us in salvation. Such holiness must not be corrupted by the excesses of false liberty or the arbitrary boundaries of a passionless legalism. We must seek a deep and committed relationship with Jesus Christ that captivates every thought, dominates every activity, and brings every aspect of our lives under His loving Lordship.