[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 29, 2007

You Be the Judge: Is He or Ain't He?

by Antonio da Rosa

POST UPDATED: SUNDAY, JULY 29 @ 9:30 AM, PST.

I stand for these truths: clarity, specificity, and precision in the gospel invitation. I want to let you all know that I love Jesus. I personally am filled with appreciation that He gave His life for me. I am awed by the fact that Christ rose again from the dead, triumphant over death.

I am a sinner (as some of you know better than others). I am a frail, subject to sin, human being. The Lord knows that I am but dust. Often I let my will and desires trump the Spirit who desires to work through me. In some of my correspondences with you all during the last couple of months, my writing was not saturated and grounded in love. I became a machine, bent on proving a point, and in many cases, in the absence of tact and sensitivity. For this I apologize.

Bear with me for one more post on this important subject. I am going to provide a scenario, and I wish for you all to be involved. I am really asking that you participate, and I desire your input.

Background:

Jeremy Myers told me of a method that he and Bob Wilkin like to use in evangelism. What they do is to provide the "invitation" up front before they go into the gospel message. So for instance, they will start the conversation off this way:

"Did you know that Jesus Christ promises, better yet, guarantees to immediately give the free gift of irrevocable eternal life to any who simply believe Him to do so [or believe in Him for it]?"

More times than not, the hearer will be taken for a loop. Of course, this assertion does not usually convince anyone. "Aren't works necessary?" one may ask. "How is it that simple?" another may wonder. They then go into the gospel message explaining various points about the Lord Jesus Christ that will lift Him up in such a way as to show Christ authoritative and qualified to give the gift, and trustworthy of one's faith for it.

Scenario:

Lets say that I had the opportunity to do evangelism one on one with a man. The first thing I say to him is, "Jesus Christ promises and guarantees to immediately give you the free gift of eternal life the very moment you believe in Him for it." And then I quote to him John 6:47, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me has eternal life." He immediately responds in curiosity and interest, asking me to explain more about Jesus.

Let's say next, I talk to him about John the Baptist, and what God told him concerning how he would know who God's chosen Messiah was: Jesus came to be baptized of John, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him so that John knew that this indeed was God's Christ (Jn 1:32-33).

I tell this man about Jesus being led to the wilderness to be tested by Satan 40 days, and I tell him of Jesus' remarkable words to Satan (Mt 4:1-11).

I discuss with this man how Jesus turned water in to wine (Jn 2:1-11), how He healed the sick (Mt 8:16), gave sight to the blind (Jn 9:6-7), cast out demons (Mt 8:16), made whole the lame (Mt 21:14), and raised the dead (Jn 11:38-44). I tell this man about Jesus calming the storms (Lk 8:24), feeding 5000 men with a few loaves and a couple fish (Jn 6:1-14), and walking on water (Mt 14:26).

I go into some of the teachings of Christ, where He taught heavenly truth with authority, not like the scribes of the day (Mt 7:29).

I speak of Jesus' love and compassion on broken-hearted men and women (Mk 6:34).

I tell the story of the woman caught in adultery, where He is quoted as saying, "He who is without sin cast the first stone," and "Woman, where are your accusers?" and "Neither do I condemn you" (Jn 8:2-11).

I relate Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar (Jn 4:1-42). "If you knew the gift of God, and who says to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water" (Jn 4:10).

I speak of the raising of Lazarus (Jn 11:38-44), and His conversation with Martha, "I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (Jn 11:25-26).

At this time, the man stops me. He says, "Hold on for a moment, please. I want to tell you something. I believe you! I believe what Jesus says in His promises! I now know that Jesus has given me eternal life!"


Now, I had planned to present to him further truths about Jesus. I had every intention of continuing on to explain the deity of Christ, His substitutionary atonement for sins, and His subsequent bodily resurrection. But I had not yet got to these points.

Simply, my question for you is this:

Is this man born again? In other words, does he have eternal life?

If he doesn't, why not?

This person has entrusted his eternal destiny to Christ! Would it be your position that this man, who believed Christ in His promises (whereby Jesus Christ guarantees eternal life to the believer in Him), ends up lost for lack of knowledge of some bullet points on an orthodox doctrinal checklist?

Imagine someone solely trusting Jesus Christ as His certain hope of heaven and Jesus letting him down. Envisage a man relying completely upon Jesus Christ for eternal life through His promise yet Jesus reneging because of the man's ignorance of a doctrinal stipulation, thus missing heaven by a creedal technicality.

Picture a man believing only in Jesus Christ for eternal salvation and leaving empty handed. This unquestionably impinges on God's faithfulness. What happened to "faith alone in Christ alone"? Checklist evangelism has it dying the death of a thousand qualifications.

But if you agree that he does have eternal life, doesn't this prove that the place we need to be pointing men and women is to faith into Jesus Christ in His promise (and not confusedly to a list of doctrine)? Does this not dictate for us the essential issue between God and man: the reception of life through faith in Jesus by way of His guarantee?

If the man in this illustration has eternal life then we have just pinpointed the clear and simple gospel invitation, which happens to be the same one that Jesus used time and again. Jesus proclaimed that He was the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it. Shall we not present Him the same way?

Gospel invitations should be simple, accurate, precise, and biblically phrased. We do not want to use unbiblical terminology or practices (such as "praying to receive Christ") that can confuse those we evangelize. We should be able to show the subjects of our evangelism specific passages in the Bible that clearly identify for them how they can have eternal life. If we use the "two-step" invitation formula, "You must believe that Jesus is God, died on the cross for your sins, and rose again from the dead. (But that is not enough) You then must personally trust Christ's work for salvation," we will never be able to show them any single, clear supporting passage. Instead, we would have to piece together a patch-work quilt using scriptural hopscotch. Even then, it will be awkward and ambiguous.

Confusion is the enemy of evangelism. The construction of our gospel invitations should not generate uncertainty and misapplication. This could lead to a false profession and assurance.

Jesus is the one who has "the words of everlasting life" (John 6:68). Those words are contained in His promise to impart eternal life to all who simply believe in Him for it. When Jesus evangelized, His promise was His core and simple invitation. Shall we not emulate Him in His clarity and simplicity?

Yes, Jesus had the "words of eternal life" during His time on earth, as evidenced by the Gospel of John, the only evangelistic book in the Bible. And He still does today. Let us use them!

31 Comments:

  • Bare with me for one more post on this important subject.

    Are you taking your clothes off, or do you want us to bear with you?

    By Anonymous Knowest not that thou art...naked (Revelation 3:17), at Saturday, July 28, 2007 3:47:00 AM  

  • Antonio I honestly cannot say if this man believes in Jesus Christ but I believe that he can say. I cannot pretend to have a full understanding of the grace of God that brings salvation but I believe Christ’ when He said that with God all things are possible. I deeply appreciate your desire for the lost and your effort on their behalf but I must be honest and tell you I question whether it is best to try and identify a single phrase or point of doctrine as being the point where God would reveal Christ to an unbeliever or as being the point or means whereby, once revealed, a man might believe in Him. If we know that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation then would it be best to try and reduce it down to a required minimum or preach it as fully complete as possible?

    BTW, what is the difference between spurious faith and a false confession?

    I Love ya brother ;-)

    By Blogger Kc, at Saturday, July 28, 2007 4:57:00 AM  

  • "In some of my correspondences with you all during the last couple of months, my writing was not saturated and grounded in love. I became a machine, bent on proving a point, and in many cases, in the absence of tact and sensitivity. For this I apologize."

    I really appreciate this confession and I am sure a lot of other people do.

    But as usual, you make a great point in this post.

    God Bless

    Matt

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, July 28, 2007 7:15:00 AM  

  • Does this not dictate for us the essential issue between God and man: the reception of life through faith in Jesus by way of His guarantee?

    No, it does not. Eternal life does not come simply by way of "His guarantee". It comes by way of His fulfilling our covenant obligations. It comes by way of His sacrifice, resurrection and presentation of Himself before the Father on our behalf. Guarantees are empty words if they aren't actually substantiated, so is belief. A man can believe whatever Jesus says but if Jesus has done nothing then such belief is vain and empty. Likewise, if the man does not "hold firmly" (as Paul says) to the word, his belief is in vain. The gospel isn't that Jesus promised to obtain eternal life for us, the gospel is that He really has obtained it for us.

    Jesus defines eternal life as knowing the only true God and the one whom that God has sent. There is nothing in His definition about accepting or believing a promise or guarantee. It is clear from the context of John 17 that ginosko is not a mere acquaintence, knowing of/about or even of comprehension; in fact, John rarely uses ginosko in such a way throughout his gospel. Not only is Jesus the way to this knowledge, but He is the object of this knowledge, that is, He is what is to be known.

    I also find it odd that Paul, the greatest missionary who ever lived, would never evangelize in the manner that you do. As to your question in bold, it is not for us to decide or judge whether or not the man has been born again unto eternal life. That is between him and God. If he says he believes then we ought to treat him as a brother, admonish him in the word, hold him accountable, help him mature in his faith, etc. lest, again, his believing be in vain.

    By Blogger jared, at Saturday, July 28, 2007 8:57:00 AM  

  • From Jared:

    "As to your question in bold, it is not for us to decide or judge whether or not the man has been born again unto eternal life. That is between him and God. If he says he believes then we ought to treat him as a brother, admonish him in the word, hold him accountable, help him mature in his faith, etc. lest, again, his believing be in vain."

    Jared, I would be careful about getting hung up on something like this. I could be wrong (because I usually am), but according to the context of the man's response (after hearing of Jesus, His promise of eternal life for those who believe, and the many good works of Jesus), I think it's safe to assume the man wasn't lying when he said, "I believe you! I believe what Jesus says in His promise! I now know that Jesus has given me eternal life!" I think if the man were lying, Antonio would have included that important piece of information in the article.

    I think the point Antonio was driving at has much less to do with whether or not the man was actually saved or not, but instead whether or not the amount of information shared with the unbeliever was enough before his belief was "real" and/or "legitimate".

    Again, I could be wrong... and hopefully Antonio will correct me if so, but I just wanted to throw that out there :-)


    Antonio,

    I really appreciate this article. In fact, it was this "hot issue" that grabbed my attention to this blog in the first place, and I really hope to see more of these. They don't have to necessarily be argumentative (if you feel that the style is not grounded in love), but I would love to see more Biblical examples (and/or any other scriptural support) of this in the future, if at all possible.

    Thanks so much for an intriguing post!

    By Blogger the jerk, at Saturday, July 28, 2007 4:56:00 PM  

  • the jerk,

    I'm not hung up at all. I think it's safe to assume that the man wasn't lying as well. Does this mean we'll see him in heaven? No. There's more to eternal life than the words "I believe" coming from the mouth of man.

    By Blogger jared, at Saturday, July 28, 2007 5:13:00 PM  

  • "There's more to eternal life than the words "I believe" coming from the mouth of man."

    In this case, there is more. A conversion took place here, and you confirmed it with your second statement (I think it's safe to assume that the man wasn't lying as well).

    I get the impression you're speaking on behalf of a works(plus)faith salvation model, but I don't want to assume anything, so please correct me if I am wrong! But if this is so, we will probably end up talking in circles ;-)

    By Blogger the jerk, at Saturday, July 28, 2007 6:23:00 PM  

  • the jerk,

    Conversion is the very thing in question. My affirmation of the man's honesty does not speak anything about the actual condition of his position before the Father (to which only the man and God are privy). Does saying "I believe" convert you? Nope; even if you aren't lying.

    By Blogger jared, at Sunday, July 29, 2007 5:15:00 PM  

  • KC,

    you write:
    ---------
    Antonio I honestly cannot say if this man believes in Jesus Christ but I believe that he can say.
    ----------
    Maybe I should have stipulated that he is telling the truth. I figured that this was implied by my story.

    KC. If this man believes in Jesus Christ only, as his certain hope of heaven, would it be your position that he is lost since he does not have the furter information about His deity, death, and resurrection?

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Sunday, July 29, 2007 6:20:00 PM  

  • Jared, you write:
    ---------
    A man can believe whatever Jesus says but if Jesus has done nothing then such belief is vain and empty.
    ----------
    Jesus had not yet died or rose, and he said:

    John 5:25
    25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.
    NKJV

    In respect to God, Jesus is the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev 13:8).

    If Jesus says, "Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has eternal life"

    and someone believes in Jesus, yet does not have eternal life, then Christ is a liar.

    Let me ask you a question, you say:

    ----------
    Does saying "I believe" convert you? Nope; even if you aren't lying.
    ----------
    If someone says "I believe Jesus in His promise" and he is not lying, how is it that he cannot have eternal life?

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Sunday, July 29, 2007 6:28:00 PM  

  • Bro. Antonio,

    I belive the man is born again & I will tell you why. You were able to share with him of course Jesus' promise, and a very important aspect that you shared with this man was the fact that Jesus raised some including Lazarus, from the dead. But I believe the key is where you shared with him John 11:25-27 regarding His BEING the Resurrection & the Life. In my humble opinion, this is equal to saying that He is God since only God could BE the resurrection & the life, not just BRING them to us. Therefore, in a very real sense you have shared with this man that Jesus is the only One who could possibly give eternal life since He IS the resurrection & the life. To have resurrection, you must have death, so the death of Christ is included, albeit in a very embryonic sense. Now no doubt it would be essential to go on & then tell him about the other aspects of Jesus' character, but since he has in essence believed the Gospel of Christ, that Christ is able to save him, then he is saved. This is certainly not just any old person named "Jesus" that just "says" he can save, He is actually the only Savior of the world!

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at Sunday, July 29, 2007 7:42:00 PM  

  • David, thanks for the answer.

    It may be clear to you that 'being' the Resurrection and the Life entails deity. I don't think that everyone listening to the story about Lazarus and His conversation with Martha would make that connection.

    You write:
    ----------
    have resurrection, you must have death, so the death of Christ is included, albeit in a very embryonic sense
    ----------
    David, everyone dies. The last time they checked, death is 100%. (don't go throwing Enoch and Elijah around, lol!).

    That Jesus talks about being the Resurrection does not imply a single thing about His substitutionary death on the cross for sin. Everyone dies. Jesus promises to the person who dies and believes in Him that he will be resurrected.

    Also, it is interesting that you say that this man "believed the Gospel of Christ", and you explain this appositionally as, "that Christ is able to save him."

    It is interesting that you equate the "Gospel of Christ" as "that Christ is able to save him." I think that this is the key message.

    It is fundamental to my position that someone can see how Jesus is able to make good on His promises by considering His miraculous works and great words.

    The man in the illustration did not understand Jesus as God, nor hear about Jesus as having died for his sins or rising from the dead.

    But he did have "faith alone in Christ alone" and this for the purpose of receiving eternal life.

    The crux interpretum of my illustration shows pointedly that the core issue in evangelism is not the "3 essentials" but Christ's promise. Note that the man did not believe anything about the 3 essentials but believed Christ in His promise and you have considered him saved.

    This is to be our clear appeal in our gospel invitation: "Jesus Christ guarantees to give eternal life to all who simply believe in Him for it. Do you believe this?"

    To most, that is to easy. They can't believe that Jesus saves men through mere faith. There needs to be a commitment, or greater revelation, or any number of provisos.

    Our appeal to faith in Christ should be as simple and clear as Jesus has made it. Jesus does have the words of everlasting life, you know.

    Since you agree that the man is saved, do you agree with my observations concerning the significance of the man being saved by simply trusting in Christ by way of His promise?

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Sunday, July 29, 2007 8:49:00 PM  

  • Casey,

    you write:
    ----------
    BTW, what is the difference between spurious faith and a false confession?
    ----------
    The false confession I am talking about here is one saying he is saved when he is not.

    Quickly let me illustrate.

    Let us say that I tell a man that he needs to make a decision to "trust" Jesus' work on the cross to save him.

    This man is not convinced that Jesus cross work can fully save him. He has doubts. So, in spite of his doubts, by an act of the will he "trusts" Christ's work. When he tells the evangelist that he has trusted Christ's work, the evangelist tells him that he is saved. So he says he is a believer in Christ (a false profession) and has been given assurance based upon a erroneous evangelistic appeal.

    Faith = being fully persuaded (Romans 4:21).

    You can't believe something you haven't been convinced/persuaded of. And if you are persuaded, you believe as a passive result.

    Telling men to make a decision to trust Christ when they retain doubt is dangerous. You cannot believe something by an act of the will. If you are merely disposed toward something you do not have faith, for you retain doubts.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Sunday, July 29, 2007 9:03:00 PM  

  • Antonio,
    I appreciate this post. Thank you for apologizing for that which you apologized for. :~)

    I do see your point so much better now. Thank you for the clarity.

    Telling men to make a decision to trust Christ when they retain doubt is dangerous.

    I agree. God bless.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Monday, July 30, 2007 6:46:00 AM  

  • It would seem to me that he is saved, but as KC has said, only he knows what he believes. I would definitely want to make sure I finish the story though!

    By Blogger Rose~, at Monday, July 30, 2007 6:49:00 AM  

  • Antonio,

    Putting a few words of a verse in bold type doesn't really prove anything. The context of John 5:25 informs us that Jesus is, here, responding to Jews who desired to kill him because 1) He is "working" on the Sabbath and 2) is claiming equality with the Father. He goes on to say that "a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out--those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned." It would seem that believing unto life entails a bit more than mere words, according to Jesus.

    You say "In respect to God, Jesus is the 'Lamb slain from the foundation of the world' (Rev 13:8)." and while I don't think that is the most accurate translation of the verse, it is important to note the context here as well. Speaking of the beast from the sea, John says that he "was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation." Then we come to verse 8 where we find that "all inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast" except for those written in the Lamb's book of life. We find out later that this book of life was written before the foundation of the Earth (17:8) so it is not just in respect to God that the Lamb was slain, but also in respect to those who's names were written.

    Of course, that's precisely the point: you're either in the book of life or you're not. This is already true, that is, the book is not in the process of being written. The book is finished and simply saying "I believe" isn't going to get your name in the book if it isn't already there. You say "If Jesus says, 'Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has eternal life' and someone believes in Jesus, yet does not have eternal life, then Christ is a liar." I have already shown that "eternal life" is more than saying the words "I believe", so it is not the case that non-saving belief makes Jesus a liar.

    Quite the opposite, in fact, for Jesus has taught us that the path is narrow and that there are few who find it. He has also taught us that not all who cry "Lord, Lord!" will find themselves in heaven. Jesus is speaking the truth, whoever believes will have eternal life (and have is "assuredly") but this certainly does not entail that all who say they believe will have it.

    You ask me, "If someone says 'I believe Jesus in His promise' and he is not lying, how is it that he cannot have eternal life?" I'm not saying he cannot have eternal life, I'm saying we cannot know if he has eternal life. We can assume/presume he does (and treat him accordingly, as I've already said) but our assumption/presumption doesn't make it true; neither does him merely saying the words.

    By Blogger jared, at Monday, July 30, 2007 7:48:00 AM  

  • Hi Antonio,
    I believe the man is saved because he believed in the right person for the right thing. And Jesus always keeps His promises (John 6:47).
    I believe I remember Zane saying in the past that anyone believing in Jesus as the Savior, the One who has saved them forever is believing in Jesus as The Christ.
    The majority of people are going to believe through the eighth sign, the cross. In fact what we see in scripture is that almost everyone believes in Christ through a sign. John the Baptist, the sign was the dove. Nicodemus it was all the signs that Jesus had done that brought him to Him. Nathanael it was Jesus seeing him under the fig tree. The women at the well it was the sign of a Prophet “He told me everything about me.” With the Philippian Jailer it was an earthquake that opened the cell doors. With Saul it was a blinding light. The sign that God used in my life was the message of the cross. I believed that was my only hope as a sinner. What sign did He use in your life?
    IMO most everyone we evangelize will come by way of the eighth sign because the Holy Spirit is convicting the world of sin and the cross is the remedy for sin.
    IMO people have a hard time separating the sign they were saved through from what they are believing in Jesus for, eternal life.
    As Ambassadors for Christ were to tell people to be reconciled to Christ. How? Through the cross! Paul made the cross central in his gospel because IMO he believed that most will come by the way of the cross to believe in Jesus FOR eternal life. They will be pushed to Christ most likely not for their need of water like the Samaritan women but by their sin in need of a Savior. People will be saved by looking to Jesus as their Savior. The One who saves forever (John 3:14,15).
    John 4:48 Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.”
    Paul said it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. That message was the cross, and Paul went on to say “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” I believe the cross is to be center stage. It was the eighth sign of John’s Gospel.
    Tell me where I’m going wrong?

    By Anonymous alvin, at Monday, July 30, 2007 8:01:00 AM  

  • Antonio, it really boils down to believing the words of Christ. When we put our trust in His promises to us, faith is reckoned to our account the same as Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

    It's understanding who Jesus is and what He did that make his promises so powerful and trustworthy.

    God bless,
    Jim

    By Blogger Jim, at Monday, July 30, 2007 8:35:00 AM  

  • Antonio I apologize for being so ambiguous. I assure you it was not with intent. To clarify, my position is that none of us have a full understanding of the grace of God and therefore cannot determine if a man does not possess eternal life when he says he does. I do believe the scripture provides the means for identifying a false teacher but still we lack the authority and the means for separating the wheat from the tares. We are only provided the means for personal assurance and the assurance that I find in the scripture is this; that those who believe that Jesus is the Christ are born of God (John 20:31, 1st John 5:1, Acts 8:37,38). I understand the scripture to state that this knowledge can only come from God (Matthew 16:17, John 6:44, 1st John 5:6) and that corresponds with my most detailed understanding of God’s will concerning eternal life. He grants it to those who both see Christ and believe in Him (John 6:40). I have no further detail concerning God’s will and eternal life than this. I believe these things because of my understanding of the scripture but I do not believe my understanding is full. The Holy Spirit does not witness with me concerning any other than myself but the scripture does record Christ as saying that “with God, all things are possible”, therefore, I cannot in good conscience determine that another man does not have eternal life. If a man would state that Jesus is his savior I can only take him at his word and consider him to be a brother, as I have no other understanding or means of knowing if he truly is born from above.

    The remainder of my comment was slightly off topic but I believe it is related and relevant to your current series of articles. I understand you to believe that if a man believes that Jesus is the Christ then he is fully assured that eternal life is his present possession. While I say that he can be fully assured, you know we disagree that he must be fully assured in order to possess it. Others believe that a man cannot possibly possess eternal life unless God ordained it for them before the foundation of the world. Though we might all disagree in our understanding on this I think we would all agree that eternal life is not granted based on our understanding and that only the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for those that believe. My question then would be this; can we know if that power rest solely in one particular phrase? Does the power of the Gospel rest solely in the proclamation that a person named Jesus gives eternal life to those who believe that he does?

    I don’t want to get any further off topic so I will beg you for another opportunity to discuss what it means to believe that something is the truth and how doubt and faith relate. ;-)

    By Blogger Kc, at Monday, July 30, 2007 9:43:00 AM  

  • If a man would state that Jesus is his savior I can only take him at his word and consider him to be a brother, as I have no other understanding or means of knowing if he truly is born from above.

    Amen!

    By Blogger Rose~, at Monday, July 30, 2007 10:53:00 AM  

  • Jared,
    You ask me, "If someone says 'I believe Jesus in His promise' and he is not lying, how is it that he cannot have eternal life?" I'm not saying he cannot have eternal life, I'm saying we cannot know if he has eternal life. We can assume/presume he does (and treat him accordingly, as I've already said) but our assumption/presumption doesn't make it true; neither does him merely saying the words.

    You are correct. Our assumption/presumption doesn't make it true, and just as Antonio agreed earlier, neither does he "merely saying the words".

    However, if God makes an absolute statement, then we can absolutely bank on it. If we believe that He is true to His word, then we shouldn't have to assume that He will fulfill His promise to this hypothetical figure. Instead, we should believe that God's promise of eternal life was also given to this person. We ought to trust that this person is saved simply based on God's promise to those who simply believe.

    The promise of eternal life is absolute. The avenue in which eternal life is received is absolute. Therefore, we can safely (as you say, but I prefer the word "trust", or "believe") assume that this person has been granted eternal life, and that also is absolute. God is not a liar. If God says, "Do this, and I will give you this", and then you do what is asked of you, yet God doesn't give you what He promised, then that makes God a liar. And I think we can all agree that God is not a liar. This is how we can know this person has been given eternal life.

    By Blogger the jerk, at Monday, July 30, 2007 5:01:00 PM  

  • Yeah, what he said!!

    Seriously, Mr. Jerk, or I should say brother Jerk, I like your reasoning!

    Bro. Antonio, yes you are right. I just want to make sure it is the Jesus of the Bible that he is believing in. And I am sure you would not ask him to believe in any other "jesus", so I concur!

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at Monday, July 30, 2007 5:22:00 PM  

  • the jerk,

    Antonio and I can't both be right. My view and his view are opposing, not supporting. His view is based, apparently, on a few proof-texts which have been taken from their historical, social and religious context. This is obviously so because Antonio is asking a question that cannot be answered. Let's take the scenario a little bit further. Say the man comes back to Antonio a couple weeks later and says, "I've had some time to do a little research on this Jesus fellow, and I've had some time to 'get over' my original zeal about what you were telling me. I've decided this Jesus isn't quite the person you've made him out to be; so, thanks, but no thanks." And then he proceeds to turn and walk away from Antonio not caring to listen to him any more. Now, suppose I ask if this man still has eternal life? No, this isn't the question we should be asking. We should be asking if he really believed in the first place.

    The problem here isn't with what God says, for surely He is true and does not lie. The problem resides in our conceptions of "believe" and "eternal life." Now, I have already offered my definition of "eternal life" (see above or John 17:203) so let me offer, now, a definition of "believe."

    First, a little Jewish background on the concept of believe. The Hebrew word for believe/faith is emunah. The word literally means "firmness" and this sets the picture for the way in which "faith" is understood within Judaism. It is first used in Exodus 17:12 where we find Israel in combat with the Amalelites. As long as Moses has his hands (and Aaron's rod) raised the Israelites would be winning. Moses is but a mere mortal (who is also very old at this point) and cannot keep his hands raised for the duration of the battle. We find in verse 12 that arrangements are made to keep Moses' hands "steady" and the outcome is Israel's victory (v. 13). It's next use comes in Deuteronomy 32:4 where is is descriptive of God Himself.

    By the time it is next recorded (almost 400 years later in 1 Samuel 26:23) it has an established meaning of "faithfully", a meaning which is retained until it's final (and perhaps most famous) usage by Habakkuk (2:4). It is used most extensively in the Psalms and it is here we find it's fullest and most complete expression. Emunah in the Psalms is more frequently used of God than it is of man and this is important to note when coming to the text of the New Testament, especially that of Paul. It is most certainly this concept of faithfulness that Jesus has in mind when He speaks of belief unto eternal life.

    It should be clear that the concept of "eternal life" and "belief" go hand-in-hand, especially in the gospels (and particularly in John's gospel). It should also be clear that faithfulness results in the knowledge of the Father and the Son which the Son identifies as eternal life. Let's bring these two concepts to Antonio's scenario. When the man says "I believe" what is he saying? Is he believing in the sense that Antonio thinks or in the way Scripture defines? If the former then it is certainly possible for him to not be saved because such a conception of belief is foreign to Jesus' words and to all of Scripture; it offers zero assurance. If the latter, then it is quite impossible for him to not be saved; his belief is the very belief of Christ and such belief never fails.

    By Blogger jared, at Monday, July 30, 2007 9:16:00 PM  

  • Oops, that should be John 17:2-3 instead of 17:203.

    By Blogger jared, at Monday, July 30, 2007 9:17:00 PM  

  • Let us also not forget that this is Antonio's scenario, and according to Antonio, the man in this situation is saved.

    Also, while we do have differing views on salvation, I must say, if someone is telling you a story and they are creating it as they speak, who are we to question the personalities, characteristics, motives, etc., etc. behind one of the characters involved in the story? It is the way it is because that is the way the author decided it is. And since the author who is writing this story says the man is saved, then how is it that we have been discussing it this long?

    I believe this discussion is important, even healthy for spiritual growth, but as far as this fictional character is concerned, we are analyzing something that has already been decided by the author.

    Again, although I think this discussion is very valuable, I think we've drifted far off point.

    By Blogger the jerk, at Tuesday, July 31, 2007 11:37:00 AM  

  • Also, I apologize, but I didn't mean to imply that you and Antonio share the same views. I meant that salvation is not received through "saying" something/anything (ie. "I believe in Him and His promise), rather it is through faith.

    Hopefully that clarifies things. If not, just let me know :-)

    By Blogger the jerk, at Tuesday, July 31, 2007 11:41:00 AM  

  • jared,

    ok ok ok ok... I apologize...

    The title of the blog is "You Be the Judge: Is He or Ain't He?", so I apologize for being somewhat wrong in my last comment.

    I would like to slightly change it :-)

    I don't think (but again, I could be wrong) that the focal point of this blog is whether or not this character's "faith" is a "genuine" (for lack of better words) "faith", which seems to be what you're analyzing so much.

    When I read this blog, I get the idea that what ought to be in question is whether or not the amount of information (about Christ) provided for this unbeliever is able to suffice for a "saving faith".

    Also, I really, really, really like what David said about it! (Forgetting Those Things That Are Behind...).

    :-)

    By Blogger the jerk, at Tuesday, July 31, 2007 11:55:00 AM  

  • the jerk,

    If salvation comes through faith then it isn't the quantity/quality of information that we ought to be questioning, it's the sincerity/authenticity of the faith. This, however, is something we are unable to judge, which is what I've been saying all along. My point has been two-fold: 1) that we can't be the judge in this regard. It is not our place to judge whether or not someone has eternal life. 2) The "believe" that Scripture speaks of in relation to receiving eternal life is not mere mental assent to, or mental acceptance of, Jesus' promise to give it. So, even if someone says they believe it is not necessarily true that they have eternal life, even if we believe they are being genuine.

    I am more than willing to agree that the amount (and quality) of information given by Antonio is capable of producing genuine faith; after all, it is God who saves and He is "allowed" to save however He wants.

    By Blogger jared, at Wednesday, August 01, 2007 6:58:00 AM  

  • After more study of scripture and Zanes new book, this is what I see,,,alvin
    In John’s gospel all eight signs are used for the purpose to prove that Jesus is the Christ, the giver of eternal life. John 20:30-31 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
    1. Water into wine (John 2:1-11).
    2. Nobleman’s son healed (John 4:53).
    3. Lame man healed (John 5:8).
    4. Feeding of the five thousand (John 6:5-14).
    5. Jesus walks on water (John 6:19).
    6. Blind man receives sight (John 9:7).
    7. Resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:43).
    8. Death and Resurrection of Jesus (John 2:18,19;19:30;20:9).
    Paul received his gospel from Jesus (Gal 1:11,12) it was the same gospel that Jesus preached (John 6:47;1 Tim 1:15-16), Paul simply emphasized the eighth sign.

    By Anonymous alvin, at Wednesday, August 08, 2007 6:40:00 PM  

  • Alvin,

    Great comment! I agree!

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Thursday, August 09, 2007 8:52:00 PM  

  • jared,

    agreed :-)

    By Blogger the jerk, at Tuesday, August 21, 2007 8:20:00 PM  

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