[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)

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Answering of Many a Canard

by Antonio da Rosa

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:

http://unashamedofgrace.blogspot.com/2006/08/logical-vs-theological-necessity.html

The disciples were saved:

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.

Antonio

14 Comments:

  • I already agree that a person can be saved without understanding the Cross, as demonstrated by the disciples. But remember Antonio, a person in the modern age who has believed the promise of irrevocable eternal life without understanding the Death and Resurrection, though saved, is extremely susceptible to Calvinism and Arminianism, because the person doesn't have enough info about the sufficiency of the Cross to counteract those two theological camps. Remember how quickly Peter and the others lost faith in Jesus' promise? They misunderstood Jesus' interaction with the Rich Young Ruler. Peter fell back into a works-salvation mentality. Peter no longer believed the promise, and even asked Jesus who could be saved if the ruler couldn't. But after the Resurrection, Peter was rock solid on eternal security.

    A saved person with a full understanding of the Cross has more protection and ammo against Calvinism and Arminianism. To the Arminian who counters him, he can easily counter that Jesus has paid for all sins that people would ever commit, and therefore always makes good on His promise.

    After all, "He died for us, that whether we watch or sleep, we should live together with Him" (1 Thess 5:10).

    By Anonymous danny, at Monday, July 23, 2007 7:51:00 PM  

  • So Yes, everything we say in our presentation must point people to believe Jesus in His promise. Again, my presentation is just like yours. Expounding on the Cross and answering their questions about it can help them remain firm in the simplicity of the Gospel, and give them the necessary armor when the Calvinists and Arminians attack.

    By Anonymous danny, at Monday, July 23, 2007 7:59:00 PM  

  • Daniel,

    My issue is not with the gospel presentation. It is with the invitation.

    Furthermore, once a man or woman is saved, I hope that the evangelist takes it upon himself to fulfill Christ's Great Commission by making such a one a disciple, so that he may be grounded, and so as to not be easy picking for cults and isms.

    But the message is not the problem I have with brothers in the Free Grace movement, it is the invitation to believe. We should make it as clear and simple as Christ did. If anyone ought to know better, it is grace people.

    We have had enough of Lordship Salvation's confusing invitations. We ought not to make ours confusing either.

    But don't put the car before the horse. It is when the Holy Spirit comes in that He will be of help to guide through His word and our discipleship efforts. It should not be our duty to give a theological lesson to an unsaved man who does not yet have the capacity to understand spiritual things.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Monday, July 23, 2007 8:20:00 PM  

  • Hi Antonio,
    Since you keep turning the clock back to the time of the disciples in statements like these:

    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.

    Let me ask you:
    Why is faith in the name of Jesus for eternal life necessary? I mean .... in the same way that the OT saints didn't even know the Messiah's name was "Jesus", the disciples did not know all there was to know about the coming crucifixion and its implications. So why do we need to consider the name of the Messiah today? Can't we be on the same terms as the OT saints - if we are on the same terms as the disciples were pre-crucifixion, pre-ressurection, pre-Holy Spirit?

    :~) Just a thought, dispensationalist that I am.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Tuesday, July 24, 2007 9:11:00 AM  

  • What's a "canard"? ;~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at Tuesday, July 24, 2007 9:12:00 AM  

  • Never mind.

    Main Entry: ca·nard
    Pronunciation: k&-'närd also -'när
    Function: noun
    Etymology: French, literally, duck; in sense 1, from Middle French vendre des canards à moitié to cheat, literally, to half-sell ducks
    1 a : a false or unfounded report or story; especially : a fabricated report b : a groundless rumor or belief
    2 : an airplane with horizontal stabilizing and control surfaces in front of supporting surfaces; also : a small airfoil in front of the wing of an aircraft that increases the aircraft's stability

    By Blogger Rose~, at Tuesday, July 24, 2007 9:15:00 AM  

  • "Does this inevitably lead to disparagement of Christ's deity, cross, and resurrection? God forbid."

    But it wouldn't really matter if anyone believed in those things or not, just so long as they believed in Jesus -- which, of course, is an oxymoron statement.

    Regardless, I do find it odd that you mention "checklist evangelism" and then demand a belief in eternal security and a full sense of assurance at the very initial point of faith for one to be saved. Your construction would be thus: it is ***NOT*** necessary to believe in the deity of Christ, but it is necessary to believe in eternal security to be saved. It is ***NOT*** necessary to believe in the resurrection of Christ, but one ***MUST*** have assurance at the initial moment of faith to be saved. Very odd.

    By Blogger Gojira, at Tuesday, July 24, 2007 9:27:00 AM  

  • Rose,

    I am afraid that "feel" is the operative word.

    Last night in class we were discussing the "at-will" interpretation found in many home bible studies today. The group facilitator asks around the room:

    "What does this verse say to you? What do you think it means? How does this make you feel?"

    The context was the "complimentary hermeneutic" of Progressive Dispensationalism, but it can be equally applicable in this case. My teacher quoted the late Henry Morris saying that such a practice is "a pooling of ignorance".

    This is something that you really must think about:

    You said you read Tom Stegal and Lou Martuneac's comments and responses. In both of Tom's articles, he does not provide a single biblical argument or exposition of scripture that proves his point. Yet you were on an ecstatic high, testifying, "Amen! Amen!"

    He rather quotes from the teachings of men. This is no different than the Calvinists and Reformed people referencing the Westminster Confession instead of the Bible when they make their arguments.

    Furthermore, Lou Martuneac does the same thing. He was all assertion without a shred of support. He balked, he charged, he condemned, but if you read him carefully, in ALL of his words, he does not express a single biblical argument for his charge of heresy. Yet you found yourself in much agreement with what he said.

    This should be quite telling. A red flag should go immediately up! But let me tell you why the red flag does not go up: it is the result of being set in one's ways, being reactionary based upon one's feelings on the matter and one's tradition. Questioning someone's feelings and tradition offends deeply, and many times our reactions stem, not from sense and logic, but from the recesses of our affections. To question our feelings that stem from our set ways and tradition is to question those stalwarts who handed them down to us!

    When my brother first got saved, he used to come around family gatherings and talk about Jesus in a way we were not accustomed to. We come from a very traditional Portuguese Roman Catholic background. Our traditional set-ways made us all immediately reactionary to him. We didn't have a substantive response to him. We said that his teaching was against what we felt was the One True Church.

    He was ready to show scripture and support what he said, but becuase of our handed down traditions, which we will fight for on an emotional playing field, we were not willing to truly consider any case that he would have made.

    And that is the rub: when we are set in our ways and traditions having them handed down to us by those who we trust and love, we are immediately disposed and inclined to be reactionary when one questions our feelings, and as a result, we are close minded, stiff-necked, and hard-hearted, not willing to even consider the evidence. Instead we will respond with our emotions rather than substance.

    I believe that the scenario with my brother has many parallels to this current situation.

    People must remove themselves from their "feelings" and emotions, and look at the issues dispassionately. They must allow the arguments and expositions of scripture to be truly considered.

    I have been guilty of reactionism based upon my feelings, emotion, and traditions. I have been guilty of close-mindedness and a unwillingness to consider someone else's appeals.

    But we must guard against this at all price. What we reject and dismiss without truly considering, blinded by our emotions and tradition, may very well be the truth. It is true for the Calvinist, and true to the FGer.

    Why do we believe as we do? If we cannot withstand question of our beliefs, or if they cannot hold up under scrutiny, the basis for those beliefs are weak. If we cannot give a well-reasoned argument in favor of what we believe (in disagreement with Bobby Grow) these beliefs are not justified.

    Beliefs and positions ought not to be based upon "how we feel" but upon a considerate appeal to the Scriptures.

    Your forever brother,

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Tuesday, July 24, 2007 3:13:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Tuesday, July 24, 2007 3:22:00 PM  

  • Antonio:

    Your wrote, "Furthermore, Lou Martuneac does the same thing. He was all assertion without a shred of support. He balked, he charged, he condemned, but if you read him carefully, in ALL of his words, he does not express a single biblical argument for his charge of heresy. Yet you found yourself in much agreement with what he said."

    What you wrote (I put in bold) is the kind of recklessness that gets you banned at other sites.

    If I did use the word "heresy," I will acknowledge it. At this time I don't recall having used the word.

    If you can't produce that quotation from me, then publicly withdraw it.


    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Tuesday, July 24, 2007 3:28:00 PM  

  • Lou, if you are going to post on this site again, you will refrain from the disingenuous, pejorative, and totally inaccurate label of my theology.

    I will not hold my breath waiting for you to give up one of your favorite "theological cuss words." If my position were as weak as yours, I wouldn’t give it up either.

    But you will not come over here and deal out that grotesquely erroneous and deliberately misleading verbiage.

    Your label has been a very convenient cudgel with which to bludgeon your theological opponents whose attributes and theology offend you. But make no mistake about it, such activity will be given account for at Christ's Bema.

    And furthermore, to address your question. You do not have to use the word to imply it. My comment (that you have charged me with heresy) is a summation of your charges against me.

    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that you consider my position that the cross and resurrection are not the conscious and necessary objects/content to saving faith, and my position that a man may be born again apart from an understanding of Christ's death for sin, is heresy:

    Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source
    her·e·sy /ˈhɛrəsi/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[her-uh-see] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
    –noun, plural -sies.
    1. opinion or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine, esp. of a church or religious system.
    2. the maintaining of such an opinion or doctrine.
    3. Roman Catholic Church. the willful and persistent rejection of any article of faith by a baptized member of the church.
    4. any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs, customs, etc.

    By Blogger Antonio, at Tuesday, July 24, 2007 4:11:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Tuesday, July 24, 2007 9:47:00 PM  

  • The ruling stands, Lou.

    I preach the gospel often. When I do preach the gospel, I never fail to include the cross of Christ.

    Your insistance in using that illegitamate label will get every post that contains it deleted.

    You may go preach to your buddies, and pat each other on the back, thinking you score a direct hit with your pejorative, disingenuous, shameful, and deliberately misleading label. But when Christ comes, He will "both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts" (1 Cor 4:5).

    By Blogger Antonio, at Tuesday, July 24, 2007 10:03:00 PM  

  • Hi Antonio,

    Wow... I cannot even begin to explain how much sense this post made to me. I'm sure I will be re-reading it and re-reading it over the next few weeks.

    Just last year, I was invited to a GES conference in McDonough, GA (I am from Northeast Atlanta [and very disappointed that there are no FG churches here!!!!!!!!... !!!!!!!!]), so I took my friends up on the offer. It wasn't too long before that that I was introduced and open to FG teaching. But anyway, during the conference we broke up into small groups and went to whichever class we wished to attend. During this class, I asked a question, and to my disappointment, a few people smirked, and even one guy was a bit of an ass about it. My statement/question went something like, "I understand and agree that works has absolutely no part in our salvation, and that it is by faith alone... but my question is, faith in what??". As the poorly disguised laughter in the back of the class began to fade, some incredibly intelligent man said loudly "faith in Jesus!! What else?!?". I couldn't believe the response I had received, and I couldn't believe that the leader didn't ask for me to expand on my thoughts, but instead pointed to another person with a "real" question.

    Anyway, although they may have thought I was the one being a smart ass, I was completely serious. Witnessing to an unbeliever has been my biggest struggle!!! And that should not be so!! The reason it is such a struggle for me is because I have no idea how much information I must share with an unbeliever! How much is enough?? How much information about Jesus's life must an unbeliever know before the "salvation" is considered "legitimate"?!???

    This post has not only confirmed what I already thought to be true (through using examples in scripture!! woohoo!!), but it has answered so many other questions I've not thought to ask.

    Anyway, thanks so much for your post! Truly amazing! (But for the record, I will constantly be putting it to the test. I constantly test everything.)

    By Blogger setapart, at Thursday, July 26, 2007 4:37:00 PM  

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