Must One Understand Christ's Death for Sin to be Born Again?
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
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:
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?
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:
"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.
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!
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
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.