[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)

Saturday, May 31, 2008

This is a Cult: The Gospel incarnated in subcultural form

by Matthew

This is a Cult: The Gospel incarnated in subcultural form

Friday, May 30, 2008

Seekadoo: Calvinist Dictionary

Seekadoo: Calvinist Dictionary

This was funny!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Something to think about

by Matthew

Suppose that God had seen fit to conceal the existence of Satan and not reveal it in the pages of Scripture. What difference would it make to your theology? Would the absence of the doctrine of Satan affect Reformed theology in particular?


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Is this Heresy?

by Rose

Here is a quote for the consideration of those who want to charge other orthodox Christians with heresy for having differeing views of the content of saving faith:

“I believe that the Bible teaches that God regenerates the elect apart from specific doctrinal considerations. A person can hear some truth about the Lord and God begins to work on their heart, bringing new life where there was a dead soul. This is salvation! The person can be assured of entrance into God’s presence because God has elected him to eternal life. Whether or not he understands everything about Jesus Christ is inconsequential to his being sealed for pardon. If he is elect, he will be saved. If he dies before he hears of the trinity, it doesn’t matter. Election stands. If he dies before he understands the sacrificial atonement that Christ paid on his behalf or how Christ conquered death on his behalf, it doesn’t matter. Election stands. If we view salvation as all of God and all God’s decision, these questions about “what must the lost believe to be saved” are really a moot point. The lost will be saved if they are elect. Period.”

Friday, May 23, 2008

Do You Agree With This Quotation XXIII

by Antonio da Rosa

It has been a while since I have put up for discussion a quote from a famous (or infamous) person. As of late we again have been discussing saving faith, for this is on the frontline in the battle for the gospel. If you all haven't noticed, I am an advocate for a clear and biblical invitation when engaging in evangelism. This is the crux of the matter! I want to be as faithful to the Scriptures as I can. What I love about the saving message that our Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed is its utter simplicity: "whosoever believes in Me has everlasting life"!!!

Can Jesus be telling the truth? Is it as simple as that? Well I sure hope so. Why? For one day I will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for what I have done. I take the gospel of Christ very seriously. I would wager my eternal destiny upon the simplicity of Christ's message: "whosoever believes in Me has everlasting life". In a sense I have. And till the day I die I will evangelize others and teach others this very truth: All who believe in Jesus have eternal life.

But now I digress. On to the topic of this post. I do not wish to divulge, yet the author of this quote. But here is some context so that you may appropriately give your nod or dissent.

The author of this quote is a dispensationalist and is opposed to Lordship Salvation. The context of the quote is as follows. He is discussing that there needs to be some facts involved in saving faith or else faith is "empty". But he continues his treatise to state that the belief in facts about someone doesn't save. One must rely or commit oneself to Christ, having confidence in Him alone which is more than merely believing some historical facts. It is in this context he states this:

Trust, however, implies reliance, commitment, and confidence in the objects... that one is trusting. An element of commitment must be present in trusting Christ for salvation, but it is a commitment to Him, His promise, and His ability to give eternal life to those who believe. The object of faith or trust is the Lord Jesus Christ, however little or much one may know about Him. The issue about which we trust Him is His ability to forgive our sins and take us to heaven.

I will be the first to answer: there are some ways that I would state some things differently, but I wholeheartedly agree with this quotation and furthermore especially agree with the bolded part.

What say you? Do you agree with this quotation?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Heresy Hunting of Militant Fundamentalism

by Antonio da Rosa

Today I bumped two really good articles by Matthew. Please read them, as they are very good:

Does God possess the power to make contrary choices?

A Sermon on Acts 19

Lou Martuneac seems to think that there is some major rift in Free Grace Theology. He believes it is fractured. The funny thing is that only he and a small handful of militant and cultish fundamentalists are making a stink causing themselves to be foolish spectacles to the Christian world. Charles Ryrie and Earl Radmacher are giants in the Free Grace movement. They remain friends of Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin, and although they may disagree with these men on certain items, they do not believe them to be preaching any heresy. Furthermore, men such as Charlie Bing and Fred Lybrand, who are on the executive board of the Free Grace Alliance, do not believe that Zane and Bob preach a false gospel either.

In reality, Lou wants to have a fracture. He is the boy who cries wolf. It seems to me and others whom I have talked to that in some bizarre way this is how Lou gets his purpose and enjoyment out of life. His behavior and activities in the blogosphere reminds me of this verse, "They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service" (John 16:2). Lou believes that he is on a mission from God, thinking that he offers God service. But in reality, he does not show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom (Jas 3:13). I am finding his comments everywhere on the internet spewing venom in his quest to character assasinate his opponents. He has become the blogosphere's gossip and busybody!

Lou is always out on the heresy hunt as a militant and strict fundamentalist. Those who are impartial, like Bob Topartzer, a fundamentalist himself (and an ex theology prof from an accredited seminary), who was quoted in a post a few days ago, have sought to understand Free Grace theology before making a judgement. Bob Topartzer is neither Free Grace nor Lordship, but understands that quotes are part of major contexts, and also that ideas surrounding the exact minimum content of saving faith is something that has been discussed for years. See his beautiful and commendable article: A Response to Lou Martuneac by a Gentleman

Lou wishes to speak of a fracture. The only real fracture is in his mind. The name-worthy leaders in the Free Grace world do not think there is. The sad thing is that Lou is not Free Grace at all. His view on repentance precludes him from being Free Grace. In all reality, Lou is a soft-Lordship Salvation proponent.


These are some very interesting thoughts and insights. I think you are onto something here.

I bought a copy of Lou's book "In Defense of the Gospel" hoping that it would be sort of a layman's version of Charlie Bing's "Lordship Salvation" classic.

I took both books to work with me hoping to study up on the subject of repentance before teaching on the subject. I began by reading the chapter on repentance in Lou's book. I thought it was confusing, weak, and yes, somewhat Lordship. The more I read, the more confused I became! "Is Lou Lordship or Free Grace?" I wondered. I actually had to read Charlie Bing's chapter on repentance to get the correct answers! [by Jonathan Perreault]

Jonathan Perreault wrote the above statement after reading Lou Martuneac's book and primer on soft-Lordship Salvation theology. He left it in a thread which showed that Lou Martuneac is not part of Free Grace theology. Here is part of that message:

Just about a year ago, the Pulpit Magazine, which is a web-magazine done by John MacArthur and associates, put out a series on Lordship Salvation. During this time, Lou Martuneac highly advertised his book and spent a considerable amount of time in discussions happening in the comments threads of these posts.

Nathan Busenitz, the managing editor of the Pulpit Magazine, read Lou Martuneac's book, and he had this to say about it:

After reading his book, I am convinced that Lou Martuneac is, in actuality, a proponent of Lordship Salvation.

There, I said it.

I know, I know… this is probably not what most of you expected to read...

But it’s true… after reading his book, I’m convinced... the repentance Lou promotes is, essentially, the repentance of lordship advocates. Thus, because he sees it as necessary to saving faith, I am left with only one conclusion:

Whether he realizes it or not, Lou Martuneac is teaching a lordship gospel.

I can see where Nathan gets this. Lou Martuneac's definition of repentance is the same as Lordship Salvation. Here are some quotes from Lou Martuneac's book (remember, Lou regards repentance as necessary for eternal salvation):

“Repentance is an attitude that always results in action. ...Biblical repentance will produce a change of life evidenced by a new behavior as one yields to the working of God’s Spirit” (pp. 111-112).

“...biblical repentance... [is] [w]hen a man understands that he is a sinner, and makes a definite, on-purpose decision to confess that sin, and turn from the old ways...” (p. 121).

“Good works... are a by-product of repentance and saving faith. They are the evidences of genuine repentance and an unceasing gratitude for God’s mercy” (p. 123).

Lou Martuneac's comments about repentance could be found in any textbook advocating Lordship Salvation. Repentance has always been a huge battleground in the discussion between Lordship Salvation and Free Grace Theology. But Lou Martuneac sides with the Lordship Salvationist.

Let us end this post showing the great gulf fixed between Free Grace theology advocates and Lou Martuneac.

Lou Martuneac versus ALL Free Grace Theology leaders:

Is a willingness to give up one’s known sins (prostitution, smoking, etc.) required for salvation?

Lou Martuneac would say yes. Here is his answer in case you missed it. Lou Martuneac says, “If a person expressed their intention to hang on to their sin I would stop right there. I would not attempt to lead them to pray for God to save them. That person is far from biblical repentance." (Posted on August 18, 2006)

How would those in Free Grace community, even with the differences in the definition on repentance, answer the question, “Is a willingness to give up one’s known sins required for salvation?”

Charles Ryrie says no. He says, “I do not need to be willing to give up smoking in order to be saved.” (So Great Salvation page 39). “Is repentance a condition for receiving eternal life?...No, if it means to be sorry for sin or even to resolve to turn from sin, for these things will not save.” (SGS page 99).

Zane Hodges says no. He says, “Thus to repent is to rediscover our direction and to experience true "life" in harmony with our Maker. But repentance is not the means by which we acquire eternal life." (Absolutely Free Chapter 12)

Charles Bing says no. He says, “If it is asserted that repentance means resolving to forsake all known sin, then the absurd scenario emerges in which it would be best to keep people ignorant of their sins when preaching the gospel.”

Ron Shea says no. He says, “Accordingly, we deny that saving repentance is ever directed to sin, either by way of sorrow for one's sins, or the resolution or promise to "turn" from them.” http://cleargospel.org/topics.php?t_id=27

A. Ray Stanford says no. He says, “preachers have been going about earnestly trying to get men to quit their sinning, or at least to work up a genuine sorrow for sin. But is this the divinely appointed task of Christians--to get men to change their ways? No! This kind of preaching often leads to form of self-righteousness and self-reformation—not to salvation.” (Handbook of Personal Evangelism page 80)

G. Michael Cocoris says no. He says, “Repentance means a change of mind or attitude; it does not include tears or turning. To define repentance as being sorry for sin or turning from sin is dangerous, because it could cause people to think that they could do something that could in some way help them obtain salvation.” (“Repentance: The Most Misunderstood Word in the Bible” Pt. 2)

Joseph Dillow says no. He says, “their [lordship salvation] view is that a man must resolve to turn from all known sin and follow Christ absolutely. It seems that works enter through the front door, and another gospel is taught.” (emphasis mine) (The Reign of the Servant Kings page 10).

GES says no. Its affirmation of beliefs say, “No act of obedience, preceding or following faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, such as commitment to obey, sorrow for sin, turning from one’s sin, baptism or submission to the Lordship of Christ, may be added to, or considered part of, faith as a condition for receiving everlasting life” (emphasis mine).

Lewis Sperry Chafer and John Walvoord would have said no. “The divine message is not “believe and pray,” “believe and confess sin,” “believe and confess Christ,” “believe and be baptized,” “believe and repent,” or “believe and make restitution.” These six added subjects are mentioned in Scripture, and there they have their full intended meaning; but if they were as essential to salvation as believing they would never be omitted from any passage wherein the way to be saved is stated.” (emphasis mine). (Major Bible Themes page 187)

Dennis Rokser says no. "We reject the many contemporary phrases that are often stated as necessary responses or conditions to the Gospel for someone to be saved. Such statements include: ... 'repent of or confess your sins,'"

Lou Martuneac’s position that one needs to be willing to give up a known sinful habit (eg. prostitution) is outside the circle of those who advocate a Free Grace view of the Gospel.

Lou is spreading discord among brethren by his misquoting, character assasinations, exaggerations, misrepresentations, and his purposeful misunderstandings. This passage in the book of Proverbs ought to give Lou pause to consider:

Prov 6:12-19

A worthless person, a wicked man,
Walks with a perverse mouth;
13 He winks with his eyes,
He shuffles his feet,
He points with his fingers;
14 Perversity is in his heart,
He devises evil continually,
He sows discord.
15 Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly;
Suddenly he shall be broken without remedy.

16 These six things the LORD hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
17 A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
18 A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
19 A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.

Does God possess the power to make contrary choices?

by Matthew

Some (but not all Calvinists) argue for a model of the human will known as Compatibilism. This holds that man has the power to choose to do what he is inclined to do, but will not choose contrary to this.

Bruce Ware explains this position:

But it stands to reason that if we choose to do what we want, then at the moment of that choice, we are not "free" to do otherwise. That is, if I want an apple not an orange, and if my freedom consists in choosing to do what I want, then I'm free to choose the apple, but I'm not free to choose the orange. Freedom, then, is not freedom of contrary choice but freedom to choose and act in accordance with what I want most. It is, as Jonathan Edwards called it, our "freedom of inclination," i.e., we are free when we act in accordance with what we are most stronly inclined to do.
God's Greater Glory, p.80

So because I like wearing flip flops, unless I am going to a wedding or there is an inch of snow outside, I will freely choose to wear flip flops. I do not have the power to make the contrary choice to wear sneakers, boots or loafers, because that is not what I am inclined to do. I have the freedom to follow my flip-flop-wearing nature.

To summarise this:

1. Matthew is inclined to wear flip flops.
2. A person will do what he is most inclined to do, circumstances permitting.
3. Therefore circumstances permitting, Matthew will wear flip flops.

However, we must ask whether this model of freedom should not be applied to God as well as to mankind.

If God's choices arise from His nature we may say that they result from inclinations that He posesses. Let us apply this to God's choices:

1. God was inclined to create the earth.
2. A person will do what he is most inclined to do, circumstances permitting.
3. Therefore God chose to create the earth.

Following this logic we can say that God would not have chosen to do anything other than create the earth. This would apply to all of God's choices, such as electing Abraham, choosing to redeem man through the cross and restoring the cosmos in the eschaton. God did not have the freedom of contrary choice.

Now one could object to premise 2 being applied to both man and God. The Reformed Compatiblist may argue that my choice to wear flip flops is in any completely different category to God's choices. No doubt, but the objector must explain how.

If God's will can be neutral yet be moved by the inclinations of His nature, why can the will of man not be neutral yet moved by the inclinations of his nature? To allow the one but not the other is to make a case of special pleading.

There are two other ways out. One is to argue that God's will is an absolute and utterly independent facet of His personality that posesses a supreme power to make choices indepently of His inclinations. The problem with this strategy is that it absolutizes the will of God in such a way that it sets His attributes in opposition to each other. This is a denial of the simplicity of God and also undermines His moral character.

Alternatively, the Reformed Compatibilist may opt to allow God only Compatibilist freedom. Thus, God would never have made alternative choices to those He has made. The Father would never have done anything but send the Son and the Son would never have done other than come into the world to save sinners.

At times, Reformed Christians can sometimes give the impression that this is the view they take when they talk about election and reprobation as being necessary outworkings of God's nature.

However, to allow God to only posess Compatiblist freedom would have two problems. First, it would undermine the whole project of Reformed theology, namely the upholding of God's sovereign will. Secondly, it would raise questions about the self-sufficency and immutability of God if it was necessary for Him to choose to create the universe and He could not have done otherwise.

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A sermon on Acts 19

by Matthew

I preached this yesterday:

Acts 19
8 ¶ And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.

9 But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyran'nus.

10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.

11 ¶ And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:

12 so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.

14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.

15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?

16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.

18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and showed their deeds.

19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.

20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

21 ¶ After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achai'a, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.

22 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timothy and Eras'tus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.

In this passage we have an account of Paul’s preaching ministry in Ephesus. We learn of his engaging in intellectual debate with the synagogue and with the school of Tyrannus. But we also learn of his demonstrating the power of his message through miracles, even through aprons and handkerchiefs. Indeed, the message of the Gospel preached by the apostles was accompanied by miracles that proved that God was at work. We read in chapter 2 of the epistle to the Hebrews:

How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost according to His own will?

The miracles performed by the apostles confirmed that God had begun a new work, that salvation was being proclaimed to all the earth.

There are some Christians who think that we should expect signs and wonders today. There was a time when I used to lament with bewilderment the fact that when we preached the Gospel on the streets, there were no miracles.

However, it is a great mistake to treat Acts as being the norm for the church’s experience. We should note that in Hebrews 2 the signs and wonders are talked about in the past tense. They were given to confirm the work and authority of the apostles. These men gave us the completed New Testament and it must be that which we proclaim, not signs and wonders. The only signs and wonders we should expect are those that are performed by the man of sin, the antichrist, whenever he should appear. He will have plenty of those.

Related to miraculous signs is the confrontation of demons. This incident with the sons of Sceva is perhaps one of the most memorable incidents of demon activity in the New Testament, perhaps because it has a slightly comical aspect to it.

What are demons? Demons are evil spirits that gain possession of the bodies of men and women and overthrow their personalities causing chaotic behaviour. Most Christians think that demons are fallen angels. Other Christians believe that they are the disembodied spirits of dead men. The Bible does not tell us where they came from.

The demons are subject to Satan. Just as God has His kingdom, Satan has His own kingdom, made up of both angels in the heavenly realms and evil spirits at work in the earth. He is the ‘god of this world’. In the 18th and 19th century humanists boasted that ‘Man is free’, that men could control their destiny, yet the truth is that this world is under Satan’s dominion. The earth is not free from Satanic tyranny and the powers of darkness.

The early twentieth century horror writer H.P. Lovecraft wrote many stories about the Old Ones, malevolent beings from distant cosmic realms, before whom humans were utterly powerless. Lovecraft created a vivid picture of cosmic evil and the hopelessness of the natural man. Without God, man is helpless before the power of Satan and His kingdom.

I want to tell you that if you are not a Christian, you are under Satan’s power. He will blind you with lies. He will give you things to do, whether they be work or leisure; things to distract you and keep you from God. You may regard yourself as a 'free-thinker.' You may think you can choose between one religion and another. You think you can decide for yourself what you want to believe. But you are merely floating between one set of lies and another. Socialism, Mormonism, evolution, Islam- name any religion or secular philosophy, Satan will use it to keep you from believing the truth that Jesus Christ is the Saviour who can life. The only way you can find freedom from this evil cosmic kingdom is to be received into the Kingdom of the Saviour Jesus Christ through being born again. I tell you, turn to the Lord Jesus Christ.

In recognising the fact that demons are a reality, we must exercise some caution. There are a lot of sensational books written about demon possession today. If you study the epistles that are addressed to the churches you will find that most of them say nothing about casting out devils. Most of the incidents of demon possession that we find in the Bible are in connection with Christ’s earthly ministry. Throughout the Bible as a whole, possession by evil spirits is quite rare. It seems likely therefore that very few people today are actually possessed. It would seem that the activity of demons today is rather more focused on deceiving people through false ideas and teachings.

We are to confront Satan’s kingdom through the preaching of the Gospel rather than by casting out demons. Hence, Paul was not just doing spiritual warfare when he drove out demons, but also when he debated in the synagogue and in the school of Tyrannus. There he was fighting an intellectual battle. We have to fight ever false idea that is opposed to the truth. We have to confront Islam. We have to show that the New Testament is reliable and not the Quaran. We have to oppose Communism. The Communists thought that through revolution they were building a perfect society and creating a 'new man.' We must oppose this teaching with what the Bible says abot the sunfulness and depravity of man.

A teacher at my school was once told by a couple of female pupils that being a teacher must be really easy. The teacher was quite amused by this and offered to let them teach the lesson next week. They were delighted at this and were briefed on what they needed to teach the glass.

The next week, the teacher sat at the back and let the two girls deliver the lesson. The two girls had an horrible time. They were mocked and jeered at by their classmates who had no desire to be taught by them. This derision was brought to an abrupt end halfway through the lesson by a loud cough from the back of the class by the teacher. Fortunately after that the lesson continued in peace.

The boys and girls in that class knew who had the authority. They feared and respected the teacher, but they had no patience to be instructed by their classmates.

Likewise, the demons know who has the authority. The demons know who is boss, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. As the risen saviour, Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and earth.

The man Jesus Christ is made the supreme ruler of everything. He has not yet claimed that rule, but at His coming He shall do so. All things will be put under Him, the nations of this earth, the angels of heaven and the all the devils.

The demons know this and they tremble, for they are subject to His name.

But Christ is not the sole heir of all things. He is the head of a new race of heavenly humanity. A people destined to be conformed to His glory and to exercise rulership over creation. Those who are in Christ can receive through Him power over the demons.

Hence the apostles were able to cast out demons in the name of Christ because they had been brought into that vital relationship with Christ. Even Judas Iscariot, though he was not a true believer, was able to cast out demons because he had been delegated that authority by the Saviour.

In this passage we see those that did not have any relationship with Christ falsely claiming the power of Jesus’ name. Just like the class at my school did not recognise the authority of the two girls who took the lesson, the demons do not recognise the sons of Sceva. “We know Jesus. We know Paul. But we don’t know who you are. Raaahh!” And the sons of Sceva got a well deserved beating for their folly.

There is nothing to be gained from falsely claiming the name of Christ.

Sadly, there are millions around the world who profess the name of Christ yet who are utterly lost and have never exercised true faith in His name. Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox who mix up Christianity with idolatry, liberal Protestants who doubt the truths of God’s Word and the many cults who vainly follow the lies of men. Not to mention the hoards of benchwarmers who go to church to give themselves an air of respectability.

Calling yourself a Christian will not save you on the day of judgment. On the day of judgment, being a church member will not save you from hell.

It is only faith in Christ for eternal life that will get you into heaven. You must look to Christ alone for everlasting life and give up the hope that your good deeds will save you. Don’t put your trust in churches or religious ceremonies; trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. In Him you can find eternal life if you would only receive it from Him by faith.

Notice the results of this incident. It leads the believers to burn their Occult books. It is so important that we shun things of the Occult. If you get involved with Occult things you are dealing with Satan’s realm. You are engaging with him. Some of those things like astrology and Ouija boards might seem harmless, but they are not good. We must turn away from them.

It is very likely that some of those who burned their books may have been believers for as long as two years, when Paul first began his ministry in Ephesus.

When a person becomes a Christian, she is born again. She has a new nature. A new start. Yet the old flesh remains. And sometimes Christians can continue to feed that flesh by hanging on to old habits. Sometimes Christians can really struggle with addictive habits like smoking. Or pornography- there are so many Christian men who struggle to avoid viewing vile images on their PCs.

The temptation for the mature Christian is to judge young believers and to doubt their conversion on the basis of their failings. Yet beware lest you judge with a stricter measure than you judge yourself.

Perhaps you are struggling with some old habit of your past life that you find really hard to break free from. Maybe you wonder “Am I really born again? Surely a true Christian would not keep on doing this thing!” Do not be discouraged. If you have looked to the Lord Jesus Christ you have founded grace and acceptance in Him. All Christians have experienced this struggle with the flesh. Yet if you look to Christ and trust in Him for His great work of sanctification, you can experience victory over sin. Confess your sin and think on your Saviour and what you are in Him. By looking to Christ in faith you can claim the victory which is yours by right.

But you do need to be willing to turn from that which is wrong. And there may well be a cost to that, just like those believers in Ephesus gave up books that were of great financial value to them. However, the rewards for doing so are immense. It will lead to a closer union with Christ and deeper fellowship with Him. It will lead to His praising you at the judgement seat of Christ. It will mean sharing in Christ’s rule over the cosmos. There are great rewards to be gained!

Let us not be deceived by the vanity of earthly pleasures. Next to the things we have gained and will gain in heaven they are nothing.

Let us set our affections on the things of heaven and forsake all those things that are unacceptable to God.

Jesus Christ is coming back to establish His kingdom. He shall destroy the evil order of Satan and crush all his strongholds. Our feet shall bruise Satan shortly. Let us not fear his minions; but let us not be deceived by them either.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Response to Lou Martuneac by a Gentleman

by Bob Topartzer
Your continued use of the term [theological expletive] and your misrepresenting them on several issues has not served your cause well. You have posted on SI that they state one can deny the resurrection and believe the Gospel when what they state is one can not believe (be aware of the truth) of the resurrection.

You are constantly providing links back to your own blog to see their statements in your own articles instead of seeing their statements in their own articles.

In what I have read concerning your evaluation of GES and some others, you are either not understanding the nuances and context of their arguments or you just wish to ignore them.

As you are aware they will not respond to you as they view you as a "trouble maker." I read one post you sent to Robert Wilkin seeking to take him to task regarding one of his posts. You missed the entire point and wanted him to give references concerning 12 steps to salvation by some pastors. You had missed the entire hypothetical illustration of his argument.

Lou, in my opinion you have lost all credibility on this issue. You have falsly accused, misunderstood arguments, and ignore Biblical exegesis and arguments offered.

There are three accusers of GES who have exaggerated the issues. They are Dennis Rokser, Tom Stegall, and Lou Martuneac. These use the term [theological pejorative]. Rokser and Stegall have little formal education. It shows in their approach and arguments. Perhaps you should not be too quick to embrace their viewpoint and approach.

There are others who disagree with some of GES positions. These include men who are members of the "Free Grace Alliance." These include men such as Earl Radmacher, President Emeritus of Western Cons. Baptist Sem. and a theologian. These have debated Robert Wilken on the issues. However, they have done so without using pejorative labels and misquotes. [editor's note, see Earl Radmacher's dependence upon Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin in his soteriological book, Salvation, where Earl agreeably and liberally quotes both men. Earl's soteriology, in most ways, parallels Zane Hodges, see pgs 120-128, esp. 126-127.]

Others are handing these differences properly and discerningly. They do not view GES and others as heretics but do disagree with Zane Hodges on some points. Since all hold openly and strongly to the main Orthodox tenets of the faith, there is no need to consider them as those to separate from on these issues.

Lou, as you know I have taught theology at an accredited institution and am possibly informed on the subject. I view some of what Zane Hodges and Robert Wilkin have said as wrong. However it is with regard to the sufficiency of Gospel information needed to be saved, not the definition of the gospel or what the full information is. This has been the subject of debate many times in history and on several issues today. EXAMPLE: the vast majority of church fathers for the first three centuries did not hold to the penal substitution theory of the Atonement. Most held to the governmental theory and some to the ransom theory. Yet we have some today who say one cannot be saved unless they believe the Penal substitution theory.

When you start filling the Gospel with theological content necessary to believe to be saved you do away with the simplicity of the Gospel and the concept of Grace through faith. [Editor's note: Amen, amen and amen!] I believe one can be saved by the information of John 3:16. Any who are saved will not expressly deny additional truth as informed. There is a rich context of the history of theology and the breadth of opinion of the substance of theology that makes one more gracious when dealing with differences within a non heretical context.

In short, I do understand the issues. You may have some on SI stirred up as fighting fundamentalists, but good men have and are debating these issues with knowledge and balance.

This man, Bob Topartzer, is a bastion of level-headedness and balance. This letter speaks volumes for itself. Bravo, Mr. Topartzer!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Do You Agree With This Quotation from a Reformed Lordship Salvation-ist? John Calvin Doesn't!

by Antonio da Rosa

We must return back to our friend, John H. Gerstner, prophet of Lordship Salvation and Reformed Theology, now dearly departed. We have discussed the totally absurd and contradictory notions put forth by Lordship Salvation and Reformed Theology: the dogmatic insistence that salvation is not by works but by faith and the equally emphatic declaration that works are included in faith. We did so here: Lordship Salvation / Reformed Theology on Trial!

I would like to quote John H. Gerstner once more:

The question is not whether good works are necessary. As the inevitable outworking of saving faith, they are necessary for salvation. [Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism, p 210] emphasis mine

Earlier on the same page he wrote:
Thus good works may be said to be a condition for obtaining salvation in that they inevitably accompany genuine faith. [Ibid., p 210] emphasis mine

Works are indispensable for finally reaching heaven, so says Reformed Theology and Lordship Salvation! These candid moments that share with us the logical ends of Reformed Lordship thought should give us pause that we might think things through. How can salvation be by faith apart from works yet works be part of faith at the same time? How can salvation be by faith apart from works but works be "a condition for obtaining salvation" at the same time? Only in 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' could we expect such nonsense!

Can the Reformed people turn to their progenitor for support? Unfortunately for them, John Calvin is definitely not on their side (as he is not also with them in the issues of assurance and the extent of the atonement). Let us hear from John Calvin on this very subject:

The sophists who amuse and delight themselves with perversion of Scripture and vain cavils*, think they have found a most excellent subterfuge**, when they explain works in these passages... [A]ccording to them, a man is justified both by faith and works, only the works are not properly his own, but the gifts of Christ and the fruits of regeneration. For they say that Paul spoke in this manner, only that the Jews, who relied on their own strength, might be convinced of their folly in arrogating righteousness to themselves, whereas it is conferred on us solely by the Spirit of Christ, not by any exertion properly our own. But they do not observe, that in the contrast of legal and evangelical righteousness, which Paul introduces in another place, all works are excluded, by what title soever they may be distinguished. .. Besides, we shall see, as we proceed, in its proper place, that sanctification and righteousness are separate blessings of Christ. Whence it follows, that even spiritual works are not taken into account, when the power of justifying is attributed to faith. And the assertion of Paul, in the place just cited, that Abraham has not whereof to glory before God, since he was not justified by works, ought not to be restricted to any literal appearance or external display of virtue, or to any efforts of free-will; but though the life of the patriarch was spiritual, and almost angelic, yet his works did not possess sufficient merit to justify him before God. [Institutes III.xi.14]

John Calvin says no matter what title is given to works (such as those coined by MacArthur and Gerstner "non-meritorious works"), they have nothing to do with any condition of salvation. In no sense whatsoever, in the opinion of John Calvin, are "works" required for salvation. John Gerstner's soteriology is not evangelical, but rather Roman Catholic (see Zane Hodges, The Gospel Under Siege, p 154).

*Cavil: a trivial and annoying objection
**Subterfuge: an artifice or expedient used to evade a rule, escape a consequence, hide something, etc.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Incongruity and all the Hub-Bub

by Antonio da Rosa

Recently there has been some hub-bub concerning a new argument against consistent Free Grace Theology by the traditionalist Checklist Evangelists. See my article here:

Dennis Rokser, Duluth Bible Church, and Incongruity

Is there an incongruity in Free Grace Theology to allow for some doubt in aspects of the broad gospel message as long as one places his faith in Jesus Christ of Nazareth for eternal life? It is patently illogical to suggest such.

What our evagelistic efforts are endeavoring to do is persuade the lost to have a very specific verdict concerning Jesus of Nazareth. We desire to convince the lost to believe in Jesus of Nazareth for irrevocable eternal life. We desire that the lost turn in the verdict that Jesus is the Guarantor of everlasting life, who promises to dispense this life to all who simply believe in Him for it, in other words, who take Him at His word in His promise.

Whatever we say in our evangelistic messages are so said to persuade the lost that Jesus of Nazareth is uniquely able, qualified, and willing to dispense eternal life to all who simply trust in Him for that life. Simple as that.

The prosecution in a court case wishes for a guilty verdict of the defendent. Certainly they would want all of the testimony of their witnesses to be believed. But it is not necessary for the jury to believe all the testimony in order to be persuaded that the defendent is guilty. They, indeed, could doubt many avenues of evidence and testimony that the prosecution presents. But so long as something persuades them that the defendent is guilty, it is sufficient for the prosecution.

Furthermore, the judge, when addressing the jury, does not ask them if they believed this or that or the other or did this or that. He asks them whether or not they find the defendent guilty; he asks them what their verdict is.

The judge does not require any checklist of things done or believed for him to hand down a sentence. From the perspective of the judge, the only requirement for a sentence given to the defendent is a verdict of guilty.

There is only one theologically necessary condition to receive everlasting life: believing in Jesus for it. Nothing else. There is no checklist from God, nor do I require one.

There may be several (or not any) psychological preparations necessary in order to place the mind in a subjectively ready state to be persuaded that Jesus guarantees everlasting life to the believer in Him.

When a person wishes to persuade someone of something, there is no one correct way to go. There may be several routes that one could take to persuade someone. There is no exact formula or checklist of things that must be said. For instance, I would be persuaded that my son is getting poor grades if I were to be told it by his teacher, or by reading his report card, or by examining his graded, returned school work. The bar of evidence may be high or low, depending on the individual.

The incongruity does not lie in Free Grace theology, where we evangelize the same way that Jesus did. The incongruity lies in the way that the checklist evangelists evangelize versus how Jesus has given us example.