[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)

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.
NKJV

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.
NKJV

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.
NKJV

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!"
NKJV

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."
NKJV

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).
NKJV

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.
NKJV

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.

Antonio

38 Comments:

  • A very good response, Antonio.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, June 23, 2007 2:43:00 AM  

  • Antonio,

    I agree with dys: good answer.

    The real issue has to do with progressive revelation and the content of saving faith.

    I've always felt those who slouch toward covenant theology, or toward some version of the Lordship error, often play down the concept of progressive revelation.

    The tendency among covenant throwbacks is to read the NT back into the Old, a theological error of the first order. As you've carefully spelled out, sinners are saved by faith in the promise of God to them.

    Ultimately, of course, all the divine promises find their root in Christ and His work, but often those trusting the promises did not know that and, hence, did not place conscious faith in a crucified Messiah.

    Again, good job.

    Carry on in free grace.

    By Blogger tjp, at Saturday, June 23, 2007 4:21:00 AM  

  • Hey, I was thinking of progressive revelation myself as I was reading your post Antonio.

    It was fine previous to the Cross to put your faith in the promise of God. But we have seen the Lord in the flesh, crucified and risen. This has been revealed. Salvation has always been by grace through faith. Every dispensation has worked so. Yet the revelation has been different.

    He who believes on ME is saved is what our Lord says. Who is Jesus? He is the God-man, the Lamb, the Risen Lord. Jesus doesn't say He who puts His faith in God is saved - though that was surely so up until that point. Then, at that moment, to do the works of God was to believe in the one God had sent.

    NOW, Paul tells us the Gospel that saves is that Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures and rose from the dead.

    We don't put our faith in the promise that God WILL save us - no we put our faith in the work that HAS saved us.

    Look at what Jesus told Nicodemus. You bring him up. He was told that he must be born again to enter the Kingdom. But do you miss that Jesus preached the Gospel of Christ Crucified and risen to him that night in John 3? He tells him that He is God v13, that He'll be lifted up just like the serpent on Mose's rod v14, and that whosoever believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

    This is the belief, not just belief that Jesus saves - but that He is the Kinsman Redeemer who has paid the price, and rose again so that He also has the power to redeem that which He paid for.

    Yes Jesus sent the disciples out with the Kingdom Gospel first - Israel had be given it because she had to reject Him. It wasn't rejection if it wasn't available. The Kingdom Gospel didn't make people born again. It didn't give them entrance into the Body of Christ. It would have ushered in the Kingdom - had Israel repented at hearing the Kingdom was available.

    Kev

    By Blogger Kevl, at Saturday, June 23, 2007 11:02:00 AM  

  • Antonio:

    You wrote, 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.

    I am still working through this, but Hodges/You seem fixated on only the need to believe in "eternal salvation" and this is enough to be born again, and apparently apart from any other understanding of the gospel. I know this has much to do with so much, almost exclusive attention to John's gospel.

    You wrote, 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.

    In that case you have a problem with Romans 10:9-10, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

    You are teaching a "cross-less" gospel message. You believe and preach the cross, but find it not at all necessary for a lost man to believe this in order to be saved. Based on Roman 10:9 I have to conclude this is wrong!

    1 Corinthians 15:3-4 defines the gospel. Romans 10:9-10 states believing these facts (defined in 1 Cor. 15:3-4) are conditional to be born again. Presenting these facts is essential, but to render them unimportant for the sinner to acknowledge and believe undermines the gospel.

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

    OT saint looked to the coming of the Messiah, and the gospel was yet a "mystery." They were, however, saved the same we are today, by faith.

    Today (NT) we look back to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and the NT teaching on what the gospel is is very clear (1 Cor. 15:3-4), and the conditions for the reception of eternal life are clear.


    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Saturday, June 23, 2007 12:32:00 PM  

  • On Monday morning I am posting a final in the series of articles on the theology of Zane Hodges.


    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Saturday, June 23, 2007 12:33:00 PM  

  • Oh:

    I see you directed readers to my site for our discussion. Sorry.

    I don't really want to double-post, but may a little.

    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Saturday, June 23, 2007 12:36:00 PM  

  • Thanks, you guys for responding.

    Let me put it to you this way.

    The question was asked, "Can a lost man be born again without understanding Christ's death for sins?"

    I have proven that he can. How have I proven that, you ask?

    Old Testament saints were born again without understanding Christ's death for sins, as in the instance of Saul.

    New Testament saints were born again apart from understanding Christ's death for sins:

    In other words, the 11 disciples were born again before understanding the cross and its significance. They believed that Jesus was the Christ (John 1:35-50) and we know that anyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born again (1 John 5:1). They believed in Him (John 2:11). Anyone who believes in Him is born again (see John 3:1ff).

    Furthermore, they were born again and DID NOT BELIEVE the resurrection:

    Mark 16:11
    11 And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.
    NKJV

    John 20:8-9
    9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead
    NKJV

    Let us make a point right here, gentleman. A line in the sand.

    The gospel of John was one of the last books written in the New Testament. It was written FAR AFTER Paul died (20 to 30 years after!!)

    The gospel of John was written between 85 and 95 A.D., as dated by most conservative scholars. This makes it the last or second to last book written in the Bible (Revelation being the last by most scholars).

    Let me ask you a question. Please think about this line of logic!

    What was the purpose of John's gospel? As you will know and say, the purpose was evangelistic. Of course we are talking about the famous verses in John 20:30, 31:

    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
    NKJV

    This puts the gospel of John in a unique category. By its own explicit purpose statement, we find that it is the only book in the whole of the canon that was written with the express purpose of bringing men to faith in Christ for eternal life.

    No other book can claim that nor does it claim it for itself. The gospel of John is unique in the canon.

    Now, the purpose of the gospel was to bring people to faith in Christ for eternal life. That is settled.

    How does it do that? It goes into great detail Christ's soteriological affirmations to those who He ministered to (the woman at the well, Nicodemus, Martha, etc.)

    Jesus says, "I give eternal life to the one who believes in Me. The one who believes in Me shall never perish, hunger, thirst, be lost, nor be cast out. The one who believes in Me will never come into the judgement, and will be raised on the last day. Do you believe this?"

    Jesus, in the gospel of John, is presented as offering a gift. He is seen as the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him.

    Nowhere are we met in the text of the gospel of John the necessity the cross or the resurrection as the conscious object or content of saving faith.

    Please read this text from Zane Hodges with an open and LOGICAL mind (not enveloped in your passion that states emphatically, "NO ONE CAN BE SAVED UNLESS THEY BELIEVE THAT JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS AND ROSE AGAIN".

    ----------
    At the time of writing, the cross was years ago, and if belief in the work of the cross was by then necessary for salvation, John definitely gives us the wrong impression by stressing the way the cross dumbfounded even His most intimate disciples.

    Let me put it to you this way. ,The Gospel of John is the only book in our New Testament canon that explicitly declares its purpose to be evangelistic. Of course, I am thinking of the famous theme statement found in John 20:30-31, where we read: “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.”

    This statement does not affirm the necessity of believing in our Lord’s substitutionary atonement. If by the time of the writing of John’s Gospel, it was actually necessary to believe this, then it would have been not only simple, but essential, to say so.

    Inasmuch as the key figures in John’s narrative did believe in Jesus before they understood His atoning death and resurrection, it would have been even more essential for John to state that the content of faith had changed. But of course he does not do this. 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. I sincerely hope no grace person would want to be stuck with a position like that.

    Let me repeat. Neither explicitly nor implicitly does the Gospel of John teach that a person must understand the cross to be saved. It just does not teach this. If we say that it does, we are reading something into the text and not reading something out of it!

    What is my point? That we should not preach the cross of Christ to men? Not at all. I will make it emphatically clear a little later on that I think we should. Instead, I am arguing that we need to focus on the core issue in bringing men and women to faith and eternal life. What is that core issue?

    Very simply it is this: We want people to believe that Jesus guarantees their eternal destiny. Of course, we would like them to believe a lot more than this, but this at least must be believed. Our failure to clearly define our goal in evangelism can have a negative or impeding effect on our efforts to lead people to simple faith in Christ.
    ----------

    To re-express:

    The gospel of John was written 20-30 years after the death of Paul. It was written as one of the last two books in the canon. It was written with an express purpose of bringing people to faith in Christ for eternal life.

    The book does not mention the word "gospel" nor does it require that understanding the death and resurrection of Christ is necessary to be born again. It DOES NOT TEACH THIS.

    Is the gospel of John insufficient then in its explanation on how one is to receive eternal life?

    The text over and over again states that believing Jesus in His promise to guarantee to the believer eternal life is what saving faith is. Never in the gospel of John is the cross or the resurrection given as the content or object of saving faith.

    If it was an object or content to saving faith by then, it would have behooved John to include that in ANY of the soteriological affirmations of Christ, OR added this information at the end of the gospel as a new requirement IN ADDITION to faith alone in Christ alone for eternal life.

    But of course he did not add this information. His gospel, in its soteriological affirmations, is adequate and sufficient to bring one to eternal life.

    We do not need to impose other material on the gospel of John. If more information was required for saving faith in addition to what John says is the content of saving faith, then the gospel of John has failed in its purpose. It is not adequate to instruct us PERFECTLY and SPECIFICALLY on what we must do to have eternal life.

    I sure hope, that after having read this, that you don't want to put yourself in the position of stating that the soteriological affirmations and assertions in the gospel of John are insufficient to receive eternal life.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Saturday, June 23, 2007 4:05:00 PM  

  • Hey Tracy,

    Your points are well taken and I couldn't agree more. Thanks for that perspective.

    Ultimately, of course, all the divine promises find their root in Christ and His work, but often those trusting the promises did not know that and, hence, did not place conscious faith in a crucified Messiah.

    I couldn't have said it more succinctly than you did here!

    By Blogger Antonio, at Saturday, June 23, 2007 4:08:00 PM  

  • Hi Antonio,

    You said
    Let me repeat. Neither explicitly nor implicitly does the Gospel of John teach that a person must understand the cross to be saved.


    Here is Jesus' explanation to Nicodemus about rebirth.

    John 3
    7Do not wonder that I said to thee, It is needful that *ye* should be born anew.

    8The wind blows where it will, and thou hearest its voice, but knowest not whence it comes and where it goes: thus is every one that is born of the Spirit.

    9Nicodemus answered and said to him, How can these things be?

    10Jesus answered and said to him, Thou art the teacher of Israel and knowest not these things!

    11Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that which we know, and we bear witness of that which we have seen, and ye receive not our witness.

    12If I have said the earthly things to you, and ye believe not, how, if I say the heavenly things to you, will ye believe?

    13And no one has gone up into heaven, save he who came down out of heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.

    14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, thus must the Son of man be lifted up,

    15that every one who believes on him may [not perish, but] have life eternal.

    16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him may not perish, but have life eternal.

    17For God has not sent his Son into the world that he may judge the world, but that the world may be saved through him.

    18He that believes on him is not judged: but he that believes not has been already judged, because he has not believed on the name of the only-begotten Son of God.

    19And this is the judgment, that light is come into the world, and men have loved darkness rather than light; for their works were evil.


    This is Jesus Himself instructing about His death and resurrection as an explanation for being reborn.

    You also said They believed that Jesus was the Christ (John 1:35-50) and we know that anyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born again (1 John 5:1).

    The Christ is God's Anointed the Messiah - expected Savior. How was He introduced to them? By John the Baptist as "the Lamb of God" in Jn 1:36 Jesus taught them that He must die and rise again Himself.

    Grace is truly free Antonio, but a person must believe the Gospel to be saved? Why oh why would Jesus have sent them out to preach His death and resurrection if all that people were required to believe was that He could grant them Eternal Life?

    Why was God publicly displayed in humiliation if no one needed to know about it?

    God has redeemed us! He is the Kinsman Redeemer. He paid the price, and that has to be known for Him to have the right to take possession of what He paid for. He has to be known to have raised again in order that it be known He has the power to raise us again.

    Paul held the Gospel in the highest esteem! Look at his writings, he never named a person in moral sin - it broke his heart to deal with that sort of sin - but he didn't bat an eyelash at outing those who preached a different Gospel. He gave them no quarter.

    If I told someone that Jesus could give them Eternal Life and they believed me would they be born again at that moment?

    Such a thing would make a great amount of Scripture have no discernible purpose in my estimation.

    By Blogger Kevl, at Saturday, June 23, 2007 4:40:00 PM  

  • Kev,

    thanks for the reply.

    In your text from Nicodemus, do you find an explicit statement concerning Christ's death for sins and his resurrection? I believe that you are reading your "gospel message" back into this passage.

    Are we met in this passage with any evidence that one must have the death of Christ for sins and His bodily resurrection as the conscious objects of saving faith?

    If you were to answer in the affirmative, it would be clear to me that you have imported this understanding into the text.

    Sure John says that Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.

    1st: Does John the baptist, Jesus, or the gospel writer John, indicate that this is saving knowledge? What is the Gentile reader of the gospel supposed to understand that statement as meaning?

    2cd: Was not His apostles there when John said this? Of course. Did they understand Christ's death for sins or His resurrection? Of course not.

    Furthermore, if in fact Nicodemus was told that he had to understand the message of Christ's cross and resurrection to be born again (and it is no where apparant that he did!), it is noteworthy that Jesus must have THEN instituted this 'further revelation' and content to saving faith THAT LIES IN ADDITION to faith alone in Christ in His promise. In other words, one must have as a conscious object of saving faith the cross and resurrection.

    But how can this be?

    The apostles are born again, having believed in Jesus for eternal life YEARS prior to believing, let alone, understanding Christ's substitionary death for sins and His resurrection.

    Did Peter understand Christ's death for sins and the purposes for it, even after hearing John the Baptist say that Jesus was the lamb of God, and after Jesus discussed with them His death?

    Remember, from the opening post here, that Jesus didn't even talk to them about His death and resurrection UNTIL THE FINAL YEAR OF HIS MINISTRY.

    Even then Peter says, "FAR BE IT FROM YOU!..."

    Was he born again?

    of course

    did he understand the cross or resurrection?

    To assert that he did would be to disregard all the evidence...

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Saturday, June 23, 2007 6:00:00 PM  

  • Kevl:

    You wrote, "If I told someone that Jesus could give them Eternal Life and they believed me would they be born again at that moment?"

    Good question.


    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Saturday, June 23, 2007 9:11:00 PM  

  • Antonio:

    You wrote to Kevl, In your text from Nicodemus, do you find an explicit statement concerning Christ's death for sins and his resurrection? I believe that you are reading your "gospel message" back into this passage.

    Are we met in this passage with any evidence that one must have the death of Christ for sins and His bodily resurrection as the conscious objects of saving faith?


    Assuming you consider the whole of Scripture on an even playing field, you might find some answers from 1 Cor. 15:3-4; 12-22.

    3For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

    4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

    12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

    13But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

    14And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

    15Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

    16For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

    17And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

    18Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

    19If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

    20But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

    21For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

    22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.


    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Saturday, June 23, 2007 9:24:00 PM  

  • I guess we have a canon within a canon--John vs. the rest of the Bible.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Saturday, June 23, 2007 11:58:00 PM  

  • Bobby:

    At my site I noted how much attention and emphasis is given John's gospel.

    I also noted that it appears, for Hodges, that John's gospel trumps the rest of the Bible in the area of salvation.

    I have perused other men who have done some work on this issue, but I have not gone too deeply into it. It is something I am seeing in Hodges.


    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Sunday, June 24, 2007 4:22:00 AM  

  • Hio Antonio,

    I haven't made up my mind whether I should be posting here or at Lou's blog... lol I guess if I'm primarily talking to you I'll post here. It's the little things that break our brains sometimes I'm convinced... :)

    We have been discussing John 3, and how Nicodemus was taught by Jesus. You make the statement that I might be reading "my Gospel" back into the text. And it's completely fair of you to want that explored.

    Here's my answer in short, we can not read any section of scripture in a vacuum.

    In long, let's look at the ever popular section of scripture I Cor 15:1-8. The Gospel as declared by Paul in the subject text it's self. In these few verses we learn the facts of the Gospel, but we do not learn the whys (but are given a hint that there are whys). To get the rest of the information we need to read more - Say the first 8 chapters of Romans which exhaustively covers the Gospel. If we really wanted to understand what is going on in those 8 verses we would need to also read Hebrews, and Leviticus.. and Daniel and...

    I Cor 15:1-8 is sufficient to declare the facts, but not to explain them.

    John was (as has been noted) probably the last book of the NT written. He did not write it in a vacuum. It was written so that people would be saved. Without a doubt it was. But it is not all sufficient in this area. It does not claim to be all sufficient. It makes no claim of being separate from the rest of Scripture or even that it's purpose is unique.

    Sorry this is getting long... you asked two questions I intend to answer now.

    1. No, "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World" is not a statement to convince the ignorant Gentile reader. It was a sentence given to convince somewhat aware Jewish people - who were looking - that they had found who they were looking for.

    2. Did they understand Christ's death for sins or His resurrection? you say "of course not". And I tend to agree, as scripture clearly indicates by their actions, words, and how Jesus went to them afterwards.

    But to answer your question I must go farther into your post. Because the question is assuming agreement on something I have not seen you support yet.

    Was Peter "born again" already when he said to Our Lord "Far be it from you Lord!"? I mean in a temporal sense. Surely God the Father had given these to Jesus and their ultimate destiny was secure, but had Peter come to a "saving faith" in Jesus at that point?

    OR did Peter see Jesus as the coming King? Was Peter's hope in the Kingdom Gospel? at this point? The Gospel to Israel that does not make one Born Again but does declare God's fulfillment of His absolute promise of the Kingdom to Israel?

    I believe that Peter had simply believed that Jesus was that King (and He is) but He did not yet understand that He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World.

    I don't know if it's shown in Scripture when exactly Peter was "saved". I know that when it finally becomes clear to him that He needs to be washed Jesus says that He's already washed him.

    That would be an interesting direction to take here for a bit. If you have thoughts on it.

    So my answer is, I don't believe that the Apostles were "Born Again" when they first believed in Jesus because they believe He was the King - not the Lamb of God as John had first introduced Him as.

    Kev

    PS it might be good to note, that this is splitting hairs... the end result is very important but I may be going way off track to get there...

    By Blogger Kevl, at Sunday, June 24, 2007 5:58:00 AM  

  • Hi Antonio,

    (me is the proper pronoun, for it is used here in a prepositional phrase, and thus requires the objective case)
    I loved the fact that you started the post that 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.

    The fact that you ended your answer that way is good enough for me and should stop the mouths of those who say you preach a false gospel. Amen.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Sunday, June 24, 2007 8:04:00 AM  

  • I find it truly desperate, in order to support the contention that the death of Christ for sin and His resurrection must be the conscious content and/or objects of saving faith, that one must put forth the truly insupportable notion that the disciples were not born again until very late in (if not until after) Christ’s earthly ministry.

    Were the Samaritans whom Jesus evangelized not born again when He spoke to them in John 4? This is what is said about the Samaritans whom Jesus ministered to:

    John 4:39
    many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman


    John 4:41-42
    And many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, "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."

    Are you telling me that these Samaratans were not born again? They knew Him to be the Christ, the Savior of the World!

    1 John 5:1
    Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God,

    Jesus and the disciples ministered among the Samaritans for two days (Jn 4:43). During His instruction of the discples, Jesus said:

    John 4:35-38
    “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true:'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors."

    Are you telling me that the Samaritans are born again, Christ and the disciples ministered to the Samaritans for two days, and Jesus says explicitely that He sent them to gather “fruit for eternal life”, but the disciples themselves did not possess eternal life? This is most untenable!

    Would this not be the unsaved evangelizing the unsaved? This should appear to all to be the height of absurdity.

    Let us remember that the Gospel of John was written so that people would come to faith into Jesus Christ to be born again. John uses a technical expression that is not found outside of biblical literature (as far as has been found to the present) to denote saving faith. That phrase is “pisteuō eis”, in English “believe into”. This form takes several objects, such as “His name,” “Him,” “the Son,” “Me,” and “the Son of God”. It is John’s expression for saving faith. Each of the following examples are John’s expression of saving faith taken from the Gospel of John and uses the technical phrase “pisteuō eis”:

    John 1:12
    12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

    John 3:16
    16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    John 3:18
    18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    John 3:36
    36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

    John 6:29
    29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

    John 6:35
    35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

    John 6:40
    40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

    John 6:47
    47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

    John 7:38
    38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

    John 9:35
    35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?

    John 11:25
    25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

    John 11:26
    26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

    What is said about the disciples?

    John 2:11
    11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

    Jesus did this awesome miracle at the wedding feast at Cana, which “manifested [in other words publicly] forth His glory [in front of the disciples]”. Next, the passage clearly shows that the disciples “believed on Him” (pisteuō eis). Whether it was at this point the disciples believed or the text is merely stating what had already occurred by then, cannot be argued from the text. It is certain that Peter, Nathanial, John, Philip, and Andrew believed that Jesus was the Christ in John 1:35-50.

    This is an affirmation VERY EARLY in Christ’s ministry. John the Baptist had not yet been imprisoned (Jn 3:24). This is even earlier than the Sermon on the Mount (cf Matt 4:12).

    What this shows is that very early the disciples were born again and were instructed in soteriological truths. How else could they be commissioned to “gather fruit for eternal life” if they themselves were neither born again, nor instructed on HOW TO DO SO?

    Thus we prove that:

    1) The disciples were born again very early in Christ’s ministry
    2) They were instructed on soteriology and were “sent … to reap”, to “gather fruit for eternal life”
    3) The disciples were born again without an understanding of Christ’s death for sins and understanding and belief in His resurrection.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Sunday, June 24, 2007 2:12:00 PM  

  • To speak to Lou and Bobby Grow:

    The gospel of John has an express written evangelistic purpose. It claims to be sufficient in that purpose.

    The gospel of John did not come with cross-references to Pauline literature. It was like a gospel tract that we give out. Is it impossible to get saved through a gospel tract? I don't think so!

    The Gospel of John circulated as a work of literature in its own rights. It is the only biblical document written expressely for unbelievers so that they may receive eternal life.

    Either it can be taken on its own, or we must impose upon it other truth that you think ought to be there.

    Either what John wrote in His gospel sufficiently identified for us specifically how to receive eternal life or he failed in his purpose.

    If it was not sufficient, he failed in writing his gospel.

    If we come to the conclusion that he succeeded in his express stated purpose, we must also come to the conclusion, that for John, understanding the death of Christ for sin is not the conscious content and/or object of saving faith.

    I would hate to be in the place of an Evangelical who would propose the outrageous sentiment that the gospel of John was insufficient to instruct unbelievers exactly how to be born again, when in fact, evangelism is its stated purpose.

    That would suppose that John, writing in 85-90 just did not know what the content of saving faith is! Or if he did, he purposely ommitted their specific reference.

    I will say, unequivocally, that John succeeded in the purpose of writing his gospel. The terms, which he advises his readership of, for the reception of eternal life are sufficient.

    What are the terms?

    One must believe that Jesus is the Guarantor of eternal life to the one who simply takes Him at His word in His promise to do so. In other words, they must believe that Jesus Christ guarantees their eternal well-being through His promise to impart eternal life to all who merely trust in Him for it.

    There are no other considerations in the Gospel of John.

    Thus, the reader has two choices:

    1) John failed in His purpose

    or

    2) certain knowledge and understanding of Christ's death for sins is not the conscious object and content to saving faith.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Sunday, June 24, 2007 2:45:00 PM  

  • Antonio,

    I don't think so. I don't believe John failed in articulating the gospel message, just like Matthew, Mark, and Luke didn't fail. Remember, the other gospels are so called because they fit the same genre of "gospel" that John fits. This implies that their sole purpose, like John, was to explain the significance of the life and work of Jesus Christ. In logic there is enthymeme, in other words certain premises are left out, but that doesn't mean they aren't there in presupposed forms. I would argue that the synoptics purpose are just as much supposed by the goal of proclaiming the gospel as John's intention. Just because something is left unstated, explicitly, doesn't mean its not an underlying premise.

    Although I do understand, it is easier to establish the FG flavor of the gospel by limiting it to the gospel of John. I think John achieves its goal, but thankfully we aren't limited to a piece of the scriptures (as much as I love John), we have the whole counsel; and I don't think we find contradiction between the rest of scripture (NT) and John relative to articulating "how" one appropriates salvation--i.e. given the doctrine of inspiration. I think Paul is authoritative as John, for example in articulating what the gospel is, and how we should go about personally appropriating it.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Sunday, June 24, 2007 3:54:00 PM  

  • Bobby,

    I believe that John achieves its goal, as well.

    It's stated purpose is so that people would believe into Jesus for eternal life.

    It prescribes accurately what the terms of receiving eternal life are.

    And as a matter of fact, it omits any reference to the Christ's death for sin and the resurrection as conscious and NECESSARY objects of saving faith.

    Its testimony is sufficient as a gospel tract, in that it provides specific and purposeful instruction on how one is to receive eternal life.

    You state, "I think".

    This is insufficient.

    If specific reference to a NECESSARY and CONSCIOUS object of eternal life is unexpressed by the Gospel of John author, who gives for us the express written purpose of his written document so that men may receive eternal life, then he has failed to articulate a written document that expresses what specifically must be done to receive eternal life, therefore has failed to present to men a prescription by which one can know he has eternal life.

    If I were to write a document that had as an express purpose the articulation of directions to go in order to reach my house, but left a "premise unstated", in other words OMMITTED a specific instruction like what my address was, or my street name, it is certain that the reader of that document, not having been there, will not reach my house.

    "At the time of writing, the cross was years ago, and if belief in the work of the cross was by then necessary for salvation, John definitely gives us the wrong impression by stressing the way the cross dumbfounded even His most intimate disciples."

    "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. I sincerely hope no grace person would want to be stuck with a position like that."

    The Johannine document presents the terms of salvation completely and sufficiently WITHOUT making a SINGLE AND SPECIFIC REFERENCE to the understanding of Christ's death for sin as the necessary and conscious object/content of saving faith IN ADDITION TO BELIEVING CHRIST IN HIS PROMISE FOR ETERNAL LIFE.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Sunday, June 24, 2007 4:56:00 PM  

  • Furthermore,

    The evangelism that occurs in the fourth gospel is done without reference to understanding the cross of Christ for sin.

    It is certain that the disciples were saved apart from an understanding of the cross of Christ for sin.

    The Samaritans were saved apart from an understanding of the cross of Christ for sin.

    Jesus presents Himself throughout the Gospel of John text as the unique and sole Personage who has the authority and ability to impart eternal life to anyone who trusts in Him for it.

    And as Zane has pointed out, "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."

    And how did people in John's narrative get saved?

    Precisely by trusting in Christ as the Resurrection and the Life, in other words, as the one who Guarantees resurrection and eternal life to the simple believer in Him for it (see Jn 11:25-26). No where in the text are we met with any specific instance of any evangelized person having an understanding of Christ's death for sins, let alone such a consideration as the necessary and conscious object/content to saving faith IN ADDITION TO TRUSTING IN CHRIST AS THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE, in other words, the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it.

    If doctrinal information is some form of ADDITIONAL content to saving faith in addition to trust in Christ as the Resurrection and the Life, John surely gave "us the wrong impression by stressing the way the cross dumbfounded even His most intimate disciples."

    The historical participants in the gospel of John were saved apart from that understanding, and neither does John give us any specific or further revelation stating that one must trust in Christ for eternal life

    AND

    understand Christ's cross for sins.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Sunday, June 24, 2007 5:11:00 PM  

  • Antonio said to me:

    You state, "I think".

    This is insufficient.


    that's actually kind of funny, don't you think? Didn't you think in order to tell me that "my thinking" is insufficient.

    I actually did a little more than that, I provided a bit of argument for the idea that John does not stand alone as an explicit NT document with the intention of communicating the gospel; given genre analysis.

    It's true, belief alone is the only means for appropriating eternal life according to the whole of the NT, John included. If the NT communicates a unified message, which it does given the inspiration, then the gospel of John does not contradict or compete with the Pauline articulation of the gospel--they complement eachother. I think it is very unnecessary to argue the way you do, Antonio, if the above is true. In other words, why do you argue that the gospel of John is the only NT book that provides THE way of appropriating salvation? Paul's intention is the same, and he fills out, in a complementary way, what belief alone entails--and what it is presupposed by (same as John), the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Of course, Pauls' epistles are more occasionally driven, and involve a different type of literature, viz. discourse vs. Johns' narrative. Thus Paul speaks more "propositionally" while John speaks "paradigmatically" (or by way of principle), in general. Doesn't Paul explain how to appropriate the gospel as much as John (see Gal. 2:16).

    My only problem with your approach, Antonio, and I suppose, Hodges, is that you present a "competive" view between the books that make-up the composition of the NT; while, given the doctrine of inspiration we should approach the nature of the NT's composition from a non-competive approach presupposed by the "canonizing idea" that the message of the New Testament (and OT for that matter) is COMPLEMENTARY to eachother.

    That's all.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Sunday, June 24, 2007 5:20:00 PM  

  • Correction:

    I mis-spelled competitive above.

    And in response to your second comment to me, Antonio:

    you said:

    . . . No where in the text are we met with any specific instance of any evangelized person having an understanding of Christ's death for sins, let alone such a consideration as the necessary and conscious object/content to saving faith IN ADDITION TO TRUSTING IN CHRIST AS THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE, in other words, the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it.

    Isn't the resurrection, presupposed by death and burial?

    I think someone addressed progressive revelation above, and I think that is something you should think about, Antonio, in regards to how someone is saved. The means is always the same, i.e. there is continuity between the covenants, but of course the content and informing theology that frames the "gospel" becomes more clear the closer we get to Christ and the cross. In fact Gen. 3:15 proto-evangelium becomes the first mention of the death of the Messiah, followed by Gen. 49:10, etc. that we see offered as God's response to the Fall. In other words while the "what" of the gospel is hidden, in the OT (but not completely given passages like Gen. and the institution of the sacrificial system through the Levitic rites, etc.), the "how" and the "who" is manifestly the same. The conclusion, just because the "mystery" of the gospel isn't revealed until "faith came" (see Gal. 3) doesn't mean the content is different, it just means it hadn't fully been REVEALED until the "fullness of time came" (Gal. 4). You've created a false dilemma between the content and presupposition of the gospel, and the gospel . . . you don't get the gospel w/o it's substance (the death, burial, and resurrection).

    Do I have to understand all of the presuppositions of the gospel to be saved? No. But w/o those presuppositions I could never get saved.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Sunday, June 24, 2007 5:36:00 PM  

  • Hi Antonio

    You said Thus we prove that:

    1) The disciples were born again very early in Christ’s ministry
    2) They were instructed on soteriology and were “sent … to reap”, to “gather fruit for eternal life”
    3) The disciples were born again without an understanding of Christ’s death for sins and understanding and belief in His resurrection.


    In my zeal I stepped out on a branch that was unsturdy... forgive my foolishness. I was hoping the argument would show you something instead the foolishness of the argument became your focus - which is MY fault. Please do not take my failed attempt at approaching this from another direction as a reason to continue with Theology instead of the Word.

    We are not told in Scripture when they were saved. Peter says that He was the Christ and God says that this was revealed to him by the Spirit.

    The title Christ, and Lamb who takes away the sin of the World are both about death and resurrection. If someone declares that Jesus is The Christ they are declaring He is the sinless sacrifice that takes away the sin of the World.

    Why did Paul preach Christ crucified? We don't read Paul preaching the message that Jesus gives Eternal Life aside from the Cross.

    Paul says he had determined to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified in 1 Cor 2:2.

    Seems like needless meat (considering the deep topics it brings up) for such a fleshy place that could only handle milk 1 Cor 3:2 if all he needed to preach was that Jesus gives Eternal Life for them to be saved and therefore indwelled by the Spirit.

    We know that Paul has already declared that the Gospel of Christ crucified for our sins and risen is the Gospel he preached because it's what he received from Jesus AND it is the Gospel that saved the Corinthians...

    The Gospel of Christ is presented by Jesus Himself in John - I'm not reading this into it. Jesus says He must be lifted up just like the snake on Mose' staff. He's talking about Salvation explaining it to Nicodemus.. TO ME it seems like self made blindness to pretend He's not telling Nicodemus this as He's explaining Salvation to him.

    If the Gospel that saves the Corinthians is that Jesus was crucified for our sins and rose again.. and the Gospel that saved Nicodemus was that Jesus gives Eternal Life then are there other Gospels that save?

    When we believe in Jesus we believe what He did for us. You believe in Jesus? You do well but even the demons believe in Jesus. Our belief must be faith.

    And you don't put faith in a parachute unless you know you're going to fall to your death without it.

    Kev

    By Blogger Kevl, at Sunday, June 24, 2007 6:05:00 PM  

  • Dear Bobby,

    You have yet to prove that the "gospel message" is the conscious object of saving faith in addition to trusting Jesus for eternal life. This is a premise that you have presupposed and taken for granted. I will no longer allow you this luxury.

    As seen in a large segment of Christianity, the term "gospel" has been ossified into theological technical speak for "what needs to be believed for eternal life".

    It is apparent to me and others that the gospel can be believed and one remain unsaved. Such was the case when I was a Catholic.

    How is this the case? One may believe that Jesus Christ "died for our sins according to the Scriptures" and "rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Cor 15:3-4) and still not believe that Jesus is the Guarantor of eternal life to the one who merely takes Him at His word in His promise to do so.

    I submit, that the gospel is not the content or object of saving faith.

    Paul and John are not competive. Paul preached the same SINGLE content to saving faith as John did.

    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.
    NKJV

    In other words, they preached faith alone into Jesus Christ for eternal life.

    The context to which they couched this single requirement was also the same, viz., the gospel message.

    What's the deal then?

    The gospel is what gives us the background to and support for the single term of receiving eternal life, believing Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life. It is the proclamation that shows Christ to be the authoratative and sufficient Guarantor of eternal life.

    For instance, let me make an illustration:

    Let us suppose that I said to you, "I have made you debt free."

    I doubt that this statement alone would convince you that you were now debt free.

    But let us say that I couched this assertion within this narrative:

    "I am a multi-millionaire, and have become a philanthropist. I have made everyone in your church debt-free. Furthermore, here is the testimony of some members of your church who have become debt free by virtue of my dealings."

    The narrative explaining the provision of your debt-free state is strong evidence given in order to convince you of the proposition, "I have made you debt free."

    This is the same with the gospel message. The facts included in the gospel message are proclaimed so that one can be persuaded of Christ's promise and offer of eternal life to the believer in Him for it. It gives us the reasons why we can trust Christ.

    Certainly much other evidence can help, too. Such as His miracles, His claims to deity, etc.

    But we must not confuse the evidence which supports the promise of eternal life (that when believed is saving faith), with saving faith itself. It clouds the issue.

    Our evangelism is to be targeted. Anything that we say to the unsaved in the context of evangelism should be so tailored as to point to simple faith in Christ for the purpose of receiving eternal life.

    In a whole other strain, let me ask you this question, Bobby.

    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 15:3-5
    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 you are selective in what you consider to be the object of saving faith. If you claim that you believe the 1st Corinthian estimation of the gospel is what is to be believed as the necessary and conscious object and/or content to saving faith in ADDITION to simple faith into Christ for eternal life, you have ommitted two co-ordinate articulations of Paul's gospel in your own reckoning of what is to be believed for saving faith.

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

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

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Sunday, June 24, 2007 6:33:00 PM  

  • Lol.

    I took your lead and proposed "competive" for "competitive". My bad!

    By Blogger Antonio, at Sunday, June 24, 2007 6:59:00 PM  

  • I think you're funny sometimes, Antonio ;).

    My approach to evangelism varies. If I'm talking to an atheist I take one approach, and if I'm talking to a Free-Gracer I take another (kidding, hehe :). Seriously when I preach the gospel it depends on where that particular person/group is at, and what questions they might have. I don't think I have ever shared the gospel w/o bringing up the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

    Maybe you missed this Antonio, I said before:

    Do I have to understand all of the presuppositions of the gospel to be saved? No. But w/o those presuppositions I could never get saved.

    I don't have to change any of my views, you haven't presented anything that my view can't assimilate given the whole counsel of scripture. I'm just not obsessed with the "Free-Grace" approach so I don't have to operate within a framework that is informed by an idiosyncratic reading and presentation of the scriptures (your primacy of John).

    1. How does someone appropriate the gospel? By believing in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life.

    2. How did we get the gospel? By Jesus Christ crucified, and all its implications. W/o this, we have no means of eternal life.

    #2 above equals the ontology of the gospel. #1 equals the axiology of the gospel. #1 is the only instrument for appropriating eternal life. #2 represents the basis or what provides the VALUE for #1. These are two distinct categories, nevertheless inseparably related. A person can affirm #1 w/o understanding or being aware of all of the ramifications of #2. So for a person to actually appropriate eternal life, at an ingressive stage, all they have to do is believe in Jesus for eternal life; but I don't think that the value/axiomatic significance of the gospel can be come to w/o hearing "why" the gospel came into existence in the first place (i.e. sin, redemption, new life).

    I think technically we might agree (on how one appropriates eternal life), Antonio . . . I just disagree with your approach and idiosyncracies relative to forwarding Free-Grace theology (a symptom being the primacy that FG gives to the gospel of John relative to the gospel).

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Sunday, June 24, 2007 7:13:00 PM  

  • The following is an edited and abridged discussion of soteriology from a doctrinal thesis I had to complete for my undergraduate degree:

    The historical story and evidentiary scriptural facts that lay behind the provision of eternal life by Jesus Christ is called the “gospel”, or good news. The gospel as articulated by Paul speaks of Christ’s sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection, as well as His appearances to various disciples and others. Supplementary elements may be included within the telling of the gospel in order to customize the message to the recipients, such as developing the historical Person of Jesus to better understand Him. The Pauline gospel is expressed in this manner:

    1 Corinthians 15:1-5
    Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.
    NKJV

    Here in 1 Corinthians we see that the gospel message is that Christ died for our sins, was buried, rose again from the dead, and appeared alive from the dead to those who could give testimony to that fact. Contained within this message is the work of Christ that made provision for our eternal life. By virtue of His death and resurrection, He is the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it.

    The gospel message is the critical story, that gives among other things, a description of how our salvation was provided for yet it is not the object of saving faith that bestows eternal life. If you look carefully at the aforementioned passage in the Greek, you will find that ‘through’ (Greek: dia) the gospel you are saved and not by faith in the gospel you are saved. A more correct translation would be “… I declare to you the gosel… through which also you are saved.” This is a critical distinction. It was through Christ’s work that is proclaimed in the gospel message, vis a vis the death and resurrection of Christ, that our salvation was secured, in other words, provided for. Believing the gospel has never saved anyone; faith in the gospel never imparts eternal life. It is Christ who imparts life to whom He wills (Jn. 5:21).

    By virtue of the the work of Christ that is heralded in the gospel message, the death and resurrection accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf, God is able to freely bestow eternal life to mankind. The vicarious, substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross has freed God to unconditionally accept any human. The purpose of this atonement was to remove all barriers to God’s acceptance of the sinner. God’s justice is satisfied in the sense that He can now confer acceptance upon those sinners who accept the provision of the promise of eternal life through faith into Jesus Christ for it.

    The offer of eternal life is the offer to receive an absolutely free gift (John 4:10; Rom. 5:15-18; 6:23; Eph. 2:8, 9). The gift of eternal life, and thus heaven, is a gift that only need be received by the sinner to be possessed. The avenue of receiving this gift is faith in Jesus Christ (Jn. 3:16; 6:47). Jesus Christ is the Guarantor of eternal life to all who believe in Him for it (Jn. 11:25-27).

    There is a distinction between the gospel message and the offer of eternal life which is based upon that message. The gospel message gives evidence on why Jesus Christ can be trusted for eternal life, including an articulation on how salvation was secured and provided for, among other evidences. The promise of eternal life offers the absolutely free gift of eternal life based solely on one’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Guarantor of eternal life to all who believe in Him for it. It is simple… “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

    There is dispute among scholars what exactly is to be believed in order to receive eternal life. It can be put into no simpler terms that the object of saving faith is the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the content of that object, is that Christ guarantees eternal life based upon faith in Him. Faith that Christ will answer your prayers, that He will deliver you from your temporal problems, or that He exists/existed is not the correct content that will bring eternal life. It is believing in Jesus for the sole purpose of receiving eternal life that salvation is received.

    Some claim that one must believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus in order to be saved as well as faith in Christ. That is not true. The gospel message articulates, among other things, how provision was made for the absolutely free gift of eternal life, but it is the Person of Jesus Christ who dispenses that gift based upon faith in Him for it. The only book written in the Bible with the express written purpose of being evangelistic is the Gospel of John (John 20:30, 31). Within the confines of the book, the one and only requirement given is faith and the one and only object of that faith is Christ. Thus the reformation mantra ‘Faith alone in Christ alone.’ Nowhere in this Gospel does it state that there is some other object or content to saving faith other than that of the Lord Jesus Christ in His promise. If John gives no other requirement to receive eternal life other than faith in Christ, why must we insist on adding more conditions?

    One may ask why then preach the gospel? It proclaims the love and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. When one learns of the incredible payment Christ made in our behalf, it helps persuade us that Christ is faithful and worthy of our faith and reliance upon for our eternal destiny.

    Man has something in him that tends to complicate simple things. Throughout the Christian era we have seen added provisos and conditions heaped on to the simple condition of “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” The offer of eternal life is simple and free, yet, as is abundantly clear in theological circles today, that just doesn’t sit well with many!

    By Blogger Antonio, at Sunday, June 24, 2007 7:48:00 PM  

  • Hio Antonio

    1 Cor 15:3-5
    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?


    I can't answer for Bobby but I can answer for me.

    I do street evangelism as part of the ministry of The Cross Current www.thecrosscurrent.ca

    I preach all 4.

    That Jesus died for our sins - payment.
    That Jesus was buried - proof of death.
    That Jesus was risen from the dead - authority over death.
    That Jesus was seen by more than 500 people most of whom were alive when the written claim of this was made - proof of His physical resurrection in the flesh.

    Because if Jesus paid the price for us and has the power over death to raise Himself up then He can also raise us up.

    Please answer where "believe in" and "believe on" Jesus is defined in John or elsewhere in Scripture.

    What do you do with "if we confess our sins He is just and faithful to forgive them"? The Greek means to "come into agreement with God" about them. This is penned by John as well. Does forgiveness come through repentance (self judgment in agreement with God) or does it come by believing Jesus for Eternal Life? Can a person have Eternal Life without any of his sin being forgiven?

    Kev

    By Blogger Kevl, at Sunday, June 24, 2007 8:15:00 PM  

  • Hi Kevl
    I think John here was talking about believers confessing their sins for the sake of their relationship with God. If we want to walk with our Lord we need to be continually confessing and repenting of our sins. John isn't talking about getting eternal life here. If he was, that would be a different gospel, faith plus confession and repentance.
    Obviously we can have unforgiven sin then and still have eternal life. Otherwise we would never know if we could make it! Think, what would happen if you sinned and were killed before you were able to confess and repent?

    Another time a believer can have unforgiven sin is if we do not forgive others.
    Unforgiven sin will be punished, we know that, but that punishment cannot include taking away our eternal life!

    By Anonymous MT, at Tuesday, June 26, 2007 6:03:00 AM  

  • Hio mt,

    Thanks for the reply.

    1 Jn IS absolutely about maintaining our fellowship with God. Our relationship is secure in Him.

    But forgiveness is still forgiveness no matter if the benefit is temporal or eternal. The end result is different but the cause is the same.

    It doesn't matter what you're changing your mind about you're still changing your mind... repentance is repentance is repentance.

    The point is there is no faith without self judgment (confession/repentance). You can't have faith for salvation unless you know you need to be saved.

    All our sins are forgiven at the moment of Salvation. And forgiveness of sin always works the same way. We are never ever at all in any way shape or form given any other formula for the forgiveness of sins. Other than, self-judgment in agreement with God (repentance) which lets us put our faith in Christ Jesus.

    Please please please do not inflict the Lordship definition of Repentance on my above. Repentance is not a change of person - it is self-judgment which may or may not lead to a change of wants (but not always) or behavior (but not always)

    Kev

    By Blogger Kevl, at Tuesday, June 26, 2007 6:42:00 AM  

  • Hi Antonio. Why is it that people don't address the John issue, and instead try to change the topic to what other books are talking about. Each is worth of study, but John states why it was written. I wish they would address the issue in John as you are trying to make happen.

    Kevl, if someone believed that, then I believe they were saved... however many people need more then your word its true. The cross and ressurection explain how its done. For a child, he can believe easily. Even in Santa. No grown ups I know of believe in the myth of Santa as it exists for kids, yet they believe in Christ because of his words. Also, the majority of the New Testament is a call to discipleship, which is extremely important to believers. Once our eternal destiny is secure, there is our temporal salvation to work out. :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wednesday, June 27, 2007 5:59:00 PM  

  • Kevl, Trent here. I was the anonymous above as well. I forgot to indentify myself. I am impressed with your consistency. As MT said, and you agree, its about Fellowship. 1 John gives its purpose statement at the beginning and IMO its as clear as the one he gives at the end of his gospel. If we are going to add "confession of my sins" to be nessecary to be saved, I would ask how many of them? the ones of ommission? I assume only the ones before I was saved, because we are saved now.. but then this is written to believers who are saved to discuss fellowship, so I am not sure why people always go to 1 John to try and add things to the Gospel of John. Separate contexts.

    My daughters may fall out of fellowship with me because of their actions, but they do not cease to be my daughters, nor do I stop loving them. I will chastise them to bring them back into fellowship with me, but should they die before hand, I would never say they were never my daughters!

    Love in Christ
    Trent

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wednesday, June 27, 2007 6:26:00 PM  

  • Hi Trent,

    Thanks for your kind words.

    I'm not sure why 1 John is so often abused.. when you follow John Macarthur's guided to finding out if you're really saved (sigh..) it's amazing how half the book is all but ignored. If you sin you're of the devil is emphasized (but also spiritualized down to meaning that if you like to sin or if you "practice" sinning..) and if he who does righteousness is of God is diminished - we don't want people being sure they are saved after all...

    About "confession" of sins for forgiveness and salvation. The word "confession" isn't a very good translation in my opinion. The Greek seems to mean agreeing with God about your sin.

    I would suggest that because John is speaking of restoring fellowship that was broken by a specific thing that confessing that thing - or agreeing with God about that thing - is what is required. Because fellowship had been broken by it..

    In his declaration of the Gospel Paul makes meantion of sins, not specific ones but that Christ died for our sins. He doesn't seem to indicate a sin by sin confession at all (nor do we see that anywhere else for Eternal Salvation) just a judgment that our sins do require death - simply agreeing with God.

    It's late.. I'm tired.. if I can put this together more sensibly tomorrow I will. :)

    Kev

    By Blogger Kevl, at Wednesday, June 27, 2007 7:27:00 PM  

  • only1way said...

    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. Antonio

    Antonio, may I pose a question to you. It is not so much doctrinal as it is motivational. My question is , what ever motivates you to preach a gospel like this? It is like telling a husband that he can be married but, not to worry, he doesn't really need to love his wife. Or, it is akin to teaching a child that he/she can be part of a family but, rest assred, you need not obey your parents. Or, whisper to the employee you can be employed but don't worry about how well you perform. That is not yours to concern yourself with.

    Antonio, why would you give people "the gospel" and, in essence, tell them not to fret because all it takes is an intellectual assent. No needto follow Christ, obey Christ or even know who Christ is. Antonio, what profit/satisfaction is there in preaching such a false gospel?

    July 06, 2007 12:12 PM

    By Blogger only1way, at Friday, July 06, 2007 9:15:00 AM  

  • The fact that you ended your answer that way is good enough for me and should stop the mouths of those who say you preach a false gospel. Amen. Rose


    Rose, I implore you to look into your self, see why and what it is you believe. I am afraid that if you follow this teaching your soul will be lost. If salvation is so easy why are we commanded "to make our calling and eletion sure".

    By Blogger only1way, at Friday, July 06, 2007 9:18:00 AM  

  • only1way,

    I am asking this question in the humblest of spirits: How in the deepest depths of creation can you not see that you believe in a works salvation?

    By Blogger Free Grace Guy, at Monday, September 17, 2007 5:54:00 PM  

  • Tom,
    I was wondering that myself when I saw that question. It left me speechless - where do you go with such a person?

    By Blogger Rose~, at Monday, September 17, 2007 6:28:00 PM  

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