[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)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Putting the Focus on 3D Theology: Part 2

by Antonio da Rosa

I. Eternal Life
Life, eternal life, God’s kind of life – we shouldn’t be surprised that such a life is multi-faceted, complex, and dynamic. This assumption is clearly demonstrated by the Scriptures. Natural life is much the same, and as a matter of fact, there are fascinating correlations to eternal life. As ought to be apparent, everyone on the face of the planet does in fact possess, in a sense, a quality that can be described as “life”. Human beings have the God given gift of pro-creation. Conception and birth bring forth a new “life” which is given unconditionally apart from the will of the one “life” has been bestowed upon. Resident in this new life are innate qualities that everyone, irrespective of who they are or what they do, is blessed with. Once initiated into “life”, the quality to which that “life” can attain is substantially dependent upon the individual himself. The degree to which one invests his life wisely will actuate a commensurate level of and capacity for “life”. There is, of course, senses in which people who are alive, nonetheless, cannot be described as having “life” wherein one is merely experiencing “dead” existence; though alive, one can be “dead” in experience in relation to the world and others.

A. Statement:
Eternal life is a dynamic life principle with several facets. This life is bestowed unconditionally upon the one who receives it as a gift, through purposeful faith in Jesus Christ (faith in Him for its possession), in what is called regeneration, or being “born again” – this birth not being according to the will of the flesh or man, but by the will of God, Himself (Jn 1:12-13). Furthermore, eternal life is no static entity – it also conditionally relates to one’s experience of life, being a result of one’s earnest devotion to Jesus Christ (Jn 12:24-26). This life comes only as the return of one’s life investment.

1. Pertaining Guarantee
As it is “eternal life” and God’s life that is created by the seed of God’s Word germinating in the heart of the individual (Jas 1:18), this life is necessarily endless and unending (Jn 11:26, “shall never ever die into eternity” –Gk). Furthermore, God created man to live in a body – it wasn’t until a spirit was introduced to the body by the breath of God did man become a “living being” (Gen 2:7). Though regenerate man, under the curse of sin, is subject to physical death, he nevertheless, by virtue and necessity of the possession of “eternal life”, is guaranteed physical resurrection (Jn 11:25b). Finally, the one born of God, by necessary indication of this birth, is excluded from the final judgement – where those who are “dead” in relation to God are confirmed in this state of “death” forever (Rev 20:14b) having already been under condemnation (Jn 3:18).

2. Pertaining Potentials
Knowing God, which results in a crowning experience of life, is contingent upon several factors, that if left unfulfilled, will prevent a regenerate person from such fellowship. Love actuated in the believer is one condition of knowing Him. The same author who gave us John 17:3 also wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 Jn 4:7-8). In verse 7 and 11 of 1 John 4 the readers are instructed to love. There is no guarantee that the believer will love, and if he does not love he can neither have a dynamic experience of eternal life nor “know” God in this intimate sense. Love is not some ethereal, abstract notion. Love is laying down one’s life for his brethren (1 Jn 3:16b), helping his brother with material necessities (1 Jn 3:17); in reality it is having Christ’s commandments and keeping them (Jn 14:21)! Intimacy with God is only experienced by those who earnestly devote themselves to Jesus Christ.

The abundant experience of eternal life (both in time and eternity) does not come by way of a gift, as the primary and inherent guarantees do – unending life, physical resurrection, and exclusion from final judgement. No! This experience is the return on one’s investment of his life. This concept is famously illustrated in Mark 8:34-37:

...He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his life? Or what can a man give in exchange for his life?”


Certainly it should not be assumed at this point that God has not placed responsibility upon Himself in all of this. Firstly, it was He who initiated the familial relationship to begin with! Next, we are told by the Apostle Peter that God’s “divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life” along with “exceedingly great and precious promises” by which we “may be partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pe 1:3-4).

We will discuss these things more, and the implications of them in the next installment.

To be continued...

Antonio da Rosa

31 Comments:

  • Whoa. Hold your horses, dude, you’re ignoring a basic point of Greek. Ina can be translated as “in order that” or simply “that” – which is to say, purpose or content. Purpose is as you described it; content would be “This is My commandment: that you love one another, as I have loved you." In the content usage, the force of it is “My commandment” = “love one another as I have loved you.”
    Your argument works really well if you can show that ina should be understood as purpose here. There are two problems, and they're both pretty big. The first is, what does it mean, if you read it that way? "This is eternal life, in order that they may know You..." How does that make sense; how does it fit into the context? What is the "this" that is "eternal life"?
    Your second problem is that this particular use of ina is rather plainly content, not purpose. The “This is [abstraction], ina [content clause definition]” formulation is well established in Johannine usage. See 6:29, 6:39, 6:40, 15:12, as well as 1 John 3:11, 3:23, 4:17 (slight variation), 5:3, 2 John 6. Have a look at those passages, and try treating them all the way you’re trying to handle 17:3
    So: these concepts are, in fact, affirmed to be identical. “Eternal life” = knowing the Father and the Son whom He sent. That’s what it says.

    By Blogger Tim Nichols, at Friday, July 29, 2011 4:42:00 PM  

  • It's what Dan Wallace calls an apposition clause in his Grammar Beyond the Basics, p.475. He says, "Although not frequent, it is almost idiomatic of Johannine literature."

    By Blogger David Bell, at Friday, July 29, 2011 6:04:00 PM  

  • Thanks Antonio. You are such a blessing to me~!!!

    I just read over what you said and intend to do what I always do when studying a biblical issue..... reread again and probably again after that to digest it all. I love being a Berean~!!!

    I could never write like you do, but this one thing I know without a doubt..... My JOY comes *BECAUSE* I KNOW that I have been given the free gift of eternal life based on faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. For me, John 3:16 fills me with JOY. It always has, and it always will~!!! God made it so simple to understand for those who want to know. I received His gift of everlasting life by simple faith in Jesus for it. If I didn't know exactly what the gift was, I would be a wreck today. But that issue was settle for me years ago.

    Some of our friends have made eternal life something that a child could never have. But a child can experience JOY by KNOWING that he will someday live with Jesus in His wonderful home because of Jesus' promise. Isn't simple child like faith AWESOME~!!! I'm so glad God made it simple. It's we adults who mess it up.
    But the child who believes in Jesus for everlasting life is blessed because he has a whole life time to learn and grow in Him. That's the "experience" of Eternal Life that the Father wants for each of His children.
    I have had JOY for over 50 years now BECAUSE of His promise. It's the only way to live~!!!

    Blessings from an older person with child like faith,
    Diane
    :-)

    By Blogger Diane, at Friday, July 29, 2011 6:23:00 PM  

  • To All: My Concession:

    Dave is correct in stating that the hina clause here is an apposition clause, that the clause is a substantival clause in apposition to "eternal life".

    Tim, furthermore is correct in his description of the phrase as typical of Johannine fashion.

    I was premature in my assessment of John 17:3 in this article. The material about John 17:3 has been removed from this post. We will look at it again in the next installment.

    I am going to continue with my progressive statements building a case for my view. So far as the post now stands (with the deletion) it continues to represent my thoughts on the matter. Comments are welcomed to the material as it now stands.

    Yet, I must disagree with Tim on the 1 to 1 correspondence between "eternal life" and "knowing the Father and the Son whom He sent". He does not take into account the subjunctive mood of ginosko. John 17:3, on any reading, does not say, "And this is eternal life, knowing You... and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." It is "that they may know You..." This still seems to have the subjunctive force of possibility, in the form of the potentiality inherent to eternal life, consistent with the premise of this article.

    Tim brings up John 15:12, "This is My commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you." There is a slight difference between this construction and that of John 17:3, as 15:12 does not use a subjunctive verb following the "hina", but the indicative mood of agape. Thus the commandment is indicated to be "love one another..."

    Bob Wilkin, in his commentary on John, in the Grace New Testament Commentary, is instructive when he says:

    ----------
    Jesus does not explain here what knowing "the one true God and Jesus Christ" entails. Nor does He say whether all who have "eternal life" know God.

    The subjunctive mood of the verb know ("that they may know you") may convey what is actually true of all who have eternal life. If so this referes not to knowing God in one's experience, but to knowing God in one's position.

    However, it seems more likely that Jesus is saying that eternal life makes it possible for the disciples (and all believers) to know God in their experience. Whether they do depends on whether they abide in Jesus. This fits with the way John explains knowing God in 1 John 2:3-11 and in John 14:9.
    ----------
    (pg 458, italics his)

    Needless to say, there are many questions here concerning John 17:3 that will need to be answered. Certainly we are going to look at the dynamic which is "eternal life" and its experience and conditions.

    Knowing God in the sense that John 17:3 seems to be describing is certainly not a by grace through faith gift, but the result of an investing of one's life for Christ.

    "He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (Jn 12:25).

    Thanks for all your patience.

    Again, the post as it now stands, represents my thoughts. We will be pursuing the theme of potential life in the coming installments of this series.

    humbly,

    Antonio da Rosa

    PS: This is a revision of my last comments here.

    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, July 29, 2011 9:13:00 PM  

  • Antonio, the small misstep in the beginning only serves to highlight the truth of something you said in your first post, and your complete sincerity in saying it:

    "At the outset, we must admit that this is a humbling experience, as this is the very Word of God we are attempting to decipher. Pride must make way for humility, and the Bible must be made to speak for itself. In allowing the Bible to speak, we will necessarily find that it is at odds with Tim and Jim's doctrine in this case. The lack of applying sound hermeneutical principles by Tim to the study of the Bible has produced great error, tragic and even dangerous error, as we will later note. "

    We should never lose sight of the forest for the trees. Even though Tim has strained out a gnat, he's nevertheless still swallowed a camel.

    God bless,
    Gary

    By Blogger goe, at Saturday, July 30, 2011 5:54:00 AM  

  • Antonio,

    The ability to see a mistake, admit it, and move on with the discussion is far too uncommon, especially in the blogosphere. Well done; I look forward to continuing the conversation on John 17:3. May God bless you as you continue to meditate.

    I'd like to caution you, though, to look very thoroughly into the line you're taking with the subjunctive. The verb following the ina in 15:12 is agapate. Because it's a contract verb, the subjunctive and indicative forms are identical, so there's no way to show conclusively that it's indicative (and it's not; ina takes indicatives, but future indicatives). But that's just the tip of the iceberg. To quote BDAG, "ina is found w. the pres. ind. only in passages where the subj. is also attested in the mss.; its presence is prob. due to corruption of the text." In brief, that's just how Greek works; staking an interpretation on the subjunctive mood after ina is like staking an interpretation on the dative case after en.

    Bob's overinterpretation of the subjunctive mood in 17:3 is frankly unfortunate; I dare him, or anyone else, to try to squeeze the same sort of wiggle room out of ina+subjunctive in 6:39-40.

    I'll pass over the comments on the theology of 17:3 (his and yours) for the moment; I imagine we'll discuss all that after your next post anyhow, and I look forward to it.

    By Blogger Tim Nichols, at Saturday, July 30, 2011 7:02:00 AM  

  • Antonio,

    There's another aspect to this situation that you shouldn't overlook, as you're preparing for your next exegetical foray.

    I understand from your own description in your Prologue on my 'Swimming Crib' thread that it all came together in one fevered vision, which you're struggling to articulate over time, but the vision, as superficially plausible as it may have initially seemed to be, may not be as reliable as you think. I mean, you've already had to retract the only major piece of evidence you've brought to the table, for crying out loud. And while you're rethinking that aspect of your vision, you might also rethink the relational aspects of this thing.

    You were off the radar for two years. When you came back, you put up a few posts and interacted a little, but the first big thing you've done since coming back is engage this set of issues -- and you started off with the attempted character assassination of Jim, Michele, and me, without fielding any support or argument to back up your claims.

    While you're deciding what to do next on the exegetical front, maybe you ought to put a little effort into saving the friendships you just trashed for no apparent reason.

    By Blogger Tim Nichols, at Sunday, July 31, 2011 1:38:00 PM  

  • There you go again Tim, trying to remove the speck from someone else's eye while completely ignoring the plank in your own.

    Having been an observer for over a year, I thought Antonio's overall assessment was amazingly perceptive. Especially so as regards his use of the phrase "pharmaceutical ether". Somewhat akin to the "cognitive dissonance" one experiences while reading mystical writings, is it not? Yes, I've most certainly had an acute experience of that phenomenon myself, and even Jim himself has acknowledged that experience on behalf of both himself and you..

    Regardless, you started this with you own malicious character assassination--don't ever forget that.

    Want me to post chapter and verse on this thread to prove it? It's up to you sir.

    I, for one, will not be intimidated by such a disingenuous mischaracterization of the true facts of this matter-- not by you, Jim, OR Michele. Clear enough? And neither should Antonio, but that's his own decision to make.

    Gary

    By Blogger goe, at Sunday, July 31, 2011 4:54:00 PM  

  • p.s.--while I think Antonio is more than capable, I personally can't imagine what he hopes to accomplish of any value in a discussion here, as I consider it utterly unthinkable based upon my past experience and observations of Tim and his methods of engagement. But if Antonio can endure chasing shadows in a vacuum, let the chase begin.

    By Blogger goe, at Monday, August 01, 2011 6:35:00 AM  

  • i.e.,... Tim's methods of engagement with those who are the focus of his assailments and persistent misrepresentations.

    By Blogger goe, at Monday, August 01, 2011 6:52:00 AM  

  • Tim,

    It has been stipulated that the construction is Johannine. But it ought not to be assumed that, in spite of the subject matter of the construction, there is no force to be felt from the subjunctive. Even in the presence of a colloquial expression as this, language continues to be fluid and nuance present; and one should pay close attention to the subject matter.

    John 6:39 & 40 express the will of the Father for the Son: that Christ should "lose nothing" and "raise [the believer] up at the last day".

    Jesus fully committed Himself to the will of the Father, "... I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me" (Jn 5:30). Jesus "always do[es] the things that please [the Father]" (Jn 8:29), and "keep[s] His word" (Jn 8:55). In examining John 6:39 & 40, we must be mindful of the subject matter. John instructs us elsewhere that Jesus does the will of the Father and keeps His word. It is not the grammatical construction that gives us the certainty that the believer is eternally secure in Christ's hands (especially in light of the use of a subjunctive construction), but a consideration of the particularities of the expression itself.

    If the fulfilling of the will of the Father is placed into the hands of the Son of God, who has said, "Behold, I have come -- In the volume of the book it is written of Me -- to do Your will, O God" (Heb 10:7), it ought to be recognized as a certainty.

    John 17:3 still strikes close to having a sense of purpose, Tim. We have to think this through for a moment. It cannot be speaking as to a crowning experience of life and superlative, intimate knowlege of the Father and Christ, if there is to be had an exact 1 to 1 correspondence and equality between "eternal life" and knowing the Father and the Son (as you suggest), for such experience is certainly and manifestly dependent upon the actions of the believer, being conditioned upon the devotion of his life to the Savior. If we stipulate a 1 to 1 correspondence, true for everyone who possess etenernal life, the farthest that we would be allowed to take the meaning of "ginosko" here, is as Bob Wilin states : "knowing God in one's position".

    But, if we are to understand knowing God in this context to mean an intimate, relational, and experiential knowlege (as I believe it is, as does Bob Wilkin), then we must logically conclude that there is no 1 to 1 correspondence between "eternal life" and the knowlege of God here, but must understand it to be speaking of potentiality and/or purpose, for it is a matter of fact that there is no guarantee anywhere in the text of the Bible that such will be the temporal experience of every regenerate person. On the contrary, as can be easily shown, intimate knowlege of God and purposeful and meaningful life, the crowning experience of life, is contingent upon earnest devotion to Christ and works, which is by no means guaranteed. Thus Bob Wilkin can say, "that eternal life makes it possible for the disciples (and all believers) to know God in their experience"

    Logically, we must choose one paradigm from above, as Bob Wilkin has done in his commentary. Any other position is untenable.

    warmly,

    Antonio da Rosa

    By Blogger Antonio, at Monday, August 01, 2011 6:37:00 PM  

  • Antonio,

    You've sort of missed the point on the grammatical issue. Whether John 6:39 describes a certainty (as of course it does), or merely a desire that may or may not come to fruition (along the lines of "not willing that any should perish”) -- that's an important question, sure. But it's utterly beside the point for this discussion. We're talking about the meaning of a particular construction: ina + subjunctive.

    In 6:39, the construction links two things, so that “the will of the Father” = “the Son losing nothing the Father gave Him, but raises them at the last day.” The same construction works in the same way in 17:3, such that “eternal life” = “knowing the Father, and the Son whom He sent.” The Greek really is that simple.

    What you've done is fronted your theology in such a way that your theology tells you what this passage can and cannot say. You won't let it say anything surprising, and in this way you make the Word of God of no effect by holding human tradition above it. Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness, or don’t you? Are you an exegete, or are you an ideologue? Will you submit to the text, or just beat it into a shape you can use?

    And the worst of it is, it's completely unnecessary. There's no reason for a case of Free Grace Fantods* over John 17:3. Eternal life is a matter of degree: one can have no life, or have life, or have abundant life (cf. 10:10). So -- since eternal life = knowing the Father and the Son -- one can not know them at all, or know them (some) or know them a lot. That’s in fact what perseverance in “abiding” is all about. This makes perfect sense, because it's how all relationships work, and that is precisely what Jesus is offering us: an abiding relationship with God.

    That relationship with God lasts forever, which means that you go to heaven when you die, because that's where He is, but that guarantee is just the starting point. Now that you can talk to Him, and hear Him -- how deep do you want to go? The deeper you go, the better you know God, the more life you will have, because He is The Life. That in fact is the main thrust of Jesus’ interchange with Mary and Martha in John 11—Martha clearly got it that she was eternally secure. She already believed in the resurrection. What she received in John 11, though, was Jesus’ offer of abundant life now. That’s what Jesus meant by eating his flesh and drinking his blood in John 6, and that is why many of his disciples no longer were following him. Are you also repelled by this?

    By Blogger Tim Nichols, at Tuesday, August 02, 2011 9:17:00 AM  

  • *Okay, so I lied a little. There actually is a reason to develop a case of the Free Grace Fantods over this. It has to do with your take on assurance. You want to entirely separate assurance from experience, and I say that's utter bunk.

    Suppose I tell you that I'm going to send you $1000 at the end of this year. You can, of course, believe me or not. You might ask mutual friends if I really have that kind of money, if I keep my word, etc. But suppose I give you a little more to go on than just that. Suppose I promise you $100 at the end of each month, and then $1000 at the end of the year. Come the end of this month, I deliver the $100. Same next month, and the month after that. Do you believe me about the $1000 then?

    Flipping it around, say you don't get the $100 at the end of this month? Or the next, or the next? Do you believe you're going to get $1000 at the end of the year?
    Of course not.

    Well, Jesus didn't just promise us a big payout when we die (heaven). He promised life that begins right here, and right now. Either He delivers on that promise, right here, right now, just like He said, or He lied, and if He can't be trusted with earthly things, then how are we supposed to trust Him when He tells us heavenly things? We aren't even supposed to trust a prophet whose near-term predictions don't come to pass, how much less the Prophet?

    If the near-term promises don't work, then the long-term promises are just another theory about the afterlife, no better or worse than some hippie's pharmaceutical ether-induced hallucination, and to hell with the whole thing. You want an assurance scheme that works no matter what happens today, but that's ridiculous on the face of it. No one should have assurance if Jesus is not, in fact, making good on His promises to them. Who’s selling the pharmaceutical ether now?

    So my question is, why do you want your assurance scheme set up so it's completely disconnected from experience? What could you possibly have to gain from that?

    Are you afraid Jesus won't make good?

    By Blogger Tim Nichols, at Tuesday, August 02, 2011 9:17:00 AM  

  • Tim, I can't speak hear about Greek because I don't know Greek.
    But I know that to experience the life that you're talking about, you first have to have that Life.
    You admitted yourself that you once believed the way we do.... believing in Jesus for heaven, not hell. You're my brother in Christ because of that birth.

    Your points NOW cannot reach the heart of a child. And even adults are born again as a baby. Until we HAVE life, we can't experience the abundant life that you're talking about, and no one who is unsaved is going to get saved by believing in this abundant life that you're talking about. That comes with growth. You're putting requirements on "getting saved" (being born again) that are NOT there.

    I STILL can't comprehend the SAVING MESSAGE that you proclaim. I can't figure out (after all of this reading) what exactly an unsaved person must believe to be saved. It's coming across to me as though there are many DIFFERENT things that a person may believe about Jesus that brings them from death to life. If that's what you're saying, I reject it as unbiblical, and I hope that others who have genuine questions will also come to that conclusion. This has eternal consequences.

    People get saved at the point that they believe in Jesus to save them ETERNALLY. They may not put words to it, but they have confidence that their eternity is safe with God because of Jesus. Some people will know more about Jesus at that time because of what they learned along the way, but they didn't get saved because of the other truths that they already learned. They got saved when they believed in Jesus Alone to ETERNALLY save them. Their confidence (trust) was in Him alone for their eternal well being.

    I sure don't mean to be unkind, and I don't mean my words that way. That's not my intention here at all. I know that I could never debate you with the Greek. But I know what it takes to be born again, and your points are very, very, very confusing.

    I believe in the ABUNDANT LIFE that you are talking about, but that abundant life is for the child of God to experience AFTER he has been born again through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone FOR everlasting life.

    I stand on John 3:16 for my salvation verse. I came to Jesus in child like faith, and I know whom I have believed.

    Praying that all who read this blog will be convinced that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall NOT PERISH but HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.

    In Jesus' love,
    Diane
    :-)

    By Blogger Diane, at Tuesday, August 02, 2011 11:46:00 AM  

  • Diane,

    To put it bluntly, I just don't think you're hearing me. You may remember back when GES was first beginning to make a big deal about the promise-only gospel, Bob Bryant got up and presented it in terms of believing in eternal security in order to have eternal life. He provoked all kinds of dissent, because to many people "eternal security" was associated with all kinds of advanced doctrine, stuff you need to be a well-trained believer to really understand. Now you and I both know that it doesn't actually have to be that complicated -- "I believe Jesus will take me to live with Him forever" covers it -- but to many people, it seemed that way at the time.

    Likewise, you've got the promise of abundant life built up in your head into this big, big thing that takes lots of training and understanding, such that a child could never understand it.

    That's not the biblical picture at all. It's simple and seamless. Now I admit, I have the habit of speaking to the audience before me. As I am not, at present, speaking to children (or even to unbelievers), I don't feel a need to act as though I am.

    When I do, I present the same truth we are now discussing, but naturally I present it somewhat differently. I tell the story, of course, because it's impossible to know who Jesus is without the story. Then:

    "Even though you can't see him now, Jesus wants to be with you, just like He promised to be with the people then. He will help you and be your friend, too. He can hear you and see you, and He will always watch over you. He'll never leave you, no matter what, and even when you die He'll take you to be with Him in heaven. Would you like to have a friend like that?"

    Find fault with that if you care to, but it's mirroring John 4 pretty closely.

    Another part of the issue, Diane, is that you've built a big wall between having life and having more life (the subject of my most recent blog post). As you put it, "Until we HAVE life, we can't experience the abundant life that you're talking about..." But didn't you notice how the woman at the well experienced abundant life right away, seamlessly? The water that she drank became a fountain, and gave life in turn to her whole village.

    By Blogger Tim Nichols, at Tuesday, August 02, 2011 1:18:00 PM  

  • Tim, I'm still not getting what you're saying as far as what it takes to be born again.

    I've always taught my children from the earliest years the truths about Jesus..... that he loved them, that He watches over them and protects them, that He is the Son of God, that He never did anything wrong, that He was their friend. But the fact that my children knew that and believed that did NOT save them.

    A person can believe those things that I just said and the things that you just said and STILL not have assurance of being with God forever. They must believe in Him for their ETERNAL well being.

    I remember THAT GES Conference very, very well when Bob Bryant brought that message about believing in eternal security. I, too, had questions at the time, but I had enough respect for Bob that I listened closely. I understood what he was saying. He wasn't talking about the DOCTRINE.... all the reasons we are eternally secure. He was talking about the concept of believing in Jesus for our ETERNAL well being. That is REAL security. HE was making a point that until we believe in Jesus for our ETERNAL Life.... knowing that we would be safe with Him forever (SECURE), we hadn't yet believed. That's what it means to believe in Him.... to believe in Him for our ETERNAL SECURITY~!!!

    Your words are not making it clear how you ENTER into eternal life. There's nothing insignificant or ho-hum about believing into Jesus for eternal life. That's a WONDERFUL start to the ABUNDANT Life. But a person just BEGINS to know Christ at that moment. Each believer's relationship with their Savior is going to grow deeper (or it SHOULD) as they walk with Him. That's what I'm talking about when I use the term "abundant life."

    Why are you objecting to believing in Jesus Christ for eternal life as though it's just really nothing much. As some people call it.... fire insurance? Having confidence that Jesus Christ is your Savior from eternal condemnation is not insignificant. It's AWESOME~!!! The joy that comes to the person who knows that Jesus has saved him eternally is WONDERFUL~!!!
    I can't even find a word to express that kind of joy.

    So I just wanted to express to you that believing in Jesus for eternal life... heaven/hell is NOT insignificant. That alone to me brings ABUNDANT joy~!!!

    I wish you well. I'm not against you. I'm just FOR the message of life that springs up into EVERLASTING LIFE~!!!

    Thank you for hearing me out.

    Your friend because of Jesus,
    Diane
    :-)

    By Blogger Diane, at Tuesday, August 02, 2011 2:13:00 PM  

  • Hi Diane,

    I also do not know Greek, so I'm with you on that part. You left me hanging on my blog. I have some answers and some questions for you.

    Anyone who comes to Jesus as "God/With God" to transform what they know of their being made in the image of God, finds life in Him. The image of Adam is marred and broken and John's Gospel is written to produce faith that He can redeem it. As I brought up in my blog post, miracles are our destiny. Every tree and blade of grass is already groaning for immortality - how much more every aspect of human life on earth?

    Raising Lazarus from the dead is nothing more than the ultimate statement that everything is going to be raised to new life , through Him. If He can raise the dead man to life, why can't He raise secondary sub-levels of "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs"? And if He raised Lazarus, He can also raise up a new earth. The resurrection life speaks into every area of our awareness of futility and sin.

    The reason why you can't hear the content Tim is teaching is because of your perceptions on what "life," is. Life, is resurrection life. It's life for whatever we need right now in order to fulfill the purposes for which we were made.

    If I am not right, explain to me why the gospel of John has people getting life in all kinds of ways for all kinds of needs. For instance, John 5. This guy is sitting by the pool waiting for the Angel to stir the waters so he may be healed. A stranger commands him to take up his bed and walk. He obeys by faith. Much later after being questioned, John narrates, the man learns it was Jesus who helped him. No other content on Jesus as the Son of God or Christ or assurance is the essence of saving faith. Why in the world is that passage there?

    I suggest the point of that passage comes in Jesus' following explanation, 5:20-21

    For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.

    Diane, you also believed that Jesus is fully able to give resurrection kind of life. After all, you were looking at the stars in the evening sky when John 3:16 clicked into place, were you not? What is a more grand display of God's power than the universe?

    I'd appreciate an answer, and I believe you can give one.

    Michele

    By Blogger Sanctification, at Tuesday, August 02, 2011 3:01:00 PM  

  • Hi Michele,

    I want you to know that I consider you a friend, and my disagreement here with you is not meant to be against you personally. I do disagree with your message on what must be believed to be born again.

    You said...
    "It's life FOR WHATEVER WE NEED RIGHT NOW in order to fulfill the purposes for which we were made."

    I admit that I don't have a clue what you mean by that. Unsaved people need a lot of things RIGHT NOW. The purpose for which they were made is to have a living relationship with God, but they can't have it UNTIL they know Him as their SAVIOR from ETERNAL condemnation. They must FIRST be born again to have that relationship with Him. They need His LIFE. They are NOT saved by believing in Him for just ANYTHING that they need RIGHT NOW. They are NOT saved by believing that He loves them and they love Him back. There are so many church going people who "love God" in their own way, but they're NOT SAVED. They're going to spend an eternity apart from Him because they're not His children. They need to be born again, and there's only one way to be born again.... to believe in Jesus for everlasting life. That's it~!!! And I believe THAT message is the main purpose for the Gospel of John as stated in John 20:30-31. But as one blogger said so well..... "There is plenty of discipleship material in John for the NEW believer."

    You said...
    "...explain to me why the gospel of John has people GETTING LIFE in ALL KINDS OF WAYS for ALL KINDS OF NEEDS."

    Michele, they only GET Life by believing in Him for it, and at that moment they understand that this Life is PERMANENT~!!!
    If a person does not yet believe that Jesus has given them life that is permanent with Him, they have NOT yet BELIEVED in Jesus for what He offers as a free gift.

    In regards to John 5 and the man who was healed. That was a SIGN that pointed to Jesus being the Christ, the giver of eternal life.
    That man was NOT saved by obeying what Jesus said to get up and walk. I don't have the space to go into it here, but you can read about it in the Grace Commentary.

    In regards to this account in John 5 you say this.....
    "No other content on Jesus as the Son of God or Christ or assurance is the essence of saving faith."

    I have come to realize that the message that I proclaim, Antonio proclaims, Zane proclaims, Bob Wilkin proclaims, Gary E proclaims, Alvin F proclaims, Bob Bryant proclaims, Steve Lewis proclaims, John Niemela proclaims, Ken White proclaims, etc., etc. is NOT going to be accepted as the truth by you, and probably Tim either, although he once believed it by his own testimony.

    I'm not mad at you, nor do I consider you my enemy. But we disagree on what the Bible teaches that a person must believe to be born again.
    In all these years that we've been studying this subject, you've not seen it the way I do. So I will probably end my comments here on the blog to you. I have complete confidence that I am eternally saved based on Jesus' promise in His Word alone (John 3:16). I have much, much to learn, but I've seen my Savior and I know that I will forever be with Him because of His wonderful grace.

    Wishing all my friends here at the blog God's very best,

    Diane
    :-)

    By Blogger Diane, at Tuesday, August 02, 2011 5:49:00 PM  

  • There's a rumor going around that a man named Jesus has abolished death and brought LIFE and IMMORTALITY to light through something called the "gospel". See 2 Tim 1:10

    --------------------------------
    "Above all else, when He preached to unsaved people, Jesus brought before them the truth of LIFE and IMMORTALITY. He brought these realities out into the light so that men could see them clearly. The Gospel of John as a whole shows Him doing exactly that. In fact, these very truths are superbly condensed by the famous words of John 11:25-27:


    "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the the life. He who believes in me, though He may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me, shall never die. Do you believe this?' "


    Clearly this is both LIFE and an IMMORTALITY that is consummated forever in resurrection. There is no real death for the believer in Jesus. Though he can die physically, there is no end to the life Jesus bestows on him when he is saved. The believer is immortal!


    Jesus made that clear. He brought these truths into the open! He did so, Paul informs us, "THROUGH THE GOSPEL"!


    So salvation for Paul NECESSARILY meant immortal, unending life. Jesus said it first. And Paul preached it because Jesus preached it. Do we?"

    ---------------------------------------


    Zane C Hodges--"Did Paul Preach Eternal Life?"--p 31

    By Blogger goe, at Wednesday, August 03, 2011 3:46:00 AM  

  • Diane,

    We are more similar than you know. I don't believe the new birth is at all insignificant; as you say, it's awesome. Had Jesus given us nothing else, that alone would have been grace upon grace.

    And had Jesus given us nothing else, most Christians would be a lot more comfortable, wouldn't they?

    Are you familiar with the story of Eric Liddell, the Olympic runner who was the subject of the film Chariots of Fire? Nobody looks back on his life and thinks, "It all started when he squirted out of the birth canal." It's true, of course, and being present at a birth is a deeply moving experience. Nonetheless, nobody thinks of birth as the defining moment of a person's life. Even when the baby is only months old, our focus has already shifted to the first time he could lift his head; the first time he rolled over; the first time we found him wadded up at one end of the crib and realized he'd gotten there all by himself (even though he couldn't get back). We look forward to first words, first steps, first job, graduation, and so on; we don't sit around endlessly mooning over the awesomeness of the birth -- awesome though it surely was. We do this because being born is not an end in itself. When a baby dies in the delivery room, no one with any sense consoles the mother, "Well, at least he was born." That's not a comfort, precisely because being born is not an end in itself.

    Jesus invites us to think of initial faith, initial reception of eternal life, in exactly this way -- indispensable, to be sure, but hardly the point. How do I know He wants us to think of it that way? Because He describes that moment as being born again.

    Being born again is not an end in itself. When Jesus uses this metaphor -- and just in passing, guys, didja notice that Jesus uses metaphor? -- with Nicodemus, He is not just asserting that iniital faith in Him is absolutely indispensable, although He is certainly doing that. He is also asserting that there's far, far more to come. That's how birth works.

    Diane, your comments constantly focus on the new birth, and have comparatively little to say about the life that follows, so from your perspective I can see how it appears that I'm downplaying the new birth. All I can say is, Jesus is the one who taught me to think this way.

    By Blogger Tim Nichols, at Wednesday, August 03, 2011 6:55:00 AM  

  • Hi Diane - That is good news. I am humbly thankful you have not called me anything other than friend... and so I should also thank Jesus who lives in you for this wisdom. I hear you say why you want to close discussion. This is your passion, I understand. And you have tried to explain the significance of the eight signs in John. Even now you're trying to answer my question, saying that the man was healed at the pool to go and sin no more in this life, for the purpose of believing in Jesus for permanent life with God after we die.

    The eight signs in John are significant, written so that we would believe in eternal life. I'm hearing you. Just want you to know that I am listening. Thank you for the interactions, may God bless you as you share passion and scripture with the lost.

    By Blogger Sanctification, at Wednesday, August 03, 2011 8:35:00 AM  

  • Tim, what you say to Diane is yet again nothing but a straw man which you constantly bring up as though only you are concerned for and understand about "living the life". That's a complete and utter sham and you know it. Of course Diane focuses on how a person is born again! In case you haven't noticed, the reason is simple: 90% of evangelical Christians are trying to work their way to heaven because they are confused and understand neither the gospel nor how to be born again-- not to mention the unknown multitude of non-evangelicals who don't know how to be saved...HELLO!!! Of course, I know you now hold a different perspective from the GES on that and apparently don't view it as problem in the same way they do. But regardless, that always HAS been and still IS the very reason for the existence of the GES--to help clarify for people the truth of how one can be born again and know with certainty that they possess permanent, unconditional, and unending life! Hey Tim, the sun is bright--thank you for telling us Captain Obvious!! Why should we not expect them to focus on the very purpose for their ministry??? And since assurance of salvation is the essential foundation for LIVING the life, helping people to clarify and resolve this issue is therefore a necessary and indispensable step in the whole sanctification process. So even in helping people find assurance, they are also helping people to be in the position to GROW spiritually. Like the GoJ, it's never been the primary purpose of the GES to teach about sanctification/ spiritual growth, but they have nevertheless provided us with some excellent material on that as well. Have you even noticed? I've seen absolutely NOTHING new of any value from you on the subject of spiritual growth that the GES doesn't teach as well. All I've seen is utter confusion combined with a holier than thou attempt to drag people into some kind of mystical experience you can only define or explain with rainbows and moonstones! And all the while maintaining your doggedly persistent effort to mischaracterize and subvert the teaching of the GES on the only saving message by which a person can be born again, and/or have any hope of beginning to live in fellowship with Him. One cannot even BEGIN to be in fellowship with God on even the most basic level if they are believing and/or teaching others a distorted gospel message. That's an enormously serious and pervasive issue in the church. The GES has devoted themselves to addressing it, and they should be commended for their efforts-- not censured by someone who himself can't even intelligibly articulate what a person must do to be born again. Indeed, you yourself are trying to promote a false, distorted, and esoteric gospel couched in the language of Postmodern Evangelicalism--with empty promises of some higher "mystical union" experience. Let no one misunderstand what's really at issue here: this is a battle between your experiential and cryptic Hydra-head "gospel" versus the simple and straightforward promise of Jesus Christ. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that which should be so manifestly self evident : one can either stand on the one and only "Solid Rock"-or one can be left groping in the dark void of "cognitive dissonance" and mysticism courtesy of Tim Nichols. I've been there, done that, thank you very much.

    "I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus Name."

    By Blogger goe, at Wednesday, August 03, 2011 10:04:00 AM  

  • Another thing Tim. You know as well as I that for the past several years the all important question of what one must do to be saved (Acts 16:31) has been the primary subject of intense debate and scrutiny on the circle of blogs Diane, myself, and other FB people have been most involved with. In everything from LS and the "crossless" debate, to heated controversies with Jim R over what the simple word "believe" means, these specific soteriological issues have been ubiquitous on these blogs as you well know. So why should it be strange to you that it's been the consistent focus of Diane's or others comments? Yet you have the bullocks to try and make Diane seem skewed in her understanding of spiritual truth and a victim of arrested development compared to a spiritual giant such as you perceive yourself to be! Indeed, the very reason why Diane is STILL focused on these same basic issues on this present thread is because you yourself again made it a focal point over a year ago beginning with your assertion that Zane, Bob W and GES people in general are in need of "repentance" for being "proposition worshippers" who teach a "false and narrow Gospel". IOW, the very issue that has been and still is the focus of your attack is the very issue you now chide Diane for emphasizing too much! You want nothing more than to silence anyone who holds the GES view of the gospel, and you diligently aspire to blow that view into oblivion and obscurity, is that not correct? Your present views of the gospel are now so broad and vacuous that anyone who takes a more exclusive, precise, and intelligibly definitive view of the gospel is a de facto bigot, right? Since you have no valid arguments, you've resorted to the only tactic available to you which is sowing as many seeds of confusion as possible, while having nothing of any biblical or rational substance to offer in return regarding you view of the gospel. You're starting to remind me very much of the unbelieving world's view of Christianity in general as being too narrow and bigoted. Furthermore, you have a long way to go in demonstrating any real integrity here, for you now begin your last comment to Diane like this: "WE ARE MORE SIMILAR THAN YOU KNOW" (emphasis mine). Oh really? Yet you flatly deny that one can be born again by simply being persuaded that Jesus' promise is true don't you? That NOT enough according to you is it? And you also know that's precisely Diane's deep conviction about how to be born again don't you? Don't you know you just told Diane a boldfaced lie and proven how little you respect her deepest convictions? Seems I've heard this type of dishonest and misleading approach before, not only from you, but from your friend and mentor. Your methods are devious, Tim, and even if you don't change your misguided and confused views of the gospel, at least you should not be so utterly disingenuous in making such misleading and alluringly calculated statements such as that to someone like Diane--one who who has tried so sincerely as various times to reach out to you in kindness. I observed you do precisely the same thing to her once before and noted it well. Your behave much like a spider in it's web, and that's what is truly so reprehensible. Like I said to Jim: stop your word games and lay ALL your cards on the table. You already know what ours are, for it's NOT something we hide or ever intend to hide. That alone would be a huge step for you in reclaiming some respectability for yourself in all this.

    By Blogger goe, at Wednesday, August 03, 2011 1:53:00 PM  

  • Gary can't help but taste the contempt in your comments to Tim. All in the name of truth and Jesus, a travesty to be sure.

    By Blogger Keith, at Wednesday, August 03, 2011 8:05:00 PM  

  • Yes, Keith, it has indeed been a travesty, all in the name of truth and Jesus.

    By Blogger goe, at Wednesday, August 03, 2011 8:17:00 PM  

  • Gary... I realize that the theological points of difference have serious implications; but I wonder if we have missed the forest for the trees when we talk to each other, as the community of the Beloved, like you have.

    I think that Paul didn't stop at pleading with people to be reconciled to the Father, but also taught reconciliation to each other in forgiving, submitting, and loving; to have tender bowels of mercy/ kindness, to be long-suffering. These are the marks of good theology and all the rich fruit of God's grace, free grace.

    If this isn't enough maybe we could even think about what it would look like to love our enemies. Since the people involved here are not enemies, how much more should our interaction be laced with fervent love.

    I will go away now, but I hope this makes sense.

    Respectfully

    By Blogger Keith, at Wednesday, August 03, 2011 9:02:00 PM  

  • Tim can handle it Keith. He has often reminded me on his blog, both by word and example, that he is a "Full Contact" lovin kind of guy...he doesn't need you to defend him. I do appreciate your concern though. As you know, the balance between grace and truth as Jesus displayed it is impossible for any of us to perfectly follow, and I admittedly have fallen woefully short all to often, so your points are well taken. Thank you for your concern for the "community of the beloved".

    God bless

    By Blogger goe, at Thursday, August 04, 2011 5:51:00 AM  

  • I'm sorry..."the community of the Beloved"

    By Blogger goe, at Thursday, August 04, 2011 5:54:00 AM  

  • By the way, while it's still fresh on my mind, I do so appreciate the cleverness of Tim's double entendre name for his blog:

    Full Contact = mystical union

    Full Contact = put your pads on; I play rough here, so watch you backside

    By Blogger goe, at Thursday, August 04, 2011 7:35:00 AM  

  • ...your backside

    By Blogger goe, at Thursday, August 04, 2011 7:40:00 AM  

  • Hi Antonio,

    I appreciate your teaching so much on eternal life. I'm looking forward to hearing more from you.

    I wanted to share just a few thoughts that were on my heart today for those who may be confused by all the back and forth that has gone on. I'm thinking of those who may be reading the blog, but not necessarily commenting. Hopefully there are some hearts still open to hearing what God is saying about eternal life. These thoughts are for you.

    Receiving eternal life by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone is the most wonderful EXPERIENCE you will ever have. Some people may cry, and some may just quietly receive Him with not much outward expression, but it is the experience of a life time BECAUSE it is CONNECTING to the LIVING GOD OF THE UNIVERSE THROUGH HIS SON JESUS CHRIST by faith... for the first time~!!!

    All the other truths that a person has learned about God.... that He loves them, is there for them, only can be truly realized once they're born again. God uses truths about His love to bring the person to the PLACE where he will believe in Jesus FOR his eternal salvation.
    What EXPERIENCE can be greater than KNOWING you belong to the God of the universe forever, and He will be there for you forever~!!!
    WHAT GREATER EXPERIENCE could top that realization~!!! And it's only the beginning~!!!
    :-)

    The Holy Spirit is the REVEALOR of this truth. When we find ourselves believing in Jesus Christ for our eternal salvation, we have been ILLUMINATED by the living God of the universe to this truth..... "Believe in Jesus Christ for everlasting life, and you will not perish."
    WHAT GREATER JOY COULD YOU EXPERIENCE THAN THE SURE KNOWLEDGE THAT YOU NOW BELONG TO GOD THROUGH HIS SON JESUS CHRIST FOREVER. You can count on Him being there for you for the rest of your life and throughout eternity~!!! It's God turning the LIGHT on for the first time that you belong to Him. You are HIS forever~!!! Talk about a relationship~!!!!!

    That's the message of eternal life that God wants to bring to each person born physically into this world. He has come to redeem each one who will believe in Him for it. Tell people as much of the story about Jesus that will bring them to that PLACE of believing in Him for everlasting life.... a life connected to God through His Son for now and forever~!!!

    Hallaluia~!!!

    To Jesus Christ be all the glory forever and ever and ever~!!!

    Your friend because of Jesus,
    Diane
    :-)

    By Blogger Diane, at Thursday, August 04, 2011 9:49:00 AM  

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