[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)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What are the Conditions for Receiving Everlasting Life?

by Antonio da Rosa

Free Grace Theology Blog: When Simple Faith is Not Enough...

Readers,

Would you not all agree that we must be clear on how men and women receive everlasting life? If we have confusion on this matter, how are we to instruct the lost on how they can be sure they have eternal life?

I have a question for all the readers of Unashamed of Grace. I would like to have a discussion on this question, so please, each answer individually. Be verbose as well.

Enumerate for us all of the conditions that must be met by an individual (whether by himself, or if you suggest, by gift or introduction by God) in order for him to have eternal life. What must he do and what exactly must he believe? In other words, how do you construct your appeal or invitation to receive eternal life in your 'gospel' conversations?

Do not with-hold any thing. If someone asked you, "I want to be sure that I am not going to hell when I die. I want to be sure that I will be with God forever. How can my eternal destiny be secured? Please share with me all the considerations of this. What must I do to be eternally secure?" What, exactly, would you say?

Let us examine each person's answer to this most important question. Are you hesitant to answer? I know that you have a firm opinion on this if you are reading this blog! Please answer that we may discuss it. I will answer as well.

I would like to hear from Lou Martuneac what his answer would be. I am sure that you all would be interested as well.

37 Comments:

  • Today I read on someone's blog that if you are a modalist you believe in a different God.

    The argument then goes that if your faith for eternal salvation is in a different God, you can't be saved.

    Therefore, unless you are a Trinitarian, you cannot be saved.

    What do you think of this and the logic of it?

    By Blogger Antonio, at Wednesday, August 29, 2007 2:35:00 PM  

  • Unless one receives the "second person of the trinity" then one cannot be saved. I think this fellow you cite here must be one of the most brilliant, clear, crisp thinkers you have ever presented, Antonio.

    Although you probably framed this issue a bit errantly. In other words I would think such a fellow would state that a person must accept the Jesus of the Bible's offer of eternal life in order to be "saved". Affirming "this Jesus" brings a particular person into union with the God who is trinity.

    The God of the modalist is no more the God of the Bible, than the Jesus of the Jehovah's Witness is the Jesus of the Bible. Modalists consciously and intenionally deny a fundamental teaching of scripture about the nature of God, and that is that He is tri-unity.

    Only the Jesus of the Bible, the second person of the trinity has the ability to offer eternal life, since He alone is eternal life. You see when we are saved we are brought into the "eternal life" of the God-head (I Cor 6:17; Jn 17; etc.)---"this is eternal life that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent".

    When someone becomes a Christian, they become a trinitarian, whether they realize it or not, at that point. Modalists intentionally deny the trinitarian God, and go out of there way to make that clear. They think the trinity is a result of imposing rationalist philosophical categories upon God, the irony is that the exact opposite is true---they in fact follow the Stoic tradition with God as monad or single substance which Father, Son, Holy Spirit emanate from at different points.

    Like I said at my site, Antonio you're off base with your logic, and quite frankly it's old.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Wednesday, August 29, 2007 3:05:00 PM  

  • Bobby,

    If a Jewish man, monotheist as he is, and has been raised to spurn the Christian conceptions of God, becomes convinced that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, the Christ, and that he has eternal life by simple faith in Jesus Christ, is this man lost, going to hell, because he has believed in a wrong Jesus?

    By Blogger Antonio, at Wednesday, August 29, 2007 5:27:00 PM  

  • Bobby,

    What is actually old is the soteriological doctrinal legalism that is rampant in Christianity today. There are so many hoops that the lost must jump through that the simplicity has been lost.

    What is actually old is the confused, garbled, wishy-washy, and innaccurate invitations and appleals to become Christians. No one gets saved by "giving their life to Christ". No one gets saved by assenting to a detailed creed. No one gets saved by praying a prayer to "receive Christ".

    I am tired of people who ought to know better imposing their doctrinal stipulations and additions to Jesus' simple appeal to believe in Him for eternal life. I, frankly, believe it is old to require men and woman to be as theologically savvy and astute as yourself as requirements for salvation.

    You talk about recieving the second person of the trinity. Reception is passive in nature. Just think of recieving an award, or receiving a blow. To receive is passive. One receives Jesus Christ when they believe into His name (John 1:12). They passively receive Him when they believe.

    The last time I checked, Modalists use the Bible and study the Bible. Well, the bible talks about Jesus. If they are believing what Jesus says in His own words in such passages as John 3:16; 5:24; 6:35-40, 47; and 11:25-27, then they are saved. They are merely having misconceptions about the real Jesus who said the real words which they believe.

    Do I have to understand and assent to all of the ontological and characteristic things about you, Bobby, before I can become the beneficiary of an offer that you wish to bestow? Do I have to understand your lineage, your genealogy, your parents, your family distinctions, and assent to them all in their detailed articulations, before I can simply take you up on an offer?

    It simply is non-sequitor. We all have misconceptions about people. If we demand that everything be cleared up about ourselves before we make the most simple of transactions, no business could be done.

    Let me ask you a question. Is it possible to have major misconceptions about people? I think the democrats completely distort who George W. Bush is. They say that Katrina was his fault, for instance. Yeah, he guided it to New Orleans. But because they distort him so bad, when they talk about George W. Bush, are they actually speaking about a spurious, fake, imaginary George W. Bush, and not the real George Bush?

    Is it not possible to cite someone who you have misconceptions about? Of course. To say anything else is nonsense. All it takes is one unique reference to delimit identification of any individual in the world.

    John 3:16; 5:24; 6:35-40, 47; 11:25-27 talk about the real Jesus. They are referring to the historical, biblical, Jesus. If someone reads these verses, and believes in Jesus through them, they are believing in the biblical Jesus, for they are believing the Scriptures that infallibly refer to Him, no matter what misconceptions they may have about Him.

    Would someone believe in Jesus for eternal life apart from being persuaded that He is authorized, qualified, and able to impart eternal life to the believer through the preaching of Christ's miracles, teachings, compassion, cross and resurrection, and deity? Probably not. But if anyone ever does, your argument is not sufficient to deny them salvation since verses like John 3:16 etc are very sweeping and universal.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Wednesday, August 29, 2007 5:42:00 PM  

  • God is going to sort it all out in the end Antonio...he seperates the sheep from the goats on that final day.

    All I can do is give as much truth about the triune God to whomever I witness too or encourage them to by the tracts I use or the BBN cards I pass out. I try to lay down as much ground given each situation and the persons receptability. But I must call them to faith in the Triune God and to hope in Him alone for their salvation. This is for both Jews and Greeks. It seems that both Jews and Greeks believe or are skeptical about the same kind of things at times and only God knows the heart in the end.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at Wednesday, August 29, 2007 5:51:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Wednesday, August 29, 2007 7:35:00 PM  

  • If it is unnecessary for us to define what Jesus we are talking about, then is it also unnecessary for us to define what eternal life we are talking about also? I assume that we must make sure the prospective convert knows that we are not talking about enjoying the sensual pleasures of 72 young and beautiful virgins in the Muslim paradise above.

    If someone still thinks that this Muslim lustfest is the eternal life that Christ can give him, are we then to:

    [i] Assume that he isn't saved because although you can believe in the "spirit brother of Satan" Jesus, yet you must have orthodox views on the eternal life bit.

    [ii] Assume that he is saved, because he has used the correct terminology and when it comes to the crunch, this is what matters. All good Muslims therefore are Heavenbound, but just need discipled.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Thursday, August 30, 2007 12:35:00 AM  

  • Antonio,

    what is old, is that I already knew what your response to me would be . . . because I'm sure we've had this discussion before, more than once.

    Let me say this, it's probably true that most evangelicals today are functional modalists. In other words most evangelicals probably couldn't give an orthodox articulation of the trinity if they were asked to. But here's the difference, if you ask an intentional modalist (i.e. unitarian/apostolic/oneness pentecostal, etc.) to give an articulation of their view of God, they will deliberately deny the triunity of God, because they believe it is heresy. The "functional modalist", the one I just mentioned above, once they have their misconceptions explained, they will abandon their functional modalism, and gladly acknowledge their error about the nature of God. The intentional modalist rejects the biblical view of God, therefore they worship a God of their own making---just like LDS and JW's and their respective views on Jesus. Do I think misconceptions can condemn someone to hell, indeed, if those misconceptions involve distorting the true and living God of the Bible. An idol cannot save, the Bible clearly communicates this, and that's what the modalist view of God reduces to--idolatry (a god of their own making).

    Here's a caveat, I do believe that a person can be saved by trusting in the Jesus of the Bible, and later become confused by modalism, or the LDS, and still be "saved"; viz. as a "confused Christian". BUT, I do not believe a person can appropriate salvation under a gospel presentation initially given by a "modalist"---if I believed that, then I would have to believe that an LDS could lead someone to the Jesus of the Bible, and genuine salvation---and I can't believe this.

    There is nothing complex about my beliefs about the gospel, Antonio. I don't believe someone has to sign a doctrinal statement before they can appropriate salvation, quit putting words in my mouth. I simply believe that a person must trust Jesus Christ alone for salvation (btw your passive language on faith is the Calvinist defintion of saving faith--I find that ironic), and once that happens they are His for all time.

    I suppose in the end I'm not as suspicious or as nihilistic as you when it comes to what we can "know" about "who" Jesus is, and "what" this implies about the gospel, and eternal life. Btw, another point that you haven't dealt with, is how you define "eternal life"---this is very important, and key to clearing up this issue. I'll give a defintion of eternal life later at my blog, in a post.

    I'm not going to debate you any further here, Antonio, it seems like these discussions are a broken record that won't stop.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Thursday, August 30, 2007 1:57:00 AM  

  • I wrote earlier: I assume that we must make sure the prospective convert knows that we are not talking about enjoying the sensual pleasures of 72 young and beautiful virgins in the Muslim paradise above.

    This is, of course, assuming that we are witnessing to a Muslim.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Thursday, August 30, 2007 4:27:00 AM  

  • Hi Antonio,
    Suprrisingly enough, I find myself echoing Bhedr's answer.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Thursday, August 30, 2007 1:28:00 PM  

  • To believe in Christ for everlasting life don't you first have to believe you don't have everlasting life without Christ?

    By Blogger Kris, at Thursday, August 30, 2007 2:47:00 PM  

  • Rose,

    Surprised?

    :-)

    I think I agree with Bhedr too...and Bobby has some good points as well:-)

    By Blogger Only Look, at Thursday, August 30, 2007 4:24:00 PM  

  • Brian, what would your invitation to "call them to faith in the Triune God and to hope in Him alone for their salvation" sound/look like? Could you give us an example?

    May I ask why you phrase it as "triune God" and not "Jesus"? Does not Jesus solicit faith into Him for eternal life specifically?

    I like what you said here:

    "I try to lay down as much ground given each situation and the persons receptability."

    When I talk about Jesus and His gift, I try to make a conversation out of it rather than me doing a 10-15 minute presentation or such to someone. I see Jesus at the well with the woman. We only have a bit of what transpired, but what little we have is interesting.

    Jesus didn't preach to her. They had a conversation. If you look at it, Jesus will talk to the woman, then she will talk back. This happens so that each of them discourse 10 times on each side. He made a discussion and conversation out of it. Based upon her replies, He guided the conversation.

    I like this kind of evangelism. It is great to field the lost's questions, especially when you see they are really interested.

    Recently, I was talking to a guy at work and said to him, "Jesus makes some very bold and radical claims. For instance, He said that He will give everlasting life to anyone who simply believes Him to do so. He promised that eternal life will be the present possession to everyone who merely receive it by believing in Him for it."

    This guy responded by saying, "Does it really say that in the Bible?" And I gave him John 6:47.

    Discussions are great. And you can really plumb the receptivity of those whom you are trying to minister to by such a course.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Thursday, August 30, 2007 5:20:00 PM  

  • Colin.

    How is Jesus Christ sufficiently defined so that when one cites Him they infallibly refer to Him? Please enumerate them all for us. Give me a list of what I must assent to in order to truly and really refer to the historical and biblical Jesus of Nazareth.

    Let me ask you another question. Do you think you have misconceptions about what eternal life, the resurrection, and the world to come actually are? Could you even consider for a moment that you may have some serious misconceptions?

    I am premillennialist, and I think that you are amil, if I am not mistaken. The last time I checked, there are some very huge differences between premil conceptions and amil conceptions about the afterlife.

    Furthermore, I believe in a wide range of roles, privileges, honors, and functions in this "world to come" that range from merely being a citizen of the kingdom of God (on earth for 1000 years, and on the new earth for eternity) to being one of Christ's intimate partners, co-ruling and co-inheriting with Him, and everything in between. My conception has got to be hugely different than yours.

    Maybe one of us hasn't sufficiently delineated what we are believing in Christ for, therefore maybe one of us (or both of us) are on the way to hell.

    The slippery slope that checklist evangelism sets itself on is quite precarious indeed.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Thursday, August 30, 2007 5:31:00 PM  

  • Colin, if one believes that eternal life is eternal felicity and well-being, salvation from destruction, etc. I think it is sufficient.

    Obviously after one believes into Christ, we would want to disciple them into the finer points of biblical dispensationalism, the Kingdom of God, and rewards.

    :)

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Thursday, August 30, 2007 5:34:00 PM  

  • Rose,

    thanks for your quick answer.

    What could be the specific wording of your invitation or appeal to one for them to receive eternal salvation? How do you like to put it?

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Thursday, August 30, 2007 5:37:00 PM  

  • You put words in my mouth as well brother Antonio. Where did I say anything about 10-15 minutes?

    Sometimes I do like that fellow from George Street and simply ask, "Are you saved? If you were to die tonight where would you be?"

    Sometimes I'll talk over the commandments to help them see how far short of the glory they have fallen, or I will ask them who they think Christ is and why they think he had to die on the cross, but the goal is always to get them to accept Jesus as their Saviour after I have tried to help them see where the Bible shows we are lost and hopeless without him and why only God in man could possibly save man as no man alive has the slightest chance of getting to heaven without the work of Christ.

    By Anonymous Brian, at Thursday, August 30, 2007 5:44:00 PM  

  • Bobby,

    tell me, biblically, with chapter and verse, where we find minor misconceptions allowed, where we still believe in the true God, and major misconceptions, where we actually make up a God of our own.

    It is very unhelpful to speak of those who believe sincerely that they get their doctrine from the Bible as referring to a different God. The evidence suggests that in most cases they are referring to the real God with a varying degree of misconceptions.

    Why is it that a person cannot refer to the True God and have major misconceptions about Him?

    Can I not refer and talk about you, or Lincoln, or Former President Bill Clinton, or any other person in the world, and still retain major misconceptions about them?

    Only someone with a theological agenda would say no. I am sure that Bill Clinton believes that he has been referred to by the likes of Rush Limbaugh yet with major misconceptions being promulgated. We all have been referred to with major misconceptions.

    The offer of eternal life is very specific, narrow, and limited. It is not required that we have no major misconceptions about the players (except if it has to do with the salvific proposition itself, in other words, Jesus' gratuitous offer and promise). It only requires that we believe the words of the Jesus who said, "Most assuredly I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life". And where do we find these words? The gospel of John. If I believe these words which came from the biblical Jesus, then I have eternal life -- period.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Thursday, August 30, 2007 5:47:00 PM  

  • Brian,

    I re-read my statement. I did not ever atribute to you a 10-15 minute presentation. I was stating what I do rather than what I do not do.

    No words placed in your mouth :)

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Thursday, August 30, 2007 5:50:00 PM  

  • Oh ok Antonio I apologize for putting words in your mouth about you putting words in my mouth. I thought you were side carting and sandbagging with assumptions...nice to know now that It was I instead:-)

    By Anonymous bhedr, at Thursday, August 30, 2007 6:30:00 PM  

  • Antonio:

    Deleted my comment; didn;t you.

    What was it about my comment that motivated you to delete it?

    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Thursday, August 30, 2007 7:01:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Thursday, August 30, 2007 7:24:00 PM  

  • Antonio:

    You asked me to comment. Why did you delete my comment?

    I think your readers deserve to know why you deleted my comment and question.


    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Thursday, August 30, 2007 7:27:00 PM  

  • Antonio: I have an idea how you are going to respond to this before I write, but I think it still needs to be stated because it is the only viable and workable way forward on this matter.

    When I am witnessing, I try to simply relate the basic gospel story as it is revealed in the Bible. Christ, the Eternal Son of God becoming man - coming to save His people from their sins - sin being the transgression of God's Holy Law - Christ living for us, dying on our behalf as a Sacrifice for our sins - paying the full price, satisfying the Divine Justice - proved by His resurrection from the dead and He alone being the perfect Saviour, received by faith that is repentant is its nature. I impress upon my hearer his immediate need to come to Christ to be saved, maybe adding a warning that it could be left too late. The standard approach of old time evangelism both Calvinistic and otherwise. Basically until the shadier elements of the FG movement turned up to tell us that we may well be making our converts two fold more the child of hell than ourselves.

    I am thus witnessing (say) to a Jehovah Witness. He keeps assuring me that he is trusting in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. I raise the matter of the Watchtower, but this is easily dismissed because Watchtower is simply the faithful and discreet slave and the mouthpiece of Jehovah. I ask Him whether Christ is God and after we dispute a little over the difference between the mighty God and the Almighty God (both the same person BTW according to Psalm 50:1) he sticks to his red hot JW guns. Jesus is only a god. Michael the Archangel incarnated. The man Jesus is dead, forever dead. His dust still lies in some Palestinian tomb - the gas theory and all that. We are stuck! I offer to meet him again and desire to keep discussing the Bible because I hope/pray that some truth I bring forth in our discussions may actually set him free. Because even though he loudly professes to be going to some glorious afterlife on the basis of his JW faith alone in his JW Jesus Christ alone - He is a rank heretic peddling a damnable heresy.

    Here's where I can see you giving me a response: There are fundamental doctrines that must be believed in order to be a Biblically accepted Christian. There are the details of those fundamental doctrines wherein we may disagree. The details of the Lord's return will broadly cover the Pre/Post/A Mill schools (BTW: I have no fixed position on prophetic details) but the fundamental fact is that He will physically return to earth and bring His people (both living and dead) to be with Himself. That is sufficient to know - the rest, although doubtless important - cannot be counted to be a fundamental of the faith. Anyone who knowingly denies this basic doctrine should not be recognised as a true Christian. It is true that the Lord knows such who are His, but we are not the Lord and we can only go on what is actually revealed to us in the Scripture. It may be that there is a later aligning up with the basic fundamental truth and we may be happy enough to suppose that the person is saved. I certainly wouldn't torture myself over dates etc., preferring to run with the fruit of the here and now, rather than a date written on some Bible.

    You seem to run with the idea that the Muslim lustfest can be equated or at least put in the same league as the holy experience of Heaven. I find that thought utterly blasphemous, but I suppose that when we are rooted in this bare minimalist approach, then anything goes.

    I raised in my last post the idea that it is important to define the person of Jesus (lest we are really worshippers of Satan's spirit brother or the homosexual Jesus of the Sodomites) I also raised the matter that it is important that we assure Muslims that Eternal Life is not the name of the Best Little Whorehouse in Heaven. Now I raise another matter because it really is open season out there in the FG movement (from which I stand entirely apart): What constitutes faith? IF I mingle my faith in my wickedly defined Jesus with my idea of works, in order to go to my wickedly delightful Lustfest…on what consistent basis can you start insisting that I should refrain in order to keep within the Biblical parameters? Is the definition of faith now more important that the One to whom it is directed and the end it is brought forth for i.e. eternal life?

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Friday, August 31, 2007 1:55:00 AM  

  • Colin Maxwell,

    I loved your last comment so well that I am going to use it as a post at Bluecollar blog. I hope you don't mind.

    By Blogger mark pierson, at Friday, August 31, 2007 3:51:00 AM  

  • Mark: Fire ahead!

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Friday, August 31, 2007 4:18:00 AM  

  • I've thought about this much lately and still come back to the faith of Abraham.

    Romans 4:11-12

    And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also,
    and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.



    Abraham is the faith father of all those who believe – Jew and Gentile. His type of faith (those who walk in his steps) results in righteousness being imputed to the believer.


    Romans 4:20-25

    He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,
    and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.
    And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness."
    Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him,
    but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,
    who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.



    Saving faith is being fully convinced that what God has promised He is also able to perform.

    God has promised us eternal life through belief in Jesus Christ. I would still say it's crucial to recognize God. The God of Abraham is Jesus Christ.

    It is His promise and we therefore believe in Him for eternal life - being fully convinced that we have eternal life based on His ability to make good on that promise.

    By Blogger Jon Lee, at Friday, August 31, 2007 6:49:00 AM  

  • GNight:

    Your paragraph on the JW was to the point. You are never going to get a straight answer from Antonio or any who are sympathetic to their message.

    If they were not trying to evade the disturbing implications of their system, they would admit they believe the JW, while clinging to all of his heretical beliefs about Jesus, can be born again by believing in His name for eternal life.

    Why? Because they teach that the sinner does not need to know, understand or believe in who Jesus is.

    According to their system the sinner (any JW) can reject the deity of the "Son of God" and still through their system only by saying a phrase about “Jesus as Giver of eternal life,” not knowing who Jesus is and what He did to provide salvation, can be born again.

    Antonio and Jeremy Myers also believe that His tiltes, "Christ" and "Son of God" do not refer to mean that Jesus is deity.

    Isn’t that right; Antonio?


    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Friday, August 31, 2007 7:01:00 AM  

  • Colin,

    first off,

    why are you going out of turn?

    I asked you a question that you have not answered. What is the reluctance on your part? You have not answered this question:

    How is Jesus Christ sufficiently defined so that when one cites Him they infallibly refer to Him? Please enumerate them all for us. Give me a list of what I must assent to in order to truly and really refer to the historical and biblical Jesus of Nazareth.

    Please sufficiently answer this question.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, August 31, 2007 4:35:00 PM  

  • Colin writes:
    ----------
    When I am witnessing, I try to simply relate the basic gospel story as it is revealed in the Bible. Christ, the Eternal Son of God becoming man - coming to save His people from their sins - sin being the transgression of God's Holy Law - Christ living for us, dying on our behalf as a Sacrifice for our sins - paying the full price, satisfying the Divine Justice - proved by His resurrection from the dead and He alone being the perfect Saviour
    ----------
    I can’t say that I don’t do roughly the same thing. I like to speak about Jesus’ compassion and miracles as well. What I am trying to do is lift up Jesus so as to show Him qualified, able, authorizes, and willing to impart eternal life to all who simply believe in Him for it.

    Colin continues:
    ----------
    received by faith that is repentant is its nature
    ----------
    I think that you mean “in its nature”. Why must we define faith as anything but believing? When you believe, lets say, that your son will be home on time, or you believe that you have enough money to pay the bills, or you believe that your wife’s birthday party will be a smash, is their an element of repentance when you exercise these beliefs, in other words, when you exercise faith in these things?

    Colin continues:
    ----------
    I impress upon my hearer his immediate need to come to Christ to be saved, maybe adding a warning that it could be left too late.
    ----------
    What does it mean for you, when you write, “come to Christ to be saved”? What does come to Christ mean for you?

    Colin continues:
    ----------
    The standard approach of old time evangelism both Calvinistic and otherwise. Basically until the shadier elements of the FG movement turned up to tell us that we may well be making our converts two fold more the child of hell than ourselves.
    ----------
    First off, if someone is told that they must repent in order to “come to Christ” (I am using your words), how is it in their minds that they do not see this as a requirement for whatever coming to Christ means? And if they see repentance as something they do, how is it they will not consider it their part of the salvific transaction? And if they consider is their part in the salvific transaction, how is it that they are not in some degree relying upon their repentance for the intented result, the ambiguous “coming to Christ to be saved”?

    You may answer, well God will supply the repentance. Why preach it then when invariably the psychology of the hearer will consider repentance as indispensible for “coming to Christ for salvation”? He will consider it a condition to this salvation in addition to simple faith in Jesus. Therefore it takes at least two things for eternal life: #1 repentance and #2 faith in Jesus.

    #1 is an action that one does
    #2 is passive reliance upon Jesus

    Therefore, psychologically, how is this person not relying both upon self and God for salvation, when he is being told that repentance is a condition for salvation?

    Colin continues:
    ----------
    I am thus witnessing (say) to a Jehovah Witness. He keeps assuring me that he is trusting in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life.
    ----------
    I have talked to many JWs. God as my witness. I talk to them about salvation by grace through faith. They always assure me that they believe in salvation by grace through faith as well. This isn’t how they have always done it. A friend of mine, a former JW (who arose very high in the organization) who has written several books against JW doctrine, told me that this is a newer answer from JWs. They are trying to look more mainline Christian. You see, when probed further, they will have to admit that works are indispensible for salvation.

    This is taken straight from the Watchtower materials. After talking about the JW’s responsiblities to do his sacrifices (such as going to all 5 meetings a week, going consistently door to door, etc.) the Watchtower writes:

    “So, taking a comprehensive view of our sacrifices, we must admit that at meetings, when sharing the good news with others, and in attitude, word and action, yes, in all areas of life, we should be prepared to give our very best. We should not be half-hearted about such vital matters. Why? What is at stake is Jehovah’s approval and our being granted life

    I can produce many other statements by JW’s to the same effect. They must work for eternal life. Their position is similar to the Mormons, where it says in 2 Nephi 25:23

    “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

    So Colin, my anwer here is that although JWs say superficially that they are trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, they are, in essence, trusting significantly in their works. They have not and do not believe that they have eternal life simply and only by faith alone in Jesus. Therefore, they do not believe Jesus Christ in His promise, whereby He guarantees to immediately give the absolutely free gift of eternal life as a present possession to all who simply believe in Him for it.

    I have spoken to many in the last few years. When I talk to them that eternal life has absolutely nothing to do with my works, whatsoever, they take great exception. They bring up 2 Thes 1:6-9 and James 2:14ff and many other passages. They believe that works are indispensible conditions for eternal life. They absolutely ARE NOT believing into Jesus for etenal life! So, this presentation, so far, in what it is supposed to be proving to me, is moot.

    Colin continues:
    ----------
    I raise the matter of the Watchtower, but this is easily dismissed because Watchtower is simply the faithful and discreet slave and the mouthpiece of Jehovah. I ask Him whether Christ is God and after we dispute a little over the difference between the mighty God and the Almighty God (both the same person BTW according to Psalm 50:1) he sticks to his red hot JW guns. Jesus is only a god. Michael the Archangel incarnated. The man Jesus is dead, forever dead. His dust still lies in some Palestinian tomb - the gas theory and all that. We are stuck!
    ----------
    I don’t know why you go on to all these peripherals. Why don’t you take them into the gospel of John and discuss with them Jesus and His promises? Why don’t you show them Jesus’ words whereby He guarantees eternal life by simple faith in Him for it? Why not show him that Jesus only requires that you believe in Him for eternal life?

    It seems that you require that they learn a theology book before they can be saved. An important thing that you must note is that prior to receiving the absolutely free gift of eternal life that comes by simple faith into Jesus for it, they do not have the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in them to lead and guide them into truth! They know enough about the Bible to be dangerous.

    The issue, when they come before Jesus at the Great White Throne Judgement, isn’t going to be their conceptions about God or Jesus. Jesus is going to consult the Book of Life. And if their names are not found written there, they will forever be denied and excluded from God’s immediate presence. So the urgent issue, is not upon what are the orthodox conceptions of God. The issue is, does this JW have life?

    I can take them in the Bible, which they read, to the gospel of John, and explain to them John 3:16; 5:24; 6:35-40, 47; 11:25-27. I can show them that Jesus Christ only requires that we believe Him in His promise in order to receive the gift of eternal life. If they are left unpersuaded, I will ask them what is preventing them from simply taking Jesus at His word. I will then attempt to answer any questions they may have that have prevented them from simple reliance upon Jesus in His promise for eternal life.

    If they are persuaded that eternal life comes simply by trusting Jesus for it, which precludes any consideration of works, then the Holy Spirit has regenerated them. From this point I can disciple them, for they have the Holy Spirit of God resident in them. Sound teaching, the word of God, prayer, and the Holy Spirit of God can lead them from their doctrinal errors in time.

    I should not expect them to drop all of their false beliefs about God and Jesus BEFORE they consider Jesus’ claims and promises concerning the one and only essential issue between God and man: eternal life through faith alone in Jesus alone. If and when a person believes Jesus’ words as expressed in the gospel of John, he is believing in the biblical Jesus, for the words expressed in the gospel of John are infallibly the words of Jesus Christ.

    If they have some misconceptions about Him, it may preclude them from believing His words. But if they believe in Jesus through His words and promise as found in the authoratative, inerrant, and infallible Word of God, whereby they have entrusted their eternal well-being to Jesus Christ, relying only upon Him as their certain hope of eternal life, well-being, and felicity, why is it that you would invalidate this simple act of faith in Jesus, considering such a one lost?

    Colin continues:
    ----------
    … Because even though he loudly professes to be going to some glorious afterlife on the basis of his JW faith alone in his JW Jesus Christ alone - He is a rank heretic peddling a damnable heresy.
    ----------
    You do misrepresent JW doctrine. They can never say that they will indeed be in the glorious afterlife. They can say that they are “saved up to this moment” based upon their endurance in their works and sacrifices. But they must endure to the end in order to make it to this afterlife. They must be faithful until death in their sacrficial works. So they will never say that they are going to be in “some glorious afterlife on the basis of [their] JW faith alone”. Furthermore, according to JW doctrine, they can be cast away during the afterlife if they are not faithful there!

    You will not have me disagreeing that JW doctrine is “damnable heresy”. But I can find many parallels between JW doctrine and Lordship Salvation Calvinism. Both condition final salvation upon an endurance in faithfulness and works until the end of life.

    Lordship Salvation and the Perseverance theology of Calvinism is rank and damnable heresy.

    Colin continues:
    ----------
    Here's where I can see you giving me a response: There are fundamental doctrines that must be believed in order to be a Biblically accepted Christian.
    ----------
    Here it is: You have just given me the essential tenet of doctrinal legalism and Checklist Evangelism. Simple faith in Jesus for eternal life must be qualified by various and myriad doctrines. Possibly you ought to consider teaching theology classes to potential converts so that they can be prepared for salvation, and so there will be no false professors, who sincerely state that they believe is the Christ and gave them eternal life, based upon nothing but receiving it by faith, but disagree with one of your “essential” docrtines, which seems to include the second coming, the virgin birth, the sinlessness of Christ, etc., etc., etc.

    What would you do if a person you thought believed savingly suddenly indicates that they don’t believe one of the essentials you say they must believe? You told them that they can have certain assurance of their salvation as they look to Christ’s objective proimises, and they do! They still say they believe in the Jesus who said the words of John 3:16; 5:24; 6:35-40, 47; 11:25-27, etc., but that they disagree with some of the doctrines?

    It is insane to me that you would invalidate the faith of anyone who does not conform to your doctrinal creed, even though they have entrusted their eternal destinies to the Jesus who spoke the words of John 3:16.

    If we must clear up every possible confusion concerning the Person and Work of Christ, at least concerning His deity, His humanity, His substitutionary atonement, unlimited atonement, His sinlessness, His eternality, His omniscience, etc., then it seems to me that a clear presentation of the gospel would occur over the course of a semester of meetings. To evangelize someone would take 2 one-hour sessions a week for 15 weeks. But Jesus’ evangelism flies in the face of this type of doctrinal legalism and checklist evangelism. He points men and women to His unique claim to guarantee one’s eternal destiny through simple faith to do so. Jesus never has anyone jump though a bunch of theological hoops in order to be saved. He was simply soliciting faith into Him through His promise.

    Colin continues:
    ----------
    You seem to run with the idea that the Muslim lustfest can be equated or at least put in the same league as the holy experience of Heaven. I find that thought utterly blasphemous
    ----------
    I believe that Muslims understanding of the afterlife is seriously mistaken. If such a discussion came up, I would express my strong disagreement with it. But it is not my duty to clear up every misconception possible concerning every essential doctrine. If a Muslim understands that there is judgment for those who do not possess life by simple faith in Jesus, but eternal well-being and felicity with God for those who do possess life by simple faith in Jesus, it is sufficient.

    Colin continues:
    ----------
    I raised in my last post the idea that it is important to define the person of Jesus (lest we are really worshippers of Satan's spirit brother or the homosexual Jesus of the Sodomites)
    ----------
    You did raise such an idea. But you have failed to answer my question in which answer would delineate for us the infallible, rock-solid, references to Christ which would guarantee we refer to the historical and biblical Jesus.

    I want to put it to you this way. Eternal life is only received when one believes into the Biblical and historical Jesus for the purpose of receiving that life. Jesus asserts that anyone who believes in Him has eternal life. If we are believing Jesus as articulated in John 3:16; 5:24; 6:35-40, 47; 11:25-27, we are believing in the biblical and historical Jesus, for He is the one who said these things and these scriptures infallibly refer to Him as the one who said them. Misconceptions about people are not rare. It is not required either biblically or psychologically to clear up every misconception about Jesus before one can simply take Him at His word in His promise.

    Colin concludes:
    ----------
    What constitutes faith? IF I mingle my faith in my wickedly defined Jesus with my idea of works, in order to go to my wickedly delightful Lustfest…on what consistent basis can you start insisting that I should refrain in order to keep within the Biblical parameters? Is the definition of faith now more important that the One to whom it is directed and the end it is brought forth for i.e. eternal life?
    ----------
    Let me put it to you this way:

    1 – Men and women will not put their trust into Jesus for eternal life if they do not find Him qualified, worthy, able, and authoratative, for faith is nothing more than being persuaded/certainly convinced that something is true.
    2 – Consideration of works precludes one from simply taking Jesus at His word in His promise to guarantee one’s eternal destiny through uncomplicated faith in Him for it.
    3 – Jesus requires nothing but childlike faith/reliance into/upon Him for eternal life.

    It is not required that I be corrected on every misconception I have about you, Colin, in order to take you up on a simple offer.

    Neither logic nor the Bible require such to take Jesus up on His simple offer of life.

    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, August 31, 2007 8:39:00 PM  

  • Antonio,

    Where does Scripture teach your conception of faith?

    By Blogger jared, at Friday, August 31, 2007 8:51:00 PM  

  • Rom 4:20-22

    20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

    21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

    22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.



    Heb 11:1
    11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, August 31, 2007 9:50:00 PM  

  • John MacArthur's radical redefinition of faith:

    It is beneficial to note that one of the problems of the Reformed theology of today, evidenced by John MacArthur, is the radical redefinition of "faith" to include works. Reformed writer Michael Horton showed quite aptly that MacArthur's insistance that faith = obedience equals works salvation.

    "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb 11:1).

    John Calvin is very biblical in his definitions of faith:

    "...as regards justification, faith is something merely passive, bringing nothing of ours to the recovering of God's favor but receiving from Christ that which we lack." (John Calvin - Institutes of the Christian Religion, III, xiii, 5

    "In short, no man is truly a believer, unless he be firmly persuaded that God is a propitious and benevolent Father to him... unless he depend on the promises of the Divine benevolence to him, and feel an undoubted expectation of salvation" (Institutes III.II.16)

    "Now we shall have a complete definition of faith, if we say, that it is a steady and certain knowledge of the Divine benevolence towards us, which [is] founded on the truth of the gratuitous promise in Christ" (Institutes, II, ii, 7)

    These definitions of faith by John Calvin are light years away from those held in Lordship Salvation!

    John MacArthur's radical redefinition of faith is illustrated by such statements as these:

    "A concept of faith that excludes obedience corrupts the message of salvation" (TGATJ 174).

    "'Believe' is synonomous with 'obey'" (TGATJ 174).

    Agreeing with Vine's : faith is "conduct inpsired by such surrender" (TGATJ 173, 174).

    Saving faith is "unconditional surrender, a complete resignation of self and absolute submission" (TGATJ 153)

    "He is glad to give up all for the kingdom. That is the nature of saving faith" (TGATJ 139).

    "Forsaking oneself for Christ's sake is not an optional step of discipleship subsequent to conversion: it is the sine qua non of saving faith" (TGATJ 135)

    Not one of these statements of John MacArthur is a true reflection of the biblical doctrine of saving faith. What these claims in fact reveal is a deep-seated fear of the total freeness of God's saving grace, as though that freeness subverted morality. On the contrary, it is precisely the wonderous unconditional love of God as expressed in the free gift of eternal life that is the root and cause of all New Testament holiness.

    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, August 31, 2007 10:06:00 PM  

  • Antonio:

    A number of things have been raised here.

    1) The nature of faith. Coming to Christ as a sinner cannot be equated with thoughts about someone having a smashing birthday party etc., As you state things, you do not have people coming as sinners at all. They are mere candidates for something that sounds good. You might as well be setting up a booth in a supermarket mall and offer those who sign the dotted line tickets to a glorious cruise in the Caribbean. Only your cruise is much better and lasts longer, but the attitude of the taker is just about the same.

    2) I introduce repentance, not only because those in the Bible who are our examples did it, but because its duty (and faith too is a duty) must be impressed upon people. I define repentance as a change of mind that will lead to a change of life. I do not expect the sinner to change his life before he comes to Christ in faith, nor do I look on repentance as meritorious or the basis of salvation. But I do look for its evidence i.e. godly living afterwards. If someone wants to hold unto their sins and become a Christian so that he can have eternal life, then I am not prepared to give him any encouragement to that end. He cannot hold on to his sins and enjoy eternal life.

    3) It is very interesting that you are prepared to use the term "superficial" in relation to the faith of the JW. If the JW is capable of superficial faith, then so are others.

    4) I ask you again: Why are you prepared to spend so much time analysing faith, when you refuse to spend any time analysing eternal life and the One (i.e. Jesus) who gives it? Is it a damnable error to continue to believe that Jesus, one of a mere line of inferior prophets and second to Muhammad, (and who didn't die on the Cross) brings his faithful followers to eternal life in a place where every kind of desired sexual fantasy can be enjoyed through the services of 72 young, beautiful and willing virgins? Is this just a slight error, banished from argument, because no one quite gets it right? Is it? What if Muslim friend refuses to give up this pipe dream? Do you just redouble your discipleship efforts for your Muslim brother in Christ?

    5) The problem with the JW friend is that in going to John's gospel, we get stuck in the very first verse. We read the passages you suggest, but all the time he insists on letting me know that this miracle worker called Jesus and master parable teller is just a mere man - a mere creature who had no existence in eternity past and who never rose again from the dead.

    6) Every single day I get emails from people whose name I recognise in the "from" section of my "inbox" on Outlook express. Only this happens regularly, I would get excited. Because I get a lot of emails from people who I don't know and when I open their emails, I don't want to know. But some bear the names and even the email address of friends. The subject line looks good too and I open the email expecting something useful, only to find that they are selling me something I don't want. The sender was not my best friend (although he claimed to be so) and the subject wasn't true either. It was a hoax, trying to get me to buy something I didn't want or need and which (in some cases) would be quite harmful for me. It seems that as I am ready to press the "delete" icon, that I hear you tell me not to be too hasty and that the sender really was my friend after all. Does he not bear his name? Does he not promise me something that I thought I wanted? Must I find out everythingthat is different about us …or is it not just a small thing that the contents of the email offering me a female escort with whom I could indulge every fantasy that ever entered my head. Application: The Muslim Jesus may have the same name as the Biblical Jesus and the eternal life he offers may have the same name as what the Biblical Jesus offers. But when I set my affections on the things that are above, I really do not need to be thinking about the pleasures of a celestial passion camp.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Saturday, September 01, 2007 6:39:00 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Only Look, at Saturday, September 01, 2007 8:45:00 AM  

  • By Blogger Only Look, at Saturday, September 01, 2007 8:47:00 AM  

  • yada yada yada

    By Blogger Antonio, at Monday, September 03, 2007 10:19:00 PM  

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