A Reasonable and Gracious Comment by a True Gentleman, Nevertheless Deleted by Lou Martuneac
[This is a comment that was posted on Lou Martuneac's blog, yet was deleted for its penetrating content. I reproduce it here with very little change except for some formatting to make it easier to read]
Thanks for not deleting my question Lou, and thanks to those who took the time to respond. Lou, there's no need for concern about my intentions. It would be rude of me to come in your house looking for a fight. I'm not here for that, I assure you.
We are all brothers in Christ here, and you know what our Lord says about that. I have been curious to learn what is going on in this current dispute. I only recently learned about it, because other than a conference I attended in 1996, I never have any personal contact with anyone from GES. When I learned of the rift that had occurred, I searched for some blogs to find out more. I have to say, I am truly grieved by what has happened. I know our Lord must be as well.
I find myself in an interesting position on this matter. On the one hand, as you mentioned above, my deliverance from the bondage of Lordship Salvation is one of the most wonderful and liberating things that has ever happened to me, and the Lord did that for me thru the ministry of Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin. I will forever be grateful to them. On the other hand, I belong to a church where only a handful of people have even heard of GES. My pastor is a dear and lifelong friend, and while he reads some of their material occasionally, he does not fully agree with all they teach. He would not, however, consider their teaching to be a "false" or "crossless" gospel because he knows that is not a fair characterization of what they are doing.. He attended Dallas Theological Seminary and his theology has pretty much been shaped by men such as Lewis Sperry Chafer, Charles Ryrie, D L Moody, etc. I admire and respect those men as well. So you see, there is no need for me to seek out a FGA church as you suggested above.
Aside from the fact that they do not charge GES with teaching a false gospel, I think you would like my pastor and my church. But you are correct, I have been heavily influenced by the teaching of GES. But that does not affect my love, respect and fellowship with those in my church who disagree, nor their fellowship with me. There has never been a man who had a perfect and complete understanding of God's Word, and anyone who has ever tried to write about profound theological matters knows what painstaking precision of expression it requires. No matter how skilled one is, it is inevitable that unguarded statements will be made which can easily be used to make a person appear to be a "heretic" as you say . "For we ALL stumble in MANY ways. If any man does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man..."
With all due respect Lou, I have read some of your material and there are quite a few things you write that could easily be used to destroy your credibility as well. I am honestly astonished by some of it. Does that make you a false teacher or bad person? No. It only makes you human Lou. These can be highly emotional issues because they are so important to all of us. Sometimes, like Peter, we can take up the sword and cut someones ear off in a misguided attempt to defend our Lord and the "truth".
When I read some of your statements about Zane and Bob, I am aghast at the caricature you create of them. Zane and Bob believe in the deity and substitutionary atonement just as you do. They believe we should proclaim those truths to unbelievers. There is not one single truth in the Bible that they don't believe should be proclaimed to unbelievers if it brings them to faith in Christ for eternal life. I think the sermons in Acts clearly demonstrate that principle. The last two verses in Acts say that for 2 years Paul "received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence... Do you include the kingdom of God in your list of essentials that a believer must understand? Do you include other other things they preached that concern Christ other than His deity, death and resurrection? Do you include a survey of the Old Testament like Stephen preached in your Gospel?
Jonathan says that I "obviously have a misunderstanding of Paul's glorious gospel". In what way Jonathan? The point of my question was not to deny that Paul preached the good news of Christ's finished work, but to point out the obvious: that for Paul and all the Apostles, the "gospel" they preached was not limited to His death and resurrection, but included any and every truth about Jesus Christ, even going back into the Old Testament itself. According to Gal.3:8, Paul says his gospel was even preached to Abraham. If Paul's concept of the gospel was the same as you seem to think, he and the rest of the Apostles would have just traveled around reading and handing out gospel tracts containing the checklist of steps or things that must be believed for salvation. I think that makes the absurdity of that concept of the "Gospel" compared to their concept rather obvious.
In Gal. 3:15-29 Paul refers to the "promise" 8 times. In Rom. 4:13-22 he refers to the "promise" 5 times directly and 1 other time indirectly. His point in each passage is that Abraham was justified by believing a PROMISE and that we are justified the same way as him---by believing a PROMISE. The death and resurrection of Christ, though of infinite importance as the basis for our salvation, does not contain a promise [editor's note: true that! emphasis mine]. It is just the fact of what Christ has done for us. He died for the sins of the whole world. Believing that does not not tell me that I have eternal life [emphasis mine] and so His death is meaningless for me. The sins of the whole world have been taken away. The justiice of God as been satisfied so that "He can be just and the justifier of the one who believes in Jesus". His finished work is an objective fact and is good news even if no one ever believes it. But when I do believe, the purpose of His Death is fulfilled and it's meaning realized in my life.
All "Christian" cults believe Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. Many believe in His deity as well as many other things about Him--yet they are not saved and do not have eternal life. So what is the life giving truth that must be believed? It is the Promise, just as the Gospel of John tells us and Paul confirms in his epistles. There is no conflict between John and Paul. They both preached the same good news. WE should do as the apostles did and preach anything and everything, especially the death and resurrection of Christ. But if we leave out the life giving promise, we have left out the most important part [emphasis mine]. We must tell them what Paul told the jailor. We must tell them about the promises of Jesus. We then leave the results to the conviction, drawing and teaching of the Holy Spirit. Jn. 6:43-45. How much does a person absolutely have to understand in order to be saved? How much was Paul consciously understanding and believing when he was dazed, blinded and knocked to the ground on the road to Damascus? Did Jesus say: "Wait a minute Paul, you can't be saved until you are consciously aware of, understand and believe my finished work!" One thing I'm sure he believed was that Jesus is the Christ! 1 Jn 5:1 says that "whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." Jn 20:31 Jn 11:25-27 explains that believing that Jesus is the Christ entails believing in Him for eternal life.
Zane and Bob might not agree with everything I've said here, I don't know, but I say all that to say this---they have tried to clarify what has long been much neglected and distorted in the preaching of the Gospel--simple faith in the Jesus' promise of eternal life. They have also emphasized it because it lies at the heart of Lordship Salvation heresy. In their desire emphasis and clarify on this they are sometimes misunderstood. In my opinion the scriptures support their belief that the promise of God is and always has been the specific object of saving faith. When we believe the promise, we are believing (or trusting) the One making the promise.
Since Jonathan said in response to a simple question about Acts that I " obviously did not not understand the glorious gospel of Paul" I feel he should at least be given the opportunity to actually hear what my view is, and that I should be able to tell him.
I plan on reading some of your articles and hear your side of things as well.
Lou, I appeal to you in the name of Christ--be reconciled to your brothers in the Lord. The Lord Jesus loves you and He loves them. One day we will all be together forever. Until then, He wants to use us all according to His purpose.
Your brother in Christ,