[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)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Right Thing -- The Right Person

by Antonio da Rosa

There are many ways that organizations, such as law enforcement or businesses who deal with sensitive information, can positively identify a person: DNA, dental records, fingerprints, or retinal scan, to name a few. Determining these factors can net positive identification, or exclude one from consideration. A person can change his physical features (hair style and color, plastic surgery, makeup, etc) in a number of fashions in order that he might elude detection and identification, but these few techniques would make it hard, even impossible, to pass oneself off as someone else. Positive identification is indeed possible.

In the realm of everyday communication we are accustomed to those we are in contact with referring to other people in the course of their dialogues. We, too, speak with reference to others as we go about the business of interacting with those we relate to in the outworking of our daily lives and activities. Often, the accurate communication of the identity of a reference is made by use of a name alone. A person talking to another may invoke a name which identifies a person who is familiar to both parties. The context of the dialogue that surrounds the usage of the name may net positive results in two or more parties who share an acquaintance with the one being referred to. In some circumstances, the parties may know multiple people with that same name so other indicators of identity will have to be given, such as the reference's last name, spouse's name, place of employment, or any other distinguishing characteristic. In this way, precise reference to the individual under consideration may be realized for the purposes of the communication.

Misconceptions are not necessary killers to identity or reference
We must note that whether it be the FBI or your best friend, positive identification and reference to individuals is possible, even in the presence of misconceptions about an individual. In the case of a federal investigation, descriptions of a suspect may be faulty due to an individual purposely changing various aspects of his appearance in order to circumvent exposure. Any number of drastic courses of action may be taken by the criminal to hide his identity, but the verification of any unique distinguishing characteristic, such as a DNA test, will provide positive identification, even in the face of wild misconceptions. So, too, in the course of everyday communication, positive reference to an individual can be realized through the testimony of a single, unique, distinguishing characteristic despite abounding misconceptions.

One may be under the impression that Barak Hussein Obama is a native of Indonesia, a Muslim, and Reaganesque in his policies, while another believes him to be the American Messiah, a humanist, and a communist. But when these two come together for communication and invoke the present President of the United States, the 44th President, in their communication they have made positive reference to Barak Hussein Obama, despite their misconceptions.

Positive identification and precise reference of individuals can be accomplished through one unique distinguishing characteristic.

The Red Herring of a Desperate Separationist
If you are familiar at all with the blogosphere debate over the last 2-3 years, you no doubt have seen a statement of mine quoted out of context literally dozens and dozens of times. The quote is:

"The Mormon Jesus and the Evangelical Jesus are one and the same"

The Mormons not only refer to Jesus with one unique reference, but with many unique historical references. See my post here: Offenders for a Word

What I argue is that since Mormons refer to the Jesus of Nazareth from the New Testament of the King James Version of the Bible that they are referring to the same historical Jesus as the Evangelicals do. By virtue of established unique distinguishing references and characteristics of this Jesus, the Personage whom they refer to is adequately delimited to the bona-fide historical Jesus of Nazareth. Of course they have a multitude of various misconceptions about Him, many being outright blasphemous. But when it comes to making reference to the historical Jesus of Nazareth of the New Testament, the case has been made that the Mormons actually do so.

In light of the above line of undeniable argumentation, an opponent of consistent Free Grace Theology has conceded these things:

Yes, in a historical sense the Mormons are referring to the same Jesus that orthodox Christians are.

We know they [the Mormons] are referring to the same historical person we [orthodox Christians] are

The interesting thing about this is that the one who has plastered my above statement all over the Internet has stated that he agrees with the writer of the preceding two statements!

Let us put them both together for comparison:

My statement: The Mormon Jesus and the Evangelical Jesus are one and the same [historical person].

Opponent of consistent Free Grace Theology's statement: We know they [the Mormons] are referring to the same historical person we [orthodox Christians] are.

It is manifestly unethical for someone to bring my character into disrepute for a statement that they, for all intents and purposes, said they agree with (albeit in a slightly different form).

The Right Person
Jesus of Nazareth can be positively identified and referenced with only one unique distinguishing characteristic. [Parenthesis: Yet in all reality, no one who is met with the claim of Jesus of Nazareth that guarantees the present possession of irrevocable eternal life to whoever believes in Him will only be aware of a single characteristic of Him. Wherever He is preached, He is presented in the context of the New Testament narrative.] Such an argument becomes stronger when more than one unique historical characteristic is appealed to.

Delimitation of identity and reference to the bona-fide Jesus of Nazareth can be accomplished in a limitless number of ways.

Example #1
The Jesus that I am referring to:
A) Born in Bethlehem
B) Lived in Egypt for several years
C) Grew up in Nazareth
D) Mother's name is Mary, Legal father's name is Joseph
E) Baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist, His Cousin
F) Capernaum became His later home
G) Brothers names were James, Joses, Simon, and Judas

Example #2
The Jesus that I am referring to:
A) Preached repentance to Israel
B) A teacher who had many disciples
C) Walked on water, raised the dead, gave sight to the blind, even a man born blind
D) Healed the sick, gave wholeness to the lame, and cleansed lepers
E) Cast out demons
F) Fed 4,000 men and 5,000 men by multiplying a small amount of bread and fish.
G) Preached the ethical standards of the Kingdom of God

Example #3
The Jesus that I am referring to:
A) God in the Flesh
B) Sinless
C) Perfect humanity
D) Executed on a cross by Roman soldiers
E) Buried in a new tomb, hewn out of solid rock
F) Rose bodily from the dead
G) Ascended into heaven and was seated at the right hand of God

In each of the three examples above the Jesus of Nazareth from the New Testament was certainly referenced. Any number of combinations of characteristics could be used to identify and reference Jesus. By so doing, we have invoked the Right Person, Jesus the Christ, who is the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him.

As a statement of fact, identity and reference can be made certain by:
1) Any unique characteristic or
2) A combination of characteristics that creates a unique distinguishing picture

The Right Thing
In the Bible, and in some sectors of Evangelical Christianity, the sole condition for appropriating the present possession of irrevocable eternal life is faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. In the last section, we have discussed ways how one may acknowledge and identify the Jesus of Nazareth of the New Testament, the One who is the Christ, guaranteeing everlasting life to the believer in Him for it.

The Right Thing in the Right Person
However one may come to identify Jesus of Nazareth and become persuaded that this Jesus guarantees his eternal destiny by faith alone, it is manifestly shown that he has exercised the Right Thing (faith) in the Right Person (Jesus of Nazareth).

Jesus stated, "The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). What are Jesus' words? "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life" (John 6:47). Who did these words have the authority of?

John 12:49-50
"For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak."

On the authority of God the Father, whoever believes in Jesus has everlasting life!

When someone has identified Jesus, by whatever means, and placed his/her faith in Him for everlasting life, however he was persuaded, that person has

the right thing


the right Person


  • Hi Antonio

    I AGREE!!!!

    I like the verses you used concerning the words of life. To receive (believe)them is to receive (believe)Him. And it's impossible for someone to believe Jesus words of life and not have that life.
    So if your showing a Mormon, Jesus saving words in the Gospel of John, he MUST understand two things (John 4:10) FIRST what the gift of God is.
    And we know it's not the eternal life that the Mormon believes everyone has.

    Second who Jesus is, that as the Son of God He has been given authority by the Father to give life to those who believe in Him for it.

    To believe is not a decision one makes but is being persuaded that something is true and if the evidence persuades them they cannot not believe no matter how much other misinformation they might believe.
    But I'm sure seeing the truth of "the Christ" the One who has guaranteed their eternal destiny will shed much light on their errors and put them ALL into question. Because they have seen that the truth they now believe contradicts the lie of Mormonism.
    Even some of the priest that did not believe that Jesus was the Christ were finally persuaded by the evidence so they could not, not believe. A Mormon is no different and the same Scripture is able to bring life as James has said "Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth."

    To say a person CANNOT believe until they have understood the orthodox checklist which has errors in it concerning the efficincy of the cross is pure arrogant! Like Zane has said: Fortunately you don’t have to have a perfect understanding of the cross to be saved, if that were the case probably no one would be saved.
    My meaning here is that they don’t believe Jesus REALLY died for the persons sins unless they are the elect, or Jesus death is only sufficeint if you believe.
    So people get saved in spite of the orthodox checklist. It would be funny in a sick way I guess to watch your checklist evangelist witnessing and the light all of a sudden came on for the one he was witnessing to and they said “I believe!” Then the checklist evangelist saying “you can’t believe YET, I haven’t gotten to point 5.” Ha!Ha!

    Hey once they are convinced the checklist man is done whether they think they are or not!!!!
    Alvin :)

    By Blogger alvin, at Tuesday, February 10, 2009 12:02:00 AM  

  • I agree too.

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at Tuesday, February 10, 2009 2:48:00 AM  

  • I’m very thankful of Bob Bryant and his own personal testimony also Diane’s personal testimony. Because they have caused me to reexamine my own. And to come to the conclusion that I was born again when I was twelve years old. I know it isn’t so important to know the time and moment you were born again but to know that you now believe that Jesus has given you irrevocable life. But why this was so important to me is because I give my personal testimony very often.
    When I was sleeping out under the stars at a summer bible camp my life seem to come into perspective. I knew at that very moment if I died I would be in hell. But as soon as that realization hit me, the thought that Jesus was the Saviour and He was the ONLY One who could save and keep me from going to hell. Right after that realization came to mind I decided right then that I would go forward when the invitation would be given at the service the next day. I was raised in the Baptist tradition that one publicly displayed their faith showing they had believed. I know now I was saved that night because I had believed Jesus was the Christ and had saved me from my sins so that I could be with Him in heaven. After going forward at the invitation afterwards I can still remember the relief I had that my sins had been lifted off of me and I had the joy of my salvation and wanted to share the reality of it with others.
    I had believed in the right Person for the right thing salvation that I could not lose!
    Hearing Bob’s testimony showed me that one can believe the truth but soon afterwards be taught something that contradicts it and not knowing how to deal with that become confused. Also Diane’s testimony reminded me a lot of my own going forward after believing John 3:16 was true and that she knew she had life. My Dad was a pastor so I had heard the truth of John 3:16 over and over and the moment I realized I would go to hell the John 3:16 light came on! I had "looked and lived" seeing a Savior who had saved me from my sins forever! Praise the Lord!!!!

    John Niemela has pointed out that what good does it do you if you to believe in Jesus to save you from your sins but do not connect that with eternal life. John has said so your sins are all forgiven but you die and are in the ground? If you have not connected it with eternal life you have believed a inadequate proposition.
    So I would say if you have looked and lived you have believed that you will spend eternity with Him in heaven and that is making the connection. But if someone has not made that connection which many have not they are yet to be saved.
    I hope I have been clear here and not confused anyone. I guess what I'm really trying to say is that what we want to be clear on is that Jesus has given them eternal life. And those are the terms John uses in his gospel over and over. But, if someone is using other terms such as "saved" as Paul told the Philipian jailer and connecting it with being eternally saved they have believed the saving proposition.
    Antonio if you believe I’m wrong here on anything . . .straighten me out brother!!!!

    alvin :)

    By Blogger alvin, at Tuesday, February 10, 2009 6:38:00 AM  

  • Antonio I’m glad you’re back to posting and hopeful that rational discussions on your view can resume.

    My question below is strictly logical and is in no way meant to be derogatory.

    Given that the right person is the historical Jesus and the right thing is to ”become persuaded that this Jesus guarantees his eternal destiny by faith alone” is it necessary to believe in God in order to appropriate eternal life and, if so, why?

    By Blogger Kc, at Tuesday, February 10, 2009 8:55:00 AM  

  • Alvin,

    Thank you for your comments and your enthusiasm. Having read your comments (not very critically) I would say I agree with all you have said. Thanks for your participation. Your notes are quite helpful.


    By Blogger Antonio, at Tuesday, February 10, 2009 1:33:00 PM  

  • Matt,

    Looking forward to your next installment in your series. Thanks for the vote of confidence. Would love to talk to you more about the atonement.


    By Blogger Antonio, at Tuesday, February 10, 2009 1:34:00 PM  

  • Hey Casey,

    Thanks for coming by. You may remember a few years ago I did a 7 part series in response to Matt Waymeyer's article on Acts 17 and repentance. In that article I stated this:
    The consideration of theological necessity and logical necessity will be discussed throughout this response. As a short intro to the difference between theological and logical necessity, the following illustration is given:

    The local grocery store sells a Twix candybar for 75 cents. As far as the grocery store is concerned, the the sole requirement for the acquisition of that candy bar by the customer is to be imbursed 75 cents. This fact cannot be overstated!

    The requirement for the payment of 75 cents is all that is necessary for the customer to acquire said candy bar. Yet there may be other necessities from the point of view of the customer. He needs to acquire for himself 75 cents! He may have to beg, borrow, steal, ask, or work for the money, or even possibly he is already prepared for it by having found the 75 cents on the ground. It will be necessary for him to be in possession of the payment for the candy bar. So seen from another perspective, any process by which he acquires the money that is necessary for the purchase of the candy bar may be an essential step in the appropriation of said candy bar.

    The only theologically necessary condition for eternal life is to believe the gospel promise of the Lord Jesus Christ. There may be few or a great number of logically necessary conditions in order to get to the point of faith, depending upon the subjective nature of the mind and personality to which the gospel message is addressed, but we must not confuse them with the sole theological necessity: faith alone into Christ alone.

    In the story of the rich young ruler, Jesus, sensing that the man would not come to faith in Him for eternal life because of the ruler’s characteristic reliance and trust in riches, tailored a conversation with him that revealed the man’s failure to obey the whole law, and identified to the crowd “how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:24). The man’s mind needed to have a paradigm shift as a logical requirement for faith. As long as he relied on his riches for everything, he could not come to the point of trust upon Jesus for entrance into the kingdom.

    There are logical necessities! Just think for a moment. Would not a person have to understand language or symbols in order that he might comprehend the communication of the gospel? Therefore he must be able to read with comprehension, hear with understanding, or decipher Braille. Does not a person have to have the mental capabilities to understand the communication as well?

    As long as a man remains an atheist, it will be impossible to convince him of the gospel promise. There may be several conditions to fill and hoops to jump through in order to set the mind in the right subjective environment for faith. These are the logical necessities. Repentance may be a necessary logical requirement for salvation in the same way that belief in the existence of God would be.


    To which you wrote:
    "Repentance may be a necessary logical requirement for salvation in the same way that belief in the existence of God would be."

    This clearly states my understanding. Excellent arguments as always. ;-)

    Here is the link:
    Free Grace Theology and Repentance -- A Reply To Matthew Waymeyer Part 1

    I hope that this has answered your question.


    By Blogger Antonio, at Tuesday, February 10, 2009 1:38:00 PM  

  • Antonio, yes clearly and thanks. When you find time could you elaborate on your understanding of all, or at your perception of the critical, logical necessities?

    By Blogger Kc, at Tuesday, February 10, 2009 2:07:00 PM  

  • Casey,

    1) I think that you may have the same ones in mind that I would
    2) Are you gonna make me think that hard?
    3) I want to discuss how such a discussion would be profitable or germane. What is the route you wish to take with that question?

    Such a question has an obvious purpose greater than "I was just wondering". Please come out and tell me what is on your mind.

    your fg brother,


    PS: I do not consider acknowledgment that Jesus is God to be a necessary logical step to believing in Him for eternal life.

    By Blogger Antonio, at Tuesday, February 10, 2009 2:22:00 PM  

  • PPS: But such an acknowlegement would exceedingly, greatly, and strongly (I want to use a million superlatives here!) facilitate one coming to believe in Jesus.

    By Blogger Antonio, at Tuesday, February 10, 2009 2:25:00 PM  

  • And Casey,

    I really want to talk about the material of this post, so please try to guide your discourse in that general direction.


    By Blogger Antonio, at Tuesday, February 10, 2009 2:26:00 PM  

  • Antonio I really did consider that it was inappropriate to ask you to pursue any discussion of the logical necessities under this topic. That’s why I asked, “when you find time”. ;-)

    My overall intent with that request is to determine exactly how your view of soteriology fits into theology; IOW how a person comes to know God through conversion. I do agree that is off-topic and I only request your future consideration.

    By Blogger Kc, at Tuesday, February 10, 2009 2:59:00 PM  

  • Brother Alvin!!!

    Do you have any IDEA how your last post blessed my heart? I appreciate your honesty & openness. You made a great point about knowing the time of your salvation, since you share your testimony often. I agree that though it is not necessary that one know the exact time, it is helpful to have a geneeral idea in mind for that reason, & that was something that had been sticking in the back of my mind lately. I know the basic time that I believed in Christ alone for eternal salvation, though I also got tangled up in wrong thinking & teaching not long afterwards. I am so thankful for eternal security in Christ, aren't you? He is so wonderful! You are a blessing my brother.

    So are you bro. Antonio! May the Lord bless you all.

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at Tuesday, February 10, 2009 6:35:00 PM  

  • This article and the few others that I have done on identity and reference forever put to rest the opponents of consistent Free Grace Theology's objection that their arbitrary and specific ontological criterion must be acknowleged in order to delimit identification of the Jesus of Nazareth of the New Testament.

    In my dealings with these opponents of consistent FG, they have given two main objections. #1) issues related to identifying Jesus and the question of believing in a "different Jesus". #2) God has scripturally mandated that men and women assent to at least 5 doctrinal propositions in order to be saved.

    I do not believe that a good case has been made for either objection to consistent FG.

    your co-host of Unashamed of Grace,

    Antonio da Rosa

    By Blogger Antonio, at Tuesday, February 10, 2009 8:03:00 PM  

  • David and Casey,

    Let me ask you guys point blank:

    1) What do you think about the merits of this post?

    2) What do you consider its weaknesses (if you find any)?


    By Blogger Antonio, at Tuesday, February 10, 2009 8:05:00 PM  

  • Hi David

    Praise the Lord!!! You received a blessing from something I said, I just got blessed from reading you got blessed . . .Ha!Ha!

    Isn't God Good!!!!!
    And yes to lay down at night knowing that if you don't wake up in the mourning you will be with the Lord is priceless!!!!!

    brother alvin :)

    By Blogger alvin, at Tuesday, February 10, 2009 8:30:00 PM  

  • Hi Antonio

    I think your example of Twix candybar for 75 cents.
    Is so simple and wonderful!!!!!

    alvin :)

    By Blogger alvin, at Tuesday, February 10, 2009 10:29:00 PM  

  • Antonio,

    I find this article, as I do all your articles, clear, precise, to the point and well written with flawless reasoning. I find its weakness in the perspective of Jesus that reduces Him to an ingredient in a formula man can use to gain eternal life rather than God the Savior who is lovingly and divinely reconciling the world to Himself.

    By Blogger Kc, at Tuesday, February 10, 2009 10:55:00 PM  

  • Thanks Alvin!

    By Blogger Antonio, at Tuesday, February 10, 2009 11:12:00 PM  

  • Casey,

    Thanks for the comments.

    In writing a theological treatise one is more clinical and scientific with the data. The effect sometimes is a cold and distant picture formulated by a theologian in an ivory tower. Indeed, such is often the case: theological dialogue with no real practical, down-to-earth usefulness.

    But I must make it clear, Casey, that this discussion does not lead to the cold, sterile "perspective of Jesus that reduces Him to an ingredient in a formula man can use to gain eternal life".

    All of my arguments in the realm of soteriology concerning the precise terms by which one may appropriate eternal life are prepared to convince men and women of what the core issue between man and God is.

    But the core issue is not some single entity in the vacuum of an empty wasteland. This core issue is found within the context (in other words the gospel) of a loving God who desires worshippers and fellowship with man, who provided for an absolutely free eternal salvation through the death of His only begotten Son; a benevolent Creator who offers an abundant life of joy, peace, meaning and purpose that transects into eternity; a Heavenly Father who desires to reward men and women with intimate companionship with His Son, authority and co-heirship with Him; and so on and so on.

    I am sorry that you got the impression that you did from this article. It couldn't be farther from the truth.

    To end, God has already reconciled the world to Himself, that is, He does not impute their trespasses to them because Christ died and removed them as the barrier between man and Himself.

    your friend and fg brother,


    By Blogger Antonio, at Tuesday, February 10, 2009 11:33:00 PM  

  • Hi Kc

    It’s to bad you feel that way because I believe Antonio’s reasoning is completely biblical. I believe the human element has a place of course in our conversion. But if you talk to anyone that can be different for each individual. Some people are very emotional others show no emotion. But the truth that brings life is always the same believing that Jesus is the Christ, that He has guaranteed your eternal destiny. Antonio has clearly shown that however you come to that persuasion your born of God, and some it will take more persuasion but a child very little.
    I sent something to Rose awhile back concerning biblical truth and how in ages past it lost some of it’s credibility in the market place. I wish I could find the tape by Zane Hodges where he explains how at one time the word of God was taken simply for what it said. But then when the scientific age came and proved that what supposable the bible (Catholic teachings) were false concerning the earth being the center of the Universe and other such teachings. The Scripture lost a lot of it’s credibility, and Christianity in general was in decline. During that time the Calvinistic teaching did good because they believed the elect would get saved no matter what. So the professing church was fairly quiet. Later much reasoning concerning experiencing God brought in many phenomena that was from the occult. So it was not enough just to believe God’s written word but you must experience God. I remember being caught up in the emotion of worship in a church but then being struck with the fact that they were not worshipping in Spirit and truth but were teaching something that I knew was not true. They wanted to put the whole church under a covenant of holiness. It sounded good but was unscriptural to put people under the law of a man-made covenant. It was not long after they made that covenant that the Pastor who was pushing it fell into personal sin and was dismissed. Something that I read from Zanes book “Grace In Eclipse” the chapter on “Faith Subtly Redefined” page 14,15 and what struck me was this: The fact is that the Greek expressions for “believe in” or “believe that” are not significantly different from the English equivalents. No one supposes that the English words “believe in” denote a “personal relationship” much less submission to,” or anything of the sort.
    Kc, I don’t know about you but I always was led to believe they were one and the same. If you didn’t have a personal relationship with Christ you were NOT His child. But this is what is called “illegitimate totality transfer.” And that is how discipleship, Lordship, is slipped into the simple giving and receiving of a gift. So the giving and receiving of a gift is subtly redefined. Now I am not saying that all the potential for a personal relationship is not there but that has to do with abiding and confessing your sins. If you read my own testimony above and the example of Luis. I will only speak for myself now, but I was not aware of a personal relationship with Christ at that time. I only was aware that I had been freed from my sin and would spend eternity in heaven with Jesus and would never perish. It wasn’t until I was around 38 yrs old that I was aware of God’s presence in the room with me. Before that I was trying to work up God, and fight filthy thoughts, finally realizing I couldn’t do it and giving up on the Christian life thinking it does not work. God was VERY patient with me and allowed me to go my own way and reap the consequences. But He knew further down the line I would return to Him even though He was always there since that night under the stars. He could have taken me home but He didn’t. But later He made clear to me “John you have been unfaithful to Me, but I was ALWAYS faithful to you.” You will see the story in Hosea, He told the Prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute who was a picture of Israel.

    “Come let us return to the Lord.
    For He has torn us, but He will heal us;
    He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.

    So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord.

    At 12 I knew the Lord as my Saviour, I had recived His gift of life but it wasn't until years later that I pressed on to know the Lord!

    Alvin :)

    By Blogger alvin, at Wednesday, February 11, 2009 12:54:00 AM  

  • Antonio,

    I think what Kc is talking about is how Jesus is eternal life; and it seems like, Antonio, you say that He guarantors "eternal life" --- viz. eternal life "abstracted from Christ;" eternal life as "substance" instead of a Person.

    And I agree with Kc, the "way" you communicate this stuff, Antonio, does sound the way Kc has interpreted it --- so that we have a "Christ principle" (instrumental for "our" appropriation of salvation) --- and not actually a person who is that eternal life you speak of.

    By Blogger Bobby Grow, at Wednesday, February 11, 2009 2:24:00 AM  

  • Yes, that would be good.

    I am not sure my exact position on the atonement at present.

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at Wednesday, February 11, 2009 2:28:00 AM  

  • Hi Bobby

    Jesus Himself is eternal life and He offers the gift of eternal life.

    Jesus is saying to the women at the well she not ONLY has to know what the gift of God is BUT who it is that asked her for a drink!

    So it is Jesus Himself that made the distinction.

    alvin :)

    By Blogger alvin, at Wednesday, February 11, 2009 2:34:00 AM  

  • Hello Alvin,

    Absolutely, but to say "eternal life," as if it is something that we are given as a "what;" theologically does not jive with "who" it actually is. In other words, eternal life is humanity being brought into the life of the only one who actually is eternal life in Himself (and that's God's life). So I'm talking about what's "inside," "underneath," what Jesus is talking about with the Samaritan.

    By Blogger Bobby Grow, at Wednesday, February 11, 2009 3:01:00 AM  

  • Hi Bobby

    Here is where Jesus makes a distinction that the seeker MUST not ONLY know who Jesus is BUT what the GIFT of God is.

    John 4:10

    Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.

    And in Rev 22:17 Jesus is not explicitly mentioned but the gift is.

    And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
    And let him who hears say, “Come!”
    And let him who thirsts come.
    Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

    Living water here is simply offered as a gift anyone can take freely!
    So your issue is not with Antonio but Jesus Himself who is eternal life AND offers Himself as a forever GIFT!

    Also some one can know Jesus as the Christ but still not know Him.

    Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip?
    John 14:9

    Alvin :)

    By Blogger alvin, at Wednesday, February 11, 2009 4:09:00 AM  

  • So Bobby I don’t believe the grievance has any substance. I like how Zane Hodges has explained the new life that we have in Christ it is like a child that everything is included in the DNA but without training they will not reach their potential. The life of Christ in us has all the potential because it is the very life of Christ but without the cooperation of the born again believer by the renewing of his mind can cause slow progress. Because the Christian life is a life of walking with Jesus and at first we can have a tendency to fall a lot just like a little baby. We have to put on the new man and not let the flesh control our members presenting ourselves as slaves to God alive from the dead (Romans 6:11-16; Eph 4:22-24).

    Alvin :)

    By Blogger alvin, at Wednesday, February 11, 2009 5:10:00 AM  

  • Alvin,

    I think you're misunderstanding me; the verse you quote illustrates my point exactly. The gift is a "who" not a "what" --- my point is that simple.

    The "gift of God" = the "Him" who gives the living water, who He is.

    Your last paragraph really misunderstands me; I have no problem with the idea of sanctification, and growing "subjectively" and "personally" into the "object/subject" of our salvation --- Christ. In other words, your last comment to me is a non-issue relative to what I am getting at with Antonio.

    I'll take the blame for not being clear, and undercommunicating to make my point clear. Since I don't have a lot of time, I would spend anymore trying to flesh out what I'm getting at.

    Have a Great Day!

    In Christ,


    By Blogger Bobby Grow, at Wednesday, February 11, 2009 12:35:00 PM  

  • Alvin,

    You once gave me a link at my blog regarding how repentance of sin is unnecessary for receiving eternal life... and recently when I clicked it it was kaput. Can you give me that again?

    Thanks, Michele

    By Blogger Sanctification, at Wednesday, February 11, 2009 12:43:00 PM  

  • Bobby,

    Jesus Christ, in the absolute sense of the word iseternal life. But eternal life is also the impartation of God's kind of life through regeneration. It is the result of the seed of the word of God producing life. It is a gift that is distinguished from the Person of Jesus. Jesus and the gift we receive are two separate considerations.

    In the interview with the woman at the well, Jesus distinguished himself from the gift that He was offering.

    "If you knew the gift of God [eternal life] and who it says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' [the Christ of God] you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." The water is the seed of God's life, it is regeneration. Appropriating eternal life (done by believing in Jesus) is looked at figuratively as drinking the living water. Once one has appropriated that gift, it becomes a perpetutual source, never to be extinguished or run dry. It becomes a "fountain of water springing up into everlasting life" (Jn 4:13).

    In John 3:16-18, eternal life is the opposite of perishing, it is being "saved" (vs 17), and the opposite of condemnation.

    In John 11:25-26, eternal life is never dying even into eternity (see GK of 11:26).

    In John 17:3, eternal life is the initiation of an experiential knowlege of Christ and God.

    In all of these definitions of the gift of God, "eternal life," they are distinguished from Jesus Himself. Eternal life is a gift, and that gift is God's life (being begotten through the Spirit), that essentially is freedom from perishing, escape from condemnation, salvation, living forever, and the initiation of knowing God.

    You see we have eternal life, but Jesus is eternal life. You are making category errors.

    Of course Christ is in us, but He is in us in the Person of the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Christ. Yet this fact, too, is distinguished from our regeneration, which produced in us God's kind of life.


    By Blogger Antonio, at Wednesday, February 11, 2009 1:29:00 PM  

  • Antonio,

    I believe it was regarding the LDS that I first met you at my blog, remember? So my thoughts come from experience mostly.

    I believe as you that it is intelligent and wise to simplify the gospel for the LDS to something like John 6:47. The reason is that the LDS specific weaknesses are both in what people here call checklist believism and also not knowing such a thing as absolute truth.

    If someone wants to list a series of beliefs regarding Jesus' identity and work on the cross, whether those scriptures are from the gospel of John or elsewhere, you're going to lose them. Why? They love adding up theological distinctives on a simple confessional level without many of them ever experiencing faith at all. It is difficult for them to even understand what faith is. To them it is blind or else they are seeking some experience. They spend years or all their life in the church struggling to attain either peace with their blind faith or else a meaningful experience regarding doctrine.

    Also, if we start ticking off scriptures or a list of things to believe, that also opens the door for them to discuss their additional testament or how they have been led to correct or disbelieve the bible because of the revelations J.S. received regarding its reliability.

    So like any culture you enter into you have to be smart on how to speak the truth in a way that is going to help them, not solidify them. And with many churches who add a list of doctrines or outward signs of obedience in order to be included into God's justification, the importance of faith has to be emphasized above all things.

    Faith, saves -- it has to be very, very simple. By preaching to them with this small subset we are actually demonstrating the freeness of God's grace in a way that stands out and demands a response.

    Then there is the issue of the object of their faith. In the last twenty or more years there has been a pull within their church to try and become biblically sound. Their desire is two-fold, one good one bad. The good is that many LDS want to know the God of evangelicals and are scared of being so different. The bad is that because evangelicals have put on so much heat in this time frame, they want to disspell it by applying a false Christianese surface to themselves. In terms of economics and politics, appearing orthodox is beneficial.

    I'm not sure what the "another Jesus" is from galatians one but I believe it is true. There are plenty of LDS people who persist in promoting and asserting a false arrangement of who Jesus, is, and what He has done. This, so they can go on ignoring God, ignoring His command to trust God for everything. We don't want to sanction this even if they personally have inwardly been born from above.

    This is where a gospel such as JP's comes in. Or as you have been saying a lot recently, the truths of Christ's deity and work on the cross are indispensable to bringing others to put their trust in Christ as having paid the price and offer life.

    If an LDS person wants to persist in a good deal of denial of the work or identity of Christ even while professing to have "faith" it means that the likelihood of them actually being capable of trusting in Christ for eternal life, is less. Remember that they can have a long list of doctrinal confessions that mean very little in the heart, or very little in the mind. Remember that they cannot understand a Word from God... that could not tomorrow be proven incomplete or unreliable.

    So for this reason my opinion regarding the LDS is that we simply preach this gospel here, preach it preach it preach it (and therefore you demonstrate it). And when someone takes a bite, ask them if they understand how faith is generated -- by using 1 Cor 15 to prove the sufficiency of faith in Christ in what He did and who He is. In this way we are able to test if they know what faith is, at all.

    I don't know how or when they may come to actually trusting. Some may be able to trust simply by hearing that he who believes has eternal life, but unfortunately considering all their negative training, you have to detox them by modeling true simplicity in the gospel, for a long time before they'd likely be made aware. You just have to watch their lifestyle and continue to encourage them to know what Jesus did on the cross.

    I expect to hear you disagree with a good portion of what I think. I'd like to hear other feedback if someone is interested. Let me know.


    By Blogger Sanctification, at Wednesday, February 11, 2009 1:56:00 PM  

  • Antonio,

    no, no category mistakes here. Your explanation does nothing more than "assert," that these two things are distinct; but in the end you equivocate when you say:

    In all of these definitions of the gift of God, "eternal life," they are distinguished from Jesus Himself. Eternal life is a gift, and that gift is God's life . . .

    So what is it? Is "eternal life" Jesus? Or is "eternal life" God's life? As you rightly (but confusingly) say. If Jesus is "God's life" (as a constituent person of the God head --- which in fact makes God's life), then you are essentially agreeing with me (but not, which then is confusing, and reveals a flaw in your logic) --- because if eternal life is God's life, and if Jesus is God's life revealed, made visible (Jn 1:18), then there is no distinction between "eternal life" (the gift) and "eternal life" (the person or eternal logos).

    Not only that, but to sustain what you're asserting you must posit a separate ontological category of "eternal life as gift" over against an ontology of God's life itself as the eternal life, which is "gift." But this is not tenable, there is nothing else eternal beyond God's life; to try and make the distinction you are making (the gift over against the person --- which you really don't do, it seems, contrary to what you're arguing, which then is very confusing --- it's like you're arguing against yourself, and not realizing it) is thus untenable, and not logically sustainable.

    You can't say that eternal life is a "what" apart from recognizing that it is a "who." So what we have is Jesus who is both the "object" (what) and the "subject" (the who) of salvation --- and thus the gift of eternal life can never qualitatively be abstracted from the person of salvation --- and the way you frame this lends itself that way.

    At bottom the gift IS Jesus, He "is" eternal life; and so when offers the Samaritan woman "eternal life" He offers her Himself. As you note, there is figurative language here; and to be theologically accurate we must recognize Jesus as both the source, the point, the all encompassing space where salvation is both given and experienced. It is His life that is eternal, and if we aren't included in His life, then there is no eternal life.

    And this all has to do with discussion on union with Christ; which has everything to do with discussion on Incarnational issues.

    By Blogger Bobby Grow, at Wednesday, February 11, 2009 2:00:00 PM  

  • Bobby,

    It seems to me that you are the one who is doing all the asserting. I have provided the pertinent Scriptures that distinguish Jesus from the gift that He gives, while you have simply theologized.

    When there is a union between me and my wife, I give a seed. The seed is not me, but originates from me. Therefore, there is a distinction between me and the seed that I impart which gives life.

    Jesus is eternal life. When God begets, He begets in like kind. The seed that God gives produces His life. This life is now my own. I now am in possession of God's kind of life through spiritual begetting, which makes me a literal child of God. I have eternal life.

    John 5:21
    21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.

    Jesus gives life, the life that he gives is the spermatos of Gods life. God gives life to His children much in the same way that I give life to mine. Children are a gift from God, they are not the parents, although they are identified with them. The born-again, regenerated nature of the Christian is the gift of God, it is not Christ, who is imparter of that life. The eternal life which we have is the new life spawned from spiritual begetting.

    I see that you have a hard time wrapping your mind around the fact that these things can be true at the same time:

    1) Jesus is eternal life
    2) eternal life is the gift of God
    3) These things are distinguished.

    I am afraid that your theology has informed your understanding rather than the scriptures.

    Everywhere the gift of God, eternal life, is distinguished from the Giver of eternal life, Jesus Christ, who is essentially Eternal Life.

    The concept of eternal life is not the static one you propose. It is used in varying senses, as something that is a present possession to be appropriated by faith in Christ and a future aquisition to be gained by merit.

    I have just again gone over all the instances of "life" in the gospel of John, and no one reading without the theological spectacles that you are wearing would come to your conclusions.

    Eternal life, as the gift of God, is distinguished from its Giver.

    A point of agreement ought to follow, though. The impartation of God's kind of life by spiritual begetting through the Spirit and the word of God, which is eternal life, initiates an experiential relationship with Christ and God the Father, much in the same way that the new child of two parents is ushered into a relationship with them.

    The eternal life which was imparted to the Christian brings with it all the potentials of unlimited incomprehensible fellowship, knowlege, and experiential unity. But such a life needs to be nurtured to be brought up in such a way as to become mature.

    This is no different in the human realm. Birth initiates a relationship with the parents, but only through time, energy, commitment, nurturing, etc., will that child grow on to productive maturity and more intimate relations and fellowship with the parents.

    Have a good day, Bobby, and you may have the last word, as this is my last on this particular subject.

    your free grace brother,


    By Blogger Antonio, at Wednesday, February 11, 2009 5:02:00 PM  

  • Michele,

    Thanks for your extended comment.

    Chasing down various rabbit trails with the LDS is to no profit. Assent to the varying doctrines of the orthodox Christians is not salvific.

    There are only two things that I zero in on with the LDS:

    1) The Bible is reliable
    2) Jesus Christ offers eternal life to all who simply place their faith in Him for it

    Number one is necessary as a logical precursor to number 2. Unless they can be persuaded that the bible tells us the truth, the referencing of it could be fruitless.

    You wrote:
    by using 1 Cor 15 to prove the sufficiency of faith in Christ in what He did and who He is
    This passage does not do this. You may need to get your bible out and read this passage again and compare it to your statement above. The gospel of John proves the sufficiency of faith in Christ.

    Regarding LDS not knowing what faith is, whether or not this is the case, is not a problem. Faith is the conviction that something is true, no more. If they are convinced that Jesus guarantees their eternal destiny by faith then they are born again.

    you write:
    You just have to watch their lifestyle and continue to encourage them to know what Jesus did on the cross.
    I have talked to a multitude of mormons in my day. My brother for many years was on staff at Mormonism Research Ministry which is an outfit dedicated to reaching the mormons with the message of Christ. Mormons believe that Jesus died on the cross for their sins. What they do not know is that Jesus guarantees eternal life to every one who believes in Him for it.

    After such a one is born again, they will be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, Who through time, prayer, and the word of God, may clear up the terrible misconceptions that they hold concerning our dear Lord Jesus Christ.

    your friend,


    By Blogger Antonio, at Wednesday, February 11, 2009 5:23:00 PM  

  • Bro. Antonio,

    You asked a straightforward question, & I am going to try & give you a straightforward answer. But I will preface this with the fact that a lot of what I am going to say is just thinking out loud, a "rough draft" if you will, at this point. I may "refine" it with pun intended!
    Seriously, for me, & this may be just me, the weakness would be that for those like me that were not thinking so much on a razor's edge type of concept, like, OK, I am believing Christ's promise of irrevocable eternal life now, & that is it. When I believed in Christ, I was so scared of being lost & hellbound, that I was thinking more of having my sins forgiven by Christ forever & being with Him rather than going to hell which is what I (then & now!) deserved. But I did know that salvation was eternal & Christ was the only One to give it. I may be totally misunderstanding & misrepresenting you, though I DO NOT INTEND TO, but it seems to me that many folk like me would be made to wonder if we are really saved since we did not remember at least, coming to Christ with these thoughts in mind. BUT I do certainly know that I have eternal life because I have believed in Christ as my eternal Savior.
    But, as I said, that is just me, & my rough "thinking out loud" draft at this point. I Do like the way you ended up, by saying no matter how the person got to the point, they are still saved if they believe in Christ for eternal salvation. Forgive my rambling & incoherence. As always you did a great job of being clear & persuasive. God Bless.

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at Wednesday, February 11, 2009 7:23:00 PM  

  • Antonio said:

    . . . while you have simply theologized.

    I'm shocked, you say that like its a bad word . . . shame, Antonio, shame ;-)!

    Antonio said:

    . . . The born-again, regenerated nature of the Christian is the gift of God, it is not Christ, who is imparter of that life. The eternal life which we have is the new life spawned from spiritual begetting.

    Indeed, and this illustrates both mine and Kc's concern, Antonio. Now who's doing the theologizing (btw, we all do it . . . all it is, is trying to find what the implications are of biblical teaching --- so then its a matter of whose accounting actually and most faithfully captures what scripture implies [the inner logic]) ;-)? So Jesus just imparts eternal life (spiritual seed), but actually isn't the "eternal life that we partake of through union with Him? Okay, I'll see your scripture, and raise it at least a few :-):

    22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
    24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:22-26 NKJV

    The glory of the Father, and the mutual glory of the Son is the same glory we share in. And the same love which the Father has for the Son, is the same love that we share in, through our union with Christ; as He is in (think Incarnation) us.

    Your verse:

    John 5:21
    21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.NKJV

    Whose life? What kind of life? Eternal life? Who is eternal life other than Jesus? What is "eternal life" apart from Jesus, nothing? The gift is Jesus, and Jesus is the gift!

    Okay some more verses:

    17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. I Cor 6:17

    look at the whole context of this verse, it's all about union with Christ. I take this literally.

    1 Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ,To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
    2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. II Pet 1:1-4

    We are partakers of the "divine nature," what's this mean? Union with Him, union with eternal life.

    Ultimately, Antonio this is the problem with FG that has led me away from it; there is often times rather "bad" theologizing that takes place. You posture as if you speak from an unbiased vantage point, and that I have been duped, unsuspectingly by the "theology monster." But in all reality we all speak out of a theological framework, and we all have informing grids that we often times are committed to; unaware. That's where you seem to be, you clearly are following scholastic footsteps, which thinks about things like "eternal life" in terms of abstract substances; which then allows you to say things like Jesus is the "imparter" of eternal life, and allows you to draw a distinction between the gift of eternal life (the abstract substance); and Jesus who is eternal life (the person). You follow a view of the atonement that is purely "forensic," so that again, salvation merely deals with the externals (outward) instead of the the whole person (again this is to relegate sin to the realm of an abstract substance, instead of seeing sin as wholly personal relative to injustice toward the personal triune God). The way you speak of eternal life, and begetting, is not a result of triune thinking; but in terms of thinking about salvation in categories like "essences" (Christ's person as the imparter), and "accidents" (the realm where we are "begotten" "spermatized" with 'eternal life' through faith). I say all this, Antonio, to try and underscore the fact that nobody comes to the bible "naked" (without conceptual baggage and informing theological frameworks); and you are not an exception, my friend!

    Antonio said:

    I see that you have a hard time wrapping your mind around the fact that these things can be true at the same time:

    1) Jesus is eternal life
    2) eternal life is the gift of God
    3) These things are distinguished.

    I am afraid that your theology has informed your understanding rather than the scriptures.

    That is funny . . . you are right, Antonio, I am slow, and quite dense at points; so please have patience.

    I've already waxed eloquent on how we all theologize, so I won't deal with your last little unit of thought here. But let me make sure I've got your right:

    1. Jesus = eternal life
    2. The Gift of God = eternal life
    3. But these two are distinguished?

    Let me lay this out like this:

    1. The gift of God iseternal life
    2. Anyone who gives His life for the many is the gift of God
    3. Jesus gave His life for the many
    4. Therefore Jesus is eternal life

    That seems to be the enthymeme (syllogism in which one of the premises or the conclusion is not stated explicitly --- definition taken from an online dictionary) of your logic, Antonio . . . and yet you deny it (the only reason I could think of is because you are committed to an prior theological construct that is high-jacking your good sense in this re.).

    Anyway, Antonio, I've gotta run and go theologize some more ;-) . . . I'll leave you to the serious work of biblical exegesis :-).

    I hope you're catching some of the levity I'm trying to inject into this rather serious exchange, Antonio. We clearly disagree, and assertions go back and forth (but what else is new, thus is blogging).

    In Christ,

    the "theologizer"

    By Blogger Bobby Grow, at Thursday, February 12, 2009 3:09:00 AM  

  • Let me clarify one point, when I said:

    . . . this is the problem with FG that has led me away from it; there is often times rather "bad" theologizing that takes place.

    And I only say this because very often there is the assumption amongst FG folks (even their "theologians") that they don't "theologize;" instead they do "pure" biblical exegesis. There is no recognition that FG is a product of "theologizing." And I have come to believe that the "theologizing" that FG historically flows from, and thus is situated within, and represents "bad theologizing" (categorically).

    This does not mean that I don't appreciate or think that FG folks aren't genuine about their beliefs; and don't have good intentions in going after the simple gospel truth --- au contraire! I sincerely appreciate, and love (as brothers and sisters in Christ) all you folks (even Alvin ;-); all that this all means (what I say in my first paragraph here) is that I do not accept the theological assumptions that shape FG theology.

    Sorry for the dramatics :-).

    peace in Christ

    By Blogger Bobby Grow, at Thursday, February 12, 2009 4:08:00 AM  

  • Hi Antonio,

    Thanks for replying. I think you provided a concise summary of my post (which I'm grateful for you wading through - brevity is not my strength!):

    You said:
    There are only two things that I zero in on with the LDS:

    1) The Bible is reliable
    2) Jesus Christ offers eternal life to all who simply place their faith in Him for it

    Number one is necessary as a logical precursor to number 2. Unless they can be persuaded that the bible tells us the truth, the referencing of it could be fruitless.

    Do you think we agree on this, because I have that impression.

    Many LDS will not believe as you better said, Faith is the conviction that something is true, no more. If they are convinced that Jesus guarantees their eternal destiny by faith then they are born again.

    To prepare them for this is very difficult, for the reasons I have shared above. Do you agree?

    The obstacle is still the same, Spiritually speaking, for them to come and be saved. Some of it is misunderstanding or language or cultural barrier, but the rest is the offense of Christ Himself.

    As for my comment regarding "what Jesus did on the cross," I do not think they must necessarily know this, but it is certainly helpful to comprehend eternal life (1 Cor 15 points out His resurrection, and I would assume this is representative of eternal life... but I have no idea if this is a sound assumption on my part).

    Sorry for feeling how backward I am. I have a long way to go, I realize that.


    By Blogger Sanctification, at Thursday, February 12, 2009 12:04:00 PM  

  • Hi Michele

    Sorry for the slow reply, I’m on my work days now with very little time to blog. I tried to remember what I had given you concerning repentance but can’t remember. So here is one article by Zane and the web site to go to for any other information you might have concerning free grace. It is their search site for GES. I believe the best resource on the subject though is Zanes book “Harmony With God” which you can order on the GES bookstore site. Hope that helps!



    alvin :)

    By Blogger alvin, at Thursday, February 12, 2009 2:06:00 PM  

  • Who said my name? even Alvin? Oh! Bobby you love me! I love you too, even if you are wrong..Ha!Ha!
    The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, so there should be plenty to go around!!! Were all pretty unloveble it's simply amazing that He first loved us and gave Himself for us!!!!

    Hey Bobby, your alot smarter then me you can make those faces, but I'm learning . . .see --> ;-); why don't mine look as good . .what's the deal? You got a special Irish key board???

    alvin :)
    I can make a mouse though
    <:-~ if there's any elephants in the room he will get rid of them!

    By Blogger alvin, at Thursday, February 12, 2009 3:58:00 PM  

  • Just to be clear, Alvin, I love you in Christ ;-) . . . cute mouse (I like little faces/emoticons, they are helpful in communicating a little body language :-).

    By Blogger Bobby Grow, at Friday, February 13, 2009 2:00:00 AM  

  • I think the reason behind wanting to make the gift and the giver the same is because faith has been subtly redefined to mean more then a gift you can take freely but involves a relationship. This might sound good to some but is putting poison in the pot and connects works to Jesus gift of eternal life that can be taken freely. I think Gary has stated so clear on Antonio's blog.

    Saving faith can be known only by testimony. We confess that our saving faith is barren. It has no works at all, past, present, or future.

    As Paul said, the faith which DOES NOT WORK justifies, and I would add, that only such faith justifies eternally.

    The Reformed tradition MUST get the works in there because what they have CREATED is a different kind of faith, one that MUST work to get to heaven.

    Another one who has drunk the living water

    Alvin :)

    By Blogger alvin, at Friday, February 13, 2009 7:24:00 PM  

  • Hi Antonio/David

    Here is a little from John Niemela’s message at the Southern California conference 2006 “Must We Know We Have Eternal Life.” Maybe you were there Antonio, I mean at the conference . . .ha!ha!
    I put this to help clarify my earlier posts! This is not word for word but very close.
    Part 1
    The reason that believing in Christ would result in eternal life is because Christ is faithful to His promise. That is the heart of the gospel message. Now you might be wondering at this point, well the night that I think I believed in Jesus Christ did I have this issue clearly in mind. The unfortunate thing is that many people fall in love with that particular moment they think that they had believed in Jesus Christ. It is always possible that the crucial issue was not understood at that particular moment but I’m not trying to get us introspectively focused. Trying to discern the exact moment that we believed in Jesus Christ for eternal life. I’m much more concerned with how we present the issue as we speak to fellow believers and unbelievers both now and in the future. I’m urging for us to be as crystal clear in stating what the issue is. That we tell people that what divides between those that have life and those who do not is whether they have believed Christ’s promise that He cannot go back on. In order to pursue this it’s appropriate to look at some examples. The way that we express the issue when we are speaking with people is effected by how it is that we understand this issue. Whether we understand it as an essential or we understand it as something that is merely desirable. We could speak of the message as everlasting life which Christ promises to all believers or it’s sometime been spoken of as phase one salvation which Christ promises to all believers. Or that heaven is the destiny, a certain destiny which Christ promises to all believers. Or regeneration which is being born again which Christ promises to all believers. Or we could say reconciliation or forgiveness or justification or imputed righteousness. Or any number of other things that are promised to all believers. I would say that out of these messages or statements someone could derive the issue of eternal life. Lets take for example the issue of forgiveness or justification. What good would it do if a person had their sins forgiven forever and as soon as the person died they were terminated forever. How good would it really do for that to be the situation. I would submit that most people infer the concept of living beyond the grave as being inherent in that. But if a person didn’t the message becomes an inadequate statement. Because if a person doesn’t make the connection with eternal life they have missed the point of Christ’s promise. There are clearer ways of saying it and there are less clear ways of saying it. I would say that those that are above the line the first four are clearer then perhaps the ones below it. But if everlasting life is specifically mentioned that is most to be desired.

    By Blogger alvin, at Saturday, February 14, 2009 12:24:00 AM  

  • Part 2
    (My note) John goes on to show that the proposition in the Gospel of John can be stated in two different ways as the One who is to believed in, or the object. Either way there is content that is to be believed. The witness or the witnesses testimony, if only one is stated the other is implied.
    All faith comes down to, we believe a proposition that is stated. Now the proposition that counts in the gospel of John is the proposition that Christ gives eternal life to those who believe Him for it. We look at passages such as John 5:24;6:47 it becomes quite evident. I would like to differentiate between means and ends this is going to help us where I was stating some of those propositions where a person might not state the most important part, they might not focus on eternal life, and yet a person might derive the idea of eternal life. It is important for us to distinguish between means and ends. A famous preacher with the last name Kennedy. He popularized what has been called the Kennedy question. The question that he asked is useful in differentiating between means and ends. I use here as an illustration: Bill received a PHD by means of studying four years at graduate school.
    Now we could separate this out into two propositions: 1. Bill received a PHD. 2. And Bill studied diligently four years in graduate school.
    But the way that it is arranged in the original statement it’s saying that the means for him receiving his graduate degree was his diligence in studying four years.
    What I will submit is that in the same way eternal life is the bottom line fundamental of what it is that Jesus Christ promises. When we start looking at that promise there are certain things that Jesus needs to do in order to accomplish that. There has to be righteousness, there has to be dealing with the sin issue. There has to be a number of things that enable the granting of eternal life and resurrection life. And unfortunately we sometimes become so focused on the means that we forget to say anything about the end. And John the one book there that is written to the unbeliever to tell him how to get eternal life focuses on the end. He

    By Blogger alvin, at Saturday, February 14, 2009 12:24:00 AM  

  • Part 3

    focuses on the promise in the sense that eternal life is the bottom line of what He’s promising. We should not underplay the ends, we should not become so focused upon the means that we forget to talk about the ends. Now the so called Kennedy question, I’ll read it and rephrase it a little bit. Why should God guarantee that you will live with Him forever? That’s focused on what the end is, living with God forever. A guarantee that no matter what you will live with him forever. Now a person is challenged to give an answer. And the answer they will give is the means. What is it that makes it that I will be able to live with Him forever. Notice what type of answers:
    My good works should out weigh my sins so that I should live with Him forever.
    We recognize that is clearly wrong.
    I go to church every Sunday and tithe so I should live with Him forever my works merit it.
    I read my Bible and live by the golden rule so I should live with Him forever.
    I believe in Jesus so I truly hope I’m good enough to live with Him forever.
    I believe in Jesus and was baptized so I should live with Him forever.
    I was born a Christian so I should live with Him forever.
    Were getting into far better answers as were getting into seven too ten.
    I believe that Jesus has paid for all my sin so by grace I will live with Him forever.
    That person had made a connection between the issue of what Jesus did dealing with sin and the issue of living forever. They would be a person that might express things in terms of “well believe in Jesus so you’ll have your sins forgiven.” There not really zeroing in on what the biggest issue is, but in their mind they have made the connection. But what happens if they speak to someone who doesn’t make the connection, and doesn’t understand eternal life is the focus and all they mention is the means.
    Likewise I believe in Jesus for justification by faith alone so I will live with Him forever.
    Same critique would apply.
    I believe in Jesus as my Savior, I believe He saved me so I will live with Him forever.
    Good statement. The word saved is a little generic but he’s made a good statement, he’s given a good answer.
    Or I believe Jesus promise to give everlasting life to everyone who believes Him for the free gift of life so He will keep His promise to me.
    Clearly we see that the first six answers are wrong.
    I’ll end here.

    By Blogger alvin, at Saturday, February 14, 2009 12:26:00 AM  

  • Antonio, I thought I'd leave an additional comment.

    I mentioned LDS IRL above because I wanted to encourage and show how much I appreciate this traditional fg gospel. I suppose I should have started off saying so.

    I think about who is harmed by checklist evangelism, and this (the LDS) is one group, whose founder asked God "Which is right?" He took a view of the various sects and denominational distinctives and their arguments against one another from the bible. And he was told (supposedly by God), none. Seek instead a personal manifestation of Jesus and the Father Himself - and that was the intoxicating hope he held out to so many and so drew away disciples with an alternate-yet-the-same scripture.

    Instead, "Jesus Christ offers eternal life to all those who believe in Him for it." No list; one Object (Jesus for Life) - one Way (faith).

    To have a one-sentence gospel, I believe makes the most out of Jesus and what He has done. I realize, I think, that you're simply talking about proving the simplicity of the gospel from the scriptures, but if you haven't minded, I wanted to give my support for why this is practically necessary and that is what I was wanting to say.

    As for me, I'm not sure that COSF can be determined from scripture even if the gospel message could, and while I probably won't be able to figure this out tomorrow I am listening and want to learn more.

    Thanks for letting me pop in here,

    By Blogger Sanctification, at Saturday, February 14, 2009 2:20:00 PM  

  • Alvin,

    Thanks - I'll see what I can come up with.

    :) Michele

    By Blogger Sanctification, at Saturday, February 14, 2009 8:49:00 PM  

  • :)Happy Valentines Day Michele!!!:)

    As Diane would say enjoy the One who is enjoying you!!!!


    By Blogger alvin, at Saturday, February 14, 2009 9:43:00 PM  

  • Hi Antonio and David

    Here is some more clarification on the subject from a Q&A time with Zane. I believe Zane is saying the same thing as John Nemelia that unless you make the connection to eternity a person is not eternally saved.

    Q Wilkin: Ok if the saving proposition is one must believe in Jesus for everlasting life. Then do you believe that a equivalent expression such as believing for forgiveness of sins or believing for justification ultimately point to permanent life with God in heaven or do you have to say everlasting life?

    A Zane: Let me see how I want to articulate that. It’s obvious in the Gospel of John the primary terminology is everlasting life. But I think it can also be sustained from other passages of Scripture that when a person is regenerated he is receives the forgiveness of sins. He also is justified at the moment of faith. Now these other statements occur however in documents who are primarily aimed at regenerate people. The problem that arise in connection with them are similar to the one that we discussed in the paper today. Acts 16:31 if the verse is correctly understood then it can be believed and salvation can occur but in other contexts outside of the gospel of John would be easy to bump into a verse that is not immediately clear. Referring to some of these ideas or to bump into a verse that can be easily be misunderstood as applied to saved people and not other wise, so we have to do exegesis on the individual books and individual passages.
    I much prefer the terminology everlasting life however, I frequently hear the gospel offered as the offer of forgiveness of sin. But there are a number of sense in which sins can be forgiven, so the person will have to make clear to me what he means by offering the forgiveness of sins when he’s preaching the gospel. I don’t think there are any passages where justification refers to Christian experience but justification is not a term which is immediately clear to unsaved people and it also will require explanation. Let me just say this bottom line. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the offer of the Gospel of John wrote the only book that is expressly written for unsaved people. His choice of language and terminology is something we should be very careful not to depart from without good reason. All right, and if we will let the Gospel of John guide us in our dealings with unsaved people and always make sure no matter what terminology we use we are giving them the same concept as the Gospel of John is giving them, then we’ll be alright. But I find myself a lot more comfortable as the years go by with just giving them the direct statements of the Gospel of John. They are so clear, so simple, so uncomplicated. Whereas in other context even the concept of forgiveness of sins is very complicated because we also get the forgiveness of sins do we not when we confess our sins, and that is not related to salvation at all. So we introduce a lot of fudge factors when we depart from terminology of the Gospel of John. Why introduce fudge factors to a generation of people that doesn’t understand it from the word go. We ought to be as clear and simple as we can possible be and then when they get into the Church we can teach them these other things.

    By Blogger alvin, at Monday, February 16, 2009 3:53:00 AM  

  • Hi All

    The Q&A was from Zanes message "Saved Or In A State Of Grace." You can find it here:
    It is really worth watching because it clearly shows you the difference between believing biblical language but not believing biblical truth.

    alvin :)

    By Blogger alvin, at Monday, February 16, 2009 5:45:00 AM  

  • I've met and discussed theology with John Nemelia (for a couple of hours); he's a nice guy, and knows his Greek (but I think he needs some work on historical theology ;-). You know, for a "moment" I was actually going to go to Chafer Theological Seminary (in Orange, CA), but for various reasons didn't.

    Anyway, just thought I would do some name-dropping in an attempt to bolster some credibility (for myself) and create some FG "capital" that I might need to cash out later in future debates. ;-) Just a little funny . . .

    By Blogger Bobby Grow, at Friday, March 06, 2009 1:46:00 PM  

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