[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, January 27, 2008

Ignorance and Denial -- Thoughts from a Refined and Consistent Free Grace Theology Perspective

by Antonio da Rosa


The right thing: faith
in the right Person: Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God

There has been much discussion concerning some form of responsibility to acknowledge Jesus as God for the purpose of a theological and/or logical condition for the reception of everlasting life. Some have argued that "ignorance" can be somewhat overlooked while "denial" of the deity of Jesus would preclude someone from receiving everlasting life, even if this person has cast himself upon the saving graces of the authorized and appointed Christ of God, Jesus of Nazareth.

I think that we all need a little more refined (pun intended) thinking on this subject. Let us test this ignorance versus denial distinction. How hard and fast are they?

Let us say that I was ignorant of the true *for the sake of argument* fact that my mom was an assassin for some secretive government agency. I am completely unaware, ignorant. In my ignorance, how free am I from denial? This is a tricky question with many swaying variables.

Two scenarios:

1) My 4th cousin asks me if my mom is a secret assassin for a secretive government agency. In my ignorance, I deny that she is.

2) My 4th cousin tells me that my mom is a secret assassin for a secretive government agency. In my ignorance, I deny that she is.

Both scenarios here show that there is no separating between ignorance and denial. In either case, ignorance of the fact produced denial. It is a hard fact to understand that God humbled himself to become a man. It is hard to understand how God can do that. It is hard to understand that God can be distinguished from Jesus of Nazareth if Jesus is God as well as God who He is distinguished from. It is hard to comprehend that if Jesus is distinguished from God yet is God how God can be two (let alone three) Persons yet be only one God! So when someone understands Jesus to have lived a life as a human his very first answer to the question, "Is Jesus God?" will be a denial of that fact because of his ignorance. Even when told that Jesus is God, his very first impression in his ignorance will be denial!

Maybe you will come back and say that the difference is that in #2 the denial is addressed to a specific assertion that such is true. I will give you that distinction. But it fails to be germane to this discussion, at any rate, for unless there is information to persuade me in either scenario that my mom is indeed an assassin, in my ignorance, I will deny it! Whether I am asked if my mom is an assassin, or am told that she is, if I am not persuaded that she is, in my ignorance I will deny it!

Let us add some more information to the #2 scenario.

Let us say that after my initial denial, my cousin said that she saw my mom talking to the CIA. And for the sake of argument, let us also say that I find my cousin totally trustworthy in her communications.

Is this enough information to convince me? There could be multitudes of reasons why my mom could have been talking to the CIA.

What if my cousin told me that my mom owns 3 guns, or that my mom has information about various terrorists on her computer. Would this be enough information to persuade me?

What if I agreed that the evidence was true but denied it had the same meaning as my cousin attributed to it?

Listen, there will have to be a whole lot of persuasive evidence to convince me that my mom is an assassin for the government! She is 66 years old, 5'4'', and doesn't move too quick. She lives in town with me and I see her often... So many other considerations and thoughts I have about my mom would preclude me from easy persuasion that she is an assassin for the government.

The things I know about my mom will act as a defense to me coming to the conclusion that my mom is an assassin. The evidence will have to be much stronger for me to believe that my mom is an assassin than it potentially would have to be for someone who doesn't know my mom as well.

Not everyone will come to the same conclusions about evidences and proof-texts. Are we going to shut the kingdom of God to people who haven't been persuaded that Jesus is God? If they are convinced that Jesus is authorized and appointed of God to be God's Christ, the Savior of the World, the Guarantor of eternal life to all who believe in Him, why would we consider this one as going to hell? He has believed in Jesus! And Jesus said, "Most assuredly I say to you, whoever believes in Me has everlasting life".

Why are you going to argue with the lost about their interpretation of the Bible concerning the deity of Christ? I am not saying that it will never be appropriate, but could you be doing more harm then good? Why not show Jesus of Nazareth to be the authorized of God, made to be both Lord and the Christ, the Savior of the world, the one appointed by God, the one ordained of God, to dispense eternal life to all who simply believe in Him for it? Shall not the deep things such as Christ's eternal sonship, the Trinity, and the hypostatic union be things reserved as meat for those who by virtue of their maturity and experience be able to digest such?

In my last post, Is faith in Jesus of Nazareth Saving Faith?, we saw the scenario of someone who believed that the Bible was true but wasn't persuaded that Jesus was God. He denies that Jesus is God, because of, among many other things, the texts that clearly distinguish Jesus of Nazareth from God. It is not that he is denying certain texts used by those who say that Jesus is God, but he is under the impression that those texts have another meaning other than that Jesus is God. This could be likened to the above scenario in the sense that my mom talking to the CIA could have a number of legitimate meanings to it. What this person has done, has chosen to interpret those passages that seem to state that Jesus is God with the spectacles and understanding that in many passages that Jesus of Nazareth is distinguished from God, receives His authority from God, and has been appointed by God to be Lord and Christ. Therefore, he believes his interpretation of the Bible.

Sidebar: Those who are Lordship Salvation. I believe that most of you are sincere and honestly believe the Bible, ALL that it says. I would hope that you would afford me the same benefit. I wholeheartedly believe the Bible. What seems so clear to you in your interpretation of the bible is thoroughly erroneous in my estimation, and vice-versa. Just because someone ends up on the wrong end of the doctrine that Jesus is God does not mean that he doesn't believe the Bible! What you say is clear could be quite murky at best to some other guy.

If someone believed that the Bible was true, yet was not persuaded that Jesus was God, denying this fact, because this person attributed other meaning to the "evidences" of Jesus' deity than we would, based upon his impression of the scriptures that distinguish God from Jesus of Nazareth, whereby God endues Jesus with power, gives Him authority, and appoints Him as the Christ, yet, nevertheless, entrusts Jesus of Nazareth with his eternal well-being, his eternal destiny, who in his mind is God's Christ, authorized to give eternal life to all who simply believe in Him for it, why would you say that this man is unsaved? His denial that Jesus is God did not preclude him from believing in Jesus of Nazareth for eternal life. His denial that Jesus is God did not preclude him from trusting Jesus for irrevocable eternal well-being. I think that in more ways than one that the above scenarios correspond to the circumstances of the disciples when they were born again. If one was to ask one of the disciples, "is Jesus God" shortly after they had believed that He was the Christ, the Savior of the World, they would have said, "No," denying this doctrine in their ignorance.

There is a lot more careful thinking needed on this consideration, and I am convinced that many of you are falling trap to the traditional paradigms that have stuck as unquestionable orthodoxy in your minds yet without biblical support.

If someone trusts in Jesus of Nazareth for eternal life, they will not ever be left disappointed.


The Emperor's Old Theology

by Matthew

Don't you love the story of the Emperor's New Clothes? It is so true to life.

There was an emperor who was obsessed with fashion. He loved nothing better than showing off his latest outfit. One day, two swindlers came to his palace disguised as tailors. They promise to make him a fine suit, more handsome than any other. However, it is of a cloth so fine that only a person of refined taste and intelligence will be able to see it. A stupid and coarse person would see nothing at all. The emperor is delighted by the idea and pays them much gold in advance.

When the swindlers complete their 'work', the emperor and his courtiers are unable to see anything at all. Yet being afraid to appear stupid and coarse, they pretend they can see the most beautiful suit they have ever seen.

The emperor then parades naked through the city, and his subjects are all anxious to applaude and admire his new clothes. All except a small boy who laughs out loud and sings with delight on seeing the emperor as bare as the day he was born.

I think we can see the truth of this when it comes to theology.

A lot of Christians when they are first introduced to Calvinism think that it is a dreadful theology; they are appalled at the idea of God 'passing over' people and ordaining them to eternal destruction.

Yet just like the swindlers in the story, Calvinists pull a confidence trick on young believers. They tell them that only a person who is submissive to God's word and who is humble in her attitude will believe in Calvinism. A person who is proud and wilful will hate and despise the truths of 'Sovereign Grace.'

The young Christian then is left thinking:

If I am humble and submissive to God, then I must receive this teaching about election. If I dont accept 'the doctrines of Grace' then it will only show that I am proud and stubborn.

You see this in the testimonies of people who are Calvinists. They will tell you that it was their pride that kept them from believing in Calvinism. In their minds, they were duped into thinking that:

Calvinism = Humble Submission

Rejection of Calvinism = Stubborn self-will

The debate about Calvinism is dressed by Calvinism in the language of morality, not Biblical exegesis.

The truth is that the 'Doctrines of Grace' are bare of any true Biblical foundation. Just as the emperor and his pals were unwilling to think about the 'magic cloth', so often Calvinists are unwilling to re-examine their theology because they have been lead to believe that questioning election is a sign of pride and self-will.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

AW Pink on the two natures of the believer

by AW Pink

Jacob was a believer in God- a careful study of his prayer as recorded in Genesis 32:9-12 evidences that. But though Jacob was a believer there still remained the "flesh," the old evil nature in him. And to this he gave way. The flesh is ever unbelieving, and where it is not constantly judged breaks forth in God-dishonouring activities. The clearest exemplification and demonstration of the two natures in the believer is to be seen in the history of Jacob recorded faithfully by the Holy Spirit not for our emulation but for our "warning." The same two natures are in every child of God today, the spiritual and the carnal, the one which believes God and the other which disbelieves.

AW Pink, Gleanings in Genesis, p.288

This is of course from one of Pink's earliest works and he may have changed his position on this later.

AW Pink's Calvinism could get really ugly at times, nevertheless there are some real gems in his writings. I cannot help but recommend his expository works to the discerning reader.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I am proud to be one of Zane Hodges' godchildren

by Matthew

Phil Johnson described Zane Hodges as the 'godfather of antinomianism.' Well, I am proud to be one of his godchildren.

This evening my pastor was giving a lecture on Hebrews. He gave us the usual stuff about inheritance being salvation and the warning passages being for false professors. Afterwards I recommended to him Zane Hodges' commentary on Hebrews in the Bible Knowledge Commentary.

Critics of consistent Free Grace theology give us a lot of hot air about Zane Hodges being the first person to come up with this theology. It means nothing.

God has always raised up individuals and used them to reveal the truths necessary for a particular time.

God raised up Enoch as a testimony to God's judgment on a wicked world. God raised up Moses to reveal Himself to the Hebrews in captivity. God raised up Daniel to reveal God's plans for the time of Gentile dominance. God raised up the apostle Paul to reveal the distinctive truth of the Church as the Body of Christ. God raised up John to reveal the closure of this dispensation and what should follow it.

In more recent history, God has continued to raise up men to serve as a light to the truths of His word. God raised up John Wycliffe to show the need for a turning back to God's word and away from superstition. God raised up Luther to point to the great truth of justification by faith and then He raised up John Calvin to bring more clarity to this doctrine, particularly in relation to the eternal security of the believer. God raised up John Wesley and George Whitefield to show the vital necessity of personal conversion. He raised up John Nelson Darby to show us the distinction between Israel and the Church.

It should hardly be a surprise that God is using Zane Hodges to bring a right understanding of the nature of saving faith. This is the vital truth for this age. This is needed truth for the last days.

As the dispensation closes and we see an ever greater departure from the faith, God has been pleased to give those who are willing to listen a greater understanding of the freeness of grace.

But let us not forget that the precious insights of Zane Hodges also stand on the legacy of Dispensationalism, with its commitment to the heavenly positionn of the believer and the possibility of real assurance through knowledge of the Saviour. The new and blessed doctrines of Free Grace would never have come without the heritage of those men who sought to move on from the milk of the Reformation and to find the meat of the rightly divided Word of God; men such as JN Darby, William Kelly, CI Scofield, LS Chafer and John Walvoord. They discovered the fresh light of God's Word, just as Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin and Joseph Dillow have discovered new light today.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Is faith in Jesus of Nazareth saving faith?

by Antonio da Rosa

What I find difficult in the arbitrary distinctions of what would be trivial and what would be fatal in discussing the ontology of Christ in relation to saving faith is that the answers we hear are purely speculative. There is not one really scripturally sound objective answer coming from people. If someone has to believe that Jesus is God in order to be saved, exactly what would be the minimum information necessary to assent to in order to fulfill this condition? If you were to give me an answer, I could show you how slippery a slope such a consideration could become.

It would be no hard task to make a strong case that the disciples themselves, even after years of being with Jesus of Nazareth, did not grasp his divinity, and understood Him to be a man, though with exceptional power from God, who was ordained by God and appointed to be the Christ.

Let me ask a couple of questions and set them up.

Let us say that someone has these beliefs:

1) The Bible is the Word of God, with verbal and plenary inspiration.

2) The Bible is true.

3) Believes everything he reads in the Bible, convinced that it is true. These beliefs of his are based upon his interpretations of the Bible (everyone interprets the Bible as they read it!)

4) After reading the whole New Testament, this man does not believe (was not persuaded or convinced) that Jesus of Nazareth, whom the New Testament refers to over and over again, is God, but that Jesus was the most important prophet of God, was the Messiah, of the line of David and Tribe of Judah, King of Israel.

Then this man reads in the gospel of John where Jesus says that the believer in Him will never perish but have life and guaranteed resurrection and believes Jesus of Nazareth's words. This man reads John 6:47 and believes that by simple faith in Jesus that he has everlasting life. This man entrusts his eternal destiny into the hands of the one he finds authorized of God to guarantee his eternal destiny, namely, Jesus of Nazareth.

This man is not convinced that Jesus of Nazareth is God. He believes that Jesus has been authorized by God, annointed of God, to be the Messiah and the Guarantor of eternal life to all who simply trust in Him for it.

Why has he not placed his faith in Jesus of Nazareth? And if he has, why isn't he saved?

Philip believed that Jesus was the Christ, and as we know from 1 John 5:1, everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. This is how he described Jesus to Nathanael:

"We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote -- Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."

Did Philip not understand Jesus to be the fruit of Joseph's loins? Jesus was introduced as a mere man who had a biological father! But Philip understood Jesus to be the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior of the World (c.f. Jn 4:42 M.T.), and remember: "whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (1 Jn 5:1)!

The person who we were just talking about has a great misconception about Jesus, that Jesus was merely a man who was the greatest of prophets, yet nevertheless, the annointed of God, who has been given authority and is authorized to give eternal life to all who believe in Him. In other words, God endued Jesus with power and authority and acts on behalf of God.

How can you say that this man is believing in a different Jesus or a different god when he simply has a misunderstanding and misconception about Him?

It is manifestly illogical to claim such.

The only genuine positions one may have of this scenario are:

1) The man is saved, having fully entrusted his eternal destiny to God's Christ.
2) The man is unsaved because, although he believed in Jesus of Nazareth for eternal life, he did not fulfill another co-condition of receiving everlasting life, namely assent to the orthodox doctrine that Jesus is God, therefore misses heaven by a doctrinal stipulation.

It cannot be that he has believed in anyone else but Jesus of Nazareth! You have to grapple with this. The only logical and genuine position you could have is that one MUST believe that Jesus is God in addition to trust in Him. But then it wouldn't be simple faith alone in Jesus alone but faith in Jesus plus faith in doctrine (as true and important as it is!). You cannot state that this man has believed into anyone else other than the true bona-fide Jesus of Nazareth spoken of in the Bible!

When I read through the Acts of the Apostles, I am struck by the fact that those who have some of their sermons contained therein do not emphasize the deity of Christ when they preached. For instance, Peter could say, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus both Lord and Christ" (Acts 3:36). This is the Lordship of Jesus that was granted unto Him by God, not the Lordship of Jesus by virtue of His divinity. God appointed Jesus to be Lord and the annointed King.

"Jesus of Nazareth" is emphasized 7 times in the book of Acts.

Here is another example:

Acts 10:38, 42-43
... how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him... And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins."

If someone believes that Jesus of Nazareth is sufficiently authorized by God to guarantee eternal life to the believer, why is it that it is said that one must also understand that Jesus is God in order to identify Him?

Does Peter fail in sufficiently identifying and referring to Jesus of Nazareth to his audience?


Monday, January 21, 2008

Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer uses Refined (Consistent) Free Grace Theology phraseology Part 2

by Antonio da Rosa

In my last post, we saw that the brilliant Lewis Sperry Chafer, founder and first president of Dallas Theological Seminary, employed terminology and proposed concepts that were the precursors and foreshadows of the developing Free Grace theology in its Refined and Consistent form of today. Much like there have been generations of Dispensationalists, each with its development and refinement, so, too, Free Grace theology has become more consistent (in relation to 1: fidelity to the Scriptures, 2: internal consistency of theology in its many areas, and 3: correlation and harmonization of all difficult passages which leave the Scriptures and contexts intact) as the years pass. In each generation of Free Grace advocates there are issues that are tackled. When these issues gain sufficient solution and articulation, other areas are moved to. Thus for each generation of Free Grace advocates new issues arise to the forefront in which they must grapple. Development occurs as new thought and exegesis is wrought in areas that have not been sufficiently plumbed, in the sense that sufficient emphasis of concentrated and directed study has not occurred in these areas prior (this is not to say that study has not been done, just that it was not the burden and issue of most importance at that particular time). With refinement comes consistency and harmonization, as the flaws and inconsistencies are ironed out.

With that said, here is the second installment of L.S. Chafer's words:

The Sin of Unbelief
The far-reaching importance of believing may also be seen in the fact that men are said to be lost in this age because they do not believe. "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18). "He that disbelieveth shall be condemned" (Mark 16:16 R.V.). Likewise when the Spirit is said to approach the unsaved to convince them of sin, He is not said to make them conscious or ashamed of their personal transgressions. One sin only is mentioned: "Of sin, because they believe not on me" (John 16:9). "This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19). The sin sacrifice of the cross is forever satisfying to God. What God does is based on His own estimate of the finished work of Christ. The facts and conditions of salvation are based on that divine estimate rather than upon the estimate of men. That men are not now condemned primarily because of the sins which Christ has borne is finally stated in 2 Corinthians 5:14, 19 R.V.: "We thus judge, that if one died for all, therefore all died"; "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not reckoning unto them their trespasses."...

At the judgment of the wicked dead before the Great White Throne, those standing there are said to be judged "according to their works." There is additional evidence recorded against them at that judgment seat: their names are not written in the Lamb's book of life. This might be taken as evidence that they have rejected the "Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world."

As you see here there is the seed of Consistent Free Grace theology. As we have grappled with the idea that Jesus is not the potential "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" but in fact took it away in its entirety, being the propitiation for the sin of the whole world, refinement and development has occurred which has better taken into account all the biblical evidence, which in turn produces a more consistent theology.

For the more Consistent and Refined Free Grace position on the atonement, you may refer to this post of mine:

The Intent of the Atonement

Friday, January 18, 2008

When it comes to “Receiving Christ” is there a difference between Ignorance and Denial?

by Rose

With all the discussions over the Refined Free Grace Movement, the Crossless Gospel (hate that term) or the Consistent Free Grace view or whatever other label one might attach to the particulars of one area of soteriology of my blog mates, Antonio and Matthew, I have had two scenarios battling in my head.

Scenario #1
Let’s talk about Jeff. Jeff is a guy that has heard the doctrines of Christianity here and there all his life. He doesn’t believe any of it. He thinks that the Bible is a fairy tale. He does not believe in miracles. One day, his brother is tragically killed. He begins to fear death and the hereafter in the weeks to follow. He knows a Christian at work named Leonard. He asks Leonard to tell him how to avoid hell. Leonard shares the gospel with Jeff. He tells him the whole entire story, using the gospel of John as an outline. Leonard tells Jeff about the eternality of Christ. He tells him about Christ’s miracles and His exchanges with people. He tells him about the death and resurrection and that He was seen by over 500 witnesses. Jeff, in his mind, is saying, “This is all that fundamentalist stuff.” However, something about the conversations that Jesus had with individuals in the Bible catches Jeff's ear. In an irrational turn-of-mind (which I honestly think is impossible) he believes that he can trust Christ with his eternal welfare… even though he hates all this “fundamentalist stuff” (which is actually great truth about Christ – His deity, His death for sin, and His resurrection.) Leonard doesn’t know that Jeff is dismissing all the great truths about Christ, but he sees Jeff’s interest in the promise of Christ to these souls in the Gospel of John. Leonard asks Jeff if He trusts Christ for that promise. Jeff says “yes” and in an unreasonable way, he does, even though he rejects the other great truths about Christ, secretly, in his mind. Leonard says, “Welcome to the family” …and the encounter ends. In my understanding, Jeff is not “receiving” Christ. I don’t know that it is Leonard’s fault… because Jeff did not reveal all that was in his mind at the time. Jeff has clearly closed his throat to Christ, even though he liked Christ’s promise in a somewhat bizarre and irrational way. The over-riding truth here is that Jeff has rejected the Person of Christ from who comes that great promise. How can that be saving faith?


Scenario #2
A person named Tio, in a far-off land, is given the gospel of John and his friend, who had gotten it from a missionary, just tells him, “They say that this man Jesus can save us from punishment of the Great One after we die.” So Tio begins to read about the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among people. He gets it – this man Jesus... was the Great One. He reads of the miracles that Jesus did. He begins to get a wonderful revelation in his mind that this Jesus is the answer to his – and all others’ - eternal needs. He reads of how Jesus interacted with the Samaritan woman. He is overcome with enthusiasm about receiving this Person in the same way as she did. He calls out to Jesus and places his faith in Him. He believes and trusts the God-man. The next day, officials from his country come in and confiscate the Gospel of John. He has no way of reading the rest of it and now has no knowledge of the cross and resurrection. If Tio heard about the cross and resurrection, he would of course receive it as it is – truth about his Savior. In my mind, I cannot bring myself to say that Tio is not saved eternally. He has trusted and received Christ. His knowledge is limited, but he has not rejected any great truth about his Savior and he placed his faith in Christ for the long haul. He has received all that he heard of Christ and has entrusted himself to Him eternally.

Jeff denies. Tio is ignorant. To me, there is a huge difference. I believe that Christ gives the right to become “children of God to as many as believe on His name.” Believing on His name and receiving great truths about Him as they come… are one and the same. Rejecting great truths about who Jesus has so far proven Himself to be... and what He has done... is antithetical to "receiving Him."

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer uses Refined (Consistent) Free Grace Theology phraseology

by Antonio da Rosa

Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, founder and first president of Dallas Theological Seminary, in his book, Salvation: God's Marvelous Work of Grace, states:

Thus salvation can be accomplished, even by the infinite God, only through Jesus Christ. Hence it is that a simple trust in the Savior opens the way into the infinite power and grace of God. It is "unto every one that believeth," "For there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." This one word "believe" represents all a sinner can do and all a sinner must do to be saved... [Jesus] is a living Savior to all who put their trust in Him. It is quite possible for any intelligent person to know whether he has placed such confidence in the Savior. Saving faith is a matter of personal consciousness. "I know whom I have believed." To have deposited one's eternal welfare in the hands of another is a decision so definite that it can hardly be confused with anything else. On this deposit of oneself into His saving grace depends one's eternal destiny. To add, or subtract, anything from this sole condition of salvation is most perilous.

Thus, for Dr. Chafer, the "sole condition of [eternal] salvation" is "simple trust in the Savior" whereby the lost "deposit... [their] eternal welfare in the hands of" Jesus. One's "eternal destiny" "depends" "on this deposit". He finishes off by saying that "to add" to saving faith is "most perilous". Interestingly enough he includes in this quotation the fact that one is conscious of exercising saving faith. There is noone in the world who believes in Christ savingly, salvifically, soterically, who is unaware that this act of faith is saving faith. This would disclude any idea that saving faith can be some belief about Jesus that does't include the idea that Jesus guarantees eternal life through faith, in other words, that Jesus is the Savior. For L.S. Chafer, saving faith is trusting in Jesus to save you, and as such, is done with the full recognition of the mind.


Thursday, January 10, 2008


by David Wyatt

No, I'm not mad! The letters stand for "Mid-Acts Dispensationalism." I really don't know that much about the beliefs of those that would align themselves with this doctrine. I have participated in a forum with some of the folks, & for the most part they seem like very warm-hearted believers with a passion for the Rapture of the church. We should certainly agree with them on that, & we should cetainly make it our aim to be ready so as not to be ashamed at His coming. The question I am asking is, what do you folks here at UoG think of this teaching? They basically believe that water baptism is not for this age at all. Otherwise, I believe they would be in pretty much agreement with us, especially on free grace. Any thoughts?

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Power Going Out From Me

by Rose

43 Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, 44 came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped. 45 And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’" 46 But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” 47 Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately. 48 And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” (Luke 8:43-48)

I was reading this passage today and I find it interesting. I try to put myself in the frame of mind of one who believes regeneration precedes faith/faith as a gift and I wonder what I would do with passages like this.

Also as a side note, (regardlesss of those views), what make you of the fact that Jesus does not say "I have made you well" but rather "YOUR FAITH has made you well"? I find that a bit thought-provoking.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Dual Nature of our Lord's Sonship

by Matthew

Consistent Free Gracers argue that believing on Jesus for eternal life is quivalent to believing that Jesus is Christ and Son of God and does not necessarilly entail affirming His deity. This position has been bitterly attacked by many.

Lou Martuneac and others have accused Consistent Free Gracers such as myself of caring little for truth. If that were the case, one might expect that we would make our rhetorical case more simple and join those who deny the Eternal Sonship of our Lord Jesus Christ. While I am sure there are some Consistent Free Gracers who do deny the Eternal Sonship of our Lord, I believe that this doctrine is very important. Nevertheless, while the Bible affirms that Jesus is eternally in a relationship of Sonship to the Father, He is also entered into a new position of Sonship by virtue of the incarnation. Thus, the messianic title 'Son of God' in most cases refers more to our Lord's humanity than to His deity.

Let us compare the title 'Son of God' with the title 'Lord.' A lot of Christians in their rightful eagerness to defend the deity of our Lord make the mistake of exagerrating the importance of the title Lord or kyrios. They make the mistake of assuming that because the term Lord sometimes refers to deity, it always does so. However, the term in some contexts may simply mean a 'ruler' or 'master.'
The term 'Lord' also has a messianic usage. As we see in Acts 2:

36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Here Jesus is said to have been 'made Lord.' Although Jesus Christ is eternally the Lord God, as a man, He was appointed as Lord, meaning that He is made God's representative of mankind and heir of all things.

Likewise, although the term Son of God is owned by the one who is eternally the Son of God the Father, it is also a messianic term that indicates His status as man.

Adam was said to be the 'Son of God' (Luke 3:38). Jesus is the last Adam, the new representative head of humanity who fulfills God's gift of heirship to Adam. Likewise, Israel as a nation is said to be the son of God (Hosea 11:1). Jesus Christ is the representative of Israel and the heir to God's promises to that nation. Thus, Christ's sonship embraces that same aspect.

It is true that the term 'son of God' is rarely applied to the messiah in first century Jewish literature. Nevertheless, the use of it by some New Testament characters (Martha, Nathaniel) would support the contention that this usage was not unknown.

There are certain passages where the use of Son of God as a messianic term is clear:

Luke 1:32
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

Here being the Son of God is identified with being heir to the throne of David. This is clearly shown in 1 Chronicles 28:

5 and of all my sons, (for the LORD hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel.

6 And he said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father.

Nathaniel also makes this identification:

49 Nathan'a-el answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.

Thus, we must conclude that believing in Jesus as Son of God is not necessarilly a matter of affirming our Lord's deity. So what does it mean to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God?

To believe in Christ is to trust in Him. It is to believe that He is able to accomplish that work to which the Father has entrusted Him, namely to give life to lost sinners. We see this in John 11:

John 11
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

26 and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

To believe that Jesus guarantees everlasting life is to join with Martha in affirming that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.


Friday, January 04, 2008

Do you agree with this quotation? XXII

by Antonio da Rosa
The following is taken from the blog of a Doctoral student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is an avowed Calvinist with these links on his blog:

Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals
Desiring God Ministries
Founders Ministries
Grace to You
JETS Online
Ligonier Ministries
Nine Marks Ministries
Sovereign Grace Ministries
Tim Keller Resources

You can find this entry at this address: Is Perseverance Necessary for Eternal life?

Read this post and see what the author's answer to this question is. Such a post as this is the heritage and legacy of Reformed and Calvinistic Lordship Salvation. It is nothing but works-salvation.

While there are many in the evangelical world today who claim that salvation is only by faith, the Bible clearly teaches that salvation involves good works and that they are necessary to experience eternal life. Justification is by faith alone, but salvation, taken as a whole, is by faithfulness. Zane Hodges, Charles Ryrie, Charles Stanley and other no-Lordship proponents claim that a person's heavenly inheritance is secure based on a decision that the person made at some point in his past without respect to whether or not the person is presently living a godly life.

Contrary to that antinomian (against the law) vision of Christianity, Christ teaches that the only one who will enter the kingdom of heaven is "the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 7:23). And, God's "will" is not limited to "faith alone," but includes faith, repentance, love, and good works of faithful obedience to God's law. Mark 13:13 says, "The one who endures to the end will be saved." Christ said that the man whose house stands is the one who "hears my words and does them" (Luke 6:46). In context, this "doing" of Christ's words cannot be reduced to the act of "faith alone," but includes a robust godliness (Luke 6:20-45). Christ very pointedly told the disciples "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love" (John 15:10).

The epistles are full of such admonition. 1 Corinthians 10:12 says, "Therefore, let anyone who thinks that he stands, take heed lest he fall." Then again in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil." In Galatians, Paul warns us, "For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love" (Galatians 5:6). Later in the same letter, Paul wrote, "For the one who sows to his own flesh, will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life" (Galatians 6:8).

In the book of Hebrews, we find many warnings that teach us of the necessity of perseverance for the experience of eternal live. "For we share in Christ, if we hold fast our original confidence firm to the end" (Hebrews 3:14). "Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear, lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it" (Hebrews 4:1). "Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience" (Hebrews 4:11). "And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him" (Hebrews 5:9). "For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for our sins but a fearful expectation of judgment and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries" (Hebrews 10:26). "Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14).

The book of Revelation too, warns us that we must be overcomers in order to inherit the promised future blessing. "To the one who conquers, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God" (Revelation 2:7). "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10). "The one who conquers, I will grant to sit with my on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne" (Revelation 3:21).

Finally, "The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son, but as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:7-8).

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Eureka! It bit me in the face....

by Rose

I was having an exchange with Matthew today about the distinction between faith and works, the question 'is faith a work? ' and the idea put forth by some that faith is meritorious if it is not a gift. Matthew made the following observation. These thoughts point out such an obvious issue in the whole discussion as we have been engaged in for these couple of years in the blogosphere between "free-gracers" and "lordhsip salvationists," "calvininsts" and "non-calvinists." It is so obvious, it could bite you in the face, yet I had never read someone put it into such clear terms as Matthew did:

If faith would be meritorious if it was not a gift, then why does it matter that salvation is by faith or by works? We could quite legitimately claim that salvation is by both, both are gifts, and that they are both non-meritorious, being products of grace.

Abraham meets Three Angels (Dore)

by Matthew

In Genesis 18, the Lord appears to Abraham in the form of an angel.

Before the incarnation of our Lord as a man, he took on bodily form as an angel, a form by which He made many appearances.

God is a personal God. He desires a relationship with His creations. Being corporeal beings, it is easier for us to relate to other coroporeal beings, so that even before God revealed Himself in the Son, He revealed Himself as an angel.

Abraham in this story was able to share a meal with His God. It seems an incredible idea, yet this is what the Word of God tells us. If Abraham had only shared a meal with two angels it would seem remarkable, yet God also descended and ate with Abraham.

God had fellowship with Abraham. The Christian may not share a meal physically with His Lord. Yet, He is indwellt by God the Holy Spirit. He is united to Christ in heaven. He has fellowship with the Church which is Christ's body and is a temple also indwellt by the Holy Spirit. When she is raised from the dead and glorified, the Christian will ever be with the Lord, enjoying His presence for all eternity.

Note the final conversation that Abraham has with God. He negotiates with Him. He attempts to persuade the Lord of the universe to have mercy on Sodom.

God allows Himself to enter into negotiations. Instead of operating an unchangeable plan devised in eternity, He negotiates with Abraham.

So many times do we hear theologians and preachers talking all the time about the sovereignty of God. They talk about how God has set down His counsels in eternity and they will never change. Yet here God allows His plans to be influenced by Abraham.

God desires a relationship with us. God wants men and women to be included in His plans.

So many Christians strugggle with prayer. They think "If God has planned what He is going to do, why should I pray?" This emphasis on the immutability of God's plans can present an obstacle for prayer for many Christians.

Yet this story tells us that Abahams' pleas had an impact on God. God listened to Abrham and changed His plans in accordance with His negotiation with Abraham. When we pray, God hears our prayers and He will shape His purposes in accordance with them. We can have boldness to bring our requests and petitions before the throne of grace and have confidence that they have an impact.


A great comment from Alvin

by Alvin

Hi Antonio/Rose

First off I would like to state that the Apostle John when writing his Gospel made clear in his prolog that Jesus was Jehovah God. By introducing the Son as the Word (Logos) John 1:1 and in verse 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son,[f] who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
But I believe in the narrative the disciples and also the ones who believed in Jesus as the Christ did not understand that Jesus was God. They believed in the One God of the Old Testament, and that you could not look upon God and live. They did not understand that the One true God was standing before them and that He had laid aside His glory so they could look upon Him. I believe they believed in Jesus in the Messianic sense, that He was the son of Joseph, the King of Israel from the line of David the Son of God. That God had given Him what to say and when He spoke He was speaking as God representing God.
This is a Messianic description of Jesus
John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! Psalm 53
John 1:34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” This could be understood as the Son of God as coming from the line of David. Because God called David's son His own son, as a son of God. 1 Chronicles 28: 5 And of all my sons (for the LORD has given me many sons) He has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel. 6 Now He said to me, ‘It is your son Solomon who shall build My house and My courts; for I have chosen him to be My son, and I will be his Father. 7 Moreover I will establish his kingdom forever,

John 1:37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?”
They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?”
40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ).
45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
49 Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
If His disciples new He was God why would they marvel that He would talk to a women? John 4:27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”
29 “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”

Rose notice in this following verse Jesus doesn't use scripture to prove His Deity but uses scripture to make the case for using Son of God in His humanity. His argument seems to be if Judges were called god's by God why do you want to stone Me for calling myself the Son of God?
John 10:31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?”
33 The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”
34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’?[c] 35 If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?

Psalm 82 6 I said, “You are gods,[b]
And all of you are children of the Most High.
7 But you shall die like men,
And fall like one of the princes.”

Why would the disciples be so concerned if they new Jesus was God?
John 11:8 The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?”

Rose if Martha believed Jesus was God why did she say if you asked God He would give Him as if Jesus Himself wasn't God?
John 11: 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”
11:39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”
40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”
If they new God was standing right before them do you think they would have questioned His ability to raise a dead man that had been rotting four days?

Jesus meets them where they are, else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.

John 14:7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”
8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.

Now we know? Do they?

John 16:29 His disciples said to Him, “See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! 30 Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.”
31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?

John 20:28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas,[d] because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Here a born again believer finally calls Jesus God!

I believe Son of God and Christ are interchangeable as Zane does.
John 9:
John 9:34 They answered and said to him, “You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they cast him out.

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”[a]
36 He answered and said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?”
37 And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.”
38 Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him.

Rose to believe in the Son of God was to believe in the Christ the One who gives life! As in 1 John 5:1a Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.
1 John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our[a] faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

So in closing I believe that anyone can believe in Jesus for His promise of eternal life without having to believe that He is God just as the ones did in the narrative of John's Gospel. He said that His words were not His own but were from the Father and because of His miracles they believed Him.

blessings alvin