[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)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

"Checklist Evangelism"

by Antonio da Rosa

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.

The Difference Between a Gospel Presentation and the Offer (Promise) of Eternal Life

The Use and Abuse of the Gospel Message

Another Look at 1 Cor 15:3ff / The Pauline Gospel

I have written about Romans 10:9, 10 to which Lou Martunieac still have not answered to my arguments or questions:

Does Romans 10:9, 10 Teach that One Must Understand the Resurrection for Eternal Life?

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?

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

Has the Gospel of John failed to specifically and precisely express the terms of receiving eternal life? If so, John failed in his purpose (John 20:31)!

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.

"Checklist Evangelists":

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.

Antonio

23 Comments:

  • To those who do "checklist evangelism":

    What I bring out in your position, is that you are pointing men to faith in the wrong things. You are pointing them to hamartiology, Christology, and soteriology as the objects of saving faith. The information that you deem is the contents of saving faith are not untrue doctrine, neither are they non-beneficial to the persuasion of a lost man to entrust their eternal destiny to Jesus Christ. Nor is the information unessential to the growing Christian into sanctification. The point of the matter is believing the gospel as articulated by Paul in 1 Cor 15:3ff falls short of receiving eternal life.

    The point of the matter is that the men and women who are the objects of our evangelism can initial at each step of your doctrinal checklist and still remain unsaved. Why?

    The assent to the deity of Christ, the death on the cross, and the resurrection does not necessarily lead faith in Christ alone through His promise, whereby He is the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it.

    The basis of the Free Grace position is clarification, specificity, clarity, and precision in what actually the terms of eternal life are.

    They obviously cannot be the beliefs that Jesus is God, that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and that Jesus rose again from the dead, becuase all Christians (except liberals) believe these things yet we would not consider them all saved.

    We advocate evangelism as Jesus and Paul did. They couched the promise of eternal life (in other words the terms to receive eternal life, which is faith into Jesus Christ in His promise) in the message of the gospel, which has as one of its purposes, to persuade and convince its hearers that Jesus Christ is worthy, sufficient, authoratative, qualified, and trustworthy to receive our faith in for eternal life.

    There is but only one object of faith which is the irreducible minimum to be believed: Jesus Christ in His promise of eternal life to the believer.

    A brother in the Lord, who disagrees with my position wrote on another blog:

    Just so you know where I am coming from on this, I do not believe that we should focus on a “bare minimum” Gospel. God the Holy Spirit uses us to provide information regarding Christ and His work on the cross and then the Holy Spirit uses that information to convict the unbeliever. We must be prepared to answer all the unbelievers questions regarding salvation and let the Holy Spirit do His work.

    This is where the misconceptions of the Free Grace position come into play. Where have you read that we do not focus in on the "information regarding Christ and His work on the cross"? It is sad after spilling so much internet ink and so many hours at the keyboard that this misconception continues to be perpetuated.

    Those in Free Grace theology FOCUS VERY CLOSELY on Christ's death and resurrection, His work and His Person when doing evangelism. We answer all the unbelievers questions regarding salvatoin and we let the Holy Spirit do His work.

    But, even though we focus very hard on Christ, His work and Person, we do not point to the doctrinal checklist as the content of saving faith.

    We FOCUS on the gospel message, but we TARGET our evangelistic hearers on Christ's promise. We POINT men SPECIFICALLY to FAITH in Christ in His PROMISE, which is a guarantee of eternal security to all who merely take Him at His word for it.

    It frankly surpises me how much the Free Grace position is continually misaligned, mischaracterized, and misconceived.

    I hope now there can at last be some clarity to those who have either intentionally or unintentionally misrepresented the Free Grace position.

    Free Gracers FOCUS IN ON THE GOSPEL MESSAGE, the DEITY of CHRIST, the DEATH and RESURRECTION, but TARGET Christ in His promise as the single, simple object of saving faith.

    Now you may not agree with my position.

    But it should be apparent to all that I do not disparage Christ's deity, His crosswork, or His resurrection. I highly herald it, as does each advocate of Free Grace theology, focusing very hard on it in evangelism, as each advocate of Free Grace theology does.

    But we don't point men to doctrine to believe as the TARGET of our evangelism. The TARGET is faith into Jesus Christ in His promise.

    Grace and peace to you,

    Antonio da Rosa

    By Blogger Antonio, at Thursday, July 12, 2007 6:56:00 PM  

  • Antonio:

    I have written extensively on 1 Cor 15:3ff to which Lou Martuneac has not replied to my arguments in the least.

    I find this ironic for two reasons:

    1) I told you we were done.

    2) You were asked one question by Kevl three times since July 5 and, as far as I know, you have not addressed it. See
    http://unashamedofgrace.blogspot.com/2007/07/reasons-for-my-latest-series-of-posts.html

    Allow me to repost for Kevl, his question to you.

    Does a sinner need to be aware and or agree with the fact they are a sinner in order to be saved?

    Please take a moment. It only needs a yes or no. If you want to expand try to be concise.

    Thanks,


    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Thursday, July 12, 2007 8:17:00 PM  

  • Lou, asking for a yes or no on a theological question is just rotten.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, July 13, 2007 12:33:00 AM  

  • Antonio, this is an excellent post.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, July 13, 2007 12:34:00 AM  

  • Antonio,

    Just out of curosity, would you define what you mean by "name" when you post "believe in the name of Jesus"? Thanks

    By Blogger Gojira, at Friday, July 13, 2007 2:46:00 AM  

  • Hi Antonio,

    You said: "We POINT men SPECIFICALLY to FAITH in Christ in His PROMISE, which is a guarantee of eternal security to all who merely take Him at His word for it."

    Please correct me if I'm missunderstanding you, but seems like what you consider to be the crux of salvation is whether or not one receives eternal life.

    So if you consider the diety of Christ a doctrine that is not included in what a person believes in to, then are you not adding a doctrine yourself when you include eternal life? So isn't the "boiled down", bare bones requirement for salvation, and even eternal security, belief in Christ, not belief in Christ plus belief in Christ for eternal life.

    Consider the blind man that Jesus healed in John 9.

    John 9:34-38
    They answered him, "You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?" So they put him out. Jesus heard that they had put him out, and finding him, He said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" He answered, "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?" Jesus said to him, "You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you." And he said, "Lord, I believe." And he worshiped Him."

    First question: is the man saved? Yes, he "believed in Christ."

    Second question: if the man is saved does he have eternal life? Yes, according to John 3:16, all who believe have eternal life.

    Third question: did Jesus say anything to the man about eternal life? No, He just told the man who He was/is.

    Fourth question: so what was the man believing in Christ for? I'm still not sure how fully answer this question.

    You often said that the book of John was written explicitly for evanglistic purposes and you have often quoted this verse:

    Joh 20:31
    "but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."

    First question: what does John want the reader to believe? That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

    Second question: what does that belief provide for the the one who believes? Life in His name.

    Third question: does John qualify "life" in any way, ie, is it "eternal"? No, he just says, "life".

    Fourth question: what is the purpose of the book of John? That the reader would believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that through that belief they would have life.

    Doesn't sound like the purpose you have been promoting, Antonio.

    Lets look at John 8.

    Jesus is talking to the Pharisees and as He is talking to them, many believed in Him.

    John 8:30
    "As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him."

    First question: did Jesus tell them anything about eternal life? No, not that is recorded for us.

    Second question: what was Jesus saying to them? He was talking about the Father, His Father, who testifies about Him and how that they would die in their sins unless they believed He was from God. And He was telling them how He always does the "things that are pleasing to Him".

    Third question: what did those who believed in Him, believe in Him for? Hmmm, if I said it was for eternal life, I would have to assume it, because the text doesn't tell us.

    So if John's purpose to get people to believe in Christ for eternal life, then why wouldn't he explicitly state that they believed in Him for eternal life? Why did he leave it saying "many came to believe in Him"?

    Lastly, let's look at John 12.

    John 12:36
    "While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light." These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them."

    First question: what does Jesus say is the purpose of believing in the Light? "That you may become sons of Light."

    Second question: does Jesus say anything to them about believing in Him (the Light) for eternal life? No.

    Third question: so if someone was to believe in Christ so that they could become a son of Light, are they saved? Not according to your premise, Antonio. They would have to believe in Christ for eternal life inorder to posses all the other things that come with that faith.

    So let me repeat my question to you. Aren't you adding something to what people must have faith in when you attach "eternal life" to the equation?"

    In Christ,
    Ten Cent

    By Anonymous Ten Cent, at Friday, July 13, 2007 8:05:00 AM  

  • Dys:

    You wrote, "Lou, asking for a yes or no on a theological question is just rotten."

    1) I am not the originator of the question. Kevl has asked Antonio to reply on that since July 5.

    2) It is not inappropriate to ask a closed ended question. Antonio can expand on his answer if he likes. The question Kevl has tried to get Antonio to repsond to three times in over a week (without success) is fair and will be a very defining moment.


    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Friday, July 13, 2007 12:01:00 PM  

  • “Checklist Evanglelism” gives as the content of faith a series of ascending beliefs starting in Hamartiology, progressing through Christology, and ending in Soteriology. All of which can be assented to without receiveing eternal life. It just doesn’t necessarily follow, as we see Christendom at large believe orthodox doctrines about Jesus and remain unsaved.

    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, July 13, 2007 1:28:00 PM  

  • Lou,

    You ask the question:

    Does a sinner need to be aware and or agree with the fact they are a sinner in order to be saved?

    My answer is, "No." A lost man does not need to be aware or agree that he is a sinner in order to be saved.

    Do I not rightly call your view "checklist evangelism"? What you provide for the objects of your evangelism is an ascending list of affirmations that he must initial until he finally gets to the point where you have him pray to receive Christ, providing he has actually assented to your plethora of itemized doctrines starting at hamartiology, progressing through Christology, and ending in soteriology.

    Do you have a proof text (seeing that is all you have been contributing) that states that, "You must be aware and/or agree that you are a sinner or you cannot be saved"?

    I am aware that believing one is a sinner can be a precursor to the faith in Christ that receives eternal life. From the point of view of the lost person, there may be many, or few precursors, or, as I like to call them, logical necessities to come to faith in Christ for eternal life.

    Eternal life is a gift that Christ offers to man through His promise. He is the single, authorized, worthy, able, sufficient, and trustworthy Personage who can offer this gift. No one else can legitimately offer it.

    As a gift, it only need be received in order to appropriate.

    There are at least two ways that can be used in order to invite, or offer someone a gift.

    #1) Touch upon their need of the gift.

    #2) Touch upon the appealing nature of the gift itself to possess.

    or of course a combination of both.

    John 4:10
    10 Jesus answered and said to her, "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

    The gift of God, eternal life, is an appealing and desirable gift. When it is heralded as an absolutely free gift, men and woman may be persuaded to receive that gift based upon its appeal.

    Jesus, being the Evangelist Par Excellence, could use a variety of ways, based upon the situation and the personality of the ones He addressed, to present the gift that only He offers.

    I want to give you the link to an article that discusses logical and theological necessity.

    Please read this link so that you can have at least an idea of where I am coming from.

    Here is the link:

    Logical vs Theological Necessity

    It is a very short post, that you could read in about 2 minutes or less. My position is that:

    understanding your sinfulness
    understanding the death of Christ
    understanding one's sinfulness
    understanding Christ's deity
    understanding Christ's physical resurrection
    understanding Christ's miracles
    understanding Christ's virgin birth
    being repentant

    and other considerations, viewed from the perspective of the subject of our evangelism, can be logical necessities to the one theologically necessary requirement to salvation.

    Yet, there is only one theological necessity to bring eternal life: taking Jesus Christ at His word in His promise to guarantee eternal life to the believer.

    But there may be varying logical necessities, based upon the subjective nature of the personality and mind to which Christ's claims are presented, which would need to be met in order for faith in Christ to occur. In other words, faith in Christ could be precluded by these necessities not being met.

    For instance, an atheist would have alot of logical necessities to come to faith into Jesus Christ for eternal life. Someone who has grown up in a Christian home may not have many or any.

    For another look at logical vs. theological necessity, please refer to this post:

    Acts 17 and Repentance

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, July 13, 2007 1:45:00 PM  

  • Hi Angain Antonio,

    I really am curious, Antonio, if you would please define what you think the scriptures mean when they say the "name of Jesus" Thanks again.

    By Blogger Gojira, at Friday, July 13, 2007 1:57:00 PM  

  • Doug,

    When you believe in the name of Jesus, you believe on One who is God, who has died and rose again, who was born of a virgin, who did walk on water, who ascended into heaven bodily, etc. EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT AWARE, UNDERSTAND, OR BELIEVE THESE THINGS.

    My daughter believes in me as her "Dad". As her dad I work at a Costco warehouse where I am a merchandiser/forklift driver. She doesn't know what I do there. She doesn't understand. She may even believe that I own the whole store and run it myself, or any number of misconceptions.

    My daughter believes in me as her "Dad", as the one who provides for her, feeds her, clothes her, shelters her, etc. When she believes in me, she is believing in a man who is a merchant at a Costco, whether or not she knows what I do, have done, or has wild misconceptions about me.

    She has trusted me as her dad and I provide for her. The means by which I can provide for her is not the issue. The issue is whether or not she is going to trust me as her dad, trust me for her well-being, and I will provide for her, or is she going to doubt in me, and worry, and be anxious about where she is going to find her well-being.

    Jesus purchased a gift with His death and ratified it with his resurrection. He offers that gift freely to the one who entrusts his/her eternal well-being to Him. To understand how he is able to offer this gift and how He has the authority to do so will encourage trust in Him for the gift. But it is not NECESSARY to believe or know those things in order to receive the gift.

    "Dad" offers physical well-being.
    "Jesus" offers spiritual well-being.

    "Dad" can be mis-characterized yet the daughter still can put faith in "Dad"
    "Jesus" can be mis-characterized and yet the lost can still put faith in "Jesus"

    The name "Dad" contains all that "Dad" actually is: Costco merchandiser, forklift driver, check writer, food preparer, laundry washer, etc.
    The name "Jesus" contains all that "Jesus" actually is: God, crucified sacrifice, resurrected one, High Priest, Advocate, King of Israel, etc.

    To believe on "Dad" is to believe in the one who is the Costco merchandiser, check writer, food preparer, laundry washer, etc, even if the one believing in "Dad" does not understand these things.
    To believe on "Jesus" is to believe in the God-man, the crucified Savior, the Resurrected One, the High Priest, Advocate, and King of Israel, etc.

    Remember, a child can be saved. It is not complicated like Lou and the "Checklist Evangelists" make it.

    Mark 10:15
    Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.NKJV

    Doug,

    When we believe in the name of Jesus, we are relying upon Him for our eternal well-being. His name conists of everything that Jesus is, whether explained in the Bible or not, whether known and/or understood or not. Jesus has made a name for Himself by various means. The significance of that reputation for the reception of eternal life is that Jesus, as the Christ in the Johannine sense, is the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, July 13, 2007 2:11:00 PM  

  • Ten Cent,

    thanks for your comment.

    1) Whenever we say we, "believe in someone," content is implied in the context. If I were to say, "I believe in the babysitter," in the context of going out for the evening, you would understand me to be using that phrase as short-hand for the proposition, "I believe that the babysitter is qualified, will do a good job, and take care of my kids, etc."

    I am very specific in the content of saving faith, so was Jesus. The content is the promise of Jesus. Jesus promises the one who believes in Him to be eternally secure.

    Thus, when he says, "Most assuredly I say to you, whosoever believes in Me has everlasting life", the phrase "believes in Me" is, like the babysitter illustration above, shorthand for a proposition. This is His promise. To believe in Him is to "Believe that He gives me irrevocable eternal life when I take Him at His word in His promise".

    This is explicitly shown in Jesus' discourse with Martha:

    John 11:25-27

    25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

    27 She said to Him, "Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world."
    NKJV

    Jesus states unequivocally that as the Resurrection, everyone who believes in Him, even if they die, they will live.

    Jesus states unequivocally that as the Life, whoever lives and believes in Him will never die.

    Jesus then asks:

    "Do you belive this?"

    He does not say

    "Do you believe in Me?"

    The "this" is his assertion that He guarantees eternal life and resurrection to the one who believes in Him for it.

    When Martha answers "Yes, I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God" this mirrors Johns purpose statement in John 20:30, 31.

    Isn't it odd that she would answer the way she did when He asked her "Do you believe this?"

    Not when you compare it to the purpose of John's gospel in John 20:31.

    You see, to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, is to believe "this". And as we have already noted, the "this" is the assertion or proposition that Jesus Christ is the Guarantor of eternal life and resurrection to the believer in Him.

    You state that salvation comes from believing "in Him" or in other words, faith in Jesus Christ. I agree with that statement. But as we know, there must be a specific content to that faith involved.

    Asking the question, "What did the man believe in Christ for," you say, "I'm still not sure how fully answer this question."

    It is legitamate to say "I believe in Jesus" and mean "I believe that He existed". We speak that way all the time. Or I can say "I believe in Jesus" and mean "I believe that He will answer my prayers".

    But neither of us would agree that the content of that faith "in Him", consisting of "His existence" of "the answer to prayer", would bring eternal life. At least I hope you would agree that to believe Jesus existed is not saving!

    When we speak of "faith in" someone, it is shorthand. There is implied content to that faith, that is usually picked up by the context.

    For instance. If I said "I believe in the airline pilot" or equally I could say "I trust the airline pilot" when I was talking to a friend on my way to a chartered flight to the Bahamas, the implied content could be supplied by assent to propositions about that pilot:

    I believe that the airline pilot is a professional, highly trained plane operator, skilled in flying, troubleshooting, emergency issues, flight safety, etc. I believe that he is able to conduct affairs sufficiently so that I will reach my destination.

    I submit that to "believe in Him", in other words, to believe in Jesus, is to believe the "this" which He asks Martha if she believes. In other words, to believe in Jesus is to believe that He is the Guarantor of irrevocable eternal life to the believer in Him for it.

    Listen. Nefarious and ethereal and ambiguous beliefs about or in Jesus will not bring salvation. Specific content is required, as I am sure you would agree according to my examples above.

    The specific content of saving faith is the "this".

    Jesus asked Martha if she believed "this".

    Jesus told the woman at the well "If you knew the gift of God and who it says to you, 'Give Me a drink'..."

    It really is that simple. There is no creed to learn, no doctrinal hoops to jump through.

    One simply must trust Jesus in His promise to impart eternal security to the one who takes Him at His word for it.

    John's purpose is rock-solid, and his terms by which one receives eternal life are clear. He everywhere states it. You are basing your argument on silence. Jesus Christ is clear throughout the gospel of John what the specific content of faith is. We only have a minute and miniscule portion of his engagements and discourses with the players in John's gospel. They can be read in a matter of minutes! Surely they were much longer than is what is recorded for us by John.

    The bottom line is that John did his job. He showed, in the discourse of Jesus with Martha, that an equation exists between the terms "the Christ" and the "Son of God" with import "The Guarantor of eternal life to the believer". For John, the Christ, the Son of God, is the one who guarantees eternal life to the believer in Him.

    Jesus asks Martha, do you believe "this"?

    Martha answers, "Yes, I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God." For John, to believe that Jesus is the Christ, is to believe "this".

    And thus throughout his gospel, when one believes that Jesus is the Christ, or the Son of God, we know that they believed Jesus as the guarantor of eternal life, for this is the content that John has imported into those terms which makes belief in those propositions salvific.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, July 13, 2007 2:38:00 PM  

  • By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, July 13, 2007 2:45:00 PM  

  • Antonio:

    Thanks for answering Kevl's question.

    BTW, I did reply to you, with a defining question, at my site in the Free Grace: Fractured... thread.


    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Friday, July 13, 2007 4:44:00 PM  

  • "(3)EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT AWARE, (2)UNDERSTAND, OR (1)BELIEVE THESE THINGS."

    (1)So you can somehow believe in the name and yet not believe in Who that name represents? Very odd, given that you used a personal example, as your daughter would already understand something as to what dad is as well as his function. In relation to what you wrote above, she could believe in you as dad and not believe in you as dad. Very odd.

    (2)Your daughter would already understand something as to who you are as dad, otherwise, there would be no reason to trust you as dad. In relation to what you wrote above, she would be trusting you as dad without understanding that you are dad. That, however, would not equal out since believing in you as dad presupposes that she understands that you are dad. In like manner, how could one ever say they believe in Christ as savior without knowing that He is that savior they believe in? Very odd.

    (3)How can she not be aware that you are her dad if from the moment of her birth you have always acted as dad to her? Very odd. In relation to Christ, just how can someone believe in Him yet not be aware of who He is since His name is indicitive of who He is? If you say that we are to believe in His name, and yet turn around and say you may not be aware of Who the Person of that name is, then just how can you say they have believed in that name given, as you say, they might not be aware of it? Very odd.

    "To believe on "Jesus" is to believe in the God-man, the crucified Savior, the Resurrected One, the High Priest, Advocate, and King of Israel, etc."

    And there is the rub, as you would say those things aren't necessary, as you have already said: "EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT AWARE,UNDERSTAND, OR BELIEVE THESE THINGS." Yet if all of that is what goes into what it means in regards to name, then you would have already refuted yourself.

    Anyway, thanks for answering. Robert tells me your birthday is only a couple days away. Happy early birthday.

    By Blogger Gojira, at Friday, July 13, 2007 8:31:00 PM  

  • Doug,

    you say

    So you can somehow believe in the name and yet not believe in Who that name represents?

    I did not say that.

    I was very clear that the name represents all who Jesus Christ is, whether one understands it or not.

    you write:

    Very odd, given that you used a personal example, as your daughter would already understand something as to what dad is as well as his function.

    Doug, the core of the offer of eternal life understands Jesus to be the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer. No one in the universe or outside the universe has an such an identity.

    When my daughter believes in Me as the one who gives her terrestrial well-being, she is believing in one who is a check writer, a forklift driver, and many other attributes of me that facilitate that well-being. Is it necessary for her to know these things for me to provide for her well-being? Of course not. "Dad" to her, represents the one who takes care of her, even without her believing or understanding what I do in order to take care of her.

    Jesus Christ is the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it. When I believe in Him, taking Him at His word in His promise, I am believing in His name, which represents all who He is and has done in order to secure for me eternal well-being. Like the illustration of my daughter, my reliance is upon Him and that reliance does not necessitate that I understand everything that He is and has done to provide for me that eternal well-being that He promises to the believer.

    "Dad" to my daughter is the one who provides terrestrial well-being to her.

    "Jesus" is the one who provides eternal well-being to the believer.

    Doug writes:

    In like manner, how could one ever say they believe in Christ as savior without knowing that He is that savior they believe in? Very odd.

    I find that odd too, Doug, and have not a clue how you would get this mishmash from anything I have written.

    Scroll up, and read the link I gave Lou called "Logical vs Theological Necessities".

    You aren't making any sense, and your comments do not suggest you have understood my position.

    You don't understand.

    When someone believes upon Jesus by taking Him at His word in His promise, whether they know this information or not, they are believing in someone who is the God-Man, who died on the cross for the sins of the world, rose again on the third day, was born of a virgin, and will come to reign on earth sitting on the Davidic throne, in history, for 1000 years.

    Doug, if you told me that you would take care of my debt, and I believed you, and you took care of my debt, I would have been believing in a person who is the innumerable things you are, even if I am not aware of them:

    what you did to secure the money to pay the debt, etc.

    I am smelling much misconception in your post. I can not recognize much or anything of what you attribute to my position as actually being my position.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, July 13, 2007 9:05:00 PM  

  • Doug, thanks for the birthday wishes. Robert really is the best!

    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, July 13, 2007 9:07:00 PM  

  • Antonio,
    I appreciate the trouble you go to to lay out your position. I am not totally with you on your reductionism, but I still like you and appreciate you in Christ. I am glad you preach the gospel, brother. You have challenged me and my thinking has been refined a bit by your "checklist evangelism" thoughts.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Saturday, July 14, 2007 7:09:00 PM  

  • http://onmywalk.blogspot.com/2007/07/is-john-gospel-enough.html

    I hope this encourages those who need it for God's purpose.

    Kev

    By Blogger Kevl, at Sunday, July 15, 2007 8:40:00 PM  

  • Antonio,

    Thanks for answering. I disagree, but at least now I know clearly what you believe on the subject so thanks!

    I have been on vacation and been out on the streets witnessing a fair amount so I'm sorry I have been slow with my response - linked just above this comment.

    Kev

    By Blogger Kevl, at Sunday, July 15, 2007 8:55:00 PM  

  • http://onmywalk.blogspot.com/2007/07/is-john-gospel-enough.html


    the link wasn't properly formulated in the last one.. no idea why.

    If this one is broken too.. just go to http://onmywalk.blogspot.com and look for "Is John's Gospel Enough?"

    Kev

    By Blogger Kevl, at Sunday, July 15, 2007 8:56:00 PM  

  • Hey Antonio,

    Thanks for your reply and for helping to clarify your position. However, there are some things you have said that confuse me still.

    But let me begin by clarifying some things which I didn't in my first comment. I do agree with you (surprise) that people do not need to check of a list of doctrines they agree with in order to be saved. My disagreement with you comes with what people DO need to understand for them to get saved. And I also disagree as to what that salvation consists of.

    Here is the verse (again) that you would use to show John's purpose in writing his gospel.

    John 20:31
    "but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."

    So John has a two fold purpose. First, so that you (the reader) may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Second, so that by believing you may have life in His name.

    But one of "doctrines" that you list is "[ ] Do you believe that Jesus is fully God?"

    And then you say, "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)"

    I think, but I can't say for sure, but I think this is the same confusion that Doug is expressing. It seems a bit like double-talk. On one hand, you don't have to believe that Jesus is God to be saved, but on the other hand, believing in Jesus means that you're believing that He is God.

    But I think you might counter by saying something like yes, believing in His Name includes His deity, but it doesn't mean that the believer has to understand that to be saved (have eternal life).

    And then I would say, but then John's purpose would be thwarted. One of the things he wants the readers of this gospel to believe is that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God.

    The story of Martha, which you reference, does show what she confesses and what that confession results in. She does connect the two, Christ's deity with eternal life.

    You said in reference to Martha's response to Jesus: You see, to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, is to believe "this". And as we have already noted, the "this" is the assertion or proposition that Jesus Christ is the Guarantor of eternal life and resurrection to the believer in Him.

    From that example alone, I'm not sure how you can remove Christ's deity from what the believer must believe for salvation.

    Now let me remind you of the two things, the two purposes John has for writing this gospel, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

    You said: I am very specific in the content of saving faith, so was Jesus. The content is the promise of Jesus. Jesus promises the one who believes in Him to be eternally secure.

    I think it's significant that John did not say that the believer would have "eternal life". He just says "life". I would agree that the eternality of the life is implied, especially in light of numerous other passages. However, why would John not include it if it was his express intent for people to believe in Christ for it?

    Could it be that the content is not only life after physical death, as it would appear that you are advocating, but also includes life here and now?

    Consider John 5:24
    "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life."

    So the believer has passed out of death and into life. Which meshes well with what Paul says.

    Romans 6:4-10
    "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God."

    The content of saving faith is not only life in the future, after our physical bodies die, but it's also life right now. We are dead to sin and raised in newness of life. That's the whole gospel message. It's about freedom from sin in this present life and freedom from it's penalty in the judgement to come. That's not to say we won't still sin, or that we somehow become sinless. But it is to say that we are no longer slaves to sin. That's what "life" is. Life now and forever more. Eternal life doesn't begin after physical death. It's begins at faith. And that's what people need to believe in Christ for, "life".

    In Christ,
    Ten Cent

    By Anonymous Ten Cent, at Monday, July 16, 2007 2:13:00 PM  

  • I've got a little poll going on over at my blog about an evangelistic encounter I had today, and would appreciate your "vote."

    You can find it at the Post entitled:
    You Be the Judge

    Thanks in advance for your input!

    By Blogger Jeremy Myers, at Wednesday, July 18, 2007 9:42:00 PM  

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