What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to
the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast
about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham
believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." Now to the one
who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the
one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is
counted as righteousness ...
Sunday, July 29, 2007
You Be the Judge: Is He or Ain't He?
by Antonio da Rosa
POST UPDATED: SUNDAY, JULY 29 @ 9:30 AM, PST.
I stand for these truths: clarity, specificity, and precision in the gospel invitation. I want to let you all know that I love Jesus. I personally am filled with appreciation that He gave His life for me. I am awed by the fact that Christ rose again from the dead, triumphant over death.
I am a sinner (as some of you know better than others). I am a frail, subject to sin, human being. The Lord knows that I am but dust. Often I let my will and desires trump the Spirit who desires to work through me. In some of my correspondences with you all during the last couple of months, my writing was not saturated and grounded in love. I became a machine, bent on proving a point, and in many cases, in the absence of tact and sensitivity. For this I apologize.
Bear with me for one more post on this important subject. I am going to provide a scenario, and I wish for you all to be involved. I am really asking that you participate, and I desire your input.
Jeremy Myers told me of a method that he and Bob Wilkin like to use in evangelism. What they do is to provide the "invitation" up front before they go into the gospel message. So for instance, they will start the conversation off this way:
"Did you know that Jesus Christ promises, better yet, guarantees to immediately give the free gift of irrevocable eternal life to any who simply believe Him to do so [or believe in Him for it]?"
More times than not, the hearer will be taken for a loop. Of course, this assertion does not usually convince anyone. "Aren't works necessary?" one may ask. "How is it that simple?" another may wonder. They then go into the gospel message explaining various points about the Lord Jesus Christ that will lift Him up in such a way as to show Christ authoritative and qualified to give the gift, and trustworthy of one's faith for it.
Lets say that I had the opportunity to do evangelism one on one with a man. The first thing I say to him is, "Jesus Christ promises and guarantees to immediately give you the free gift of eternal life the very moment you believe in Him for it." And then I quote to him John 6:47, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me has eternal life." He immediately responds in curiosity and interest, asking me to explain more about Jesus.
Let's say next, I talk to him about John the Baptist, and what God told him concerning how he would know who God's chosen Messiah was: Jesus came to be baptized of John, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him so that John knew that this indeed was God's Christ (Jn 1:32-33).
I tell this man about Jesus being led to the wilderness to be tested by Satan 40 days, and I tell him of Jesus' remarkable words to Satan (Mt 4:1-11).
I discuss with this man how Jesus turned water in to wine (Jn 2:1-11), how He healed the sick (Mt 8:16), gave sight to the blind (Jn 9:6-7), cast out demons (Mt 8:16), made whole the lame (Mt 21:14), and raised the dead (Jn 11:38-44). I tell this man about Jesus calming the storms (Lk 8:24), feeding 5000 men with a few loaves and a couple fish (Jn 6:1-14), and walking on water (Mt 14:26).
I go into some of the teachings of Christ, where He taught heavenly truth with authority, not like the scribes of the day (Mt 7:29).
I speak of Jesus' love and compassion on broken-hearted men and women (Mk 6:34).
I tell the story of the woman caught in adultery, where He is quoted as saying, "He who is without sin cast the first stone," and "Woman, where are your accusers?" and "Neither do I condemn you" (Jn 8:2-11).
I relate Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar (Jn 4:1-42). "If you knew the gift of God, and who says to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water" (Jn 4:10).
I speak of the raising of Lazarus (Jn 11:38-44), and His conversation with Martha, "I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (Jn 11:25-26).
At this time, the man stops me. He says, "Hold on for a moment, please. I want to tell you something. I believe you! I believe what Jesus says in His promises! I now know that Jesus has given me eternal life!"
Now, I had planned to present to him further truths about Jesus. I had every intention of continuing on to explain the deity of Christ, His substitutionary atonement for sins, and His subsequent bodily resurrection. But I had not yet got to these points.
Simply, my question for you is this:
Is this man born again? In other words, does he have eternal life?
If he doesn't, why not?
This person has entrusted his eternal destiny to Christ! Would it be your position that this man, who believed Christ in His promises (whereby Jesus Christ guarantees eternal life to the believer in Him), ends up lost for lack of knowledge of some bullet points on an orthodox doctrinal checklist?
Imagine someone solely trusting Jesus Christ as His certain hope of heaven and Jesus letting him down. Envisage a man relying completely upon Jesus Christ for eternal life through His promise yet Jesus reneging because of the man's ignorance of a doctrinal stipulation, thus missing heaven by a creedal technicality.
Picture a man believing only in Jesus Christ for eternal salvation and leaving empty handed. This unquestionably impinges on God's faithfulness. What happened to "faith alone in Christ alone"? Checklist evangelism has it dying the death of a thousand qualifications.
But if you agree that he does have eternal life, doesn't this prove that the place we need to be pointing men and women is to faith into Jesus Christ in His promise (and not confusedly to a list of doctrine)? Does this not dictate for us the essential issue between God and man: the reception of life through faith in Jesus by way of His guarantee?
If the man in this illustration has eternal life then we have just pinpointed the clear and simple gospel invitation, which happens to be the same one that Jesus used time and again. Jesus proclaimed that He was the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it. Shall we not present Him the same way?
Gospel invitations should be simple, accurate, precise, and biblically phrased. We do not want to use unbiblical terminology or practices (such as "praying to receive Christ") that can confuse those we evangelize. We should be able to show the subjects of our evangelism specific passages in the Bible that clearly identify for them how they can have eternal life. If we use the "two-step" invitation formula, "You must believe that Jesus is God, died on the cross for your sins, and rose again from the dead. (But that is not enough) You then must personally trust Christ's work for salvation," we will never be able to show them any single, clear supporting passage. Instead, we would have to piece together a patch-work quilt using scriptural hopscotch. Even then, it will be awkward and ambiguous.
Confusion is the enemy of evangelism. The construction of our gospel invitations should not generate uncertainty and misapplication. This could lead to a false profession and assurance.
Jesus is the one who has "the words of everlasting life" (John 6:68). Those words are contained in His promise to impart eternal life to all who simply believe in Him for it. When Jesus evangelized, His promise was His core and simple invitation. Shall we not emulate Him in His clarity and simplicity?
Yes, Jesus had the "words of eternal life" during His time on earth, as evidenced by the Gospel of John, the only evangelistic book in the Bible. And He still does today. Let us use them!
In thinking about the issues that are being debated among us lately, a thought came to me due in large part to bro. Antonio's previous post. This may be totally irrelevant to the issue of Gospel invitations, but I believe there is a correlation to one's reception of eternal life in Christ and his backgound in the things of God. Here's what I mean. Let's say that we are witnessing to a person about his need of Christ and this person knows next to nothing about the things of God. This person is totally steeped in carnality and never thinks about God at all. Then he hears the truth about the Lord Jesus. Now, here is another person that has grown up around church all his life. This person has heard Bible preaching, or at least what passes for it all his life and has been in church since 9 months prior to his physical birth. But this person has also heard confusing accounts of what the Bible actually teaches. Now, you begin to tell this person about Christ and you give a clear Gospel message and then invite him to believe in Christ. I know the ultimate importance of the Holy Spirit's part in witnessing must be brought to bear on this, but apart from this consideration, do you believe that it may be actually easier for the 1st person to believe than the 2nd? As to the title of this post, do you also think that even if this 2nd person is, due to God's grace, able to forget the falsehoods he's been taught & believe in Christ alone for eternal life, might there be a tough time ahead for him with the baggage that he is likely to carry along from his past?
The Corporeality of Angels and the Redemption of Bodies
The Scholastic theologians debated in the middle ages whether angels had ethereal bodies or whether they were bodiless spirits. The majority of Christians accept the position of Thomas Aquinas that angels are non-corporeal beings.
This may seem like an utterly irrelevant debate, but I believe it has great significance in the development of a truly cosmic soteriology.
I believe the Bible indicates clearly that angels have bodies that are different from ours, yet which are not completely different. Angels are consistently presented in Scripture in physical terms. Angels look like people and even eat manna (Psalm 78:25). More controversially, I believe that the best interpretation of the Sons of God in Genesis 6 is that they are angels and they indeed had sex with humans in utter perversion of God's purposes.
The fact that angels are physical beings has significance in the salvation of the cosmos.
Angels dwell in heaven at the centre of God's government. They experience God's presence in a way which we do not know here in this world. That God should have physical beings as his closest servants and dwelling in the midst of His glorious celestial presence shows that the physical world matters to God. It shows us that the material creation has a purpose in God's plans.
That angels are physical beings shows us that the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is a true physical resurrection. He rose bodily from the dead. Despite what rationalist theologians may maintain, it is not sufficent for our Lord to have risen as an immaterial spirit. His flesh did not see corruption for it now lives.
Some Christians maintain that angels are bodiless spirits but they sometimes manifest themselves as bodies. The Jehovah's Witnesses teach the same thing about angels. That is all well, but horribly they also teach this about our Lord. The JWs teach that our Lord rose only spiritually and that in His resurrection appearances He only manifested Himself as a body, while still being a bodiless spirit. This is a falsehood. The Lord Jesus Christ rose bodily from the grave. He shall return and men shall see His body. They will also see the bodies of the angels that accompany Him at His glorious arrival.
We too shall be raised bodily from the grave, unless we remain to His coming and are changed. Our future glory will not be spent lving as disembodied spirits, but our flesh shall be raised. The fact that the angels of God and their heavenly dwelling is physical should re-inforce in our minds this great hope.
We shall not be raised in bodies that are like the kind of bodies we have now. We shall no longer have corruptible bodies, but bodies that are incorruptible. We shall have bodies that are in some sense spiritual, with different properties.
This is re-inforced by the fact that our reseurrection is compared to angelic existence. Our Lord tells us:
30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.
We shall be a different kind of flesh, an ethereal flesh:
39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory.
1 Corinthians 15
We shall have celestial bodies as the angels do. For in Christ we have entered into an heavenly life and we are fitted for an heavenly existence:
3 ¶ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5 even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
7 that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness toward us, through Christ Jesus.
18 ¶ For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,
19 and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:
20 (for they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:
21 and so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)
22 but ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
Heaven, not earth is our home.
Yet heaven, that physical place above shall have union with the material world of earth. For in the apocalypse, we see the heavenly city of the New Jerusalem descending to earth. The throne of the heavenly Christ shall be found on earth.
God created this world and it is good. At this time, the presence of God is only fully known and experienced in heaven, the third heaven to be specific. Yet the whole of creation shall come to know God. For we see in 1 Corinthians 15:
27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, All things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
God will be all in all. The whole of the cosmos shall become the dwelling place of God and will be united to Him, experiencing His love and His life. The creation will deified and divinized by the energy of Christ who is reconciling all things to God, both things in earth and things in heaven.
I like to share things hear about the preaching class run by my pastor.
A couple of weeks ago I had to present a sermon outline that I am going to be preaching on 5th August at another church.
My sermon is a Gospel sermon on James 3:1-11. I am going to use the teaching there to show how our speech so often shows our sinful nature and thus our need for a Saviour in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The pastor was quite positive about the outline I presented. He described my approach as using James 3 as what the Puritans called a 'law text,' demonstrating the sinfulness of man. He emphasised that this was quite legitimate and that any passage of Scripture could be used to preach the Gospel.
The other men in the class were rather more uncomfortable with my approach. They seemed to think it would be better to apply the text as a message for believers, after all it was directed to Christians.
The fact is that the only text in Scripture that is written specifically for unbelievers is the Gospel of John. It is the only book of the Bible that is written to evangelize the lost. If one is only going to use evangelistic texts to preach Gospel sermons, one can only preach evangelistic sermons from the Gospel of John.
However, preaching is not simply giving exposition or exegesis of the Word of God, it is applying it in a relevant and powerful way. It is bringing up application, even if that is only indirectly implied in the text.
The Gospel can be found throughout the scripture. The Gospel may not be revealed in James chapter 3, but that passage reveals the sinfulness of man and his depraved nature. Thus, it shows man's need for that divine life that is found only in the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why I am going to preach the Gospel from that text.
Some people question the necessity of preaching the Gospel in churches. They argue we should do our evangelism outside of church, which we certainly should. So often the Gospel is preached in congregations of just a few faithful and godly believers.
However, we must continue to preach the Gospel in churches. For one thing, we cannot always be sure that everyone in our church is a true believer. There may be many in the church who have never truly believed. The church I am preaching in is almost certainly Calvinist and almost certainly affected by Lordship Salvation. There maybe many there who are true believers, yet who have lost their assurance because of the legalism of Calvinism. They need to hear the simple gospel of grace.
And all believers need to be reminded of the Gospel and the message of our Lord's saving work. It is good to again and again hear that old, old story.
There is a Post below the current one. I wouldn't want any visitor to miss it, seeing as how it was only at the top for just a few hours and it would be good for those who may pop in here to know that not all of us here are of the same opinion. Thanks, Antonio!
Not a single passage in the Bible supplies convincing evidence that identifies the necessary and conscious objects/content of saving faith as: 1)the deity of Christ, 2) and the cross of Christ for sin. When we make our appeal and invitation at the end of our full gospel message, why are we entreating men to assent to doctrine rather than inviting them to trust in Jesus for eternal life? Is there something at all to be said about biblical language in our invitations?
There is no passage which states that there are steps to salvation, that we have to spirally ascend a doctrinal tier which in the end we are to put our trust in. Don't get me wrong. People have been saved by confusing gospel invitations. But, I ask, we grace people ought to know better! We don't read: "Believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and you will be saved, justified, eternally forgiven, receive eternal life, etc." We read, "I am the Resurrection and the Life. The one who believes in Me, though he may die, yet shall he live. And the one who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
Preparatory faith in the death, deity, and resurrection of Christ may be psychologically helpful (even essential to certain persons) as precursors to specific faith into Christ for eternal life. But this is far from being a universal theological requirement. A man may need to prepare himself in several ways to buy a Twix bar. But the fact remains that the store attendant only requires 75 cents for the candy. For a short article on the difference between psychological and theological necessities, please refer to:
1) Not understanding or believing the significance or need of the cross of Christ for sin 2) Not understanding His deity 3) Not understanding the Scripture that says that Christ must rise from the dead (in fact, when they heard that Jesus rose from the dead they did not believe it!)
Does this mean that we don't preach these things? NO. But what that does mean is that these items are not the "trip wire" that receives eternal life! And if they are not, we shouldn't state to men and women that belief in them brings eternal life, or confusedly tell them that they need to believe these things and then trust them for salvation. This is not clear!
Out of all things, our invitation for men to believe in Christ should be crystal clear. The one who believes Jesus through His promise has eternal life. What are we all so scared about? Preach the death, burial, resurrection, and deity of Christ. I do! Preach the teachings and miracles of Christ, I do! Preach other things that are contained in the gospel. I do. But when we get to the time of invitation, let us be clear and specific, entreating men to believe specifically that they have eternal life by simply taking Christ at His word. This guards against confusion and ambiguity in our invitations, and give men and women the essential basis for certain assurance of eternal life.
It was because of the grand and unique nature of the miracles that Jesus did that the disciples believed in Him as the Christ, the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer (see John 2:11).
The teaching ministry of Jesus was one of authority; He did not speak as the scribes did. His messages were unlike any that the crowds had heard. Coupled with His miracles, men and women were persuaded as to Christ's claim that the believer in Christ has eternal life.
John 6:67-68 Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." NKJV
Readers of Unashamed of Grace, Jesus has the words of eternal life! He did from His very anointing as the Messiah at His baptism, and He still does. The content of His saving message has not changed, though how He may be presented has.
He is not only the authoritative teacher and miracle worker who, as the Christ, offers eternal life to all who simply take Him at His word in His promise.
He is the authoritative teacher, miracle worker, and the crucified and risen Lord who, as the Christ, offers eternal life to all who simply take Him at His word in His promise.
Jesus is the one who has the words of eternal life. The core of this message has never changed. The one who believes into Him for eternal life has it, regardless, as in the case of the disciples, if they understand Him as God or not, as crucified for their sins or not, or as risen, and/or what level of understanding they have in each of these areas.
It is efforts as Tom Stegall, Duluth, and Lou Martuneac that seek to invalidate the simple exercise of faith into Christ that really does bring eternal life. Unless one initials at each successive step of their "checklist evangelism" and understands each of those doctrinal bullets in the full understanding that they would require of them, they would relegate them to the Lake of Fire.
How is Jesus shown as presenting the terms of salvation and eternal life in the gospel of John? He is the one who "has the words of everlasting life." He is the one who promises, yea, guarantees everlasting life to the one who merely takes Him at His word in this promise. Nothing more. It is simple.
GES members focus very clearly on much information about Christ so as to illicit faith into Him for eternal life. We speak of His words, works, miracles, glory, love, and compassion. We show that Jesus is sufficient, authoritative, able, willing, authorized, and uniquely qualified to impart eternal life to all who believe in Him for it. As we give all the information on Christ, focusing on these qualities and attributes of Him, we specifically target our hearers to faith in Christ through His promise.
Let us let Jesus, who has the words of eternal life, dictate the terms by which He will impart eternal life.
The simplicity remains, all who believe into Jesus have eternal life.
And as we have shown in the case of the disciples, appropriation can be apart from any detailed understanding or belief in the deity of Christ, His death and resurrection. This proves that such considerations are not the conscious content/objects of saving faith that God requires.
Does this inevitably lead to disparagement of Christ's deity, cross, and resurrection? God forbid. We herald them, we passionately preach them, we regard them true, and hold them dear. We present them to lost men, lifting up Jesus by preaching these things as true, which in turn persuasively points them to Christ and His promise.
Our gospel presentations are to lift up Christ, by preaching fully the attributes, works, and Person of Jesus. Let us not hide anything from those who hear us.
But our gospel invitations ought not to be confusing and ofuscate what is the single issue between God and man: the matter of life. Jesus has the words of everlasting life. The condition for receiving that life is to believe in Him for it. Let us be clear and point men and women to that which fundamentally brings eternal life.
Let us get rid of:
the two-step the doctrinal checklist the chair illustration decisionism, asking men and women to decide praying a prayer
Let us point men and women specifically to the promise of the One who we have already lifted high up in our gospel message. Let us present the terms of salvation in their simplicity, as Christ preached.
I will die on the hill of gospel invitation clarity. We must not confuse, but clarify. We must not complicate, but reveal Christ's promise in its simplicity.
I wanted to let it all hang out a little over here about the recent emphasis on this blog. I am not able to currently back up my feelings by exegeting all the passages concerned (although I have seen others do it over these last weeks), but I am going to express my concern and disagreement. Here goes:
I am very uncomfortable with a lot of what Antonio has been posting. I love brother Antonio, but I find myself at odds with much of what he is promoting of these most controversial teachings of Zane Hodges. (To be sure, I really appreciated the book Absolutely Free! and I agree with many of the articles by Hodges that I have been exposed to.)
I finally got around to reading all of the recent posts here and at Antonio’s personal blog and honestly, I find myself in agreement with much of what Lou Martuneac has said! I read the article The Tragedy Of the Crossless Gospel by Tom Stegall and I felt myself cheering amen and amen in my spirit.
Why do I feel the need to post this? Well, let me say for sure that the purpose of this post is not to begin debating over this that has been debated ad nausium over the last month. But … I helped start this blog ... and I figure it would be good for those who may pop in here to know that not all of us here are of the same opinion:
I don’t feel that it is “Checklist Evangelism” to take someone through important points about the Lord and His salvation that we seek to explain … and to make sure they understand it. Antonio has got me to thinking, and I do appreciate that, but in the end, I don’t see it the same way as he does.
As a dispensationalist, I also think it is important to remember the age we are in. The comforter has come and we have the completed Word of Truth. To refer to encounters from early in the ministry of Christ and minimize the importance of subsequently-emphasized biblical truth as unnecessary to modern day encounters ... because it was omitted in these earlier encounters ... doesn’t seem to apply the principle of progressive revelation. IMHO!
I read with interest the comments in the previous post by David Wyatt. (By the way, I appreciate David’s post and am very glad he is on board. Thank you, David!)
A commenter named “grace” says: People do get upset when they THINK you're down playing the cross of Christ. (WHICH GES is NOT DOING!!!). But some THINK they are.
She is right! This is truly how it comes across. It makes me cringe. I do see the shades of grey in the actual position, but I am most uncomfortable with what seems like consistent arguments for a downplaying of the Lord’s deity … and now His cross … by insisting that converts need not see it. I hear ya, brother, that you preach it, but that you don’t think it is required understanding for a convert. I hear ya. I just am very uncomfortable with your drumbeat.
Antonio says: Nowhere do we run into in the Bible this proposition: 1. The one who believes he has eternal life through Jesus' Death and Resurrection alone has it.
But we do run into this one many times: 2. The one who believes he has irrevocable eternal life through Jesus in His promise has has it.
Zane would admit that men and woman have been saved through number 1.
I find the distinction between #1 and #2 ridiculous! I can’t describe the feeling I got when I read that Zane Hodges “admitted” that some COULD be saved by “[believing] he has eternal life through Jesus' Death and Resurrection alone….”
I don’t appreciate separating the name of Christ from the attributes and work of Christ.
I have been uncomfortable from the get-go with calling myself a Free-Gracer. I felt even more uncomfortable after the arguments (many months ago) about the deity of Christ and the proposition that the Mormon Jesus or the JW Jesus can deliver eternal life (I know, I know, there is only one Jesus – I am just using shorthand - you know what I mean, right?)… but after having read some of these things and seeing that there are Free-Gracers like Tom Stegall, I guess I am comfortable to take the label. I am a Free-Gracer, because I am absolutely opposed to Lordship Salvation. I believe that Christ dispenses eternal life as an absolutely free gift to the one who entrusts his eternal future to Him.
However, my eye focuses on the word HIM in the previous sentence. I think it is a loaded and rich name which must be unwrapped and digested. Jesus Christ is the object of faith, not just His name. I don’t agree with the minimalist teachings of Zane Hodges when it comes to the exclusion of the attributes and work of Christ as part of saving faith. I am for preaching faith alone in *Christ alone, but I think *the Person who makes the promise and why He can fulfill it is essential. Oh, and, I am not embarrassed by that. one. bit.
I really apprecaite Antonio, Matthew, and Jodie who are good with this particular teaching of Hodges … but … I had to come out and express the fact that I am not good with it. Now I hope we will get back to the other, original, emphases of this blog.
I so appreciate the Free Grace Community, I want to say that right up front. I have been helped very much in my spiritual life by some things I have learned especially through GES. I am thankful for them, especially bro. Zane & Bro. Wilkin. But I also appreciate other free grace communities, such as Duluth Bible Church & some others. Having said this , I also freely admit that I am a lightweight, who is not good at articulating my position & I also admit I don't like controversy. Having said THAT I must say that I sense the need for caution regarding a certain area. I personally, & this is my personal belief, certainly not an "official" position of any ministry. I personally do not like the idea of concentrating on a "bare minimum" of what a person must believe. That said, I appreciate the brothers that stand for this, but it bothers me that it seems to me to lead to an unbiblical extreme that can cause us to become unbalanced. The main caution that I am sounding here is that of Paul's warning in 1 Corinthians 3:3-9. I know my own propensity toward carnality, especially in the area of following men. The Free Grace "Camp" has been blessed with some of the finest men & women in the Christian Faith & I appreciate them all. But I sense that there may be a slight rift beginining among brethren concerning this very issue of the "bare minimum." I so very much do not want to see a split over it unless it becomes absolutely necessary as with Paul & Barnabas over John Mark. It would be exceedingly easy to begin to follow certain teachers that we resonate with, & to say, I am of Zane, or I am of Duluth Bible, or whatever. And those that would try to caution against it can easily fall into the trap of becoming prideful & with our noses in the air, say, Well! I'm far too spiritual to fall into this trap! I don't follow men at all, I am of Christ!! So anyway, I've rambled on enough! Bro. Antonio may be right now wishing he'd never invited me on! God Bless you all!
Thank you bro. Antonio for that much more gracious than deserved introduction! I appreciate all you free grace brothers & sisters (both of you!). I will be posting something with more substance hopefully soon. I will begin by asking as many of you as would like to post a short, concise account of your salvation testimony as would feel comfortable doing so. I will do so myself to prove that it is painless! So, for my introductory post, I will just say, God Bless you all, & thanks again bro. Antonio, for the invitation to post!
New Member / New Blog Link / Interesting Theological Question
by Antonio da Rosa
Hello, you couple of readers of Unashamed of Grace (all 2 of you). Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I want to introduce to you the newest member of the Unashamed of Grace team, David Wyatt. I have known him for about 5 or 6 years now, as he has been a regular contributor to the discussions on the Grace Evangelical Society's Chat Forum, where I have nearly 1,200 posts. He is not so controversial, as Rose is (lol, JK, Rose!). He is extremely thoughtful and encouraging. I am sure that he will do great balancing out Matthew's non-dispensational post-trib position (jab!), Jodie Sawyer's re-occuring hiatuses, Rose's pillow-padded power punches, and my myopic, bigoted, stubborn, unrelenting, and misogenist (jk!) forays into blogdom.
David, welcome to Unashamed of Grace! You may begin posting at any time, man!
As you can see, there is a new blog link on the right. Jeremy Myers, editor (among other things) at Grace Evangelical Society. He is my free grace anti-thesis. Please go look him up. The name of his ministry and blog is "TILL HE COMES".
Right now, he has an interesting theological question concerning the gospel. It is titled, "You be the judge". He tells a true story of a woman. He relates the details and asks, based upon the information, if you would consider her saved through the lenses of your theological/soteriological grid. It can be a very intersting discussion if you go over and participate.
His link is here on the right, click on it and answer his question: You be the judge!
Book Recommendations on the Subject of Sanctification
Somebody once criticised this blog for having nothing to say about Christian living. Well, I am not great at writing about Christian living, so I am going to recommend some books on the subject.
Victory in Christ by Charles Trumbull
A good short book. It shows that essentially, sanctification is by faith. Trumbull's classic Keswick approach can be summarised as 'let go and let God.' Admittedly, this is a little simplistic, but it is essentially the starting point.
He That is Spiritual by L.S. Chafer
This should be essential reading. It is a very in-depth study of all aspects of the Christian experience. There is so much rich teaching in here.
The only problem is Chafer's quirky denial of growth and maturity in the Christian life. He taught that one could acheive instant maturity, which is rather unbalanced.
The Complete Green Letters by Miles Stanford
Stanford corrects Chafer's fault by showing the progress of growth in the Christian life. Focused on the cross, which is God's answer to the flesh.
Balancing the Christian Life by Charles Ryrie
The strengh of this book is in the wide variety of topics that Ryrie discusses. Perhaps the problem with the previous books on this list is the tendency to ignore practical issues.
Ryrie is keen to address what he sees as a lack of balance in the classic Keswick approach to sanctification. Perhaps, Miles Stanford may be right in arguing that Ryrie goes to far in the opposite direction in overemphasising dedication in the Christian life.
This book addresses the vital issue of Lordship Salvation, which the author rejects.
Grace in Eclipse by Zane Hodges
Antonio might be disappointed if I do not mention any books by Zane Hodges.
One failing of so much writing on Christian living is the failure to show rewards as an incentive for holiness. This book is so inspiring in showing the importance of seeking rewards.
Short Papers by C.H. Mackintosh
This list would not be complete without some Brethren writings. Mackintosh provided a wealth of instruction in the Christian life.
I have always been sceptical of the Calvinist view of election, but until 2004, I was favourably disposed to the doctrine of Perserverance and would have put myself on the Lordship side of the fence. When I read Wayne Grudem at the age of 18, I was shocked to find out some thought that repetance was not a part of receiving eternal life.
As I have done plenty of open air preaching there were occasional difficulties in my mind about exactly what one needed to tell lost sinners to do. At university, I suggested once or twice to a friend that maybe justification by faith alone was not that important, after all, if one needed to do works anyway, what was the big deal?
I read Dave Hunt's book 'What Love is This?' While I agreed with Hunt's rejection of uncondtional election, I thought the book was quite weak in a lot of places. I was especially puzzled by the chapter on assurance. I could not understand why Hunt was arguing that Calvinists had a problem of assurance.
When I started blogging, I enjoyed many discussions on Rose's wonderful blog. I cam across Antonion who was advocating 'Free Grace.' I thought this seemed rather suspect. Absolutely free? Free to do what, live a sinful lifestyle?
Everything changed when discussing something on a post on Rose~'s Reasonings. I mentioned that I did not feel that I really loved our Lord. A very kind Calvinist blogger expressed great concern at this statement. I am sure he meant well, but the way I understood him, he was questioning whether I was truly regenerate.
At that moment, on seeing my salvation brought into question, scales fell from my eyes. Suddenly I understood why Calvinists had a problem with assurance. If a true believer will perservere, then a sign that I was not persevering sufficently might be a sign that I was not a true believer. But I believed. Ah, but that might be a false faith. But if I might have a false faith when I believed my faith was real, how could anyone be certain that they were saved?
I realised that however odd Antonio and Zane Hodges might seem, I needed to pay attention to what they had written. They clearly had a big point...
Susan: I have to wonder - without Christian growth or sanctification, what's the point?
Matthew: Susan, the point of Christian growth is that we become ever more closely united to God in Christ, submerging our humanity into His divine energy. And the glorious future for us is to share in Christ's sovereign rule over the universe as celestial beings.
We are created in Christ to be a new kind of divinized humanity.
Mark: Matthew, Please take us through, point by point, with scripture what it is you are saying here...
Matthew: "submerging our humanity into His divine energy."
We posess eternal life. Our eternal life is the life of God, His energy outworked in the love and grace of creation and redemption.
That divine energy was eternally shared between the members of the Triune Godhead before the creation. As redeemed sinners, we now share in that divine life through grace.
We participate in the divine life. We are partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).
1 John 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
2 (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
3 that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
This divine life is perfect holiness and righteousness.
It is unfortunate that our righteousness is seen by many as simply a right legal standing.
Rather in Christ we share in God's vital holiness. Through our union with Christ we are holy as He is:
2 Corinthians 5 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Phillipians 3 9 and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
This is not just a matter of justification, but sanctification too. In Christ we are 100% sanctified when we receive that gift of eternal life. By faith we can enter into the reality of that perfect holiness and experience the heavenly life that we are created in Christ to experience.
Ephesians 4 24 and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Romans 6 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
Galatians 5 16 ¶ This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 ¶ If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Living this life is a life of abundance and leads to ever deeper and more intimate union with God in Christ:
John 10 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
John 14 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
1 John 3 24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
"And the glorious future for us is to share in Christ's sovereign rule over the universe as celestial beings."
The faithful Christian is to share in Christ's rule:
2 Timothy 12 if we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
When our Lord has put down the kingdoms of this world, He shall reign with His saints. They share in His glorious position.
"We are created in Christ to be a new kind of divinized humanity."
The Christian is a new man, a new creation. His position is wholly heavenly, of the next world, not this one.
Positionally, we are blessed with Christ in heaven and seated with Him (Ephesians 1:3, 2:6).
In our resurrction, we shall be like Him, sons of glory, with bodies of a spiritual nature (! Cor 15:39-51).
We are a celestial aristocracy. Though we as earthly men are a little lower than the angels, in Christ we are raised to the heights of the universe and if we are faithful, we shall be raised yet further into the divine glory.
The "doctrinal checklist" advocates' position on saving faith consists of believing in a death, and a resurrection, along with other, what they would consider orthodox, information. They make doctrine the object of faith and not Christ alone. For a lack of understanding of various teachings about Jesus, the "doctrinal checklist" advocates would relegate a believer in Jesus Christ to hell, even though that believer entrusted his/her eternal destiny completely into the hands of the Savior.
The "doctrinal checklist" advocates insist that the objects of their evangelism initial at each step so that they can be saved. A typical checklist would go as follows:
Hamartiology [ ] Do you agree that you are a sinner? [ ] Do you agree that because of your sin you deserve hell?
Christology [ ] Do you believe that Jesus is fully God? [ ] Do you believe that Jesus is fully man? [ ] Do you believe that Jesus was sinless?
Soteriology [ ] Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross? [ ] Do you believe that Jesus' death was substitionary for sins? [ ] Do you believe that God raised Jesus from the dead? [ ] Do you believe that this resurrection was physical?
To this lesson in 'orthodox' doctrine, the "checklist evangelist" adds this invitation:
The Invitation [ ] Do you understand that you must assent to all this information for forgiveness? [ ] Do you repent of what you used to believe? [ ] Pray this 'sinnner's prayer' [ ] Do you believe what you said in the 'sinner's prayer' from your heart?
If the potential convert can initial at each of these places, the "doctrinal checklist" advocate would consider such a one saved.
Let me make something clear. Adherence and belief in each of these things falls short of receiving eternal life. Trust alone into Jesus alone for the gift of eternal life is not the necesary result of assent to each of these doctrines and steps to salvation. It is abundantly clear that one can check off each of these statements and still not believe Jesus' simple promise to give eternal life to the one who takes Him at His word for it.
All Christians except liberals would initial at each of the doctrinal points above, but we do not consider them all saved. Why? Because most of them are involved in some kind of works-righteousness.
Free Grace advocates point men to Christ in His promise. The "checklist evangelists" point men to a doctrinal checklist and then ask them to "pray a prayer". There is not one example in all of Bible of such a thing. Asking men and women to pray a prayer is as unscriptural as baptismal regeneration.
When Jesus evangelized, He directed men to faith into Him through His promises. He did not have them jump through theological hoops and a multitude of steps as necessary components of receiving eternal life.
The "checklist soteriologists" say I have gutted the gospel of its most significant biblical mandates.The only mandate that I can find concerning the salvation of man in the whole of the Bible is:
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31).
I have written extensively on 1 Cor 15:3ff to which Lou Martuneac has not replied to my arguments in the least.
I have proven that the disciples, the Samaratans, and others in the Gospel of John were saved apart from understanding Christ's death on the cross and apart from believing in His resurrection (they even flatly denied it!) and have shown that John wrote his gospel to show that men and women today get saved the same way those in his narrative did!. His gospel was one of the last two books written in the canon. Did he forget to include your essential biblical mandates when he expressly, precisely, and clearly presented the terms of receiveing eternal life in his gospel?
To the more information needed, "checklist evangelists", including Lou Martuneac:
I have spent countless hours developing a very strong argument on many different fronts. I have spent time in the text of Scripture and in exegesis. I have been in the Greek and have carefully made my case.
The "checklist evangelists" on the other hand have asserted much, proof-texted, and have yet to present a case for their position. Their charges keep evolving. They started with:
"Are you saying that someone can be born again apart from understanding the cross of Christ for sin?"
I showed that this was the case with OT saints, with those whom Christ ministered to in the gospels, and the disciples themselves.
Then they made it hinge on two other scriptures: 1 Cor 15:3ff and Romans 10:9, 10. I have written extensively on them. I have answered to everyone of their assertions and questions, but they have not shown the same consideration. They assert much but haven't laid out a single argument.
They quote Scripture as if it alone contradicts my position, yet you do so without an exegetical argument ensuing from the scripture. As if the mere referencing of a text proves anything!
Next they charge that I preach a cross-less gospel, which is a straw-man par excellence. It is nothing but a canard!
We have shown it to be untrue. The gospel I preach heralds passionately the deity of Christ, the death and resurrection of Christ, and numerous other details as well.
But their real contention is that I don't offer as the content of saving faith a series of doctrinal (hamartiology and Christology and soteriology) affirmations. I don't present a pile of information that must be believed in order for one to be truly born again.
I preach the gospel. THEN I present the promise of Jesus Christ to give irrevocable eternal life to all who simply believe in Him to do so.
They call this a radical departure from scripture? I trow not.
They say they frankly wonder why I preach the gospel. I am on record in all the aforementioned posts that I linked to above why I do. The elements in a gospel presentation present Christ as trustworthy, able, authoratative, and sufficient as the sole Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it. He is worthy of our faith, He is qualified as our Savior, He is able to make good on His promise, and He is trustworthy so that we can entrust our eternal destiny to Him.
Imagine the final judgment. If you are right, here is a possible scenario before Jesus Christ.
A man is standing before Jesus Christ who did not understand Christ's death on the cross for sins or His resurrection. But having read the gospel of John and hearing Jesus' promise, he entrusted his eternal destiny to Christ by believing into Jesus through His promise to guarantee eternal life to all who believe in Him for it.
When he stands before Christ, He will say to this man:
You entrusted your eternal destiny to Me. You regarded me as the authoratative, sufficient, and unique Personage who dispenses eternal life to all who believed in Me for it. You believed into me as the Resurrection and the Life.
But because you did not understand the payment I made for sins, or how my Resurrection substantiated my substitutionary sacrifice, I must now send you to hell.
You did not follow all the steps and biblical mandates that I gave in order for you to go to heaven. Yes, you believed in Me for eternal life. But you lacked ADDITIONAL faith and understanding in my Person and Work. You must now go to hell.
This is the reductio ad absurdem of their position.
Imagine someone trusting in the name of Jesus Christ but Christ letting him down! GOD FORBID!
"...and that believing ye might have life through his name" (John 20:31)
Christ's "name" is everything who He actually is. This "name" represents everything who He TRULY is. Fill in ALL true Christology here: Everything that the Bible reveals Jesus to truly be and have done and everything that Jesus truly is that is not revealed in the Bible (including His substitionary death and resurrection)
It is by virtue of His "name" (everything that He truly is and has done) that we can have eternal life. It is who He is and what He has done that has qualified Him as the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it. It is His name that gives Him the authority and the ability to dispense eternal life.
Jesus is uniquely qualified to dispense eternal life by virtue of His name. On this authority He may dispense it to whomever He wishes. It is through His wisdom and council with God the Father that they have decided to dispense eternal life to those and only those who believe in Jesus for this gift.
John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name
Acts 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
1 John 3:23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ
Matt 12:21 And in His name Gentiles will trust.
John 3:18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God
Acts 10:43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.
When we believe in the "name" of Jesus Christ for eternal life through the persuasion of the content of the gospel message, we are believing in Him in who He truly is in all capacities, whether or not we understand them or not.
Both books are collections of essays on various subject by compentent authors (Zane Hodges even contributes an article entitled "A Dispensational Understanding of Acts 2). The first book has 12 articles and the second has 17. I am half done with the first already.
I am glad that I am taking this class as it has renewed my interests in things dispensational. I am proposing a series of posts (any of the blog contributors may take up the series as well!) that deal with texts that the Amillenialists must deeply ignore or spiritualize (so that it is highly unrecognizable to the uninitiated).
In Charles Ryrie's landmark book, Dispensationalism Today, published first in 1965, he had this to say about Dispensationalists' approach to the interpretation of the Scriptures. Discussing the Dispensationalisms consistently literal or plain interpretation of the bible in general and prophecy in particular, he notes:
"And it is this very consistency - the strength of dispensational interpretation - that irks the nondispensationalist and becomes the object of his ridicule."
Noteworthy is Craig Blaising's trek to Amillennialism when he concludes "that consistently literal exegesis is inadequate to describe the esstential distinctive of dispensationalism. Development [read change] is taking place..."
Apparantly it is the proper and traditional dispensationalist's consistently literal hermeneutic that irks the Progressive Dispensationalist as well!
Our text for this first installment in this series is a passage describing the culmination of the Davidic kingdom and fulfillment by Jesus Christ:
"Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called:
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
"Therefore, behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "that they shall no longer say, 'As the LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,' but, 'As the LORD lives who brought up and led the descendants of the house of Israel from the north country and from all the countries where I had driven them.' And they shall dwell in their own land."
Notice that Jesus, as the Davidic King, "shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth."
Notice also that ethnic Judah and Israel have a future as a people distinct from the church. They will be saved and dwell safely in the land.
Notice finally that a new oath will replace and old oath. The ethnic "descendants of Israel" will speak of God's regathering of them from far countries where they will "dwell in their own land".
Do You Agree With This Quotation? XVI : The Blatant Works-Salvation of John Piper
by Antonio da Rosa
Speaking [falsely] about the Judgement Seat of Christ, John Piper says:
"Leading me to say to you... the [final] judgment is not simply to determine relative rewards. The judgment is [to] determine whether you pass through judgment into life or whether you pass through judgment into condemnation. And the evidence laid on the table in the court room will be good deeds... When you stand before the judgment... it will... be... according to works... Do you care about words? I care about biblical words!"
2 Tim 1:8-9 "God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works" NKJV
John Piper wants to distinguish between being saved based upon works and being saved "according to works". Does his distinction pan out? Not if you "care about biblical words!" 2 Tim 1:9 is emphatic. We are not saved "according to our works"!
2) In the course of John Piper's discussion in the audio file, he states that men of all ages will be "judged" according to their works to determine whether or not someone goes to heaven or goes to hell. By so doing, he blatantly disregards:
John 5:24 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." NKJV
You will note in the audio file that he quotes this verse, but ENDS it after "everlasting life". Why? Because what follows clearly contradicts his position. The one who has believed into Jesus HAS ALREADY passed from death into life and SHALL NOT come into judgment (concerning eternal destiny, or judgment for one's sins).
Does God need to determine whether or not one goes to heaven based upon a judgment "according to [our] works"? This is patently absurd. Does He not know who has already passed form death unto life? Does He not already know who are His children (2 Tim 2:19)? Why must he subject His children to a judgement "according to works" to determine if they are going to heaven or hell? Such a notion blatantly disregards numerous scriptures.
3) John Piper does not distinguish between a judgment exclusively of believers to determine rights to honors, privileges, and rewards based upon our merit as determined by our deeds as stewards, servants, and children of God and the Great White Throne judgment, which comes at the end of the Millennial phase of God's eternal Kingdom, where men and women will be given their day in court, judged according to their works, but condemned because their names are not written in the Book of Life, in other words, sent into the Lake of Fire because they do not possess life.
4) John Piper is a master of theological sophistry and casuistry. When he tries to meld evident theological polarities, the result is absurdity. God is not going to subject His children to a judgment "according to works" to determine whether or not they enter His kingdom. This would contradict John 5:24. Based solely upon faith alone into Jesus Christ, men and women certainly avoid the final judgment of the Great White throne. Christians will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ (Greek: Bema).
5) John Piper disregards 1 Cor 3:11ff:
11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. NKJV
In John Piper's position, those who do not have good deeds will be cast into hell. But according to Paul, there will be Christians saved apart from any consideration of good deeds. Why, there will be those whose life's works will be compeltely burned up when they have been subjected to the fire of that "Day"! Yet, although they "will suffer loss," they will indeed "be saved".
John Piper is the master of theological slight of hand. Out of one side of his mouth he expresses that final salvation is not based upon works, yet out of the other side, he pronounces doom to all who cannot withstand God's final judgment which will be based "according to works"!
He has packaged the soteriology of Rome and feeds it to his unsuspecting flock couched in evangelical terms. He is a false prophet, subject to God's anathema, leading people down the broad path that terminates in destruction.
Please pray for the young Christians who fall prey to his deceptive words.
I had a discussion with an Arminian last evening after the evening service. I found out that he denied eternal security when he mentioned a British preacher, David Pawson, who preaches a monstrous false gospel of works righteousness.
I am always careful about getting into debates and I especially dislike getting emotionall involved in them. Earlier in the week I had debated somebody who was an Ultradispensationalist, a fan of EW Bullinger. That was tedious. However, the subject of eternal security is one I could not pass.
The man said he had always believed that a Christian could be lost. That was a bad sign. If that is the case, he is probably a lost man. Arminianism is a different gospel, make no mistake. If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for a luxury apartment, you are not going to get a luxury apartment. If you believe in Christ for a conditional offer of eternal life, you will not get a conditional offer of eternal life. You will leave with nothing, as Anne Robinson says.
So unlike other debates I have with Christians over eschatology or ecclesiology, this was really serious. I kept the discussion going. I also made it clear that we were not simply talking about a minor doctrinal point. We were talking about two different gospels. Either one believed in the true gospel or a different gospel. Maybe that hurt the guy a bit, but I had to make clear the urgency of the issue. He took it well though.
I was quite pleased that I did not get ruffled. All these endless deebates in the blogsphere meant that I was ready for every single possible passage he might bring up. Even if he did not find my arguments convincing he saw that I had an answer for every passage on he could raise on the topic.
The emphasis in my posts aren't for the purpose of creating discord among brethren. They are formulated to give a perspective I would bet my life on. As for the series I am in now, the emphasis is on the clear proclamation of the precise and accurate terms of receiving eternal life. Evangelism is to be targeted. Anything that we say in a gospel presentation to the lost must be so tailored to point men to a very specific faith: their trust in Jesus to irrevocably guarantee their eternal well-being.
Believing that Jesus died on the cross, believing that Jesus is God, believing that Jesus rose from the dead are beliefs that fall short of a simple trust in Christ to inviolably guarantee one's eternal destiny, although they may be preparatory in convincining one that Jesus is authorized, able, and sufficient to guarantee one's eternal felicity.
My posts have been constructed to give practical insight on evangelism and what our goal in it should be. If somone leaves our evangelistic presentations uncertain that they have appropriated irrevocable eternal life, we have failed to point them to faith in Christ through His gratuitous promise which guarantees eternal security to the believer in Him.
---------- Most of us deplore the efforts made by Lordship people to add provisos to the message of faith in Christ. According to them, true faith has not occurred if it is not accompanied by surrender or by a commitment to live for God. We rightly reject such ideas.
But in our own circles, there is a tendency to add theological information to our message of faith. [It has been] point[ed] out that the disciples who did believe in Jesus did not understand the significance or necessity of His death and resurrection, according to John 20:9. And this was true despite the fact that John the Baptist announced Him as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29). If we require an understanding of these truths before faith in Christ can be valid, we are obviously requiring more than the Gospel of John does.
Let me say this: All forms of the gospel that require greater content to faith in Christ than the Gospel of John requires, are flawed. Evangelism based on such premises will also be flawed, because we will be tempted to test professions of faith in terms of the doctrines we think must be believed. Instead we should be focusing on whether an individual believes that Jesus has given him eternal life.
Evangelism, therefore, is intended to bring men and women to the place where they believe that Jesus guarantees their eternal destiny. If a person does this and we insist on more than that, we will be guilty of seeking to invalidate the simple exercise of faith that really does bring salvation.
Even in the grace movement, we are sorely tempted to make the gospel more complicated than God makes it. We can hardly bring ourselves to believe that a man who is largely ignorant of evangelical theology, yet genuinely trusts Christ for his eternal well-being, is truly saved. We have every reason to be embarrassed by this tendency on our part. ---------- Zane Clark Hodges, How to Lead People to Christ: Part One / The Content of Our Message, Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Autumn 2000, Vol. 13:25 (Emphasis Mine)