[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Offenders For a Word

by Antonio da Rosa

I did it. I accepted another bookshelf hand-me-down. I added it to my growing number of them. I spent 4 hours today re-arranging my books and un-dusting my books (in tribute to Amelia Bedillia, the children's book maid).

I opened a book that I hadn't looked at for a while, (in my apologetics section) entitled "Offenders for a Word", sub-titled "How Anti-Mormons Play Word Games to Attack the Latter-day Saints". I actually scanned most of the pages. My eyes lit upon some highlighted material.

Here are a few tidbits:

(begin quote)
Mormons share with other Christians, too, the historical data of the New Testament, deviating only ... in its interpretation... Later-day Saints have long tended to feel most at home with evangelical Bible commentaries, when they use such scholarly tools at all, because of the belief that we share with them in Christ's literal resurrection, in the historicity of his miracles, in the birth narratives, and in the Savior's divinity... Mormons consider Jesus divine, the Only Begotten Son of God, and the only perfect man who ever lived. Their Articles of Faith affirm that men are saved, if they are saved, "through the Atonement of Christ."

A comparison of twenty elements of personal identity possessed by "the Mormon Jesus" and "the Jesus of the Bible" -- and many, many more elements could be compared if space and the reader's patience did not constraun us -- should make it clear to even the most hardened missing persons detective that the two are the same person.

Category------------The Mormon Jesus---------The Jesus of the Bible
of David's line?------yes-------------------------yes
stepfather's name-----Joseph----------------------Joseph
mother's name---------Mary------------------------Mary
time period-----------early first century---------early first century
occupation------------carpenter, preacher---------carpenter, preacher
taught in temple?-----yes-------------------------yes
sojourn in Egypt?-----yes-------------------------yes
baptized by John?-----yes-------------------------yes
walked on water?------yes-------------------------yes
water to wine?--------yes-------------------------yes
gave parables?--------yes-------------------------yes
public office?--------no--------------------------no
manner of death-------crucifixion-----------------crucifixion
time of death---------under Pontius Pilate--------under Pontius Pilate
place of death--------just outside Jerusalem------just outside Jersusalem
sign at death---------earthquake------------------earthquake
ascent to heaven?-----yes-------------------------yes

...[A well-known anti-Mormon has] committed the logical fallacy of equivocation. This elementary logical error, also known as the Fallacy of the Ambiguous Middle Term, is surprisingly common in anti-Mormon writings, but perhaps its clearest manifestation occurs in connection with this question of Mormonism's allegedly "different Jesus." As one elementary logic textbook defines it, "This fallacy is committed whenever we allow the meaning of a term to shift between the premises of our argument and our conclusion...

Once this is understood, it becomes apparant that we are talking here merely about differing views of one individual, Jesus, and not about distinct and separate individuals... After all, the Catholic Jesus is different from the Pentecostal Jesus, and both differ from the Coptic Jesus...

To have different views of an individual does not magically create different individuals. Citizen C may think Senator Bunkum a paragon of fiscal restraint, as well as a statesmen of rare wisdom and moderation, while Citizen D regards him as a heartless skinflint and an indecisive political coward, but we are still, mercifully, left with only one Senator Bunkum.
(end quote)

As a disclaimer, although I hope you all would know, I believe Mormonism is a cult which teaches damnable heresies concerning Jesus and the Christian faith in general. Mormons, believing what they are taught, are lost, on their way to the lake of fire. The book I quote from is NOT endorsed.

Also, because Matthew or I may slip and say that Mormons believe in the same Jesus as we do, it does not mean that we believe them saved. What we mean is that they refer to the historical Jesus the same as we do, though with differing beliefs about Him.

The bottom lines are these:

1) Mormons need to know that the historical Jesus whom they read about in their King James Bible will guarantee for them eternal life, their eternal well-being and resurrection, by faith in Jesus alone for it. He guarantees this gift apart from works of any kind; and without trust in Jesus' promise to guarantee for them eternal life, they are lost.

2) When a Mormon believes the saving message of Christ, it will be encumbent upon the discipler of him to lead the individual into the evangelical faith through the convincing testimony of the Scriptures (the King James version will do just fine) in conjunction with the Holy Spirit (who now indwells this Mormon). Serious temporal and eternal consequences may result for the saved Mormon who shuns the faith delivered to the saints.

A Different Joseph Smith?

by Matthew

Do Mormons believe in a different Joseph Smith* to us?

The Mormon believes that Joseph Smith was a pre-existent being before his birth. She believes that Joseph Smith was a morally upright man who encountered an angel and became a prophet. She believes that Joseph Smith has now become or will become a god.

Is this a different Joseph Smith to the one that you and I believe in?

No. There is only one Joseph Smith who founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This Joseph Smith was born in 1805 and died in 1844. There is only one Joseph Smith who married Emma Hale Smith in 1827. There is only one Joseph Smith who published the Book Of Mormon.

The fact that both the Mormon and I believe in the same Joseph Smith means that we can engage in dialogue about him. The Mormon can give me reasons to believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet. If they are convincing, they would affect my views on him. Likewise, I could give the Mormon reasons to believe that Joseph Smith was not an honest man. If she found them convincing, they would weaken her view that Joseph Smith was a prophet. If the Mormon and I believed in two ontologically parallel Joseph Smiths, this dialogue would be impossible (I am not necessarilly suggesting such a dialogue would be the most fruitful way to evangelize a Mormon).

In the same way, the Mormon and I believe in the same Jesus. We believe in the Jesus who was born of a virgin in Bethlehem, who spent his early years in Egypt, who worked as a carpenter, who performed miracles in Judea, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate and who was raised from the dead. There is no other Jesus who fits this description. We know who we are talking about, just as I know who the Mormon is talking about when she says "I believe that Joseph Smith is a true prophet." The Mormon has an utterly warped and heretical view of Christ's deity, but she believes in the same Jesus who lived in the first century who is the subject of the four Gospels.

If this Mormon comes to believe that she posesses eternal life through Jesus Christ by faith alone, without seeing the error of her heretical christology, she has not failed to put her trust in the name of Jesus. She has consciously believed in the same Jesus who spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. For all we know, her christology may be more orthodox than the Samaritan woman's view of Jesus. Nevertheless, she has believed the offer of eternal life that is found in her own King James Bible. She would never thirst again.

*I am aware that there were actually five Mormon leaders called Joseph Smith. It is Joseph Smith Jr, the one who published the Book of Mormon that we are concerned with.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Back to James: Slow to Speak

by hk flynn

James is often thought of as decisively refuting the idea of a passive faith that saves. But as we’ve seen there are some obstacles to understanding James this way. One of the obstacles is simply that 1:19 provides a surprisingly strong organizing concept for James’ main section on how to respond to trials. As we’ve seen previously, by being “quick to hear” James means that we should not be passive hearers but active doers of God’s word. This is the unit that carries us to the end of chapter two.

The next unit, being slow to speak is neatly expressed in chapter three. The point is for Christians to be slow to become teachers and instead recognize virtuous behavior as a safer medium to convey wisdom than words. In deference to this exotic idea, I’ll stop my own yammering and risk Matthew’s ire by quoting from the JB Phillips translation/commentary the entire 3rd chapter of James:

Don't aim at adding to the number of teachers, my brothers, I beg you! Remember that we who are teachers will be judged by a much higher standard.

We all make mistakes in all kinds of ways, but the man who can claim that he never says the wrong thing can consider himself perfect, for if he can control his tongue he can control every other part of his personality! Men control the movements of a large animal like the horse with a tiny bit placed in its mouth. Ships too, for all their size and the momentum they have with a strong wind behind them, are controlled by a very small rudder according to the course chosen by the helmsman. The human tongue is physically small, but what tremendous effects it can boast of! A whole forest can be set ablaze by a tiny spark of fire, and the tongue is as dangerous as any fire, with vast potentialities for evil. It can poison the whole body, it can make the whole of life a blazing hell.

Beasts, birds, reptiles and all kinds of sea-creatures can be, and in fact are, tamed by man, but no one can tame the human tongue. It is an evil always liable to break out, and the poison it spreads is deadly. We use the tongue to bless our Father, God, and we use the same tongue to curse our fellow-men, who are all created in God's likeness. Blessing and curses come out of the same mouth - surely, my brothers, this is the sort of thing that never ought to happen! Have you ever known a spring to give sweet and bitter water simultaneously? Have you ever seen a fig-tree with a crop of olives, or seen figs growing on a vine? It is just as impossible for a spring to give fresh and salt water at the same time.

Are there some wise and understanding men among you? Then your lives will be an example of the humility that is born of true wisdom. But if your heart is full of rivalry and bitter jealousy, then do not boast of your wisdom - don't deny the truth that you must recognize in your inmost heart. You may acquire a certain superficial wisdom, but it does not come from God - it comes from this world, from your own lower nature, even from the devil. For wherever you find jealousy and rivalry you also find disharmony and all other kinds of evil.

The wisdom that comes from God is first utterly pure, then peace-loving, gentle, approachable, full of tolerant thoughts and kindly actions, with no breath of favoritism or hint of hypocrisy. And the wise are peace-makers who go on quietly sowing for a harvest of righteousness - in other people and in themselves.

Trigger or Treasure Chest

by hk flynn

I think a significant difference among our theological strands seems to be an intensely different perspective on the role of the offer of eternal life in Christian doctrine. There may be a better way to phrase it but that is at least in the ball park. It seems to me that in the free grace theology/dyspraxicfundanmentalist view, the offer of eternal life does not itself validate Christian doctrine. It is simply the trigger the Lord chose to regenerate sinners. Theoretically, the content of the offer could have concerned the Trinity, or the Virgin Birth or any number of other doctrines, but God chose it to be profoundly self reflexive: By believing that Jesus gives eternal life to anyone who believes in Him for that, one is given eternal life. The far more mainstream Devoted life/Leaving Oz/Raise your Ebenezer view is that it actually minimizes a doctrine to leave it out of the offer of eternal life. In this view anything absolutely essential and absolutely fundamental to the salvation of sinners should be represented in the content of the offer of eternal life. To not do so is a minimizing of those doctrinal truths. In a certain sense, I think this view treats the offer of eternal life as a treasure chest. My disagreement with it is I truly don't see why it isn't arbitrary to treat the content of the offer of eternal life in this manner. Why must it be a set of all crucial and relevant doctrinal concepts concerning salvation? Is there a biblical or philosophical reason for this? Aren't these relevant questions to ask?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Statement and a Question

by Rose~

I want to say something about the previous discussions that went on here at UOG a couple of weeks ago. I believe I disagree with Antonio. I am not sure how a Jehovah's Witness could believe he was receiving eternal life from anyone other than the Divine Being. How can we separate the message of who Christ is from what He offers? He has no authority to offer eternal life if He is not the eternal being Himself. That being said, I understand and appreciate that Antonio and those who empathise with his ideas are not "evil" or "false teachers." We are all still learning about our Lord and His awesome dealings with mankind, are we not? I find some of the rhetoric from several over the last months (some of my own ilk included) to be quite rectionary and overdone. I don't mean to sound judgemental in that - I know I am not above reproach, but doesn't it get discouraging to anyone else? (oops - I just slipped in a question - and that was supposed to be the statement part.) I love all of these aforementioned ones.

Shifting gears: Here is a question I want to throw out:
I was reading this passage yeaterday and it provoked some questions in my mind.

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.
12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.
13 If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.
14 For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.
15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5)

Who are the men of verse 11 and who is the you of verse 20?
I think it is pretty clear that the anyone and the us of verse 17 and 18 are saved people.
What about the world and men of verse 19?
Who is the you of verse 20?

I would really love to hear some thoughts from various people on this. Do you see any implications of this passage and your answers to my questions?

Monday, May 15, 2006

J.N. Darby on a Sad Story

John Nelson Darby wrote a paper entitled Reflections on Mixed Marriages. It was prompted by the story of a Christian girl who had accepted an offer of marriage from a worldly man. She owned that the engagement was wrong but persisted in it. She became ill with a violent fever and died before the wedding. Darby took this to be the chastening of the Lord on a wayward child.

J.N. Darby wrote:

"There is another remark which the history of this young person leads me to make. The first start of a converted soul, however sincere it may be, produces anything but the judgment of self and the flesh, which, by unveiling to us our weakness, causes us to lay our burden at the feet of Jesus. We then seek for strength only in Him and we confide in Him alone. The confidence which a soul that knows and distrusts itself has in Jesus what gives it a lasting and solid peace, when it has understood, not only as a doctrine, but by the acceptance of the heart, that He alone is our righteousness. But we only arrive at this when we have been in the presence of God and have there made the discovery that we are only sin, that Christ is perfect righteousness, and God perfect love. From that time we distrust ourselves, we fight against ourselves, and the flesh and the enemy have no longer the same power to deceive us.

I do not think that the young person of whom these pages speak had been stripped of self. There are many Christians in this condition, and although we may all be exposed to the same dangers, yet such have more particularly to dread the wiles of the enemy, because they have not learnt how far the flesh deceives us, and do not know with how terrible a traitor we have to do. When we have come to a knowledge of this, although there may be a lack of watchfulness, yet Christ has a larger place in the heart, and there is more calm, and less of self.

Observe how deceitful the heart is, and how it looses all self-command when it departs from God. That poor young girl(when she was getting farther and farther into the slough, on the borders of which she had been trifling, to use her own expressions) asked her mother's friend to do all she could to remove every obstacle; and she, who was a woman of some piety, was surprised that A. should be disposed to unite herself with a worldly man.

How wily and deceitful is our heart! What slaves does an idol make of us. For although we may endeavour to escape the danger, yet we take means to secure the accomplishment of the thing that we desire, even while we flee from it. What a terrible thing it is to get away from God! This young person before she was entangled through this affection, would have shrunk with horror from the idea of such an action. When the heart has abandoned God, it dreads man even more than God. The God who loved A., and who was really beloved by her, must needs take her away from this world where she had not the courage to return to the right path. God took her to Himself. She died in peace, and through pure grace she triumphed. The Christian, whilst enjoying peace in his last moments, should always feel that it is God whose hand is there. What a solemn lesson for those who wish to depart from God and from His holy word, in order to satisfy an inclination which it would have been easy to overcome at first, but which, when cherished in the heart becomes tyrannical and fatal! May God grant to the reader of these lines, and to all His children, to seek His presence day by day."

Taken from Reflections on Mixed Marriages in Collected Writings, vol.16

Friday, May 12, 2006

Soteriology Points

by Antonio da Rosa

Here are some points that will clarify my soteriology. This has already been posted on my blog some time ago, but I do believe that it will be relevent here in this thread of thought that I have been producing. Please read these statements carefully. It will answer the question that has been posed to me about what is the minimum content to the faith that saves.

If you need further clarification or have any questions, please feel free to respond in the comments section.

"...and that believing ye might have life through his name"

1) Christ's "name" is everything who He actually is. This "name" represents everything who He TRULY is. Fill in ALL true Christology here: Everything that the Bible reveals Jesus to truly be and have done and everything that Jesus truly is that is not revealed in the Bible.

2) It is by virtue of His "name" (everything that He truly is and has done) that we can have eternal life. It is who He is and what He has done that has qualified Him as the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it. It is His name that gives Him the authority and the ability to dispense eternal life.

3) Jesus is uniquely qualified to dispense eternal life by virtue of His name. On this authority He may dispense it to whomever He wishes. It is through His wisdom and council with God the Father that they have decided to dispense eternal life to those and only those who believe in Jesus for this gift.

John 1:12
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name

Acts 4:12
Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

1 John 3:23
And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ

Matt 12:21
And in His name Gentiles will trust.

John 3:18
He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God

Acts 10:43
To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.

4) To this one condition of appropriating the gift of eternal life (faith in Jesus for it) God has been pleased to add no other.

Gal 2:16; 3:2
…knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified…. This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Rom 4:5-6, 16
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness… Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure.

5) Shorthand for faith in Jesus is to believe that Jesus is the Christ (in the Johannine sense) which as to content is that as the Christ Jesus is the Guarantor of eternal life to all who simply believe in Him for it.

John 11:25-27
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

She said to Him, "Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world."
You remember it, don’t you? “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’” (John 11:25-26). Her reply is a declaration that she believes Him to be the Christ. Martha said, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (11:27).

Notice here that to believe that Jesus is the Christ means to believe that He guarantees resurrection and eternal life to every believer. But now let us look at John 4. In that famous passage we have the Samaritans saying to the woman who had encountered Jesus, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world” (John 4:42).

Observe that the common denominator to both passages is the term “Christ.” On Martha’s lips He is “the Christ, the Son of God,” and on the lips of the Samaritans He is “the Christ, the Savior of the world.” This is not an accidental or insignificant difference.

In Jewish prophecy and theology the promised Christ was also the Son of God—that is, He was to be a divine person. Recall the words of Isaiah: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (9:6-7). But in Samaritan theology, the Messiah was thought of as a prophet and the woman at the well is led to faith through our Lord’s prophetic ability to know her life. Her words, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet” (4:19) are a first step in the direction of recognizing Him as the Christ. There is no evidence that she or the other Samaritans understood the deity of our Lord.

But they did believe that he was the Christ. And John tells us in his first epistle that “whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (5:1)! A full theology of His person is not necessary to salvation. If we believe that Jesus is the One who guarantees our eternal destiny, we have believed all we absolutely have to believe in order to be saved.
(Zane Hodges, How to Lead People to Christ, Part 1 Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Autumn 2000)

6) Believing that Jesus is the Christ (in the Johannine sense) is the only soteriologically necessary condition for eternal life.

7) Most people will not find this bare proposition persuasive. They will require more information and quite possible need some of their questions answered. This would be a logical necessity in order to persuade them that the salvific proposition is true.

John 20:30-31
And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

8) Most people do not need every question that they may have answered before they are persuaded as to the truth of the salvific proposition. Answers to other questions or other information given may be sufficient to persuade one that the salvific proposition is true.

9) The assent to orthodox theology in general or Christology in specific, as important as this is to the regenerate believer, is no litmus test for assurance of one's soteriological salvation. The only basis for both the reception of eternal life and assurance of eternal life is believing in Jesus, who through His name, has given the promise to Guarantee eternal life to all who believe in Him for it.

10) Misconceptions are a part of life. It is impossible to clear up every misconception concerning theology and should not be attempted. The most spiritual man on earth at the present time without a doubt has some misconceptions concerning the real nature of theology.

11) Children have many misconceptions as well but as the Bible makes clear, only those who receive the kingdom of God as little children will enter.
The theif on the cross said, “Lord, remember me”; and Jesus replied, “Today you shall be with Me in paradise.” After a life of crime, one of the three worst criminals in the nation – Barabbas had been released – this thief received assurance of Heaven.

He could hardly have known much about Jesus. He certainly had no notion of saving faith, let alone of the Trinity, the atonement, or the Second Advent. Yet, on the authority of Jesus, we know that he was saved… Surely entrance into Heaven does not require a degree from a theological seminary. The thief was saved in ignorance.”
(Gordon H. Clark, Faith and Saving Faith, pg 16)

12) Misconceptions about the Person and work of Jesus Christ is peripheral to the salvific proposition as a soteriological necessity. Ignorance about Christological doctrine can prevent one from being persuaded as to the salvific proposition, but it will never prevent one from the reception of eternal life if one is persuaded as to the salvific proposition.

13) Misconceptions about Jesus do not necessitate such a one who may hold to them to be referring to a "different" Jesus. If a test to one's particular reference to an identity be that he not hold any misconceptions about this identity then specific reference to anyone would be made impossible. For what guarantee does one have that his conceptions about the person, that through his reference he intends to identify, are correct?

14) One fact about a reference could be all that is necessary to limit identity, though one fact may not be enough. There seem to be multiple facts in the salvific proposition and not just one. "Believe that Jesus is the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it." Limit #1: the name of the reference is Jesus. Limit #2: the referent is a guarantor of something. Limit #3: the referent dispenses eternal life. Limit #4: this eternal life is dispensed on the basis of faith in the referent for the purpose of appropriating said eternal life.

There is only one Person in the universe who dispenses and guarantees eternal life to the believer in Him for it; the name of this referent is Jesus. This information satisfactorily identifies and limits reference to the true Jesus Christ.

The facts contained in the salvific proposition are of sufficient nature as to specifically limit the identity of its reference to the 2cd Person of the Trinity, God the Son, Jesus Christ.

15) Belief in Jesus Christ for anything else but the intended gift of eternal life will not necessarily be appropriated. The gift that Jesus guarantees in the salvific proposition is "eternal life" and not temporal deliverance, assured positive answer to prayer, or physical blessings. The faith in Jesus is for the purpose of appropriating the intended gift of eternal life.

15) The evangelist's endeavor is to get the potential convert to the point where he will entrust his eternal well-being to Jesus. It is to be used of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God to persuade such a one that Jesus guarantees his eternity. He does this by preaching the gospel message and other facts relating to Jesus, answering questions, etc. Our job in evangelism is to get the potential convert to believe in Jesus, the Guarantor of resurrection and eternal life to the believer in Him. Anything we do or say must point to Jesus and His promise to dispense eternal life to the mere believer in Him for it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Let us say Pt. 2

by Antonio da Rosa

Ya'll seem to be on the same wave-length. Varied misconceptions about "Jesus" necessarily mean that the person with them believes in a different Jesus.

JWs and Mormons cannot possibly be refering to the correct Jesus when they speak of Him, because they have misconceptions about Him, so you argue.

We all would agree that Jesus came from the tribe of Judah and was a descendent of David, was baptized by John, had 12 apostles, etc; the Bible teaches it. Who else in the universe fits this bill? This is enough information to limit understanding to no one else but the historical, unique Jesus Christ.

Let us say that as a teenager, a friend of yours told you that Jesus wasn't Jewish, but that He was Egyptian. He told you that Jesus had lived in Egypt therefore He was Egyptian. You believed your friend, not knowing any better.

Later on, when you were told the gospel (the death and resurrection), the deity of Jesus, and that Jesus guarantees eternal life/resurrection to the believer in Him for it, you believed.

Did you believe in a different "Jesus"? The TRUE Jesus was Jewish and came from the tribe of Judah, but you believe that he was Egyptian. And this belief you imported into your understanding of who "Jesus" is.

Let's say that I believe Jesus has blonde hair, like some depictions of Him show. But in reality Jesus has brown hair (for the sake of argument). By ya'lls argumentation, I am believing in a different Jesus.

Do you see this slippery slope you have put yourselves on? If my Christology does not line up with yours exactly, then I am believing in a different Jesus!

The examples could be heavily multiplied.

Let us say that I have met your mom. When referring to her when speaking to you I showed that I had several misconceptions about her employment or her living conditions, or her personality, or her finances, or her integrity, or her nationality, or her religion, etc.

Am I necessarily referring to a different "mom" because of my misconceptions?

Such an assertion would be absurd.

We all have MANY misconceptions about everything: each other, the Bible, God, Christ, etc.

We refer to people all the time in discussions in whom we have misconceptions and wrong beliefs about. Are you referring to different "people" because you don't have everything about those people worked out in your mind?

How come we MUST say that a JW or a Mormon refers to a different Jesus when they speak of Jesus?

How come we can't understand that they are having misconceptions and wrong beliefs about the correct Jesus instead? There is PLENTY in their Christology that we would agree with!

This is my third post on this subject. Is someone going to come up to bat and give all the necessary information that must be assented to in order to exercise saving faith? Show me in the Bible where this information is soteriologically necessary and lack of belief in them would preclude someone from eternal life.

Contrarily, could someone give me some of the fatal misconceptions about Jesus that would preclude one from eternal life, or from believing in Jesus Christ?

How do you distinguish between a fatal and non-fatal misconception about Jesus? And where does the Bible support your answer?


Monday, May 08, 2006

Let us say...

by Antonio da Rosa

Let us say that Srinivas has no knowledge of Jesus WHATSOEVER. He lives in INDIA and has never heard the name of Jesus before.

Someone gives him the gospel of John. As he reads the gospel of John, he starts to read about Jesus. When he gets to John 3:16, he puts his trust, his faith in this Jesus for eternal life. He has not yet got to the part where Jesus died on the cross or rose again from the dead. Yet he has entrusted his eternal destiny to Jesus! Why is Srinivas not saved!?

He has faith alone in Christ alone, believes Christ's promise of eternal life!

It is abundantly absurd to relegate such a person to hell because, although he believes Jesus' promise to give eternal life to all who merely believe Him for it, he is lacking in knowledge of some historical facts concerning Jesus.

You guys don’t get it! Are you gonna say that Srinivas is going to hell even though he has put his trust and committed his eternal well-being to Jesus Christ as told in John 3:16? Is his unacquantence with the death and resurrection and the deity of Christ precluding him from salvation even though he believes in Jesus for eternal life?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

How Much Information is Really Needed?

by Antonio da Rosa

Can a Traditionalist, Reformed, or Lordship Advocate tell me EXACTLY how much information needs to be known and believed before someone is truly saved? Give me a list of the orthodox doctrines that must be assented to.

Tell us what misconceptions are fatal to saving faith and which ones would be merely peripheral. What facts about Jesus must be assented to in order for this knowledge to specifically limit faith to the true Jesus?

Will one misconception or outright false belief about Jesus preclude one from trusting the true Jesus for salvation? If one holds innacurate convictions about some detail about Christ's temporal historicity are they believing in a different Jesus?

What are the exact things that need to be believed about Jesus before saving faith has been sufficiently limited to the one and only Jesus Christ, Son of God, the crucified and risen Savior?


Let us say that you believed in Jesus for eternal life. Let us say that you trusted in Jesus for your eternal well-being. Let us say that you had faith in Jesus for justification.

But let us say that you didn't understand that He was God. Let us suppose you thought that the Scriptures showed Him to be a prophet. Let us say that you didn't understand his death or how He provided the free gift He offered you but which you believed in Him for.

When you stand before Jesus, is He going to say:

"You entrusted your eternal well-being and destiny to me when you believed on me for eternal life. But since you did not understand that I am God, it is off to the lake of fire for you! Since you did not understand or know the means by which I secured for you the gift that I offered freely, my angels will cast you into the abyss of hell!"


When you believe in the name of Jesus, you believe on One who is God, who has died and rose again, who was born of a virgin, who did walk on water, who ascended into heaven bodily, etc. EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT AWARE, UNDERSTAND, OR BELIEVE THESE THINGS.

My daughter believes in me as her "Dad". As her dad I work at a Costco warehouse where I am a merchandiser. She doesn't know what I do there. She doesn't understand. She may even believe that I own the whole store and run it myself!

My daughter believes in me as her "Dad", as the one who provides for her, feeds her, clothes her, shelters her, etc. When she believes in me, she is believing in a man who is a merchant at a Costco, whether or not she knows what I do, have done, or has wild misconceptions about me.

She has trusted me as her dad and I provide for her. The means by which I can provide for her is not the issue. The issue is whether or not she is going to trust me as her dad, trust me for her well-being, and I will provide for her, or is she going to doubt in me, and worry, and be anxious about where she is going to find her well-being.

Jesus purchased a gift with His death and ratified it with his resurrection. He offers that gift freely to the one who entrusts his/her eternal well-being to Him. To understand how he is able to offer this gift and how He has the authority to do so will encourage trust in Him for the gift. But it is not NECESSARY to believe or know those things in order to receive the gift. To believe it is necessary, is to add MORE provisos and conditions on the gospel offer than Jesus does. Jesus says "Believe in Me and you HAVE eternal life". You believe in the Name, you believe in the Person, you are not asked to believe in individual attributes of the Person, but in the promise of eternal life/resurrection given by the Person Himself.


Understanding God's Judgment

by Matthew

At the Preachers Fellowship meeting at church today, the pastor who is really into 'Lordship Salvation' said that it was important not to confuse the judgments of the Old Testament that involved physical calamity, such as Jonah's being swallowed by a fish, with the question of eternal salvation. Believers in the Old Testament could suffer God's judgment through suffering.

If this approach is applied to New Testament texts, which would surely be consistent, then the Calvinistic doctrine of Perserverance suffers big problems. A key text that would be affected is Hebrews 3:

3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; 3:2 Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.

3:3 For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.

3:4 For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.

3:5 And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; 3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

3:7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 3:8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 3:9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.

3:10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.

3:11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; 3:15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

3:16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.

3:17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? 3:18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? 3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

If we understand God's judgment on Israel in the Old Testament to be the physical discipline of God's own people, then we need to interpret Hebrews 3 in that light. This means acknowledging the possibility of a believer hardening his heart and falling into unbelief, with the result of facing judgment.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

False Assurance

by HK flynn

I think there are many who have false assurance that employ the Lordship Salvation template of looking for evidence of one’s salvation. First, of all the uncertainty implies the possibility that they may never have believed in Jesus for eternal life apart from their Christian efforts.

But another factor is that they’re belief in total depravity prevents them from acknowledging that God may work through them as unsaved people. (see Acts 10. Esp. 1-6) I think lots of somewhat-Liberal and especially Catholic missionaries stoke a sincere love for Jesus Christ. To me this means that they have responded to some of the light of Scripture. But they’ve closed the door on believing in Jesus for eternal life—that would be too much for many, many people!

I also think if a Bible-believing church-going unregenerate person begins to fervently pray for ministry, that they may see some answer to prayer. Why not? Cornelius did. And there is no indication in Acts 10 that this was unique. Therefore, I see it as a tragic theological blunder to think that clear answers to prayer and God working in one’s life are evidence of being regenerate. And I suspect that many people make this tragic mistake.