[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)

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.

8 Comments:

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Another Voice, at Monday, May 05, 2008 5:38:00 PM  

  • Antonio,

    I agree that a juror doesn't have to believe all the court testimony to believe the defendant is guilty. But I don't think your illustration is comparing apples with apples. What the lost must believe is "the gospel" (1 Cor. 1:17, 15:1; Eph. 1:13; Thess. 1:8), which has a certain content (1 Cor. 15:1-5). This is what the lost must believe to be saved (1 Cor. 1:21). In other words, it is "the gospel" that is analagous to the guilty verdict. In any witnessing encounter or testiony, there are a variety of different approaches, but at the end of the day a person must decide to either believe or reject "the gospel" (2 Thess. 1:8-10).

    JP

    By Blogger Jonathan Perreault, at Tuesday, May 06, 2008 8:16:00 PM  

  • JP, I disagree. To have eternal life, one must simply "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 16:31; Jn 3:16; 6:35-40, 47; 11:25-26).

    And as such, the issue between God and man is not whether they assent to the historical facts that Jesus died for sins and rose bodily from the dead. These are true whether or not someone agrees with them or not. The issue is Jesus Christ, period. He has presented Himself as the unique Savior, who offers everlasting life to the one who believes in him for it.

    Therefore, to return to our illustration, during the testimony phase of the trial, Jesus' works, words, miracles, acts, compassions, etc. will be given. Certainly other testimony could be given as well, from logic, science, and one's own personal testimony to Christ's saving power. But what is on trial here is Jesus' unique annointing whereby He is the Guarantor of everlasting life to the believer in Him for it. Jesus claims to impart eternal life to all who simply trust in Him for it. Is Jesus trustworthy in His assertion or not? If it requires more than personal trust in Him then his promise is not sure. He simply conditions everlasting life on believing in Him, this alone is His promise. If it must be supplemented in some way then Jesus' promise is a false hope.

    The issue for the jury is Christ's claim and promise to impart eternal life solely through trusting in Him for it. All other testimony will either prove Him right or wrong.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Wednesday, May 07, 2008 11:04:00 AM  

  • Antonio,

    You said: "To have eternal life, one must simply 'believe on the Lord Jesus Christ' (Acts 16:31; Jn 3:16; 6:35-40, 47; 11:25-26)."

    I'm sure you understand that part of this whole discussion revolves around what exactly it means to "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ"? Who is the Lord Jesus Christ? If the King of Scotland were named "the Lord Jesus Christ", and some man on a deserted island "who had never heard about Christianity in his life" read John 6:47 and believed in the King of Scotland ("the Lord Jesus Christ"), surely he would find eternal life! Your theology leaves much to be desired. Matthew Henry's words are appropriate: "And there is no salvation in his name, but upon supposition of his death and resurrection. These are the saving truths of our holy religion." Even in Acts 16, the apostle Paul explains to the Philippians Jailer and his family what it means to "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ" (see 16:32). Indeed, the apostle Paul teaches that spiritual conversion is "through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead" (Col. 2:13). I know you disagree with these Scriptural truths, but you have yet to disprove them. To "beware" (Phil. 3:2), I must be aware, and so I leave you with this question: Based on 1 Corinthians 15, for example, "the Gospel" obviously includes more specific content than "simply 'believe on the Lord Jesus Christ'". If you understand "the Gospel" to be merely sanctification truth for Christians, how do you understand verses such as Romans 1:16 (and the specific arguments set forth by Greg Schliesmann showing that this is also justification truth), 1 Cor. 1:17-23, Eph. 1:13, 2 Thess. 1:8-9, etc.? There are other questions I have for you (does "Three Resurrection Signs of the Savior" sound familiar?) but the question above is basic.

    JP

    By Blogger Jonathan Perreault, at Wednesday, May 07, 2008 3:03:00 PM  

  • JP:
    I know you disagree with these Scriptural truths.

    AdR: It certainly is presumptious and pompous of you to suggest so. I disagree with your traditionalistic interpretation of the pertinent Scriptures. I surely do not disagree with the Scriptures.

    By Blogger Antonio, at Wednesday, May 07, 2008 4:46:00 PM  

  • Antonio,

    but you have yet to disprove them.

    Q.E.D.

    By Blogger Jonathan Perreault, at Wednesday, May 07, 2008 6:59:00 PM  

  • God Himself could not convince you of you and your cohort's errors. It is an exercise in futility.

    By Blogger Antonio, at Wednesday, May 07, 2008 8:21:00 PM  

  • You have not shown that my arguments are errors.

    "If I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?" (John 18:23)

    By Blogger Jonathan Perreault, at Thursday, May 08, 2008 10:30:00 AM  

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