In Memory of Wade Holder a Dear Brother in Christ

Watch the Funeral Service.

Mr. Wade Hampton Holder Jr., 83, went to be with his God and Savior
the Lord Jesus Christ on Tuesday, March 22, 2011, after battling
pancreatic cancer. Throughout his full life and numerous passions,
Wade was consumed with an intense desire that everyone he encountered
would discover the joy of salvation in Jesus Christ.

Born the 11th of 12 children in the family home in Harnett County on
December 12, 1927, Wade, known then as W.H., was son to Wade Hampton
and Flora Stewart. In 1945, he graduated from Boone Trail High School
and UNC in 1950.

Upon graduation, Wade was drafted into the US Army during the Korean
War. After his discharge, Wade completed his MA in Education and began
a teaching career where he met the love of his life, Ms. Anna Ruth Lee
of Fayetteville another teacher. After courting, Wade married Ruth on
December 28, 1961. Wade faithfully poured his life into the lives of
his students. His students understood 3 things about Mr. Holder—he
loved Jesus, the Bible on his desk, and them. Wade retired from the
Fort Bragg School system after 28 years.

A true Tar Heel fan, Wade loved sports. As a member of the NCAOA, Wade
refereed football, basketball, and baseball and continued being
involved even after retiring as a supervisor. Wade also loved
checkers—it wasn’t just a game for him. He competed in tournaments in
19 states. On tournament Sundays, Wade would lead a morning worship
service where he would faithfully testify of the gospel of Jesus

From nearly the beginning of Berean Baptist Church, Wade was a
faithful member and deacon. For 26 years, he taught the Bible at the
Towers West Retirement Home, but Wade was much more than a teacher. He
was their lay pastor. He celebrated birthdays, made hospital visits,
took members to doctor appointments, and preached funerals. He loved
the residents of Towers West and they loved him. Wade also served as a
Gideon for 3 decades and led monthly worship services at the NC
Veteran’s Nursing Home for many years. All who knew Wade knew that he
loved people and will remember him as a man who never had a cross word
to say about anyone. Like his Lord and Savior, Wade always “went about
doing good.” The family sorrows but not like “others which have no
hope” 1 Thessalonians 4:13. Wade’s hope was in His Lord and he would
want you to put your hope in Christ, too.

Wade will be remembered as a godly man, teacher, referee, friend, and
servant. He was a faithful and loving husband, father, brother,
grandfather and great-grandfather. He is survived by his wife of 49
years, Anna Ruth Lee Holder; 2 daughters: Karen Holder Guinn and her
husband David of Zebulon, NC, and Sharon Holder Finley and her husband
Ken of Timberlake, NC; 2 sisters: Myrtle Slaughter of Sanford, NC,
and Ester Howard of Buies Creek, NC; a brother: Thomas Holder of
Raleigh, NC; 5 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. He was
preceded in death by his parents; his son, Wade Hampton Holder, III; 5
sisters: Margaret Porter, Bertha Lucas, Lovedy May Holder, Callie
Cummings, and Oneta Morrison; and 3 brothers: Perry Holder, Lois
Holder, and Layon Buie Holder.

Limited and Unlimited Atonement

In an effort to explain the how the atonement is both limited and unlimited at the same time, the pastors of Berean have drafted what we believe the Bible teaches.

Atonement: While we acknowledge the truth that there is an “elect of God,” we believe the Bible teaches that Christ—the Lamb of God—died for the sins of the whole world and not just the “elect”(John 1:29, 3:16-18, 14:1; Rom 5:6; 2 Cor 5:15; Col 3:12; 1Tim 1:15, 2:4-5Heb 2:9; 1 John 2:2; 4:14; 1 Pet 1:21; 2 Pet 2:1). We believe the atonement becomes effectual for the individual based upon his or her repentant faith in the Person and salvific work of Christ at their moment of conversion (John 3:3; Acts 20:21; Rom 1:17; 10:9-14; Eph 2:8; 1 John 5:1). We reject the teaching that all men will eventually be saved (Universalism) and the doctrine that Jesus’ death and shed blood was only for the elect (pure Five-Point Calvinism). We believe the atonement is limited in the sense that not all will be made right with God because not all will believe in the Savior (John 4:42; 1 Tim 4:10), but we also believe it is unlimited in the sense that the potential exists for anyone who believes in the Truth of the Gospel to be declared righteous and reconciled to God (John 1:7, 14:6; Rom 1:16; Col 1:21). Only God can reconcile the paradox of an atonement that is both limited and unlimited.


A thorough study of the Hebrew word hesed in the Old Testament will reveal that it has always been God’s plan to establish a holy nation of people from every tribe, clan, language and culture to be the objects of his hesed. Beginning with a concordance study, followed by an analysis of the contextual use of hesed, I will demonstrate that the idea of redeeming a particular people through the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ has always been God’s plan in light of His hesed. Finally, I will articulate how the knowledge gained from the study can be applied to ministry, discipleship, and theology.

According to the Enhanced Strong’s Concordance, the Hebrew word חֶסֶד, transliterated checed or hesed (H2617), is a masculine noun pronounced like this kheh'•sed. The first time hesed is used in the Old Testament is in Genesis 19:19 with the last occurrence being found in Zechariah 7:9. Between these two passages hesed is used 248 times in 241 verses in the Hebrew concordance of the Authorized Version (AV). Of these 248, over half (127) of the occurrences can be found in the book of Psalms. The remaining occurrences are nearly evenly divided between the law, the historical books, and the seventeen prophetical books. In the New American Standard Bible (NASB), hesed is found 253 times in 241 verses with the same first and last occurrence as the AV. Fifty-six percent of the time hesed is translated with the English word “mercy” in the AV; and in the NASB, mercy is used for hesed fifty-nine percent of the time. The words kindness, lovingkindness, and goodness account for the majority of the other instances. Finally, on one occasion NASB translators render hesed “wicked thing” and another time “reproach.”

Hesed (H2617) is used eleven times in the book of Genesis beginning with God’s saving of Lot’s life. Since this is the first use of the hesed in Genesis, and thus the Bible, thoroughness in examination is important. Based on Abraham’s intercession for as few as ten righteous residents of Sodom, God sent two angels to rescue the righteous in the city (Gen 19) before He destroyed it (along with Gomorrah) for its wickedness (Gen 18:20). Evidently, Lot and his family did not take the need to evacuate very seriously because the angels had to urge Lot and his wife to get up and get out of the city before they were “swept away in the punishment of the city. But he [Lot] lingered. So the men seized him by the hand [because] the Lord [was] being merciful to him” (Gen 19:15-17). Then Lot said, “Behold your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness [hesed] in saving my life” (Gen 19:19). So when Lot so sensed that his life was at stake and he could have died but he instead was rescued, he concluded he had received “great hesed.” In the book of Genesis, hesed nearly always relates to saving or losing one’s life. In Genesis 20:13, Sarah was asked to lie to potentially save Abraham’s life. In Genesis 21:23, Abimelech and Phicol, fearing for their lives, ask Abraham to return the hesed he previously received. Jacob fearing for his life asks for hesed (Gen 32:10), and Joseph wanted hesed to be delivered from prison where he probably thought he would die (Gen 40:14). Finally, Israel asks Joseph, “If he has found favor in your sight, put your hand under my thigh and promise to deal kindly [hesed] and truly with me. Do not bury me in Egypt” (Gen 47:29).

From the eleven uses of hesed and most especially Jacob’s plea for hesed, one can gain a better understanding of what this word is all about. Jacob asks for a promise with a hand under his thigh. This is covenant language. Joseph is pledging to fulfill this request for hesed. Jacob is a descendant of Abraham. His father received a promise for land, and Jacob knew Egypt was not that land. Jacob desired to be buried in the land where his people would dwell eternally according to the word of the Lord (Gen 12). Joseph is to ensure that no matter what, his father is not to be buried with the heathen of Egypt. Jacob asks Joseph to “‘Swear to me’; and he swore to him” (Gen 47:31). Although Jacob died in Egypt, he did not remain in Egypt because Joseph swore to his father that he would show him kindness (hesed). Hesed is not kindness like a person waiting in a long line lets someone with one item go in front of them. Hesed is much deeper than that.

Exodus 34:6-7 (and Num 14:18-19) is a powerful quotation of Yahweh’s description of himself which uses hesed twice. Yahweh, Yahweh, a “God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love [hesed] and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love [hesed] for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” Hesed in this passage is translated “goodness” in the KJV, NKJV; “faithful love” in the HCSB; “love” in the NIV and “lovingkindness” in the NASB. Hesed is another word that describes the amazing, enduring love Yahweh has for His people in spite of their rebellion and sin. Hesed does not compromise his integrity or justice; he still punishes sin. However, he is compelled to show mercy, delay punishment, and forgive iniquity, transgression, and sin. Hesed is one of the words that describes what makes Yahweh worthy of worship. He is not like any other God; he is a covenant-keeping God and shows steadfast love [hesed] to his servants (2 Chron 6:14).

In Joshua 2:12 and 14, Rahab the spy communicates to Joshua and Caleb that since she has shown hesed (kindness) to them she expects them to reciprocate hesed (kindness) to her. Then in verse 14, the men commit to reciprocating hesed with her. “Then she let them down by a scarlet cord through the window” and they live, and later she lives because of the hesed they swore one to another (2:20). So again hesed often communicates kindness, but always in the sense of living and dying.

Hesed is found in the book of Psalms 128 times in 127 verses. One cannot understand the depth of the word hesed without examining how it is used by various psalmists. Four different times hesed is described in relation to salvation in Psalms13:5, 69:13, 85:7, and 98:3. Similarly, God’s right hand saves those who put their trust in him as a display of his “lovingkindness” (AV) or “steadfast love” (ESV) (hesed). In Psalm 6:4, a plea for hesed is communicated so that the soul may be delivered. Three times hesed is connected with man’s soul in Ps 31:7, 86:13, and 143:12. Hesed keeps the king secure in his position because he trusts in the Lord (Ps 21:7), and Psalm 31:16 is a plea to be saved in God’s hesed.

There are forty-two specific references to “hesed enduring forever” beginning in 1 Chronicles 16:34 and culminating in Jeremiah 33:10. In Psalm 136, the central message of the entire psalm is the truth that God’s mercy, lovingkindness, or steadfast love (hesed) endures forever. Hesed is mentioned in every one of the twenty-six verses in Psalm 136. God’s steadfast love endures forever because God’s covenant relationship with his people endures forever. Hesed is often associated in the covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob because that covenant is without end and hesed is a “lovingkindness” that endures forever.

There are ten times hesed can be found in the book of Proverbs in the AV/ESV. In this collection of wise sayings, one can find the most variance in the meaning of hesed. There is a degree of kindness from one human to another (Prov 31:26). There is a variance in Proverbs 19:22 where the ESV states, “What is desired in a man is steadfast love”; whereas, the KJV renders it “kindness.” Then there are specific references to God’s eternal covenant and lovingkindness to his people like Proverbs 3:3. Finally, there is a unique reference where hesed is translated reproach in Proverbs 14:34, but this is an anomaly in the normative use of the word.

In addition to a clear linkage to the Abrahamic covenant, hesed also is linked to the Davidic covenant in Isaiah 16:4b-5. Isaiah writes, “When the oppressor is no more, and destruction has ceased, and he who tramples underfoot has vanished from the land then a throne will be established in steadfast love (hesed) and on it will sit in faithfulness in the tent of David.” Again, Isaiah 55:3 emphasizes the relationship hesed has with the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant. Finally, the prophet emphasizes that hesed belongs to Yahweh in Isaiah 63:7. In fact, there are seven different references to hesed being “of the Lord” in the ESV. Seven different times the particular rendering “steadfast love of the Lord” is found in 1 Sam 20:14, Ps 33:5, 89:1, 103:17, 107:43, Is 63:7 and La 3:22.

Jeremiah, the author of Lamentations 3:22, helps the reader truly understand how significant it is for God to possess this “steadfast love” or as the KJV translates it “mercies.” He indicates that the only reason Israel is not consumed, or that the only reason Israel is still alive, is because of the Lord’s hesed toward his covenant people. In a state of exile, Daniel uses the word in nearly the same sense in Daniel 9:4, where in a prayer, he reminds God of this hesed and his covenant. The word or promise of the Lord is important; God has obligated himself to show “steadfast love” to his people even when they deserve otherwise.

Having studied nearly every use of the hesed in the Old Testament, it is apparent that hesed has what could be described as a sliding meaning of sorts. This helps account for why none of the major translations have consistently used one word or set of words to communicate the intent of the author when he used hesed. For example, the ESV uses “steadfast love” as its primary way of translating hesed, but not in every case. The harlot was not showing Joshua and Caleb “steadfast love”; instead, they received from her the strongest amount of kindness a person can give to another without it being love (which obviously has some degree of love behind it). However, when God’s covenant people experienced mercy/grace (hesed) from God it was because of his enduring love for those he elected to be his people. God has bound himself to his own character to show mercy (AV) or lovingkindness (NAS) or steadfast love (ESV) to his people because of their covenant relationship. Translating hesed as just “kindness” is not the best choice in most cases, but neither is just “mercy.” Steadfast love emphasizes the covenant aspect of the word hesed, but it does not emphasize the forgiveness aspect of hesed when it is associated with sin/transgression and salvation/redemption/deliverance. Perhaps steadfast lovingkindness best describes the meaning of hesed in the majority of instances where it is found.

Believers in Christ everywhere can have great peace and assurance in knowing that the God of the Old Testament, who does not change, is unconditionally steadfast in his love for those who are spiritual sons and daughters of father Abraham because all that are Christ’s are Abraham’s (Gal 3:29). They are eternally secure. The just have always lived by faith in the promises of God as revealed to them to the point that it is always faith that saves one from God’s wrath. This means that every promise made to Abraham can be claimed by every disciple of Christ including God’s promise of steadfast, enduring, unconditional lovingkindness in a most merciful way to those who deserve just the opposite. Even the land promise will be fulfilled in the life of the believer in a place of eternal rest. Thus I am freed from the burden of earning God’s favor or maintaining his love for me through the keeping of the law. In Christ, my burden is light because of his provision of righteousness (Mt 11:27-29). As a Christian, I am not earning his favor, but neither was Abraham.

Although beyond the scope of this work, I would like to suggest the depth of this word as it relates to God’s relationship to people certainly calls into question some of what is taught under the umbrella of dispensationalism. It is not theologically accurate to suggest that God was not gracious to his people in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament there is now grace. There has always been grace. Hesed is filled with grace. This quality of God comes from his marvelous grace. When Israel received hesed instead of wrath, they were experiencing grace. Grace is not a new attribute that evolved in God, nor was it a hidden attribute in God.

Hesed is a gospel word. The gospel of the Lord Jesus requires that I extend to others just what I have received from the Lord. For a Christian, not forgiving someone else for a transgression is not optional. Several times hesed is used in this reciprocal manner. In Genesis 21:23, Abimelech and Phichol expected that as they “have dealt kindly with you [Abraham], so you will deal with me.” The same is true of the harlot and Joshua and Caleb. The harlot expected that Joshua and Caleb would extend to her the same hesed she extended to them. Likewise God, who is often treated like a harlot by his people, expects Christians to extend to others the same hesed he faithfully extends to us through the gospel (Mt 18:23-35), which is not a new idea. The prophet Zechariah told the people that God expected them to “render true judgments, show hesed, and mercy [or compassion] to one another” (7:9).
A thorough understanding of hesed makes it clear that God has always had a plan of forgiving sin and transgressions and saving people from his wrath in order to demonstrate to the world his marvelous steadfast love, mercy, and enduring lovingkindness in an amazingly faithful way to his glory. When one understands the depth of this merciful kindness that endures unto all generations to those who trust in him, the only appropriate response is to declare with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev 5:12).

God’s unconditional, enduring lovingkindness to his people is what distinguishes Yahweh and the true Christian gospel from every other world religion and cult on the planet. The depth of the meaning of hesed as it is used in the covenant relationship with Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and in Exodus 34:6-7, and the Psalms, and numerous other passages provides assurance that the gospel of Jesus Christ is not an invention of twelve men. On the contrary, it is the purest manifestation of God’s steadfast, merciful lovingkindness (hesed) to those who will trust in Him forever (Ps 52:8).

Strong, James. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 1996.

Another Tract that Adds to Faith Alone

Today, I received tract in my box titled “It’s Time for You to Know.” That’s a great title. It is a beautiful tract. It has a clock on it with the hour glass divided into 12 wedges with nice pictures in each pie. It is very professionally done with a particular church name on the back and a map etc.

In the center of the tract is the message

“The Good News Is that Christ Paid for Our Sins.”

That is definitely true and it is certainly good news.

It is the next section of the tract that is disconcerting. It states:

“We must Personally Pray and Receive Christ by Faith as Our Savior”

Then Romans 10:13 is quoted as the proof text that we must “personally pray.”

This isn’t biblical. The Bible doesn’t say “we must personally pray.”

What must one do to be saved? Acts 16:30-31 answers this question; read it with me.

Acts 16:30-31
And brought them [Paul and Silas] out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

Notice Paul didn’t say “personally pray.” Instead, he said “believe!”

The fact is a person does not have to pray to be saved, but he or she must believe. You can pray without believing. But God knows authenticate belief. A person can trick the preacher or his wife into believing that he or she is a Christian with words, but you can’t trick God. God knows who has believed and who has not believed. God knows who is born again and who is only saying a prayer.

I have already explained what it means to call upon the name of the Lord (in a previous posting) so I will not explain it again.

Authenticate original unsolicited prayer— as an expression of genuine faith—should never be hindered, but that is completely contrary to telling someone that they “must personally pray.”

This sounds like a work. It is something I must do. But my salvation is not based upon something I do.

Titus 3:5
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

My response to message of the gospel is belief or faith. And the Bible says faith comes by hearing the Word of the Lord.

Romans 10:17
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

When someone says “we must personally pray” he is adding to the gospel.

Some denominations (like the Church of Christ) teach a person must be baptized. Baptists have always taught that that is heretical because it is creating something that man must do. Baptists have always insisted that man is saved by grace though faith—not by words that must be articulated.

Romans 4:3
For what saith the scripture?
Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

In the past, soul-winning tracts would contain something like “this prayer of salvation” is an expression of your faith.

But not now, this tract (and others) is so bold as to suggest that a person “must personally pray.”

According to the tract titled “It’s Time for You to Know” prayer is no longer an optional expression of faith in Christ—it is now a requirement for salvation.

But this is what Jesus said:

Mark 1:15
15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand:
repent ye, and believe the gospel.

A person can pray after he is born again and he can pray before he is born again, but in either case it is not his prayer that makes him born again. Prayer doesn’t save; therefore, no one should be told they “must personally pray.”

When a person is told that, there is an automatic inference that implies this prayer saves me but it doesn’t!

This tract, “It’s Time for You to Know” is just as wrong as a tract that teaches one must be baptized to be saved.