[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)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Reasons for My Latest Series of Posts

by Antonio da Rosa

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.

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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.
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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)

14 Comments:

  • Antonio:

    I have been reading Hodges and your posts. I am left to conclude you men have fallen into major doctrinal error, and I do not say that lightly.

    The “Crossless” gospel is a departure from orthodoxy. Your position is as extreme and out-of-balance as I have seen from the Free Grace camp as I have seen in the opposite direction from the Lordship Salvation camp, and I reject both LS and the “Crossless” gospel.

    Your insistence that belief in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is to “ADD FURTHER CONDITIONS” to the Gospel for salvation and eternal life is just plain ol’ out of touch with the Scriptures.

    You have come to a “Crossless” gospel position, and it appears you are using the Bible (much like Rick Warren as Saddleback) to legitimize the position you seek to advocate.

    To dismiss the plain teaching of 1 Cor. 1:18; 2: 1-2; 15:3-4 & Romans 10:9-10 indicates to me you are out-of-balance!

    I am going to post more on the “Crossless” gospel at my site tomorrow. I am hopeful you will one day realize you have erred and can be recovered from the dangerous teaching by Hodges of a “Crossless” gospel.

    I am going to check out of this discussion.

    Kind regards,



    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Sunday, July 01, 2007 2:48:00 PM  

  • Lou,

    Who is constructing the "straw man" now?

    I preach a cross-less gospel? Maybe you didn't read this in my latest post in Free Grace Theology Blog:

    The Use and Abuse of the Gospel Message

    To which you cut and pasted the same comment you leave here.

    Listen to what I wrote:

    ----------
    Let us herald far and wide Christ's divinity, His death for sins and the resurrection. Let us proclaim Jesus' miraculous wonders, sinless life, virgin birth, and absolute righteous teachings. Let us boldly declare His holiness, power, and authority.

    But let these powerful and grand undercarriages perform their duty and not impose upon them that which their proclamation is not intended to do. The evidences given in our gospel messages are used in the hands of the Holy Spirit to convince the hearers of the claims of Christ in His gratuitous promise to impart eternal life to all who simply trust in Him to do so.

    Preach the gospel? By all means! But use if for its intended purpose: to show the authority, ability, and sufficiency of Christ to impart irrevocable eternal life to the believer in Him for it.
    ----------
    The gospel that I preach is far from being a cross-less gospel.

    The thing is, though, Lou. For you, saving faith comes by assent to a multitude of information, that, in fact, you will not even consider one saved unless they initial them all on your checklist.

    You say that the object of saving faith in your system is the Lord Jesus Christ himself. But with your position and teaching you seem to functionally deny that assertion.

    You see, a gospel message that contains the information you deem necessary has become the object of saving faith, in other words doctrine and not the Lord Jesus Christ has become your object of faith. Your creed has been granted a saving efficacy, and whoever assents to it is saved, whether or not they entrust their eternal destiny to Jesus Christ, as long as they have "prayed a prayer to receive Him".

    This is not biblical. No one is saved by mental assent to doctrine to which is added a prayer to invite Christ into one's life.

    Men and women are saved when they are convinced that Christ's promise to them is true. People are eternally secure when they entrust their eternal destiny to Jesus Christ through faith in Him in His promise.

    You have yet to describe for us why what we teach is "dangerous", Lou. You are getting into an area here that you are making serious allegations, that you may end up answering for at the judgment seat of Christ. Why is it dangerous, Lou? I have gone into great detail why someone could adhere to your position, in other words the 6 step program to saving faith, AND STILL REMAIN UNSAVED, for someone could follow all 6 of your steps and still not have believed in Jesus as the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it.

    You have been proven wrong that the gospel message of Free Grace theology is "cross-less". On the contrary, the cross and the resurrection are the center-pieces of our evangelistic presentations.

    But we contend that the object of saving faith is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, through His promise as found in John 1:12; 3:16; 4:10-14; 5:24; 6:35-40; 6:47; 11:25-27, etc.

    And the sad thing is, that not one of these verses would be sufficient to bring one to saving faith in your position, for not a single one requires an understanding of the cross or the resurrection in order to receive the absolutely free gift of eternal life.

    It is my hope and prayer that someday you will present Jesus Christ in His promise as the sole sufficient dispenser of irrevocable eternal life to the believer in him for it.

    It is in this consideration that the only book in the whole of the bible with the express, written purpose of evangelism presents Him.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Sunday, July 01, 2007 4:44:00 PM  

  • Antonio:

    This is what you wrote, "And if anyone believes Christ eternally saves them based upon His promise to do so to the believer in Him for it, I consider them saved, despite what they do or do not understand concerning Christ's person or work."

    You have gutted the gospel for salvation of its most significant biblical mandates. Your position is one that a lost man does not need to believe in Christ’s substitutionary death, His resurrection or His deity to be born again.

    What does the Bible say?

    1 Cor. 15:3-4 “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”

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

    I have acknowledged elsewhere you/Hodges will preach the cross, but you considerate it unnecessary for the lost man to “believe that God hath raised Him from the dead.”

    But you go even further. In reference to the cross and resurrection of Christ you stated that these, “ADD FURTHER CONDITIONSADDING content to saving faith, and in the process, pointing men and women to doctrine rather than to Christ…” What you are doing here is suggesting that requiring a lost person to believe Jesus died and rose again is creating “another gospel” (Gal. 1:8-9).

    There is no No Straw Man, because while you will speak of the cross and resurrection you eliminate its importance for the lost man to acknowledge and believe these things as Romans 10:9-10 mandates. You, therefore, preach a “crossless” gospel.

    Frankly, I have wondered why you even bother with mentioning the cross and resurrection, if as you have repeatedly stated, it is not needed for conversion and for you it is adding further conditions, thereby creating “another gospel.”

    For the record I take nothing away from John’s gospel. I do not minimize, trump with other passages, or negate one “jot or tittle” of John’s Gospel.

    You are out-of-balance because you have come to the point where you appear to view John’s Gospel as trumping the rest of Scripture on salvation. Your “Crossless” gospel is a radical departure from Scripture.

    End of discussion for me! Your site, so you have the last word.


    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Sunday, July 01, 2007 6:43:00 PM  

  • Your last answer says it all, Lou.

    Your saving faith consists of believing in a death, and a resurrection. You make doctrine the object of faith and not Christ alone.

    All Christians except liberals believe these things, but we do not consider them all saved.

    I point men to Christ, you point men to a doctrinal checklist and ask them to "pray a prayer".

    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 16:30, 31).

    I have written extensively on 1 Cor 15:3ff to which you have 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 you 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?

    Lou,

    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.

    You on the other hand have asserted much, proof-texted, and have yet to present a case for your position.

    Your 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 you 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 your assertions and questions, but you have not shown the same consideration.

    You assert much but haven't laid out a single argument.

    You 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, my friend.

    Next you charge that I preach a cross-less gospel, which is a straw-man par excellence.

    We have shown that 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 your real contention is that I don't offer as the content of saving faith a series of doctrinal (hamartiology and Christology) 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.

    You call this a radical departure from scripture? I trow not.

    You say you 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, Lou. 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 your position, Lou.

    Imagine someone trusting in the name of Jesus Christ but Christ letting him down!

    "...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

    By Blogger Antonio, at Sunday, July 01, 2007 8:41:00 PM  

  • I think you are doing a good job, Antonio.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, July 02, 2007 12:29:00 AM  

  • Antonio;
    I have read your posts! Good debate, good reasoning.
    You do an excellent job, keep on preaching.

    By Blogger Paul G, at Monday, July 02, 2007 5:53:00 AM  

  • Excellent post.

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Monday, July 02, 2007 7:17:00 PM  

  • To All:

    Pastor Stegall’s new article The Tragedy of the Crossless Gospel is in my opinion, a must read for believers on both sides of the Lordship Salvation/Free Grace debate.

    Go to Duluth Bible Church. Click on the article titled, The Tragedy of the Crossless Gospel.

    No matter where you are in the Lordship/Free Grace debate this article is a MUST READ for believers across of wide spectrum of Evangelical Christianity.


    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Monday, July 02, 2007 7:41:00 PM  

  • Hi Antonio,

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

    I'm asking because your presentation of the Gospel doesn't seem to include this and I'm curious to see how you will answer. There is the concept throughout scripture of God resisting the proud and giving Grace to the humble.

    Humility does not mean improvement so we don't have to go down that path for right now.

    Kev

    By Blogger Kevl, at Thursday, July 05, 2007 8:20:00 AM  

  • Kevl:

    I'll be interested to read Antonio's reply to your important question. I believe it will be a defining issue in this debate.

    LM

    *I thought I posted this note to you here already.

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Friday, July 06, 2007 1:48:00 PM  

  • Antonio?

    By Blogger Kevl, at Monday, July 09, 2007 5:26:00 PM  

  • Antonio,

    Good work here...as always. Lou clearly doesn't understand what Zane and Bob believes about the gospel. He can say all he wants to say about what he believes Zane and Bob believe, but I think Bob and Zane know better what they believe than Lou does...

    So, it is exciting to share I hear rumors of a response by Bob and Zane...yay! When I know more, I will try to post it here and on my own blog:

    Till He Comes Blog

    By Blogger Jeremy Myers, at Wednesday, July 11, 2007 3:04:00 PM  

  • Kevl,

    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

    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.

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

    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 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.

    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 Wednesday, July 11, 2007 5:55:00 PM  

  • So does this mean that a person doesn't need to know and/or agree that they are a sinner in order to be saved?

    By Blogger Kevl, at Thursday, July 12, 2007 1:44:00 PM  

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