[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)

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Another Look at 1 Corinthians 15:3ff / the Pauline Gospel

by Antonio da Rosa

For a short and concise article on the intended use of a gospel message, please refer to my latest post on Free Grace Theology Blog:

The Use and Abuse of the Gospel Message

1 Cor 15:3-8
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

In the 1st Corinthians passage, we have four co-ordinate clauses that make up Paul's gospel message, all divided by the Greek "kai hoti" ("and that")

1 Cor 15:3ff
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also recieved:

THAT Christ died...
AND THAT He was buried
AND THAT He rose again...
AND THAT He was seen...

When was the last time you preached Christ's burial as the object of saving faith?

When was the last time you preached Christ's appearances as the object of saving faith?

These 4 coordinate clauses, which are subordinate to the main clause, instruct us as to what Paul's gospel was (in other words, the message which he couched the promise of eternal life in). Being coordinate, they are of the same value.

It is apparent here that advocates of a "more information for the content of saving faith" are selective in what they actually consider to be the object(s) of saving faith. If one claims that they believe the 1st Corinthian (Pauline) estimation of the gospel is what is to be believed as the necessary and conscious objects and/or content to saving faith in ADDITION to simple faith into Christ for eternal life, they have ommitted two co-ordinate articulations of Paul's gospel in their own reckoning of what is to be believed for saving faith.

They have ommitted from the Scriptures one half of what they claim to be the authoratative Apostolic pronouncement on what the object of saving faith is!

(In other words, the burial and appearances of Christ)

It is certain that their view of the 1st Corinthian passage must now be reviewed and changed accordingly.


Friday, June 29, 2007

NT themes

by HK Flynn

Jeremy Myers, of GES fame but who has a great new blog, wrote an article for the last Journal called The Gospel is More Than “Faith Alone in Christ Alone,” where he states something very intriguing,

“[i]t can easily be proved from Scripture that the gospel is more than faith alone in Christ alone. Much more.

…It includes everything from the ‘eschatological expectation, the proclamation of the kingdom of God, … the introduction of the gentiles into salvation history, the rejection of the ordinary religion of cult and Law.’”
(The quote he uses here is from an article called “euangelion” by Freidrich, from Kittel.)

Jeremy's article has a lot of helpful detail. He shows that there are either multiple gospel messages (about future reign and present empowerment for instance) or better, that there is one broad NT gospel which covers a lot of territory. Very helpfully, he includes a chart that demonstrates 50 truths, with some overlap, that the NT includes in the definition of the gospel: Jesus born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:10), Mary’s virgin conception (Luke 1:19), the coming baptism of the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:18) Entering God’s Rest (Hebrews 4:2) Sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 1:10), etc. The article and the chart are worth reading through.

For a while now I’ve been mulling over what the relationship is between the gospel, and the offer of eternal life, and the call to discipleship, and the New Covenant, with the hope of getting a more crisp definition of each element. So in that spirit, the following definitions are tentative and I’ve included scripture more as examples than evidence…

(1) The New Covenant is the eternal promise made by God to Israel that enables and empowers the kingdom.

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9)

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. (Hebrews 13)
(2) The Offer of Eternal Life is how the kingdom is populated. (Basically a rephrase of what Hodges says)

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." John 3
(3) The Gospel is the announcement of the arrival and future arrival of the kingdom or some aspect of it.

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.'" (Matthew 3)
(4) The Call to Discipleship is how to live in it.

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. (Luke 6)
(5) The Call to Repentance is how to launch or reenter a kingdom-ready lifestyle.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1)

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Does Romans 10:9, 10 Teach that One Must Understand the Resurrection IN ADDITION to Simple Faith In Christ for Eternal Life?

by Antonio da Rosa

There has been two basic lines of criticism against the gospel of John's sufficiency to articulate precisely and specifically the terms by which one may receive eternal life. The first one is Paul's discussion of his gospel as found in 1 Cor 15:3ff. You can find my response against this line of reasoning here on my blog:

The Difference between the Gospel Message and the Offer (or Promise) of Eternal Life

This shows that for Paul, the gospel message was not only the death and resurrection of Christ, but also Christ's burial and appearances to various people who could testify to the resurrection. These are all co-ordinate clauses describing Paul's message. It is inconsistent to assert that Paul's message is the content/object of saving faith in addition to faith in Jesus for eternal life but omit the burial and appearances. Are we to make sure that our potential converts check off these further historical facts in their doctrinal check-list, that once adhered to brings eternal life? I can't remember the last time I heard someone who advocates the gospel message of Paul to be the content of saving faith and insist at the same time that the potential convert believe in the burial and appearances to various people for eternal life.

Furthermore, no where in 1 Cor 15:3ff is there any indication by Paul that this message that he is re-declaring to the Corinthians is the CONTENT of saving faith. He makes it clear that it is "through" (Greek: dia) the gospel they are saved. The gospel contains, among other things, Christ's work on the cross for our sins, and His resurrection. It was by these acts of Christ that provision for our salvation was made. Therefore we were saved through the gospel. But we are saved BY grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Guarantor of eteranl life to the one who simply believes His promise to do so.

Anyone who believes that the gospel message is the object of saving faith, please make a case from 1 Cor 15:3ff or anywhere else for that matter. Paul was on the same page as John:

1 Timothy 1:16
16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.

Ok, now on to Romans 10:9, 10

9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

It is imperative to note here as we consider this text that almost everyone who professes any form of Christianity (except liberals!) believes that Jesus was raised from the dead. Does that make them saved? I doubt that you or I would say so. It seems obvious that this is Pauline shorthand for justification truth as indicated in earlier chapters. For instance:

Rom 4:23-25
23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

Paul does not mean to say that simple belief in the resurrection saves, and this is confirmed by the obvious reference to justification in 10a ("believes unto righteousness"). Thus to believe that God raised Christ from the dead really means here, for Paul, to believe in Him as the one who is the grounds for our justification before God.

This is functionally equivalent to believing that Jesus guarantees eternal life to the believer as presented in John.

Unless a person holds that everyone who believes that God raised Jesus from the dead is eternally saved, the meaning that I have proposed here is the one suggested in the immediate, as well as broader, context.

Will anyone here go out on a limb and put forth the proposition that ANYONE WHO BELIEVES THAT GOD RAISED JESUS FROM THE DEAD IS ETERNALLY SAVED? Speak now or forever hold your peace.

Even if the aforementioned does not persuade you, you must please remember a point of logic: Even if everyone who believes in the resurrection is saved (an assertion I only make for the sake of argument!), it does not follow that the one who just believes that Jesus provides eternal life is not. The positive affirmation only entails a negative if Paul says: ONLY THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN THE RESSURECTION ARE SAVED. On any reading he does not say this.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Must One Understand Christ's Death for Sin to be Born Again?

by Antonio da Rosa

Lou Martuneac and I are going to dialogue. Lou has given me 6 questions/comments for me to answer/respond to. Here is number one of 6 so that the readers of Unashamed of Grace may benefit from this discussion as well. You may comment here concerning my answers, and I will respond. But the discussion between Lou and me (me is the proper pronoun, for it is used here in a prepositional phrase, and thus requires the objective case) will be on his site here:

The Teachings of Zane Hodges

Lou writes:

1) Presenting the cross is not an “orthodox doctrinal checklist” per se, but I had better be part of the plan of salvation. If He is not the crucified, and risen Lord, Who is He to a lost man?

So, may I ask: Do you believe a lost man can be born again who has not come to an understanding that Jesus died (was crucified) to pay the penalty of his sin?
Who is Jesus to a lost man?

Jesus is the one who Guarantees eternal felicity, well-being, to the believer in Him. Jesus has a gift that He offers to each individual in the world. It is a gift that is highly appealing: Eternal life, eternal felicity, eternal well-being.

To answer your the second part. Yes, I believe that a man can be born again who has not come to an understanding that Jesus died (was crucified) to pay the penalty for their sin.

Lou, were Old Testament saints born again? I believe they were. How else are we to account for these statements about Saul?

1 Sam 10:6
6 Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.

1 Sam 10:9-10
9 So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day.

Furthermore, wasn't Nicodemus told that he must be born again, and that was a present possiblity for him? Did Jesus state that Nicodemus had to understand Christ's death on the cross? Of course not, and it hadn't even happened yet!

It wasn't until very late in Jesus' ministry that Matthew relates this to his readers:

Matt 16:21
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.

This wasn't until late in the third year of His ministry! Do you suppose that the disples WERE NOT BORN AGAIN until Jesus related to them this information?

What was Peter's response?

Matt 16:22
22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!"

Doesn't sound like Peter understood Christ's death for the payment of sins, but are you going to say that he wasn't born again?

Jesus had already taught His disciples soteriological truth, way before this point. He did so very early in His ministry. The event with the woman at the well at Sychar happened before John the Baptist was imprisoned (which places that event before the Sermon on the Mount). Jesus is presented to the Samaratans as "the Savior of the World" (Jn 4:42). Jesus merely stated to the woman:

John 4:10
"If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."

Does He ask her to understand His death for sins? It is precisely believing Jesus in His promise throughout the gospel of John that brings eternal life. Nothing more.

John 1:41-42
41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.

Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, "You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas" (which is translated, A Stone).

We know from the same author that anyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born again (1 John 5:1). Peter was born again very early in Christ's ministry not knowing a wit about the death and resurrection; Peter believed that Jesus was the Christ!

John 2:11
11 This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.

There is no need to tell you what is true of the one who believes in Jesus in the gospel of John! He is born-again!

Jesus does not ask us to subscribe to a set of orthodox doctrines for salvation. Jesus offers the gift of eternal life to any who will trust in Him for that gift.

Thus without a doubt it can be proved, Lou, that a lost man can be born again apart from understanding Christ's death for sin.

Let me ask you a question, Lou. What exactly are "the steps to salvation"?

I suppose this list could do for you:

1) Believe that Jesus died on the cross for sins
2) Believe that Jesus rose again from the dead
3) Repent

What would you add to this list? What would you say if I told you that I had done these three things and still was not born again, as a Catholic?

Jesus makes soteriology simple, Lou. I don't know why there is an insistence from the Lordship people and soft FG people to make it more difficult than Christ.

For it was Jesus who said:

"Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life" (John 6:47). If you believe Jesus in His promise, you have eternal life, regardless of what you know or don't know else about Him.

Let me end this answer this way:

The preaching of the cross and resurrection is the vehicle in which we present Christ as the sufficient and authoratative Guarantor of eternal life. Why can Christ be relied upon for one's eternal well-being? Precisely because He is the God-Man who took the penalty for the sins of the world by His death on the cross, and proved that His sacrifice was sufficient to God by His subsequent raising from the dead.

We will continue answering these questions.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Underlying Issues?

by Rose

When interacting on a blog in regards to whether or not a believer can be in sin for his whole life, one Reformed commenter said this to me:

"This view ... will be great news for anyone that would like to indulge their sinful nature. "

I will leave him nameless so as not to offend. I am not trying to pick on him.
It occurred to me that perhaps this fear of sinning, indulgent Christians is what has driven the LS proponents to insist that real Christians WILL NOT indulge in sins. Maybe they think they are discouraging Christians away from the real possibility of "indulging their sinful nature."

Why not give a little more credit to the life of God within? Even though some of us fail - even miserably for our whole lives - we don't need to sham eachother into avoidance of sinful ifestyles by presenting fears over whether or not we could really be saved by faith alone.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Challenge to All Lordship Salvationists / Laying Down the Gauntlet: Repentance and the Reception of Eternal Life

by Antonio da Rosa

There is a CLEAR NEED for this post in blogdom. Are the Lordship Salvationists up to the challenge?

... the reader must be aware of a cogent biblical fact that necessarily places a huge burden of proof upon the Traditionalist [Lordship Salvationist/Reformed Soteriologist]:

Nowhere in the Bible is the reception of eternal salvation, eternal life, or justification conditioned on an act of repentance.

The Traditionalist must string together texts and arguments in order to support his unbiblical assertion that repentance is a theologically binding requirement for the possession of eternal salvation. In his arguments, the fallacy of special pleading is a common trait, for there is no clear text that makes his point.

He [the Lordship Salvationist] cannot point to even one text that explicitely commands repentance for the express purpose of the appropriation of eternal life. There is no such verse or passage.

If this is such an important element in the discussion of the critical components of the gospel message it is odd – no, it is incredible – that not a single verse clearly conjoins a command to repent with a resultant appropriation of: eternal salvation, eternal life, or justification.

Isn’t the reception of eternal life/justification of utmost importance to a lost sinner on his way to hell? I mean, listen – the information on how a person is initiated into a relationship with God is of dire necessity! Wouldn’t you think that an issue of such great import would be properly clarified by the God who “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4)? Isn’t it unbelievable that in the whole canon of scripture, that if eternal well-being is contingent partly on an act of repentance, that no text whatsoever conditions a result of eternal salvation on such an act?

The apostle John, who is not unfamiliar with the doctrine of repentance, as he presents it more than any other New Testament writer other than Luke (10 mentions in Revelation), nevertheless is conspicuously silent on repentance as a condition for the appropriation of eternal life in his Gospel that was written for an express purpose of evangelism (John 20:30-31).

Would it not be a major error of inestimable proportions that if repentance is indeed a necessary requirement for eternal life that John the apostle would not include a single reference to it as a condition for salvation, yeah, even further, fail to mention it even once in the whole of his gospel written so that men could have eternal life?

This would be like writing a book on “Major Treatments for Heart Disease” and yet failing to mention open heart surgery (an illustration borrowed from Zane Hodges).

The evidence in regard to this chilling and absolute silence of the Fourth Gospel in mentioning repentance in conjunction with the indisputable instrument of eternal life’s appropriation, faith into Jesus for it, can have only 1 of 3 possible ramifications:

1) John, the disciple who leaned “on Jesus' bosom”, the apostle “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23), was not aware that the free reception of eternal life was in someway conditioned upon an act of repentance by the unsaved and thus presented an inadequate and therefore faulty testimony in this matter.

2) John, the apostle “who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true” (John 21:24), purposely omitted a crucial component of the promise of eternal life for reasons that could only be speculated upon (the first one that would come to mind is some form of mal-intent).

3) John, who knew that “which was from the beginning”, who declared what he “heard” and saw with his “eyes”, who revealed that which he “looked upon” and his hands “handled, concerning the Word of life”, who bore “witness” and declared to us “that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to” him (1 John 1:1-2) did not consider, did not believe, and was not under the conviction that repentance was a necessary requirement for the appropriation of eternal well-being.

If we agree to the following:

1) John told the truth
2) John wrote his gospel with a purpose of evangelism

and admit to the following (which cannot be denied):

3) John did not require repentance in his Gospel as a condition for the appropriation of eternal life, as he did not even mention it once in the whole of his discourse; repentance being shockingly absent from its whole.

We must necessarily come to this conclusion:

4) Repentance is not a theological necessary condition for the reception of eternal life.

[Note: "The simple fact is that the whole Fourth Gospel is designed to show that its readers can get saved in the same way as the people who got saved in John’s narrative. To say anything other than this is to accept a fallacy. It is to mistakenly suppose that the Fourth Gospel presents the terms of salvation incompletely and inadequately." (Zane Hodges, Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Autumn 2000, "How to Lead People to Christ, Part 1")]

Furthermore, we must consider our dear brother, the apostle Paul. The idea of repentance is a category strikingly absent from him. In his whole discussion of justification by faith in Romans 3-5, there is not even one mention of repentance as a condition for eternal salvation. It is also noteworthy to share that Paul only mentions repentance 5 times in his epistles (half as many as John), although he wrote 13 (possibly 14) out of the 27 New Testament books. And none of these passages in which he speaks of this doctrine does he regard repentance as a condition for the reception of eternal salvation.

In addition, what is even more damaging to the Traditionalist position is the utter absence of repentance in the book of Galatians. This epistle is Paul’s defense of his gospel wherein he heralds clear and loud the essential tenet that righteousness is imparted through faith alone in Jesus. It is indeed significant that repentance is absent in a book where Paul is presenting and defending the gospel message he received directly from the Lord. For Paul, faith alone into Christ is the sole theological requirement for justification and eternal salvation.

What we are faced with is dozens upon dozens of clear and unambiguous statements of scripture that condition eternal life/justification through faith alone in Christ alone.

For thoroughness, I feel I ought to at least refer us to some of these clear and unambiguous statements that conjoin the requirement of faith/belief with the result – eternal salvation, eternal life, or justification:

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:36
He who believes in the Son has everlasting life

John 6:40
And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:47
Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life

John 11:25-26
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.

Rom 3:21-22
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.

Rom 3:26
that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Rom 4:5
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,

Rom 5:1
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

Gal 2:16
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.

Gal 3:2
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?

Gal 3:21-22
But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

1 Tim 1:16-17
16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.

We are equally confronted by the striking absence of a single verse in the whole of the Bible that conjoins a command to repent with a stated purpose of the appropriation of eternal salvation.

Can the Traditionalist [Lordship Salvationist] produce even ONE clear and unambiguous verse that conditions eternal life, justification, or eternal salvation with a requirement of repentance?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Quote from a Visitor

by Rose

Tim, a very nice commenter, left a comment on this post .

Tim: 100% practical sanctification will occur for everyone who puts their faith in Christ.

What do you make of that statement? Do you agree with it? If you do, in what sense? If you do not, why is it wrong? Maybe Tim can also expound on how this looks.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Lou Martuneac's Misrepresentations of Zane Hodges and Misunderstandings of Free Grace Theology

by Antonio da Rosa

Lou Martuneac has written a critical piece about Zane Hodges on his blog. Please read this very short article before continuing with this rejoinder to him.

Here is the link:

Teachings of Zane Hodges


Have you ever read one of Zane Hodges books?

You refer to three of them in your article and I guess, therefore, in your book. Have you read those three from cover to cover?

Have you read Zane's book on repentance? It is called "Harmony with God: A Fresh Look at Repentance"

You write:
Hodges contends that repentance is merely a mental acknowledgement, and not necessarily a change of mind.
Do you back this up with substantiation, with a quote from Zane?

Zane Hodges understands repentance to be a change of mind concerning sin that should be expressed in a turning from sin and the production of works in line with that repentance.

You bring James 2 up. Have you done any exegetical work there? James 2 says anything but "good works are an inevitable result of true saving faith." James 2 is an exhortation to SAVED PEOPLE to be careful to add works to their faith.

Lou, you write:
Hodges also leads one to believe that saving faith is mere mental assent to the facts about Christ
Please refer us to any works from Zane Hodges that would substantiate this baseless claim about his theology.

You are taking your understanding of Zane Hodges from the footnotes of John MacArthur's "The Gospel According to Jesus"!!!

Zane has never taught that saving faith is "mere mental assent to the facts about Christ".

Zane Hodges teaches that saving faith is 100% entrusting one's eternal destiny to the Lord Jesus Christ. Zane teaches that saving faith is complete confidence in the ability of Christ to impart eternal life to the believer. Zane Hodges teaches that saving faith is certainty in the promises of Jesus Christ as expressed in passages such as John 3:16; 5:24; 6:35-40, 47; 11:25-26, etc.

Lou, you write:
[Zane teaches] that a man can be saved and never reveal any fruit.
Let's represent Zane fairly. Here is Zane in Zane's own words.

Zane Hodges writes:
"Of course, there is every reason to believe that there will be good works in the life of each believer in Christ. The idea that one may believe in Him and live for years totally unaffected by the amazing miracle of regeneration, or by the instruction and/or discipline of God his heavenly Father, is a fantastic notion—even bizarre. We reject it categorically." (Zane Hodges: We Believe in Assurance Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society) (Emphasis mine).

Zane further writes:

"Finally, we must add that there is no need to quarrel with the Reformers' view that where there is justifying faith, works will undoubtedly exist too. This is a reasonable assumption for any Christian unless he has been converted on his death bed!" (Absolutely Free, pg 215).

Lou, you say that you do not like the label "no-lordship" or "cheap grace". I would wager that you do not use those labels for yourself. Have you ever heard Zane Hodges use the designation "mental assent only" in reference to his theology? It is a pejorative term and would not be a designation he would choose to use. He uses the term "Free Grace Theology". Please refrain from perpetuating myths concerning Free Grace theology.

You next refer to Zane as "Dr. Zane Hodges". This makes me wonder about you, Lou. You are willing to stick your neck out and critique this man, but you do not know that he does not hold a doctorate. Have you read any of his books from front to back?

I get the impression from many different considerations, that you do not know that which you attack. You are not careful to represent Zane as you claim to represent John MacArthur. You ought to get your stuff down before you engage in this type of criticism that will now go into a book.

Let me ask you a question.

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.

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?

Let me also share another thing, Lou. When I was a Catholic in my younger years, I believed that Jesus was God, that He died on the cross for my sins, and that He rose bodily from the dead. Yet I remained unsaved. Do you know why?

I did not believe Christ in His promise whereby He guarantees eternal life to the believer in Him for it. I did not entrust my eternal destiny to Him.

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ paid for the gift that Jesus Christ now offers, namely, eternal life, eternal security. It was necessary for Christ to die on the cross for our sins and to rise from the dead. Both Zane and I exalt this message and preach it every time we present Jesus as the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it. Yet we do not employ an orthodox doctrinal checklist on any potential convert that if he assents to each, we would then consider him saved!

If someone expresses that they believe that Jesus gave them eternal life by faith in Him, we consider that person saved, regardless of the blind spots in their theology! While alive on this earth, we will only have a rudimentary understanding of Christology, and we grow in this knowledge as we pursue sanctification. But to require men, women, and children to be as theologically savvy as you are, Lou, would be requiring more than Jesus Christ did.

Once a Christian, we are to grow in the faith and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is sufficient for one to receive eternal life if they believe Christ's promise to guarantee the present possession of eternal life to the one who takes Him at His word for that gift.

The gospel of John is the only book in the whole of the Bible that has as its purpose that of evangelism (John 20:30-31). Can you point to me once verse in the whole of the gospel that plainly declares one must have as the conscious content of saving faith the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in addition to believing Christ's promise to impart eternal life to the believer in Him for it?

Antonio da Rosa

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

In regards to the question on the previous post ....

by Rose

If I understand some correctly, they are saying that repentance (stopping sinful behavior) is automatic with salvation and that even if we don't tell potential converts that they must forsake certain sinful behaviors to obtain eternal life in Christ, they will forsake them. Further, if I understand correctly, they purport that even though change away from sinful bahavior is automatic, we still should tell potentail converts that they must or will forsake the bahavior. Here is an example of what it could sound like:

My response to someone who asks, "Will I need to stop doing X sin?" would be "No, but you'll want to."

I do think there is a danger in this approach.

Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. We are told in the Scriptures that relying upon our own good or lack of sin to obtain eternal life and righteousness is poisonous. This is a given, no? Can we all stipulate to this fact?

We tell a person to whom we are witnessing of their sinful state and standing before God and we preach the remedy - Christ and the gift of God, eternal life. We tell them of all that Christ did to justify sinners who will put their faith in His completed work. We entreat them to receive the gift of God.

Then, (and here is the part I have a problem with) some go on to tell them about stopping sin. This could either be something like: "God will give you a new heart and you will want to stop whoring around, no doubt about it." or "If you really do trust in Christ, you'll stop whoring around." or "Every time you whore around you're telling God that you're not interested in salvation." or "True Christians always repent of the sin of their non-Christain life." or worse "You must stop whoring around or you can't be saved."

At this point, there is a danger. I think it is human nature for a hearer of such a message to zero in on doing rather than faith, rather than believing in what Christ has done. Wouldn't it be tragic for a message like this, while starting beautifully, to end in the hearers trying to fake the supposed "results of salvation," this turning from sin? Wouldn't we rather amplify to the unsaved the gift of God, that Christ has done it all? We should tell them that they can come to Him just as they are and recieve justification and eternal life by doing nothing but believing in Christ and what He has done for them. When we start to describe change in beahavior or a lack of sinful deeds as a part of salvation, I believe that the fleshly nature of many unsaved will try to fake their own transformation and the last state of those people will be worse than the first. This is religion, not eternal life. I think it is a mixed message, even if some are not trying to give people a false message of works salvation, they will inadvertantly do so. It is human nature to try to do things for ourselves.

Now, my answer to the question in the previous post is this:
I think it is fine to preach a turn from sinful deeds to an unsaved person. Say you have a daughter who is whoring around. Of course you want her to stop doing that. It will make her miserable and could even kill her. However, if you have also been telling her of the gospel and entreating her to receive it by faith, you should make it clear that those are two separate messages. "Repent of your whoring to escape disease, sadness and misery, yes! ... but the gift of God -justification and life eternal - can be received by simple faith in what Christ has done for you. Look at Him and see what He has done to satisfy God."

I think it is important to keep those messages separate.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Question for Free-Gracers

by Rose

I was thinking about preaching repentance. I understand that Free-Gracers do not preach repentance in a gospel presentation, is that right? I also think I understand that they are not against preaching repentance.

Suppose there is a potential convert that you have been witnessing to for some time. This person is living in an obvious sin - like whoring around or homosexuality.

What is the place for preaching repentance to this person? Is there any call to repent for this person? How do you balance the gospel presentation and the call to repent?

Is that question clear as mud? I can explain further if you don't understand my question.

(For the purposes of this question, "repent" does not merely mean a change of mind here, but a change in action)

Non Free-Gracers can contribute too, as always.

Inconsistent Preaching

by Matthew

In my church yesterday, the co-pastor preached an excellent sermon on the subject of eternal security from Ephesians chaptet 1. For once I agreed with everything he said. He said that the simple condition for receiving eternal life is to believe, and thus all believers can have assurance of being saved. Yet this same man on other occasions preaches that one must also repent, commit one's life to Christ and perservere.

I think so many Lordship Salvationists are confused. I think most of them believe the true Gospel and in moments of carelesness like yesterday, they can actually preach the true Gospel of grace. I think most of them are simply unwilling to deal with the glaring contradiction in their own thelogy between eternal life being a free gift received by faith and eternal life being conditional upon a total commitment to discipleship. They do not want to face the issue.