August 12, 2007

False Paradigms of the “Crossless” Gospel #1

Following is the first in the series on The False Paradigms of the “Crossless” Gospel. Greg is going to be active in threads. Feel free to comment on his work and interact with him.


False Paradigm #1:
The content of faith required for salvation has never changed. People in Old Testament times were saved without believing in Christ's death and resurrection. Therefore, people living today are also saved without believing in Christ's death and resurrection.

This false paradigm appears in arguments like this:

The question was asked, ‘Can a lost man be born again without understanding Christ's death for sins?’ I have proven that he can. How have I proven that, you ask? Old Testament saints were born again without understanding Christ's death for sins, as in the instance of Saul. New Testament saints were born again apart from understanding Christ's death for sins. In other words, the 11 disciples were born again before understanding the cross and its significance…[1]

Crossless gospel advocates claim that people of all past dispensations, since the time of Adam and Eve, could only be saved by specifically believing in the coming Messiah for everlasting life. Yet, crossless gospel advocates admit they have no direct Scriptural support for this view. In reference to people living prior to the cross, Bob Bryant asks, “So how did they know how to be saved?”  Carefully note Bryant’s answer:
There can be only one answer. Before the OT was written, God gave verbal revelation that eternal salvation is received through faith alone in Christ alone.” [2]

In other words, this teaching is not found in Scripture, yet we can dogmatically say it must have been taught via tradition! Quite frankly, this is essentially the same unaccountable reasoning Roman Catholics employ to support their idolatrous doctrines of Mary![3]

So one of the major arguments for the crossless gospel position is the supposed content of faith required in prior ages. But what is the basis for defining the content of faith for prior ages? The basis is Bryant’s preconceived notion that the content of faith before the cross is the same as what he thinks it is now.

But wait a minute!! That’s circular reasoning because crossless proponents argue what it was prior to the cross proves what it is now. And what is the underlying proof for this position? Well, it’s not in the Bible so we are to believe Bryant’s required content of faith was taught verbally in Jewish tradition! This elusive message of salvation during Old Testament times, supported by no Scriptural proof, supposedly proves the required content of faith has not changed. This shoddy reasoning supposedly allows us to divest the essential, saving gospel message of the Lord Jesus Christ from the message of the cross. Woe!

Next, crossless gospel advocates argue that people were saved during the earthly ministry of Christ by believing in the name “Jesus” for everlasting life. They point out the fact the Disciples of Christ were saved before they believed in His death and resurrection. We can agree to this fact, but when were the eleven disciples saved? For all we know, they may have been saved before hearing about or believing in Jesus. The Bible does not specify when they were saved. With the false assumption that people of all time periods were required to believe the exact same thing for salvation, crossless gospel advocates then argue people living today are not required to believe in the death, resurrection, deity, or humanity of Jesus Christ in order to receive everlasting life.


The Two-Edged Sword:
The underlying paradigm is that people of all time periods must have believed exactly the same thing to be saved. Crossless gospel advocates apparently have not considered how their own adaptation of progressive revelation contradicts this very paradigm. Crossless gospel advocates insist a person living since some point during the earthly life of Jesus Christ must believe in the name “Jesus” for everlasting life. According to the leading advocate for the crossless gospel, Zane Hodges:
Without the name of Jesus there is no salvation for anyone anywhere in our world. But the flip side of the coin is this: Everyone who believes in that name for eternal salvation is saved, regardless of the blank spots or the flaws in their theology in other respects.”[4]

However, they admit people in past ages before the coming of Christ did not need to believe in the name “Jesus” for everlasting life. Although they may think requiring belief in the name “Jesus” is a small change compared with a big change of requiring belief in His death, resurrection, deity, and humanity, it is a change nevertheless. And no matter what the size of the change, the fact there is a change contradicts their paradigm. As long as crossless gospel advocates include the name “Jesus” as a necessary part of the content of faith for salvation today, they cannot argue that the required content of faith has not changed.

Furthermore, if people before the cross were to believe in the coming Messiah for everlasting life and the content of faith has not changed, today you could also believe the coming Messiah will provide everlasting life. Along with Israel who rejects Jesus is the Messiah; you could await the coming Messiah. Yet if you believed this coming Messiah would guarantee everlasting life, you would be saved. That would be the logical conclusion if the required content of faith has not changed. Obviously, it must have changed.

Thus, crossless gospel advocates cannot honestly claim the lack of belief in Christ's death and resurrection in prior ages is proof it is not required now. If they were consistent with this assumption, belief in the name “Jesus” would not be required either.


The Biblical Answer:
What does the Bible say about the required content of faith in Old Testament times?

First, there is not one single verse, such as John 6:47, tied to “Messiah” in the Old Testament where people were told to believe in the coming Messiah for everlasting life. Dispensationalists of the past have pointed out that people of all dispensations were saved on the basis of grace, on the grounds of Christ's redemptive work, through the means of faith.[5] However, the required content of faith for salvation has indeed changed throughout periods of time as God has given people varying degrees of revelation throughout time. There are predictions of the coming Messiah and allusions to the coming Messiah in the Old Testament, but strenuous elaboration is required to conclude from any of these references that a) the original audience was told to believe specifically on the coming Messiah specifically for everlasting life; b) that the common people of God during this time had any conception that the Messiah would be the guarantor everlasting life via faith alone in Him; and c) that faith specifically in the coming Messiah specifically for everlasting life was ever mandated as the requirement for salvation during the time of these writings.[6]

Second, there are examples of salvation from previous dispensations where belief in the coming Messiah for everlasting life is simply not found in the context of what the person believed. For example, in Luke 18:9-14, Christ tells about the salvation of one of two men who came to the Temple to pray. Notice that He spoke this parable to “those who trusted in themselves, that they were righteous” (18:9). As we will see, it was necessary for the Publican and Pharisee to recognize their unrighteousness in order to trust in God to save on account of His righteousness.

In this narrative, the Publican rather than the Pharisee received salvation and “went home justified” (18:14). Conspicuously absent is any direct reference to “Messiah,” much less any hint that the Publican consciously believed in the coming Messiah for everlasting life. The Publican believed he was “a sinner” before a righteous God to whom he was accountable. As opposed to those who “trusted in themselves, that they were righteous,” the Publican clearly believed he was unrighteous before a righteous God. His recognition of his own sin is further reflected in that he “would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast...” His content of faith is reflected in his words that follow, “God be propitiated toward me, a sinner.” The Publican was saved neither by prayer nor sorrow for sin, but his words reflect what the Publican believed. He believed in God to provide propitiation: “God be propitiated…” that would reconcile him to God: “toward me, a sinner.”

Lewis Sperry Chafer's comments on this passage are helpful:
It is essential to note that the publican—a Jew of the Old Testament order and praying in the temple according to the requirements of a Jew in the temple—did not use the world merciful—which word is properly associated with the idea of kindness, bigheartedness, leniency, and generosity. According to the original text, which in the Authorized Version is too freely translated, the publican said, ‘God be propitiated to me the sinner.’ The word hilaskomai [Greek], which means ‘to make propitiation,’ appears in the text...By the use of the word propitiation—if comprehended at all—the impression is conveyed that the publican asked God to cover his sins in such a way as to dispose of them, yet, at the same time, to do this in a way that would protect His own holiness from complicity with his sins. If the publican did as Jews were accustomed to do in his day when they went into the temple to pray, he left a sacrifice at the altar... What he prayed was strictly proper for a Jew of his time to pray under those circumstances. However, his prayer would be most unfitting on this side of the cross. God cannot be merciful to sin in the sense that He treats it lightly, whether it be in one age or another. But with reference to the word propitiation and its implications, that word was justified in the age before Christ died and when sin was covered by sacrifices which the sinner provided. It was suitable for the publican, having provided his own sacrifice, to ask that his sacrifice be accepted and himself absolved. However, on this side of the cross when Christ has died and secured propitiation [satisfaction] and it is established perfectly forever, nothing could be more an outraging of that priceless truth upon which the gospel rests than to implore God to be propitious [satisfied].”[7]

The point of citing this passage is not to prove the content of faith for all people of all ages. Rather, it's just one example that counters the claim people living prior to Christ's incarnation were required to believe a promise of everlasting life specifically guaranteed by the coming Messiah in order to be saved. While the Publican did not believe specifically in the Messiah for eternal life, there are elements of his content of his faith that are similar to our own. If crossless gospel advocates are truly so adamant about learning principles from the content of faith in past dispensations, then let them consider several truths from the Publican’s example.

First, the Publican's plea was based upon recognition that he was a sinner. That does not mean hamartiology is his object of faith for salvation. Rather, recognition that he is unrighteous was a necessary presupposition to his content of faith because he specifically believed in God to provide the solution to his sin problem. Yet crossless gospel advocates claim we change the object of faith by requiring belief in Christ’s work, which ultimately solved the sin problem.

Second, the Publican's object of faith was God. Crossless gospel advocates, however, deny that a person needs any concept of God to be saved. A person can believe in a guy named “Jesus” for an eternal godless existence, as long as the person believes it is good. However, if the object of faith for Old Testament saints can be found in Scripture, that object of faith is certainly what they consciously knew as the Lord God.

In Isaiah 45:21-23a we read: “...and there is no God else beside Me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” This principle is repeated in other passages too: “I, even I, am the LORD; and beside Me there is no Savior.” (Isaiah 43:11; cf. Hos. 13:4). According to these verses, people in Old Testament times were commanded not to look to some personage they knew as less than God for salvation. That would be idolatry. They were called to believe in the one true God and no other. This is exemplified in the example of the Publican. Today, our object of faith for salvation is further specified to be “the Lord Jesus Christ,” but He must be known as nothing less than the Lord God.

Third, the Publican believed in God to reconcile him to Himself rather than judge him for his sin. This same principle is repeated as Church Age saints are to implore the lost on Christ's behalf, “Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20). This concept of salvation as a reconciliation to God even fits the Gospel of John's presentation of eternal life. It is not just eternal existence, the opposite of annihilation, or some sort of well-being apart from God. Rather, John presents “eternal life” as the life of Christ (5:26; 6:47-48; 11:25; 14:6), which involves a new relationship to God (John 1:12-13; 17:3) instead of God's judgment (e.g. John 3:14, 15, 16, 18, 36; 5:22-24, 26-29; 8:24; 12:47-50). Just like “Jesus” cannot be separated from a concept of God; neither can “eternal life”.

Finally, the Publican believed in God to reconcile him based upon His provided satisfaction for sin. God is righteous and must be satisfied in regard to sin. Though the Publican living before the death of Christ did not understand how God would provide the propitiation, Church Age saints today are to plead with the lost, “Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20) on this basis: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Christ’s death for our sins and resurrection has shed infinitely more light on this issue than the Publican had. Now that Christ has paid for our sins, we cannot go back to Old Testament times and act like nothing happened in 32 AD!

The point is, crossless gospel advocates have not only misrepresented what people must believe for salvation today, but they have also misrepresented what people in past ages believed in order to be saved. While the basis of salvation has always been grace, the grounds of it is Christ's redemptive work, and the means of it faith, God has indeed offered varying levels of revelation to people living in different periods of time and changed the required content of faith accordingly. Unless crossless gospel advocates are willing to drop the name “Jesus” as an essential element to the content of faith, even they must agree.

Today, the lost must believe the single message identified as the gospel of grace (cf. Acts 15:7-9; 20:24; Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:17-21; 4:15; 15:1-4; 2 Cor. 4:3-4; Gal. 1:6-9; Eph. 1:13; Col. 1:5; 2Thes. 1:8). Such passages prove there is an identifiable, definable message called “the gospel” that must be believed as a matter of salvation from Hell. Notice all of the verses cited were written after Christ’s resurrection. Only after Christ’s resurrection does Scripture mandate the lost must believe this “gospel” in order to be saved from Hell.

This is a conspicuous and significant Scriptural fact that crossless advocates discard. Should it be any surprise that this unique mandate to believe “the gospel” as an essential condition to salvation involves believing a message that shines upon the Person and work of Jesus Christ more clearly than the required content of faith for prior generations?


GS

Please continue to False Paradigms, Part 2.

[1] Antonia da Rosa (aka, Sock Puppet fg me), “Must One Understand Christ’s Death for Sin to be Born Again?” Note comment #6, posted June 23, 2007 4:05 PM

[2] Bob Bryant, “How Were People Saved Before Jesus Came?Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society (Spring 2003).

[3]In similar fashion to Roman Catholics, Bryant’s dogma without Scriptural support equals an appeal to verbal tradition outside the Bible. We quote again Bryant: “So how did [people in OT times] know how to be saved? There can be only one answer. Before the OT was written, God gave verbal revelation that eternal salvation is received through faith alone in Christ alone.” Bryant also concludes what this verbal revelation must have been.

Compare Bryant’s quote with this Catholic apologetic for the Assumption of Mary: “Still, fundamentalists ask, where is the proof from Scripture [regarding the assumption of Mary]? Strictly, there is none. It was the Catholic Church that was commissioned by Christ to teach all nations and to teach them infallibly. The mere fact that the Church teaches the doctrine of the Assumption as definitely true is a guarantee that it is true.” See: Karl Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1988), p. 275.

Thus, “Crossless” gospel advocates and Roman Catholics are both compelled by their presuppositions to appeal to some extra-biblical, unproven, undocumented tradition as the proof for their doctrines.

[4] Zane Hodges, “How to Lead People to Christ, Pt.1,” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society (Autumn 2000).

[5] See Tom Stegall, “The Tragedy of the Crossless Gospel, Pt. 2,” Grace Family Journal (Summer 2007).

[6] One can brace for such fanciful elaborations as Bob Bryant sets out to prove this proposition after claiming, “It would have been exceedingly difficult for someone to find the way of salvation in an unfinished OT since it is exceedingly difficult to find the way of salvation in the completed OT.” See endnote 6.

[7] Lewis Sperry Chafer, “The Terms of Salvation,” Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 107 (Oct.-Dec. 1950). Republished in the Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society (Autumn, 1988).

94 comments:

  1. I have to say "Amen" to this:

    "the Publican's object of faith was God"

    However, I would argue that saving faith has always been the faith of Abraham:

    Romans 4:20-22
    He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

    It was essential that Abraham be convinced that what GOD had promised GOD was also able to perform.

    Faith has always been the sole requirement for salvation. The object of saving faith has always been God. "Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him" (Psalm 2:12).

    The Old Testament sacrificial system looked forward to the day when the Son of God would shed His blood for the propitiation of sin – and not ours only but the world. Christ died for the sin of the world. Whether you believe He died for your sin or not – it’s true, He did.

    In every dispensation, salvation is based on the death and resurrection of Christ. Without His sacrifice – all faith would be futile. Just as the OT saints knew nothing of the cross but believed in God to justify them, our faith that He will justify us is still the requirement for salvation, and the object of our faith is still God (Jesus Christ). It is in and through the person of Christ that we identify the one true God in whom we must trust. This is most certainly a matter of progressive revelation – in this present church age dispensation, to fail to trust in Christ is to fail to trust in God.

    Must we believe that He died for our sins? Whether we do or not – He did.

    Must we believe that we have eternal life because we believe in Him? Absolutely, because the subject is eternal life – not forgiveness of sin which He HAS accomplished, the barrier of sin has been removed.

    We know that we have eternal life because we believe that what God promises he is also able to perform. He promises that whoever believes in Jesus Christ shall not perish but has everlasting life. This promise rests on the firm foundation of His Cross but the promise is made whether you believe the foundation is true or not.

    Let’s say know Bill. Bill never lies and Bill’s dad dies and leaves him a million dollars. Bill says to you “If you believe in me I’ll give you a million dollars” – do you need to trust that Bill’s dad died, left him a million dollars and therefore he’ll give you the money? NO!

    You don’t need to know the foundation of Bill’s riches, you need to be fully convinced that what Bill has promised, Bill is able and willing to perform. If you are, you believe and are given the million dollars. Knowing the foundation may bring you to believe but based on the promise, its not necessary!

    So it is with the gospel. What is necessary is that we know Jesus, God the Son. That we know His promise “Whoever believes in me has eternal life” and that we be fully convinced that what He has promised, He is also able to perform.

    The subject at hand is eternal life (salvation). We are able to have eternal life because He made it possible. The means He chose for us is faith. The object of faith is God.

    We are saved by grace through faith.

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  2. Hi Jon:

    Thanks for stopping by.

    I appreciate your posting some thoughts, and I will let Greg interact with you on them.

    Take care,


    Lou

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  4. Jon, I am happy you agree that it is essential to believe in Jesus Christ as God to be saved. However, I must seriously object to your argument that we need not know about Christ's death for our sins and resurrection.

    First of all, we're treading on holy ground when we talk about this subject of what the lost must believe to be saved. In 1 Corinthians, Paul explains that the "wisdom of the wise" and the "understanding of the prudent" and the "wisdom of the world" does not lead to the knowledge of God. Taking these words seriously, I don't think we should depend on analogies (e.g. your example of "Bill"), philosophy, or human reasoning to determine what message the Lord requires the lost to believe to be saved.

    In contrast to the "wisdom of the world", Paul says there is one message that separates the "saved" from the "perishing", and that message is "the message of the cross" (1Cor. 1:18). As opposed to the world's failure to know God by its wisdom, God has given us one message by which it has pleased Him to "save them that believe" (1:21). This message is the "message of the cross" (1:18, 23). Even though the message of "Christ crucified" was a stumblingblock to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks, it is a necessary stumblingblock. Why? There is no other message that reveals to us the God and the Lord Jesus Christ who guarantees everlasting life. It is when somebody believes "the message of the cross" (1:18, 21) that a sinner is saved. You would not have "the message of the cross" if you divested it from Christ's death for our sins and resurrection. Apart from "the message of the cross" there is no message that brings everlasting life.

    Secondly, you talk about the faith of Abraham. You point out Abraham's object of faith was God (agreed). You also point out that Abraham believed what God has promised (agreed). You also point out that the content of faith given to us is more specific because we must believe in God in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ (agreed). However, that more specific revelation that is absolutely essential to the message we must believe for salvation includes Christ's death and resurrection. You divorce God's promise of eternal life from the "message of the cross" in terms of what the lost must essentially believe. To this, I object. The message of Christ's death for our sins and His resurrection is essential and inextricable from both the Person of Jesus Christ and from the promise of Jesus Christ. That is why Paul writes:

    Romans 4:19-25: And being not weak in faith, [Abraham] considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, IF WE BELIEVE ON HIM THAT RAISED UP JESUS OUR LORD FROM THE DEAD: WHO WAS DELIVERED FOR OUR OFFENSES, AND WAS RAISED AGAIN FOR OUR JUSTIFICATION.

    There are many other conceivable ways of identifying God beside, "Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead" and there are many other ways of speaking about Jesus beside "Jesus our Lord...who was delivered for our offenses and was raised again for our justification." But why does Paul identify God and Jesus Christ in such a way? It is because these truths are essential to identifying the Lord who makes a promise to us, and they are also essential to the essential message we must believe for justification. Paul connected believers today with Abraham as people who are justified by faith. Paul also indicates we must believe in God, like Abraham. However, Paul also explains the DIFFERENCE between the promise made to Abraham and the further specific content of faith we must believe. Paul does not say, "it shall be imputed to us who also believe we shall become the father of many nations" (compare 4:17ff. and 24ff.). No, Paul specifically makes a contrast when he says, "it shall also be imputed to us if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead: who was delivered for our offenses and was raised again for our justification."

    Notice, also, instead of specifically identifying a promise we must believe, after talking about a "promise" given to Abraham, Paul directly identifies the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as our content of faith. Why is that? It is because the promise of justification flows from the Person and work of Jesus Christ and cannot be divorced from it in the saving message. In fact, in the book of Corinthians, when believers deny the resurrection of believers which is involved in the promise of everlasting life (John 6:39, 40; 11:25-26), Paul refuted the heresy by starting with the work of Jesus Christ - "He died for our sins" and "rose" which was part of the original gospel he preached to them (1Cor. 15:1-4). Why? Because believing on Christ's work entails believing what it accomplished and the promise that flows from it. Likewise, Christ's death for our sins and resurrection is essential to "the gospel" (1Cor. 1:17-23; 15:3-4; Rom. 1:4, 16; 9:30-10:16; 2Tim. 2:8). To this, some men from GES have been self-condemned so far as to deny there is a such thing called "the gospel" the lost must believe to be saved. They say, "gospel" just means good news and thus there is no identifiable, definable message called "the gospel." Yes, gospel literally means "good news" but the normal usage of the term "the gospel" after the resurrection definitely refers to a specific message. Dozens of passages predicate our salvation from Hell upon believing "the gospel" (cf. Acts 15:7-9; 20:24; Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:17-21; 4:15; 15:1-4; 2 Cor. 4:3-4; Gal. 1:6-9; Eph. 1:13; Col. 1:5; 2Thes. 1:8). If we cannot identify it, then woe to us!

    Last, I'm not sure what you mean in your comments about "eternal life". Do the lost need to hear the words "eternal life" to be saved? No. In fact, the Apostles often used other words such as "forgiveness of sins", "justify", and "saved" when preaching the gospel. A person could also use "save", "justify", "reconcile", "forgive", ect., but the person needs to understand that Jesus offers a permanent reconciliation to God instead of judgment, and this is on the basis of faith in Him alone. If a person believes in Jesus for some sort of a temporary reconciliation or salvation that can be lost, the person's faith has not rested upon Jesus Christ alone. If I think I can loose salvation, the necessary conclusion is there are works I need to do to keep salvation. Thus I am still trusting in myself. I think Gal. 1:6-9 (cf. 2:16) proves that justification by faith alone in part of the gospel message. In fact, Paul indicates this message properly flows from understanding the message of the cross (Gal. 2:20; 3:1, 13-14; 5:11; 6:12). Thus, denying justification by faith alone is actually denying the essential message of Christ's death for our sins.

    Sincerely,
    Greg

    P.S. One other thought. In my article, I talked about the Publican believing in God to provide propitiation for his sin. This was before the cross. Jesus certainly seems to identify this issue of sin as a necessary presupposition for what the Publican believed, i.e., for God to provide propitiation for his sin (Luke 18:9-14). Now that Christ has provided that propitiation, how can you go back to Old Testament times and get saved without believing the propitiation He provided! Also, you mentioned sacrifices during OT times. Sacrifices have been involved in every dispensation before the cross, even outside the dispensation of law. There have been sacrifices since the time of Adam and Eve. I think the obvious lesson God conveyed through this system is that there must be a propitiation for sin. Obviously, the blood of animals could not take away sin. That is why the Publican and people in OT times, learning this lesson from the sacrificial system, believed in God to provide propitiation for their sin.

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  5. Greg -

    I agree with much you are saying. I certainly feel a brotherhood with you, Lou and all those who fall into the Free Grace camp. You have brought up many points that I have looked into and I keep coming back to the simplicity of John 6:47. If I were to take the statement of Christ in this verse at face value - you would have me believe I don't "know" enough if I simply believe this Jesus to be God and trust in Him for what He promises me...eternal life.

    Again, the cross is part of the good news as it is the very foundation that our faith rests upon - it is not what we must have faith in. I don't know a Catholic that doesn't believe Jesus died for their sins and rose again - are they saved? No. They have not accepted the gift of God, eternal life, through belief in Jesus Christ.

    How do you handle John 20:31? This spells out CLEARLY that we must believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing - we have life in His name. No mention of the cross or sin.

    How about in Revelation 20:15? Nobody is cast into the lake of fire because of their sins (Christ paid for them on the Cross) - they are cast into the lake of fire because they are not in the Book of Life - they do not HAVE eternal life.

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  6. Hello Jon:

    I am going to leave most of the interaction in this thread to Greg. I do, however, want to make a few brief general comments.

    1) The “Crossless” advocates have come to the point where they view the Gospel of John with such single-mindedness that they treat it as though it negates the rest of the NT on the doctrine of salvation and the Gospel. 1 Cor. 15:3-4 and Romans 10:9-10 are very clear and cannot be divorced from the message of what lost man must believe if he is to be born again.

    2) The “Crossless” advocates will speak of the cross in a Gospel message, but they insist that a lost man does not need to know or understand anything about the death and resurrection of Christ, not even know and/or agree that he (the lost man) is a sinner, but ONLY believe Jesus is the Giver of eternal life and he can be born again. That is the position from Hodges, da Rosa and Myers.

    3) The Free Grace camp/community has been fractured by this unbiblical teaching coming primarily from Zane Hodges. See my article titled, Free Grace: Fractured by the “Crossless” Gospel.

    BTW, I never joined the GES because as far back as 1997 I saw the direction Hodges and Wilkin were headed on repentance and more recently this departure from orthodoxy on the Gospel.

    My worst fears have been confirmed by Hodges Harmony With God and his two part series How to Lead People to Christ.

    I’m out; Greg…


    LM

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  8. Jon, I must insist again upon esteeming the Word of God higher than human reasoning.

    What I'm doing here is not trying to argue a position based upon logical, philosophy, or human reasoning. I keep referring to the clear truth of the Word of God, even if it presents a problem to our human rationale.

    Please explain to me how the "message of the cross" in 1Cor. 1:18 is not essential to salvation. According to 1:21, this is the single message, opposed to all human wisdom, by which God saves those who believe. Why would Paul insist on including "the cross", considering on how it was such a stumbling block to Jews and Greeks (1Cor. 1:23) if it was not an essential stumbling block?

    Do you really believe "the message of the cross" and "the gospel" in 1Cor. 1:17-21 is different than that of 4:15 and 15:1-4 which Paul says is the message he first preached to the Corinthians and they initially received?

    Lou points out another good passage, Rom. 10:9. Romans 10:9 can be understood in light of what I already talked about with regard to Romans 4:23-25. I believe this passage shows the promise of justification by faith alone is inherently connected with the truth of Christ's death and resurrection.

    Notice, so far, I have refrained from the sort of man-made paradigms used to support your position. When we look at these paradigms, they will all come tumbling down. We'll do this in the upcoming articles.

    For example, where does the Bible say that the details of what the lost need to believe for salvation are specifically stated in the one verse of John 6:47, or any verse for that matter? In fact, Hodges says 6:47 is not enough. It must be combined with 6:43a. It is apparent to me that the message Jesus preached in John 6 looked forward to His work on the cross, and it was primarily to be understood by His audience after His work on the cross.

    Look at what you're leaving out when you rip out John 6:47 by itself. Jesus is calling people to believe in Him as the "bread of life" (John 6:33, 35, 41, 48, 50, 51, 58). His identity as the "bread of life" which "came down from heaven" speaks of more than "guarantor of eternal life". It connects the promise of eternal life with His deity, humanity, and the giving of His flesh. These truths are absolutely wrapped into the term "Bread of life":

    "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:51)

    Furthermore, Jesus says:

    "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed." (John 6:53-55).

    Do you not see that it is an absolutely essential condition to eat His flesh and drink His blood? Unless you do so, you have "no life" in you. Don't you see that believing in Jesus as the "bread of life", i.e., eating His flesh and drinking His blood means to believe in the giving of His body and blood as the grounds of our salvation!?

    Jon, the Apostle John repeatedly demonstrates that Jesus did not teach a crossless message of life, and this message is particularly and essentially understood after His work on the cross (John 3:14-18; 6:35-58; 8:23-28; 12:32-33ff). The first time John ever addresses the reader, i.e., "you" to "believe" something is immediately after he presents Jesus' death (John 19:35) and again after His resurrection (John 21:27-31).

    When John says, "these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God" it is immediately after Thomas's confession of "My Lord and my God" after beholding the CRUCIFIED and RISEN Jesus Christ. Jesus then refers to our responsibility to believe in Him as the crucified and risen God-man by faith rather than by sight (20:29).

    Jon, those pierced hand wounds were part of Jesus's crucified AND glorified body. These nail wounds will remain with Him for eternity. They are an essential part of His identity. Now, in order to know Him as the "Christ, the Son of God," we must know Him as the "Lamb of God".

    All of this fits with Lou's very important comment. While John may have an evangelistic purpose, however we interpret it must line up with the rest of the equally inspired writings of Scripture which also talk about what the lost must believe to be saved. However we interpret Jon must agree with the rest of Scripture. I believe my understanding of John fits with the inspired text of that Gospel and the rest of Scripture. Your view simply does not. I urge you to change your mind. This is critical.

    Sincerely,
    Greg

    P.S. Another one of your lines of human reasoning came out when you mentioned Catholics believe in Jesus' resurrection and remain unsaved. Thus, that isn't an essential truth to the saving message. Well, Catholics also believe the Savior's name is "Jesus". By your reasoning, that shouldn't be essential either.

    Furthermore, you then mentioned that a person must believe "Jesus is God". Well, Catholics believe Jesus is God. By your reasoning, that shouldn't be required either.

    I assume you believe a person must believe Jesus CAME to earth, i.e., in the flesh, rather than awaiting a coming Messiah like the Jews. Well, Catholics believe that. By your reasoning, that shouldn't be required either.

    You then mentioned a person must believe "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God". Well, Catholics claim to be believe that too. By your reasoning, that shouldn't be required either.

    But what is the true problem when Catholics confess Jesus' death and resurrection? And what is the problem when Catholics confess "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God." The problem is, they do not understand the SIGNIFICANCE of either of these two things.

    I assume you would say the phrase "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God" involves Jesus' promise. Well, I would say it involves involves His work, just like "Lamb of God" refers to His work. You see what we are doing? Both of us have to define the significance of this in a way which Catholics actually do not believe.

    It is the same with His death and resurrection. A person must believe the significance of this. If a person truly believed Jesus' death was the payment for sins, he would not be seeking to outweigh his sins via his works.

    Catholics claim to believe John 3:16, 6:47, 20:31, as well as His death and resurrection. Both in your view and my view is that they do not believe the SIGNIFICANCE of these truths.

    Thus, it is totally illegitimate for you to say "Catholics believe Jesus died and aren't saved, therefore, this is non-essential" when at the same time, this same reasoning would defeat all the points of your view that I mentioned above.

    Jon, I think your reasoning comes not from the Bible but from Antonio da Rosa and his mastermind Zane Hodges.

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  9. *Please explain to me how the "message of the cross" in 1Cor. 1:18 is not essential to salvation. According to 1:21, this is the single message, opposed to all human wisdom, by which God saves those who believe. Why would Paul insist on including "the cross", considering on how it was such a stumbling block to Jews and Greeks (1Cor. 1:23) if it was not an essential stumbling block?*


    1 Corinthians 1:18-24
    For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
    For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."
    Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
    For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
    Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom,
    but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
    but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

    The message of the cross is that God has reconciled himself to mankind – he has removed the sin barrier – Christ died for the sin of the world – Christ rose again in victory over death and all who believe in Jesus Christ are positionally “In Christ” – therefore, are clothed in His righteousness – are justified – given eternal life and saved from the lake of fire.

    What must one do to be justified, saved – have eternal life? Believe in Jesus – that is to be fully convinced that what God has promised He is also able to perform.

    As our Lord said on the Cross “It is finished” – the work He did, whether it is believed or not. God HAS reconciled himself to mankind – whether mankind believes it or not. This makes it possible for the gift of eternal life to be offered through Jesus Christ.

    So – who would accept this gift without knowing about the finished work? I’m not sure that anybody would. But, does believing in the finished work result in eternal life? No. Believing in Jesus Christ results in eternal life.



    *Do you really believe "the message of the cross" and "the gospel" in 1Cor. 1:17-21 is different than that of 4:15 and 15:1-4 which Paul says is the message he first preached to the Corinthians and they initially received?*


    No, I don’t. I believe Paul instructed the Corinthians about the finished work of Christ – which is a doctrinal issue, foundational to receiving eternal life and discipleship.


    *Lou points out another good passage, Rom. 10:9. Romans 10:9 can be understood in light of what I already talked about with regard to Romans 4:23-25. I believe this passage shows the promise of justification by faith alone is inherently connected with the truth of Christ's death and resurrection.*


    Romans 10:9-10
    That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
    For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

    In this verse we see that “if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. This salvation is one part – if you are a disciple “confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved in the temporal sense.

    Verse 10 speaks to the importance of the “heart” issue and breaks salvation into two parts – for it is with your heart that you believe and are justified – it is being fully convinced that the victory Christ has over death will be ours as well through the promise of God – salvation from the lake of fire relies on us believing in Jesus Christ for eternal life. What we say and do – confessing, results in temporal salvation. The disciple is under God’s care.



    *Notice, so far, I have refrained from the sort of man-made paradigms used to support your position. When we look at these paradigms, they will all come tumbling down. We'll do this in the upcoming articles.

    For example, where does the Bible say that the details of what the lost need to believe for salvation are specifically stated in the one verse of John 6:47, or any verse for that matter? In fact, Hodges says 6:47 is not enough. It must be combined with 6:43a. It is apparent to me that the message Jesus preached in John 6 looked forward to His work on the cross, and it was primarily to be understood by His audience after His work on the cross.*


    John 6:47 stand alone in context. If Jesus never lies – then the content of this verse is sufficient.


    *Look at what you're leaving out when you rip out John 6:47 by itself. Jesus is calling people to believe in Him as the "bread of life" (John 6:33, 35, 41, 48, 50, 51, 58). His identity as the "bread of life" which "came down from heaven" speaks of more than "guarantor of eternal life". It connects the promise of eternal life with His deity, humanity, and the giving of His flesh. These truths are absolutely wrapped into the term "Bread of life":

    "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:51)

    Furthermore, Jesus says:

    "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed." (John 6:53-55).

    Do you not see that it is an absolutely essential condition to eat His flesh and drink His blood? Unless you do so, you have "no life" in you. Don't you see that believing in Jesus as the "bread of life", i.e., eating His flesh and drinking His blood means to believe in the giving of His body and blood as the grounds of our salvation!?*


    To eat His flesh and drink His blood is to consume His finished work through the mouth of faith be belief in Him for eternal life – which, when digested, places you “In Christ”. You may not know exactly what your eating or even what it’s going to taste like – you simply know you need Him to sustain you.

    *Jon, the Apostle John repeatedly demonstrates that Jesus did not teach a crossless message of life, and this message is particularly and essentially understood after His work on the cross (John 3:14-18; 6:35-58; 8:23-28; 12:32-33ff). The first time John ever addresses the reader, i.e., "you" to "believe" something is immediately after he presents Jesus' death (John 19:35) and again after His resurrection (John 21:27-31).

    When John says, "these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God" it is immediately after Thomas's confession of "My Lord and my God" after beholding the CRUCIFIED and RISEN Jesus Christ. Jesus then refers to our responsibility to believe in Him as the crucified and risen God-man by faith rather than by sight (20:29).*


    The cross is foundational to the gift that is offered. Your ranting about a crossless gospel is ridiculous. Everyone acknowledges without the cross – we have nothing. The finished work is finished the foundation has been laid whether it is believed or not. You take verse 20:29 and twist it completely, making it your words and not the words of our Lord. “Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” which I see plainly as anyone who has not actually seen the supernatural event of the resurrected Christ, yet believes in Him for eternal life is blessed.


    *Jon, those pierced hand wounds were part of Jesus's crucified AND glorified body. These nail wounds will remain with Him for eternity. They are an essential part of His identity. Now, in order to know Him as the "Christ, the Son of God," we must know Him as the "Lamb of God".*


    To have the faith of Abraham, that is saving faith – all one must do is recognize that the promise of eternal life is made by God and by believing in Jesus Christ, who is God, we have that life because we are fully convinced that what God promises, He is also able to perform.


    *All of this fits with Lou's very important comment. While John may have an evangelistic purpose, however we interpret it must line up with the rest of the equally inspired writings of Scripture which also talk about what the lost must believe to be saved. However we interpret Jon must agree with the rest of Scripture.*


    I agree with this completely. In order for the Bible to be true it must pass the law of non-contradiction. That is - what we know to be true cannot be compromised by contradicting interpretations of more complicated passages. That is what leads us to the least common denominator of saving faith – belief in Jesus Christ for the gift of God, eternal life.


    *P.S. Another one of your lines of human reasoning came out when you mentioned Catholics believe in Jesus' resurrection and remain unsaved. Thus, that isn't an essential truth to the saving message. Well, Catholics also believe the Savior's name is "Jesus". By your reasoning, that shouldn't be essential either.

    Furthermore, you then mentioned that a person must believe "Jesus is God". Well, Catholics believe Jesus is God. By your reasoning, that shouldn't be required either.

    I assume you believe a person must believe Jesus CAME to earth, i.e., in the flesh, rather than awaiting a coming Messiah like the Jews. Well, Catholics believe that. By your reasoning, that shouldn't be required either.

    You then mentioned a person must believe "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God". Well, Catholics claim to be believe that too. By your reasoning, that shouldn't be required either.

    But what is the true problem when Catholics confess Jesus' death and resurrection? And what is the problem when Catholics confess "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God." The problem is, they do not understand the SIGNIFICANCE of either of these two things.*


    The problem is they do not know they are going to heaven. They have not accepted the gift of eternal life. They do understand the significance but they reject the gift by continuing to work for it.


    *I assume you would say the phrase "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God" involves Jesus' promise. Well, I would say it involves involves His work, just like "Lamb of God" refers to His work. You see what we are doing? Both of us have to define the significance of this in a way which Catholics actually do not believe.

    It is the same with His death and resurrection. A person must believe the significance of this. If a person truly believed Jesus' death was the payment for sins, he would not be seeking to outweigh his sins via his works.*


    I disagree – the Cross IS significant whether we believe it or not. What must be believed is that what God has promised (eternal life through belief in Jesus Christ), He is able to perform (you are fully convinced that you have eternal life based on His promise – on His merit and nothing you have done or could do),


    *Jon, I think your reasoning comes not from the Bible but from Antonio da Rosa and his mastermind Zane Hodges.*


    I love both of these men, as well as Bob Wilkin – as well as you, Greg, and Lou. I simply want His truth and am grateful for the Lord providentially placing brothers in my life to help sharpen my iron.

    I love Jesus Christ. I love the Cross. I love that He died for me when I was still a sinner. I love that God loved the world so much that He reconciled himself to mankind. I love that all the sinner needs to believe is His promise of eternal life in His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, which thereby reconciles the sinner back to God and eternally mends what was a broken relationship.

    I pray that you can see your charge of “crossless gospel” is absurd. We disagree on the bare minimum of saving faith – we do not disagree on any points of doctrine. It just goes to show – that no matter how close Christians may be theologically, they still have a fleshly desire to “own” His truth. I don’t have a problem with what you guys are saying – I really don’t – I just don’t see your checklist as being God’s checklist.

    In Christ,

    JL

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  10. Jon:

    You wrote, “The cross is foundational to the gift that is offered. Your ranting about a crossless gospel is ridiculous. Everyone acknowledges without the cross – we have nothing. The finished work is finished the foundation has been laid whether it is believed or not.”

    “Crossless” gospel is not a rant. The position Hodges is teaching has come to be known as a “Crossless” gospel because of what Hodges says about the cross and the Gospel. For example,

    In recent years I (Hodges) have become aware of a way of presenting the gospel invitation that troubles me. I believe I have heard it from my earliest years, and I admit it didn't really bother me for a long time. Now it does. I have heard people say this: 'In order to be saved you must believe that Jesus died on the cross.' . . . . usually implied is the idea that Christ's work on the cross is sufficient to provide for our salvation. Thus they mean to say that we are trusting in the sufficiency of his work of atonement. Let me be honest, I don't like this way of presenting a gospel invitation.” (JOTGES 14:1, Spring 01, p. 11)

    “The simple truth is that Jesus can be believed for eternal salvation apart from any detailed knowledge of what He did to provide it.” (JOTGES 14:1, Spring 01, p. 13).


    Hodges says he does not like presenting the Gospel if it includes believing Jesus died on the cross. Jon, that is exactly why the position you men are teaching is called the “Crossless” gospel.

    Furthermore, you identify one of the most serious departures from an orthodox position on the Gospel when you write, “…whether it is believed or not.”

    Right there you are teaching a “Crossless” gospel. The cross, according to your position, does not need to be known, understood or believed and a lost man can still be born again.

    That is a “CROSSLESS” gospel!


    LM

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  12. Jon:

    Thanks again for interacting on this important subject.

    When I review what I write, if I have to read the same sentence more than once to understand what I wrote, then in my mind, I was not being clear. I will then edit, revise and try it again.

    When I read your note (see below) on Rom 10:9-10 I had to go back over it several times and I am still unclear as to what you are getting at.

    In this verse we see that ‘if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’ This salvation is one part – if you are a disciple ‘confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved in the temporal sense.”

    I am not clear about what are trying to say? It seems to me you are saying “confess” is for the disciple of Christ, one who is already born again. Do I understand you to say that?

    You wrote, “…saved in the temporal sense?”

    I find this particular statement confusing. When has salvation, “the gift of God” (Rom. 6:23), ever been temporal?


    LM

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  13. Hi Jon,

    My name is Kevin, I'm not as schollarly as some of the other people around but I have been attending the School of the Spirit for as long as it has pleased Him to teach me and have had to shed man's wisdom for the reaveled Truth of God's Word on many topics. I am more and more constrained to submit to this Truth. As I write to you today, I hope you'll consider the content while not feeling lorded over. IT is not my place to enforce, but I do very much hope to lead.

    I believe it is a misunderstanding of repentance that gets us into the conversation of what the Gospel is. Fundamentally, whether it be teaching “Lordship Salvation” or a “Crossless Gospel” the source of the issue is a false understanding of repentance.

    You said
    The message of the cross is that God has reconciled himself to mankind – he has removed the sin barrier – Christ died for the sin of the world – Christ rose again in victory over death and all who believe in Jesus Christ are positionally “In Christ” – therefore, are clothed in His righteousness – are justified – given eternal life and saved from the lake of fire.

    Actually, the separation is still there. The “barrier” as it were is still completely in place. God Himself has propitiated Himself as far as Sin is concerned. He is satisfied by the Blood of Christ. Exactly as the blood on the door casings at the Passover was propitiation to God so is the Blood of Christ. God is satisfied, but man is still guilty. Forgiveness of sins is not gained by propitiation. Judgment is satisfied by propitation.

    We are still separated by our sin, even once we are saved we still experience separation because of sin. That's one of the strongest points of 1st John. That fellowship is broken by sin, and must be restored.

    You continued

    What must one do to be justified, saved – have eternal life? Believe in Jesus – that is to be fully convinced that what God has promised He is also able to perform.


    This can be made out to sound true. It can seem to be very convincing. Yet it is false. I'm sorry brother I dare not pull this punch.

    But in 1st John we see the remedy for separation – forgiveness of sins. How is forgiveness attained? The english word is “confession” 1 John 1:9. The word translated “confess” there is “homologeo” in the englisized Greek. This actually means to agree with God about our sins. It doesn't mean to name them, it means to agree with God about them.

    What is the first thing we learn about sin in the Bible – it causes and requires death. Gen 2:17 and Gen 3:21 Is this refuted anywhere at all in the Word? No. There is no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood. Gen 4 shows Able bring an offering that required death that God approves of and Cain bring one that did not require death that offended Him.

    We must judge ourselves. We must. Repentance – self judgment in accordance with God's view of us as revealed to us – has always been required. Look at Job who was righteous and blameless or more specifically “transparent” in that he had no unconfessed sin (that he was aware of). His repentance, that which restored his relationship with God, was to admit his position as created vise Creator. Our self-judgment is a requirement for salvation. We see this in 1 Cor 15:3 that Christ died for “our” sins. We are sinners and our sin requires death.

    Because those who hold to a “Crossless Gospel” do not believe Repentance is a requirement for Salvation the see no need for the Judgment of Sin to be understood.

    The Word is clear front to back that God resists the proud and gives Grace to the humble. There is no instance in the Word were we see someone ignorant of their sin in a right relationship with God. We see repentance and restoration – front to back.

    You said
    So – who would accept this gift without knowing about the finished work? I’m not sure that anybody would. But, does believing in the finished work result in eternal life? No. Believing in Jesus Christ results in eternal life.

    I'm going to borrow something that Greg said, because it is perfectly suited for the purpose, and add to it. The Demons believe in Jesus. They know He is God. They obey Him – better than any and every Christian I've ever met.

    Demons, and every other unsaved created thing, fail to believe that Jesus died for “our” (including theirs, yours and mine) sins.

    It is not the believing in the name of Jesus – it is believing in the Name of Jesus. Not His “name”.. not the word Jesus. Not the title Jesus. The nature of Jesus. God's Name is His nature. This is why you see verses in the OT where God is given many different names. Each name exposes His motives, actions and the state of the people He is dealing with. We must believe in the nature of Christ Jesus to be saved. And His Nature is JUSTICE, TRUTH, MERCY, LOVE.. so on. His Nature is to do the will of the Father and that was to complete the work on the Cross.

    Jesus was lifted up as a Lamp on a light post to show His and OUR nature. The exact same thing that Jesus Himself explains to Nicodemus in John 3. Moses lifted the snake up and God said if any look apon it they would be saved. They were seeing sin judged – their sin judged.

    I'm going to cut to the end of your post now, because this one is getting long and I've dealt with the important portions – I believe.

    I pray that you can see your charge of “crossless gospel” is absurd. We disagree on the bare minimum of saving faith – we do not disagree on any points of doctrine. It just goes to show – that no matter how close Christians may be theologically, they still have a fleshly desire to “own” His truth. I don’t have a problem with what you guys are saying – I really don’t – I just don’t see your checklist as being God’s checklist.

    We do disagree on points of Doctrine. The teaching of the Gospel. We disagree on THE 1 and only doctrine that makes the difference between life and death, light and darkness. We can not agree to disagree on THIS most Holy of subjects. There can be no common ground between opposing camps on the doctrine of the Gospel. Because it is the Gospel that changes us from being enemies of God, sons of wrath, anti-Christ in our very thinking into beloved children, sheep following His Voice.

    Greg does well in showing the content of saving faith has changed throughout the dispensations. I will borrow from this work often Greg. Thank you.

    Jon, I know I close strongly here,. I had and have no intention of offense for offense's sake. We can not dare to risk being wrong on this subject. We will stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and how we have handled this subject will be tested by fire.

    Kev

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  14. I left two things out.

    First - Cain failed to recognize that sin requires death. He did not "agree" with God about his position before Him.

    Secondly, it's not the believing that Christ died and rose again that saves you. As Greg said it is believing and understanding the significance of it. He died for "our" sins and rose again. He has paid the penalty for our sins and overcome it. He also paid the redemption price - but that's another topic.

    sorry for the confusion I left in my first post.

    Kev

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  15. Mr. Martuneac,

    You wrote, “Hodges says he does not like presenting the Gospel if it includes believing Jesus died on the cross.”

    I believe you may be misunderstanding what Professor Hodges’ was getting at. See for example these two replies in the Question and Answer period that followed his speech:

    http://solifidian.blogspot.com/2006/08/since-gospel-of-john-includes-death.html

    http://solifidian.blogspot.com/2006/08/should-we-focus-on-what-person-trusts.html

    Also, I’m wondering if you have contacted Professor Hodges personally to discuss these matters. Perhaps he could respond to some of your concerns.

    Cordially,

    Andy

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  17. Andy:

    Thanks for the note.

    Here is the exact quote from Hodges,

    In recent years I (Hodges) have become aware of a way of presenting the gospel invitation that troubles me. I believe I have heard it from my earliest years, and I admit it didn't really bother me for a long time. Now it does. I have heard people say this: 'In order to be saved you must believe that Jesus died on the cross.' . . . . usually implied is the idea that Christ's work on the cross is sufficient to provide for our salvation. Thus they mean to say that we are trusting in the sufficiency of his work of atonement. Let me be honest, I don't like this way of presenting a gospel invitation.” (JOTGES 14:1, Spring 01, p. 11)

    I did not quite paraphrase, articulate as best as I might have. However, regardless of his rationale, there is no doubt that Hodges does not the like the idea of telling a lost man he must believe Jesus died on the cross to be born again. This is, IMO, a serious departure from orthodoxy in light of Rom. 10:9-10.

    As far as contacting Hodges goes: No, I have not made a call or written him. He is on public record with his views clearly stated, which I have cited in various places. He has stood by these views for years. He is, however, welcome to call/write me to discuss this issue.

    You might encourage Mr. Hodges to get on line, here or at a site of his choosing, to discuss and interact with others over his teaching on the Gospel.

    Later, I will view the links you provided. Unless Hodges has retracted his position that all a lost man must do to be saved is believe Jesus is the Giver of eternal life apart from understanding what Jesus did to provide it, I will glean little to bolster my confidence in his teaching on the Gospel.

    Thanks,


    Lou

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  18. Andy:

    I went to your site and read several of the transcripts from the Hodges Q & A.

    Two of the various Q & A's in particular confirm in my mind that,

    1) I do understand what Hodges is teaching, and...

    2) Hodges has, without any doubt, checked out on the Scriptures.

    This “Crossless” gospel being propagated by Hodges and Wilkin is so far askew of the biblical (all of the Bible) plan of salvation it makes my head hurt trying to figure how men can come to these conclusions that are antithetical to numerous portions of the New Testament. In this thread Greg has pointed out several of them to Jon.

    In my opinion, Hodges and Wilkin have tried so hard to refute the false teaching of Lordship Salvation that they have bounced to another equally extreme position on the opposite end of the theological pendulum swing.

    My greatest concern is that because of their notoriety, they may continue to influence more well-meaning, Bible-believing folks to adopt their reductionist theology.

    I thank God for men like Tom Stegall, George Zeller and Greg Schliesmann who are bringing this unbiblical teaching to light. I appreciate their use of the Word of God to refute the message of the “Crossless” gospel advocates.

    Their work on this subject will train others to recognize and avoid falling into the trap of this egregious error.

    There are more men in the Free Grace community, who understand the dangers of the “Crossless” message, that I hope and pray will take up this cause. These men, I have in mind, who are well-known, highly respected and have somewhat of a national platform.

    Lord willing, young men and women, who have been lead to take the fateful step into the “Crossless” gospel trap can and will, one day, be recovered.


    LM

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  19. Jon, I know it may be a little overwhelming to hear all these argument all at once, so I wanted to see if we could talk about one passage at a time. You could pick the passage. I particularly have some more questions for you on 1Cor. 1:17-23 because you didn't really interact with the text or the point I was making about it. But if you'd prefer, we could talk about John 6:47.

    Thanks,
    Greg

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  20. *“False Paradigm #1:
    ”The content of faith required for salvation has never changed. People in Old Testament times were saved without believing in Christ's death and resurrection. Therefore, people living today are also saved without believing in Christ's death and resurrection.”*


    It is evident that False Paradigm #1 is irrelevant to this discussion. I have been accused of preaching a “Crossless” gospel and I do believe there has been progressive revelation. I still hold to the faith of Abraham as being saving faith through every dispensation – that man must be convinced that what God has promised God is also able to perform. So the requirement for salvation has never changed but the content through progressive revelation has indeed changed. In this dispensation man must believe in Jesus Christ for the promise of God, eternal life.


    *“I particularly have some more questions for you on 1Cor. 1:17-23 because you didn't really interact with the text or the point I was making about it”*


    I did exposit verses 18-24 above, so I will do so with verse 17 as well.

    1 Corinthians 1:17
    For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.

    Paul is clearly saying that baptism is not what removes the sin barrier – we would all agree that it is a discipleship issue. The cross of Christ would be of no effect – it would not be needed – if through baptism the sin barrier was removed. The cross of Christ is the foundation that our faith rests upon, not baptism. Also, if we had to believe in the cross of Christ for it to be effectual then our faith would be the foundation and again – the cross would be unnecessary. God’s grace found in the work of the Cross is effectual whether we believe it or not.


    *“Right there you are teaching a “Crossless” gospel. The cross, according to your position, does not need to be known, understood or believed and a lost man can still be born again.”*


    Lou is correct – the power of the Cross is God’s, it does not reside in the lost man’s belief. To acknowledge the full power of the Cross is hardly “Crossless”.


    *I am not clear about what are trying to say? It seems to me you are saying “confess” is for the disciple of Christ, one who is already born again. Do I understand you to say that?*


    To add “confessing with your mouth” to a checklist for saving faith negates the clear passages (John 6:47) emphasizing belief. Again, the law of non-contradiction comes into play. Salvation is more often used in the temporal sense – meaning to be saved from one’s enemies, to save the soul which both mean to save the physical/temporal life. A Christian can “sin unto death” if they are not in fellowship with God. This is a discipleship issue.


    *You wrote, “…saved in the temporal sense?”
    I find this particular statement confusing. When has salvation, “the gift of God” (Rom. 6:23), ever been temporal?*


    Eternal life is the gift of God and it is eternal – never temporal. Salvation is entirely different. Again, the word salvation is more often used in regard to a temporal salvation here on earth – and occasionally used as eternal salvation, which I don’t believe is the cas in Romans 10. We are saved temporally by following Christ – professing Christ. We are justified by belief in Jesus Christ.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hello Everyone,

    I thought I would interact on a few of the comments.

    Lou,

    You said to Jon:

    [Begin Quote]

    “In this verse we see that ‘if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’ This salvation is one part – if you are a disciple ‘confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved in the temporal sense.”

    I am not clear about what are trying to say? It seems to me you are saying “confess” is for the disciple of Christ, one who is already born again. Do I understand you to say that?

    [End Quote]

    I believe that that is what Jon is saying, it is certainly what I have been taught. The interpretation is that this verse is commanding believers to spread the Gospel and is not stating a requirement for us to verbally proclaim Christ (such as in an altar call) in order to possess eternal salvation.

    You also said:

    [Begin Quote]

    You wrote, “…saved in the temporal sense?”

    I find this particular statement confusing. When has salvation, “the gift of God” (Rom. 6:23), ever been temporal?

    [End Quote]

    Once again, I believe I can address this. Many dispensationalists will interpret the biblical word for salvation in the same way we would interpret its use in English, in that we can be saved from different things and the interpretation depends on context. Unbelievers can be saved from eternal damnation but believers can be saved from the sin unto death (a temporal situation to be sure). They will dispute that salvation is a technical word which always means eternal salvation.

    Kevl,

    You said the following:
    [Begin Quote]

    Actually, the separation is still there. The “barrier” as it were is still completely in place. God Himself has propitiated Himself as far as Sin is concerned. He is satisfied by the Blood of Christ. Exactly as the blood on the door casings at the Passover was propitiation to God so is the Blood of Christ. God is satisfied, but man is still guilty. Forgiveness of sins is not gained by propitiation. Judgment is satisfied by propitiation.

    [End Quote]

    I suspect that Jon and I would use the word “barrier” differently than you do (for a graphic showing the “barrier” click here). The barrier is what had to be torn down before the offer of salvation can be made. If there is still a barrier then there can be no offer of salvation. Christ’s work on the cross tore down the barrier so that we are free to accept (non-meritorious faith) the grace offer of salvation.

    After reading your response it seems that you believe people will spend eternity in the lake of fire because as a penalty for their sins (please correct me if I am misinterpreting). That is incorrect! No sins will be mentioned at the Great White Throne judgment. If sin is not the issue then what is? God cannot have a relationship with anyone who does not have perfect righteousness like him. When we believe we are imputed with perfect righteousness (no, we are not perfect in time) which gains us eternal salvation. The unbeliever, no matter how good of a person they were, will come up short and be condemned to eternal damnation.

    You also said:

    [Begin Quote]

    But in 1st John we see the remedy for separation – forgiveness of sins. How is forgiveness attained? The English word is “confession” 1 John 1:9. The word translated “confess” there is “homologeo” in the englisized Greek. This actually means to agree with God about our sins. It doesn't mean to name them, it means to agree with God about them.

    [End Quote]

    I was taught, and hold to, that homologeo in its usage in 1 John 1:9 is a legal term meaning to cite before the court. When we (by “we” I mean believers only) confess our sins we are going before the supreme court of heaven and confessing our sins before our judge. Of course I will also say that when I confess my sins I wouldn’t be doing so unless I recognized that these were indeed sins, which is agreeing with God (He is the one who decides what is a sin).

    You said:

    [Begin Quote]

    We must judge ourselves. We must. Repentance – self judgment in accordance with God's view of us as revealed to us – has always been required. Look at Job who was righteous and blameless or more specifically “transparent” in that he had no unconfessed sin (that he was aware of). His repentance, that which restored his relationship with God, was to admit his position as created vise Creator. Our self-judgment is a requirement for salvation. We see this in 1 Cor 15:3 that Christ died for “our” sins. We are sinners and our sin requires death.

    [End Quote]

    I would like to make one statement here which I assume you agree with. Both believers and unbelievers are commanded to repent but the repentance is for different purposes. When an unbeliever repents it is in relation to accepting the Gospel, the free offer of eternal salvation. When a believer repents it is to restore a right relationship with God in time (here is a link to another graphic illustrating this point). Once someone has believed they are secure in that they can never lose their salvation.

    One last quote:

    [Begin Quote]

    Demons, and every other unsaved created thing, fail to believe that Jesus died for “our” (including theirs, yours and mine) sins.

    [End Quote]

    Christ never died for any angels’ sins whether fallen or elect. Whatever the decision was that they had to make, that decision in no way related to Christ’s work on the cross.

    Thank you.

    Glenn W.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Gentlemen:

    I appreciate those who are interacting on this important discussion.

    I also appreciate those who are trying to express and clarify how they interpret “temporal” salvation.

    My question to Jon was, “When has salvation, “the gift of God” (Rom. 6:23), ever been temporal?”

    When I used the word “salvation” I specifically referenced Romans 6:23b so that there would be no misunderstanding that I was specifically referring to the event of being born again into the family of God, receiving the gift of eternal life.

    "...but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord," (Rom. 6:23b)

    Jon satisfactorily answered that limited concern I had when he wrote, “Eternal life is the gift of God and it is eternal – never temporal.” As for the balance of Jon’s comment, following that sentence, I will leave for that another discussion.

    My primary concern with the “Crossless” gospel is much the same as my concern with Lordship Salvation. That concern primarily has to do with what the Bible necessitates for salvation (the reception of the gift of eternal life), not what follows being born again.

    There are, of course, important considerations following conversion, but those are not, as I noted, my primary concern.

    Thanks, and carry on.


    Lou

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  23. Hi GlennW,

    Thanks for replying to my post – even though it was riddled with spelling errors. English is my second language, my first is gibberish. :)

    I'll just quote your reponses and trust that you remember what you were refering too.

    You said
    After reading your response it seems that you believe people will spend eternity in the lake of fire because as a penalty for their sins (please correct me if I am misinterpreting). That is incorrect!

    While this is a bit of a side step of the important conversation I will respond because I believe your intention was not to lead us all astray. :) People will be cast into the Lake of Fire as an act of protection. I agree it is not punishment because punishment when Just (and our Lord is Just) is designed to reform behavior, and Eternal Punishment can not ever produce any result except further punishment. Therefore we must think it through and study the Word. I believe the Lake of Fire is for purging all Creation (Heavenlies included) of Anti-Christ (all forms and agents of). Like sending the manslayer to the city for manslayers to keep Israel pure. It was not to punish the one who had commited manslaughter, it was to keep Israel clean and safe.

    The issue is as you say our righteousness. If we are Born Again then we are born of the Spirit and are a New Creation in Christ. We are then able to be ressurrected as sinless and perfect. Thus the issue isn't our behavior, it is our nature. If we have the new nature, when the old nature is burned the new remains and we are able to stand in the presense of Holy God.

    Big concept, I don't articulate it well.. sorry. Enough to say I believe we agree on the fundamentals of this Doctrine.

    You said
    I was taught, and hold to, that homologeo in its usage in 1 John 1:9 is a legal term meaning to cite before the court. When we (by “we” I mean believers only) confess our sins we are going before the supreme court of heaven and confessing our sins before our judge. Of course I will also say that when I confess my sins I wouldn’t be doing so unless I recognized that these were indeed sins, which is agreeing with God (He is the one who decides what is a sin).

    Yes 1 John is written to Believers (as are all of the Epistles) and must be interpreted with that fact in mind. Again we agree. Yet I would add that a concept is true to it's self. Wether we are talking about repentance unto Temporal or Eternal Salvation the action is the same. A believer must confess their sin, to be restored to fellowship just as a non-believer must confess their sin to enter into fellowship in the first place.

    If a non-believer gained fellowship without confession of sin, then how could confession of sin be demanded of a believer for that same fellowship?

    You said
    I would like to make one statement here which I assume you agree with.....

    Yes of course. This is plainly so. :) Though not all would agree with this affirmation now would they?

    You said – exactly what I figured SOMEONE would say :) It's ok.. I should have addressed it.. but my post was long.. and I was rushing.. and I'm good at excuses too. Have you noticed?

    Christ never died for any angels’ sins whether fallen or elect. Whatever the decision was that they had to make, that decision in no way related to Christ’s work on the cross.

    You're right, Christ died for the sins of the World.

    I wasn't trying to imply that a demon could be saved by the Gospel. I was actually trying to expound using the you believe, you do well – so do the demons. Sort of idea. To agree with Greg's statement that it is the belief and trust in the significance of the Gospel that saves a person. This of course requires the facts to be known and believed.. which is the discussion at hand. :)

    Thanks again for your reply,
    Kev

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  24. I feel the need to clarify something... because my poor articulation has left room for desperate error to be read into what I typed.

    When I say that the old nature will be burned and the new remain. I am not implying that we will go through the Lake of Fire and the new nature will come out!

    What a shocking thought that would be to teach... (those who's names were not found in the Lamb's Book of Life were cast into the Lake of Fire)

    Our flesh (the old nature) has been judged and will burn with the rest of Creation in due time. Our New Nature in Christ will exist forever.

    There is the whole trial by fire thing of the Judgment Seat of Christ - but that's not what I meant either. Our works will be burned there, not our flesh.

    I may have over complicated this... but I just wanted to avoid the promotion of some dreadful error.

    Sorry,
    Kev

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  25. Lou,

    I didn't see that Jon had clarified, I have been frequently accused of missing things like that. I did not mean to butt into your conversation.

    Glenn W.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Jon, I appreciate your willingness to continue this discussion. In regards to 1Cor. 1:17-24 you said, "I did exposit verses 18-24 above, so I will do so with verse 17 as well" (8/16/07, 8:12am). With all due respect, your comments exposited your own paradigm rather than the passage.

    Let me address some of your comments:

    1Cor. 1:17:

    "The cross of Christ is the foundation that our faith rests upon, not baptism. Also, if we had to believe in the cross of Christ for it to be effectual then our faith would be the foundation and again – the cross would be unnecessary. God’s grace found in the work of the Cross is effectual whether we believe it or not." (8/16/07, 8:12am).

    Jon, you sound like hyper-calvinists who fail to see that faith is non-meritorious when our faith rests, not in our own work, but upon the finished work of Jesus Christ! Logically, what you are saying simply does not make sense. You said the cross is "the foundation that our faith rests upon." One sentence later you say that if our faith must rest upon the foundation (the cross of Christ), then our faith is the foundation! What!? How do you figure?

    You also say the cross would be unnecessary if our faith must rest upon it. How is that different than saying "Jesus" would be unnecessary if our faith rested upon Him? Jon, the Apostle Paul said: "If righteousness comes by works of the law, then Christ died in vain" (Gal. 2:21). But you are saying, "If righteousness comes through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, then Christ died in vain." I cannot put in words the grief I feel for your confusion that is leading you to twist the Scriptures to your own destruction. This is an all-too perfect display of the destructive teachings of GES on the crossless gospel.

    Scripture often distinguishes faith and works (e.g. Rom. 3:20-22, 27, 28; 4:2-3, 4-5; ect.). Are you saying that faith that rests upon Jesus Christ as the propitiation for our sins is a WORK but faith upon Jesus Christ as the guarantor of eternal life, without knowing Him as the propitiation for our sins, is NOT a work? How so?

    You also say "God's grace found in the work of the Cross is effectual whether we believe it or not." Well, not according to vv. 18, 21, and 23. Even in Rom. 3:25-26 which talks about Christ as the propitiation for our sins, there is a means by which His work becomes effectual to us personally -- faith. Whether that faith involves believing in Him as the propitiation for our sins or not, there is a condition for us to appropriate His work. It is simply illogical and egregious to say that the cross would be unnecessary if we must believe in Christ's work on the cross.

    You say paradigm #1 regarding progressive revelation is irrelevant to this discussion. But you are essentially asking us to go to pre-cross times and just add the name "Jesus". You are saying we should be like the Publican who looked to God to reconcile Him based on propitiation for His sin without knowing God's very provision for doing so. Apparently, the lost are better off like the Publican looking for God to somehow provide propitiation rather than hearing they must rest their faith upon the wonderful truth that He HAS provided His Son as the propitiation for our sins. If we tell the lost they must believe this, the cross is somehow unnecessary!? No, Jon. It is not my view that denigrates the cross of Jesus Christ. It is your unfortunate view that is an insult to the cross of Jesus Christ.

    I would like to focus your attention to your comments on the following verses:

    1Cor. 1:18:

    You said: "The message of the cross is that God has reconciled himself to mankind – he has removed the sin barrier – Christ died for the sin of the world – Christ rose again in victory over death and all who believe in Jesus Christ are positionally “In Christ” – therefore, are clothed in His righteousness – are justified – given eternal life and saved from the lake of fire. What must one do to be justified, saved – have eternal life? Believe in Jesus – that is to be fully convinced that what God has promised He is also able to perform. As our Lord said on the Cross 'It is finished' – the work He did, whether it is believed or not. God HAS reconciled himself to mankind – whether mankind believes it or not. This makes it possible for the gift of eternal life to be offered through Jesus Christ." (8/15/07, 7:58 am)

    First of all, Jon, the message of the cross is NOT that God has reconciled himself to mankind. Robert Lightner is keen to especially point this out: "It is important to note, however, that whenever this doctrine of reconciliation is referred to in connection with salvation, every reference speaks of MAN as the one reconciled. God is never said to be reconciled in Scripture. His standards and demands of holiness and righteousness remain the same. Reconciliation is manward" (Sin, the Savior, and Salvation, p. 122). He also correctly notes, "God's work of reconciliation through of death of Christ extends to the entire world (2 Cor. 5:19)--in a PROVISIONAL WAY and in an experiential and personal way to those who believe (2Cor. 5:18). And, furthermore, "...Christ is said to be set forth as the propitiation for the remission of sins....Paul tells us Christ is now our place of meeting--the mercy seat...John calls Christ a propitiation for sin..." (p. 121).

    What is the significance of this? First of all, men must STILL be reconciled to God. Christ's death made the provision for mankind to be reconciled to God, but until received personally, the world and each individual is still separated from God. That is why we are given "the MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION" (2Cor. 5:18) in which we beseech the lost "BE RECONCILED TO GOD" (2Cor. 5:20). Notice, "Be reconciled" is an imperative. It means that "you are not reconciled, but I exhort you to be reconciled". The fact that men are not reconciled, the fact that we are given the ministry of reconciliation, and the fact that we are to exhort men to be reconciled contradicts what you said above. It also contradicts your statement, "Nobody is cast into the lake of fire because of their sins (Christ paid for them on the Cross)". This is a half-truth. Christ paid for their sins on the Cross in a provisional way. Because of this, salvation is offered freely without the lost having to somehow out-weigh their sins by good works or reformation. Whether they believe in Christ determines whether the provision will personally be appropriated (John 3:14-18). But until men are personally reconciled to God by faith in Jesus Christ, God still sees them in their sins. That is why Jesus said, "Unless you believe I AM, you will DIE IN YOUR SINS...When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know I AM" (John 8:24, 28). Also, as Lightner noted, Christ Himself is the propitiation for our sin. There is not a proper contradiction between believing in Jesus and believing in His death for our sin.

    The fact that we are to plead with the lost "BE RECONCILED TO GOD" implies they must recognize they are separated from God because of sin. It also implies that they must know the grounds upon which this reconciliation takes place. That is why Paul's message to the LOST does not stop with "Be reconciled to God..." Without break, He continues his message to the LOST with this: "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin [a sin offering] for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Cor. 5:21). Oh no, Paul! Do not present Christ as our sin offering! Then men may put their faith in Christ's finished work on the cross! If they do that, then faith is the foundation again -- and the cross is unnecessary! (I speak facetiously.)

    Secondly, allow me, Jon, to take your comments at face value for a moment. You said "the message of the cross is...Christ died for the sin of the world...Christ rose again in victory over death..." Okay, Jon, if this is the message of the cross, then why don't the lost have to believe it!!!! In 1:17-18, and 21, their salvation is predicated upon BELIEVING the MESSAGE OF THE CROSS.

    Notice... "the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1:18). This verse speaks of how people view the MESSAGE OF THE CROSS. The perishing view it as "foolish" while the saved view it as the "power of God" (1:18). Next, Paul says, "It pleased God by the foolishness of the MESSAGE PREACHED to save those who BELIEVE" (1:21). If the message of the cross includes, as you say, that Christ died for our sin and rose again, then it is ESSENTIAL that the lost BELIEVE this! I will come back to this point.

    You said, "does believing in the finished work result in eternal life? No. Believing in Jesus Christ results in eternal life." This is shocking. You are making a false dichotomy. Scripturally, Jesus and His work go together. That is why He is called "the Lamb of God" 30x in the NT; that is why He calls Himself "the Bread of Life" (John 6); that is why He says "I am the resurrection"; that is why Jesus Himself is called "the propitiation for our sins" (Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10); that is why the gospel is called "THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS" (1Cor. 1:17-23) but it is also called "THE GOSPEL OF THE GLORY OF CHRIST" (2Cor. 4:4); that is why the Jesus Paul preached was "CHRIST CRUCIFIED" (1 Cor. 1:23; 2:2).

    Let us turn our attention to v. 18: "the message of the cross is foolishness to them that are perishing, but to us who are saved, it is the power of God..."

    Notice, Jon, Paul talks about "the message of the cross" in terms of the lost's subjective rejection of it and the saved's acceptance of it. You have spoken about this verse as if the "message of the cross" represented some objective theological truth that the lost do NOT need to believe personally. You have explained the "message of the cross" is what God has done objectively but that the lost do not need to believe "the message of the cross" subjectively. That turns this verse flat on its face. When Paul says, "the message of the cross is FOOLISHNESS to them that are perishing" he speaks about the subjective response of the lost to the MESSAGE OF THE CROSS. This also parallels his statement in v. 23 that "we preach CHRIST CRUCIFIED, to the Jews a stumblingblock, to the Greeks foolishness". Jon, what does the word "preach" mean? This is not just an objective truth that underlies Paul's preaching...this IS Paul's preaching. Paul preaches "CHRIST CRUCIFIED". The word "foolishness" describes the SUBJECTIVE response of the lost to THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS and CHRIST CRUCIFIED. Therefore, when you admit above that the message of the cross includes Christ's death and resurrection, you stand refuted when you attempt to say "the message of the cross" is only theologically provisional both not necessary for the lost to believe themselves.

    I will post my response to the rest of your comments on 1Cor. in a separate post.

    Sincerely,
    Greg

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  27. The second-last line in my above post should have said "but not necessary..."

    I'm unable to edit some of my typos.

    "You see your calling brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh...are called" 1Cor. 1:26

    -- Greg

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  28. Greg -

    You seem to find the "foundation" of the cross confusing. A foundation is needed in order for something to be built on it- that is how I see the Cross. You don't have to believe everything about the foundation in order to benefit from it. The Cross made the offer of eternal life possible. I think Glenn states this much more simply:

    "I suspect that Jon and I would use the word “barrier” differently than you do (for a graphic showing the “barrier” click here). The barrier is what had to be torn down before the offer of salvation can be made. If there is still a barrier then there can be no offer of salvation. Christ’s work on the cross tore down the barrier so that we are free to accept (non-meritorious faith) the grace offer of salvation."

    Thank you Glenn for stating this so clearly!

    JL

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  29. Hi Jon Lee,

    Yes the Cross made the offer possible. Yet the Cross also shows us ourselves and God.

    Can a person prideful and thinking he is a "good person" be in fellowship with Holy God? No where in Scripture is that thought even tolerated, let alone implied or instructed.

    The Barrier, the veil, has been torn with Christ's Crucifixion so that all who are saved can enter in to the Holy of Holies. This allows God to let us in. Even still, no person who is not Born Again can enter in. There is still an immovable separation (what I would call a barrier) between the Sinner and God. (even between the Christian and God when the Christian sins)

    No one comes to the Father but through Me says Our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus.

    We must be born again to enter, and Jesus explains this well (go figure). That we can not simply be born of water, but we must also be born of the Spirit. And to be born of the Spirit we must see our sin lifted up and judged.

    your statements
    You seem to find the "foundation" of the cross confusing. A foundation is needed in order for something to be built on it- that is how I see the Cross. You don't have to believe everything about the foundation in order to benefit from it.

    If there is anything about the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection or the One who willingly and justly did it. You can not benefit from it at all.

    For unbelief of a foundational truth is to deny that truth.

    If I deny that 1+1=2 I am by default denying that 2+2=4.

    Here, before I get off on a tangent this is important.

    The benefit the unbeliever gets from the foundation he does not yet know or believe is this, and this only. It has the power to transform him when he does know and believe it.

    The foundation is meaningless, useless and unbeneficial to anyone who fails to build on it.

    If one builds on a foundation that Jesus is the guaranteer of Eternal Life they have no foundation at all. (though they say something that is True)

    There is no fellowship with the Christ. Such a person can not participate in either ordinance, nor can they obey the Great Commission. Simply said they lack the very basic Truth that is required to BE a Christian.

    Yes Jesus is able to save. But all of Scripture is clear on how this is accomplished.

    Do we make Scripture lie by saying we need not preach the Gospel? To say "believe on Jesus for eternal life" is not the Gospel. No where are we told to preach such. We are told that to be saved we are to believe on Jesus Christ and then that belief is explained. Again and again the same Gospel is preached throughout the NT.

    It is even preached in the Gospel of John. Jesus Himself preaches it when asked about to gain Eternal Life. And we can't forget that John actually gives an account of Christ's Crucifixion and Resurrection... he also gives us the clearest explanations of Christ's eternal deity... and so on..

    Kev

    To divorce Salvation from faith in Christ's work on the Cross is to make a mockery of the shame He endured.

    There is no legal requirement for Christ to bare the reproach of men (sinners) for our sins. Only that He bare the Judgment (which rightly includes shame in the light of Holy God's Justice).

    Yet He made a spectical of Himself so that we would see. Because we HAVE to see.

    Kev

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  30. http://www.sharperiron.org/2007/07/31/thinking-about-the-gospel-part-7/\


    This Kevin is better able to convey a help for you.

    I'm too emotional.

    Kev

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  31. Jon Lee, your response does not address the truths or points I shared with you in my post.

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  32. MODERATOR ALERT!

    If I may, I am going to put on my moderator hat for a moment.

    While I appreciate the various comments that are being posted from men on the issue under consideration need to ask for your help. The comments in the thread are, IMO, excessively long and each is touching on numerous issues.

    The problem is that most of the key issues you men are sorting through get lost in a flurry of the other issues. They begin to blend together and then no one really takes their argument to a conclusion that everyone can come to along with him. What happens in threads like this one is developing into is that so much is being said in each of your comments, readers get lost and can’t follow your train of thought.

    It would be much better for everyone concerned to keep your individual posts in the thread fairly brief, but more importantly, fixed on a single subject. You can cover numerous topics, but you need to keep them distinct from one another. The best way to do that is to dedicate each individual posted comment to an individual subject.

    What I suggest you men do is to settle on a passage of Scripture that in your opinions gets at the heart of the debate.

    Earlier Greg suggested to Jon Lee that John 6:47 would be a good passage to consider. 1 Corinthians 1:18 would be another excellent choice because the "cross" is the crux of much of the debate.

    Thanks for considering my suggestion.


    LM

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  33. Jon:

    You wrote, "A foundation is needed in order for something to be built on it- that is how I see the Cross. You don't have to believe everything about the foundation in order to benefit from it. The Cross made the offer of eternal life possible."

    One of the major problems I have with the "Crossless" gospel is brought to the fore with your note above.

    Accroding to "Crossless" teaching, a lost man does NOT need to know, understand or believe anything about the cross and still he can be saved.

    That is contrary to the plain teaching in passages such as: 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Rom. 10:9-10; 1 Cor. 1:18.


    LM

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  34. Lou -

    I understand where you are coming from brother, I really do. I'm not in favor of ANYONE not knowing, understanding or believing what Christ finished on the Cross.

    However, how can John 6:47 be true when it gives the requirement for eternal life without mentioning the Cross?

    I've commented on Rom 10 and 1 Cor 1. 1 Cor 15, to me, is a call back to correct doctrine - not a list of what one must believe to have eternal life.

    JL

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  35. Hi all, "Long Post Kev" here. :)

    Good point Lou! I agree completely. Doing such will also limit "emotional" responses.

    Jon,

    The problem with using John 6:47 as a sort of "proof-text" is the following verses demand that it can not be interpreted by it's self.

    Particularly, John 6:53 "limits" the application of verse 47. The whole discourse that Our Lord gives is explaining Salvation.

    Verse 47 is absolutely True. But what does "believe" mean here? John records how Jesus Himself explained what He meant.

    The point is really hammered in when one of the main purposes for this discourse is understood. Jesus was preaching "hard truth" to expose those who were truly His disciples and those who were not.

    All the chaff except Judas left Him that day because of what He taught.

    I put forth that Jesus explains that He is the propitiation for Sin (because that's what causes death and what kept Israel in the wilderness which He references).

    It might be tough to see the full Gospel here. But consider He is the "true" bread from Heaven. That He will give His flesh and blood. And that He will later cause the resurrection of the dead - therefore He'll still be alive after having given His life up.

    Kev

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  36. Jon:

    You wrote, "However, how can John 6:47 be true when it gives the requirement for eternal life without mentioning the Cross?"

    What has happened with you men is that you have come to the point where you view John's Gospel in such a way that it (for "Crossless" advocates) trumps the rest of the NT on the doctrine of salvation/the Gospel.

    This is how you men have lost your theological balance and often have to redefine (wrenching out of shape) very clear passages, such as 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Rom. 10:9-10, to keep your position glued together.


    LM

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  37. Jon:

    I want to encourage you to interact with Greg on the Bible passages he is working through in this thread.

    IMO, 1 Cor. 1:18 is an excellent choice.

    "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."


    LM

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  38. Lou -

    "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."

    I don't know what version this is from, the NKJV reads:

    1 Corinthians 1:18
    For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

    The significance is "to us who are being saved" which a better translation than "unto us which are saved".

    The NKJV correctly points out the intended audience of those who are in Christ AND those who are coming to Christ. This verse is speaking of the drawing power of the Cross to bring people to believe in Jesus Christ for eternal life. The power of the Cross is the power of God - it is not man's power - we can add nothing to the cross to make it any more effectual than it already is. That is the sin barrier has been removed. Those who are not in the Book of Life are released into the lake of fire - their sins are not judged again. Although, without eternal life that is all they will be left with - their sins and the wages thereof - the second death.

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  39. Jon:

    The version I cited is the KJV.

    I am redirecting your comments on the passage to Greg. He has been trying to interact with you on this passage earlier in the thread.

    My preference is to take somewhat of a sideline approach to the threads under Greg's articles. This is why I already suggested you and Greg should interact with one another.

    Thanks,


    LM

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  40. Jon:

    This was Greg's earlier note, which he directed to your attention, on 1 Cor 1:18.

    From what I can tell in the thread it appears, thus far, you have not addressed this with Greg.


    Jon, Paul talks about "the message of the cross" in terms of the lost's subjective rejection of it and the saved's acceptance of it. You have spoken about this verse as if the "message of the cross" represented some objective theological truth that the lost do NOT need to believe personally. You have explained the "message of the cross" is what God has done objectively but that the lost do not need to believe "the message of the cross" subjectively. That turns this verse flat on its face. When Paul says, "the message of the cross is FOOLISHNESS to them that are perishing" he speaks about the subjective response of the lost to the MESSAGE OF THE CROSS. This also parallels his statement in v. 23 that "we preach CHRIST CRUCIFIED, to the Jews a stumblingblock, to the Greeks foolishness". Jon, what does the word "preach" mean? This is not just an objective truth that underlies Paul's preaching...this IS Paul's preaching. Paul preaches "CHRIST CRUCIFIED". The word "foolishness" describes the SUBJECTIVE response of the lost to THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS and CHRIST CRUCIFIED. Therefore, when you admit above that the message of the cross includes Christ's death and resurrection, you stand refuted when you attempt to say "the message of the cross" is only theologically provisional both not necessary for the lost to believe themselves.

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  41. "the message of the cross" in terms of the lost's subjective rejection of it and the saved's acceptance of it. You have spoken about this verse as if the "message of the cross" represented some objective theological truth that the lost do NOT need to believe personally. You have explained the "message of the cross" is what God has done objectively but that the lost do not need to believe "the message of the cross" subjectively. That turns this verse flat on its face. When Paul says, "the message of the cross is FOOLISHNESS to them that are perishing" he speaks about the subjective response of the lost to the MESSAGE OF THE CROSS. This also parallels his statement in v. 23 that "we preach CHRIST CRUCIFIED, to the Jews a stumblingblock, to the Greeks foolishness". Jon, what does the word "preach" mean? This is not just an objective truth that underlies Paul's preaching...this IS Paul's preaching. Paul preaches "CHRIST CRUCIFIED". The word "foolishness" describes the SUBJECTIVE response of the lost to THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS and CHRIST CRUCIFIED. Therefore, when you admit above that the message of the cross includes Christ's death and resurrection, you stand refuted when you attempt to say "the message of the cross" is only theologically provisional both not necessary for the lost to believe themselves."

    The reason we (and Paul) preach Christ Crucified is that it draws men to Christ. People don't believe in the Cross for eternal life - they are drawn by the message of the Cross to believe in Jesus Christ for eternal life. This is the only view that is biblically consistent. To say the lost must believe in anything MORE than the Lord Jesus Christ is to say - based on John 6:47 - that Jesus lied.

    I've given my exhaustive views on what Greg has written. Unless there's anything new - we disagree on this matter and I'm OK with that. Sure, I wish everyone preached the simple Biblical message of belief in Jesus Christ
    for eternal life - not so people would agree with me but that their preaching would be consistent with what God has so clearly revealed.

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  43. Jon, it seems to me your explanation has changed. First you seemed to indicate the "message of the cross" speaks of God's work that provided for our salvation but not the message the lost need to believe. Now you are saying the "message of the cross" is a means of drawing people to Christ, but is itself, non-essential. I don't know how you can maintain this when "the message of the cross" is what divides the saved and the lost (1:18), it is the message the lost must believe to be saved (1:21), and it is the message rejected by the lost (1:23). You are drawing a sharp distinction between believing in Jesus and believing in His work, but the very fact Paul preached "Christ crucified" demonstrates His Person and work on the cross go together. "The message of the cross" is also equated to "the gospel" (1:17) which God has so clearly revealed as essential to salvation from hell (1Cor. 1:17-21; 4:15; 2Thes. 1:8-10).

    I have one last question for you related to 1Cor. 1:17-21. Notice Paul equates "the message of the cross" to "the gospel". In 1Cor. 4:15, Paul says the Corinthians were regenerated through "the gospel". Was "the gospel" essential to their regeneration and is it equated to "the message of the cross"?

    Thank you,
    Greg

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  44. "I don't know how you can maintain this when "the message of the cross" is what divides the saved and the lost (1:18)"

    It divides those who are in Christ, those who are "coming" to Christ and those who are not coming to Christ right know. God doesn't draw men with force but with His message.

    "it seems to me your explanation has changed. First you seemed to indicate the "message of the cross" speaks of God's work that provided for our salvation but not the message the lost need to believe. Now you are saying the "message of the cross" is a means of drawing people to Christ, but is itself, non-essential"

    No change - just trying to explain it more thoroughly.

    "Was "the gospel" essential to their regeneration and is it equated to "the message of the cross"?"

    The first part of the good news is that while we were still sinners - Christ died for us. That is - he died for everyone - those who believe and those who remain in unbelief. This is essential in that it is the very thing that make the gift of eternal life possible. But all that needs to be believed in to have eternal life is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is our belief in Him that is the only essential.

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  45. I should clarify -

    "It is our belief in Him that is the only essential - the only thing we MUST believe."

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  46. Hi Jon,

    What do you do with John 6:53

    Isn't it possible to believe in something to guarantee your eternal life with out eating the flesh of the Son of Man and drinking His Blood?

    Much like Acts 19 where Paul asked the Disciples of John the Baptist if they had received the Holy Spirit. They hadn't even heard of the Holy Spirit. Paul doesn't just tell them about the Spirit - He baptizes them into Christ.

    Paul realized they were not saved. They were earnest and wanted Truth (they were called disciples after all) but they were not in possession of enough Truth to be saved. Paul told them that the One John the Baptist had told them to believe in (the Lamb who takes away the sins of the World as John put it).

    Now to assume that verse 4 is the entire conversation is to argue from silence which is never a good idea. None the less if this is all that was said these disciples would have known Jesus was the Lamb of God and alive because how can you be baptized into something that is no longer?

    Kev

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  47. "Isn't it possible to believe in something to guarantee your eternal life with out eating the flesh of the Son of Man and drinking His Blood?"

    To believe in Christ is to accept His eternal sustenance. As food and drink sustain us temporally - so does He sustain us eternally.

    "Paul realized they were not saved. They were earnest and wanted Truth (they were called disciples after all) but they were not in possession of enough Truth to be saved."

    This is true - they were trusting in John's baptism - not in "Him who was coming after him, that is, Jesus Christ". This is biblically consistent and is anything but silent.

    I assume, based on Acts 19, that you would want to add speaking in tongues and prophesying to your salvation checklist.

    "None the less if this is all that was said these disciples would have known Jesus was the Lamb of God.."

    This is to argue from silence which is never a good idea!

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  48. Hi Jon,

    You said
    To believe in Christ is to accept His eternal sustenance. As food and drink sustain us temporally - so does He sustain us eternally.

    This was exactly Jesus' point. The people had to gather in the morning what they would eat that day. They were given exactly what they needed for life for one day (two on the 6th day).

    They did have to "accept" it by gathering it. They had to actually eat it to live.

    Jesus is the true bread come down from Heaven. If anyone eats of His flesh he'll never be hungry again. And if anyone drinks of His blood he'll never again thirst.

    But what if they don't actually eat or drink? They have no life in them.

    You also quoted me, and replied to it by using other words of mine. (stated to preserve your context for new readers)

    "None the less if this is all that was said these disciples would have known Jesus was the Lamb of God.."

    This is to argue from silence which is never a good idea!


    I'll direct you to John 1:29. Seeing as the men Paul met in Acts 19 were "disciples" of John this means they sat under John's teaching. John's teaching was that Jesus is the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world".

    This is hardly arguing from silence.

    Now please answer this - how can one eat of Christ's flesh and drink of His blood unless one knows that Christ shed His life for the sin of the World?

    No one who isn't thirsty drinks, and no one who isn't hungry eats.

    The full council of God's Word bares down on any argument that would take a single verse and build a doctrine around it. Especially when the Speaker of the words of that verse Himself spent nearly a chapter's worth of speaking explaining what He meant.

    Kev

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  49. "John's teaching was that Jesus is the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world"."

    So John's disciples believed everything about the cross and were not saved. That is correct because that is not what imparts salvation - belief in Jesus Christ for eternal life is the only thing that imparts salvation!

    Your error is you think they didn't have enough checks on the salvation checklist. When in reality the bible is clear - you only need one check - that is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for the gift of God, eternal life! It's the ONLY box on the list and there box wasn't checked!

    "Now please answer this - how can one eat of Christ's flesh and drink of His blood unless one knows that Christ shed His life for the sin of the World?"

    By believing in the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life.

    I don't have to know EXACTLY WHAT I'm eating or drinking to benefit from its nutrients. I simply must accept through the mouth of faith that which sustains my life eternal - the Lord Jesus Christ.

    "The people had to gather in the morning what they would eat that day"

    Do you suppose these people knew the chemical makeup of each food product they gathered. Did they have a chemical analysis and know every nutrient? No. They simply accepted life through believing the food would sustain them just as we accept eternal life through believing Jesus Christ will sustain us.

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  50. Jon & Kevl, sorry to interrupt your thread, but I have a question about Jon's reply to me. Jon said:

    "The first part of the good news is that while we were still sinners - Christ died for us. That is - he died for everyone - those who believe and those who remain in unbelief. This is essential in that it is the very thing that make the gift of eternal life possible. But all that needs to be believed in to have eternal life is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is our belief in Him that is the only essential."

    Jon, many passages predicate our salvation upon believing the gospel including the passages we are talking about (1Cor. 1:17-21, 4:15). Another that comes to mind is 2Thes. 1:8-10. In light of such clear passages, how is it you can say one part of "the gospel" in these passages is non-essential but another part is essential?

    Thank you,
    Greg

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  51. Boo I lost a long post... I guess it wasn't supposed to be worded that way...

    Jon, no John's Disciples did not know that Jesus was the One, they did not know that Jesus is God. So they didn't know "everything" about the Cross.

    I don't need to know what's in my food exactly, but I do NEED to know the correct food to eat. Or I will die, even if I eat a lot of it! Which Jesus exactly is it that guarantees Eternal Life? And what did He, Himself, say about our belief in Him for it?

    How can you have communion with something you have no "connection" with. You claim a person who thinks they are a sinner (no need for a savior) can "believe in Jesus for Eternal Life". How is that exactly? the rest of Scripture says completely different.

    How could such a person eat at the Lord's Table? How could they have fellowship? How could they evangelize?

    You keep making the claim that this thought is Biblical.. you say the same thing over and over like that will someone make it true.

    Which Jesus is it that saves? Didn't He say we need to believe in HIM? The EXACT Him. Didn't Paul warn of preaching about "other Jesus'" and "other gospels"?

    The world has enough people who are convinced they are saved when they are still in desperate need of the Savior. And this is not a "lordship" thing at all. It's a simple "obey the Gospel" thing. It's a simple "repent or you shall likewise perish" thing.

    Kev

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  52. I should have said - a person who doesn't think they are a sinner (no need for a savior)

    Sorry. Was typing fast.

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  53. Jon, if you wish you can discuss all this with Greg - it is kinda his article aftera ll.

    I won't mind waiting for a reply, or even if I happen to see answers to my questions in your discourse with Greg.

    Kev

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  54. Kev -

    "How could such a person eat at the Lord's Table? How could they have fellowship? How could they evangelize?"

    Are these on the checklist as well?

    Greg -

    "how is it you can say one part of "the gospel" in these passages is non-essential but another part is essential?"

    Because the Cross is good news and the requirement for eternal life is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I can see we are spinning our wheels - I'll look at the rest of your posts Greg but the bottom line is this:

    If anything more than belief in the Lord Jesus Christ is required for salvation - Jesus lied, the Bible is not true and your "preaching is useless and so is your faith". Paul points out the futility of false doctrine in 1 Cor 15!

    In Christ,

    JL

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  55. No Jon they were questions.

    All Christians are told to participate in them - not just the educated ones. These are things that all true Christians can participate in from the moment they are saved.

    So again, how could someone still proud of themselves and believing they are not sinners participate in these things?

    Kev

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  56. John, you said:

    "If anything more than belief in the Lord Jesus Christ is required for salvation - Jesus lied..."

    Jon, I believe the condition for salvation is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. That involves believing in His Person, work, and promise - not just His promise.

    You pointed out John 6:47 as your proof text. You said the required content of faith must be included in that verse or else Jesus lied. Could you tell me how you came to that conclusion and how you know the sentence spoke in John 6:47 itself outlines the required content of faith for salvation?

    Thanks,
    Greg

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  57. Also, I would like to interject that I believe the disciples did believe in the deity of Christ in His earthly ministry. The proof-text for the opposite view hardly substantiates their position. Even the unbelieving Jews is Jesus' day knew what Jesus claimed (John 5:18, 8:58-59, 10:30-33). The "Son of God" confession certainly refers to His deity (John 1:49; 6:69; Mt. 16:13-17, ect.) This invoked the worship of Jesus (e.g. John 9:35-38).

    Kenneth M. Wilson has some good points about this in his article "Is Belief in Christ's Deity Required for Eternal Life in John's Gospel?" published in the Chafer Theological Journal (Fall 2006).

    I don't necessarily want to pursue this point in this thread right now, but I thought that was important to interject.

    -- Greg

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  58. "Jon, I believe the condition for salvation is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. That involves believing in His Person, work, and promise - not just His promise."

    This is not the faith of Abraham.

    Romans 4
    20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness."

    This is the problem with what you are saying. You would not have found Abraham righteous because he didn't submit to what you think should be on the checklist. But - God found him righteous. I'm siding with God - believing "just" His promise IS enough!

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  59. Did you notice that Verse 21 starts with the word "and"?

    I hate to be a broken record but let's go through the verses here shall we?

    Checking the sentence structure this section goes back at least as far as Verse 13 of Romans 4.

    Paul speaks of our weakness in sin because of the Law. So it must be by faith that we are saved. Then he explains how Abraham didn't put his faith in his own abilities.

    Then we come to the verses you quote.

    First - Abraham was strong in faith, giving Glory to God (not himself - repentance) and belief and trust in God specifically.

    So we have repentance - he's judged himself unable, and that God is able.

    We have trust in God specifically.

    And finally, if we look at the actual event found in Gen 22:8 we find that Abraham trusted God to provide a "lamb for a burn offering"

    Seems that Abraham's faith was that of repentance, trust in God specifically, and reliance on an offering he could not afford to give himself.

    Sounds much like the Gospel to me.

    This wasn't meant to be "smart-alec" like.. I'm just pointing out that even here the Gospel is shown in types and sh adows.


    Kev

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  60. Jon, it's ironic that the very passage from which you get this idea that we're saved through "the faith of Abraham" demonstrates, that although there is a common object of faith (God), there is a difference in the content of faith (Rom. 4:17-25). In 4:17-21, Paul indicates Abraham believed God's promise that he would become the father of many nations. Paul then indicates our content of faith must involve the death and resurrection of Jesus (vv. 23-25).

    Furthermore, Abraham was saved from hell well before Genesis 15 and well before the promise Paul speaks of in vv. 17-21. That is the necessary conclusion of Heb. 11:8, for example. The point of neither Gen. 15:6 nor Rom. 4:17-21 is Abraham's salvation from hell. In Gen. 15:6, well after Abraham is saved, Abraham believes a promise from God, and the Lord honors Abraham's faith. This simply exemplifies the principle that the Lord can count us righteous when all we do is believe. For that reason, it is used as a model of "justification by faith," but it simply does not mean Gen. 15:6 speaks about Abraham's salvation from hell.

    With that aside, I didn't see the answer to your question about John 6:47... how is it that you are able to determine that the necessary content of faith for salvation must be detailed in this single verse?

    Thanks,
    Greg

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  61. "I didn't see the answer to your question about John 6:47... how is it that you are able to determine that the necessary content of faith for salvation must be detailed in this single verse?"

    Jesus said it....so I believe it.

    "the Lord can count us righteous when all we do is believe."

    Correct! Not believe this and believe this and believe this and believe this and oh yeah, you must believe this!

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  63. Jon,

    You actually do not believe what the Lord said in John 6:47.

    Jesus said "Whoever believes in Me has eternal life".

    You are confusing the apodosis (the resultant clause) with the protasis (the conditional clause). Your paradigm is so ingrained, I wonder if you can even see this. To help you see this, let me give you an example.

    In John 7:38, Jesus indicates whoever believes in Him (the protasis) will receive the Holy Spirit (the apodosis). Applying your exact reasoning to this verse, the condition to eternal life is to believe that Jesus promises to give us the Holy Spirit. But that, again, would confuse the protasis and the apodosis. Jesus did not say, "He who believes the promise of eternal life..." in John 6:47 just like He did not say "He who believes the promise of the Spirit..." in John 7:38.

    In both verses, He mentioned the same protasis: "He who believes in Me...". This naturally raises the question "Who are you?" After His statement in John 6:47, He answers in the very next verse: "I am the bread of life". Jesus explains the significance of this statement by referring to His deity, incarnation, death, and resurrection (6:49-58). He does not mandate belief in the literal term "Bread of Life" but rather the significance wrapped up in this term as He explains in the context and John presents throughout the Gospel.

    It is interesting you think John 6:47 itself details what the lost need to believe to get saved but you also believe the lost need to believe in Christ's Deity to get saved. John 6:47 itself details neither His deity nor His name. So how does this square with your reasoning that if Jesus did not include all the necessary details in the sentence of John 6:47 (your own protasis), He must have lied (your own apodosis)?

    Thanks,
    Greg

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  65. my question really was redundant after Greg's

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  66. "John 6:47 itself details neither His deity nor His name. So how does this square with your reasoning that if Jesus did not include all the necessary details in the sentence of John 6:47 (your own protasis), He must have lied (your own apodosis)?"

    When Jesus Christ says "He who believes in me" - it is, in effect, a reference to His person - not His name. We identify the one true God through who He is - the LORD Jesus Christ.

    I'm sure you fully realize who spoke the words in John 6:47 - God the Son. It is HE in whom you must believe for eternal life.

    If you believe yet don't recognize who is speaking these words - then in whom are you placing your belief? It's like saying "How do I know I exist?" and someone responding "Whom shall I say is asking?". Either you believe it is HE or you don't.

    You will notice that I have stayed biblically consistent - you must believe that what GOD has promised - He is also able to perform. Jesus Christ is God. His promise is eternal life to all who believe in Him.

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  67. Jon, aside from the question of whether you've stayed "Biblically consistent," you are logically inconsistent.

    You have previously argued against the fact the lost must believe in Christ's death for our sins and resurrection by insisting the content of our faith must be detailed in John 6:47. I have shown the content of faith you proposed is not detailed in John 6:47.

    As result, you resorted to a different line of reasoning to work the details of what you believe. If it is legitimate for you to do this, it is also legitimate for us. It is inconsistent for you to claim John 6:47 details the contents of faith necessary for salvation while including either "Jesus" or His deity as essential elements.

    We already agreed the object of faith must be the Lord Jesus Christ. The question is, does John 6:47 detail the essential elements to identify the Lord Jesus Christ. Your own answer now is "No". I agree. Whether or not we agree on what those essential elements are, the prior reasoning you offered against our view is invalid.

    -- Greg

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  68. "does John 6:47 detail the essential elements to identify the Lord Jesus Christ. Your own answer now is "No"."

    My answer is yes based on who spoke these words.

    "I have shown the content of faith you proposed is not detailed in John 6:47."

    You have not shown me that anyone else other than the Lord Jesus Christ, (God the Son, the object of our faith) - has spoke these words.

    If I say "believe in me and I'll give you a million dollars" - can you believe in any other "me" to receive the million dollars? No. THAT would be logically inconsistent. As well as having to believe all the work I've done in my life to be able to offer you the gift!

    When you stay "Biblically" consistent, as I have, you are automatically logically consistent. The author of both is the same!

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  69. Jon, with all due respect, you are not thinking clearly. I wonder if you need to take some time off to just think about these things before the Lord? I am not saying this to be condescending. I am saying this because the problem is repeating where you offer some sort of reasoning, I show your reasoning is wrong, and then you just continue on with your false reasoning that proves my point to begin with. What I'm talking about right now isn't even necessarily an interpretational issue but simple reasoning.

    Let me again dissect what just happened.

    Jon, you keep repeating the argument that John 6:47 MUST detail the essential arguments of the content of faith. However, you believe Christ's Deity and name are essential elements, yet I pointed out these elements are not detailed in the sentence of John 6:47 itself.

    In order to defend your position, you replied: "My answer is yes (that John 6:47 DOES detail all of these elements) based on who spoke these words".

    Jon, you are proving my point!! If all you heard was John 6:47, you would NOT know enough. Instead, someone would have to tell you: 1) that JESUS spoke these words and 2) that JESUS is God. I pointed out that completely contradicts your point that John 6:47 must detail all of the essential elements.

    In order to defend your position, you replied: "You have not shown me that anyone else other than the Lord Jesus Christ"

    Jon, you are proving my point!! I obviously agree the Lord Jesus Christ spoke these words. But, by your same reasoning, I could say say, "You have not shown me that anyone else other than the Lamb of God, Christ crucified, the Bread of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ who died for our sins spoke these words." We agree on who spoke the words. The point is, John 6:47 itself does not detail all of the elements in my view, your view, or even the view of GES. All of us are adding at least one thing, and all of us can say, "You have yet to show me that the One who spoke this view is NOT...." By adding information, you put yourself in the same boat as the view you say is illegitimate on this very basis. Every one of your explanations for this can just as easily be used by us.

    That is the simple logical fact of the matter.

    In terms of interpreting John 6:47, in the very next sentence Jesus defines the "Me" He wants us to believe in, i.e., "the Bread of Life". As I pointed out in the article, He did not mandate we believe in the literal term "Bread of Life" but the truths signified by it which He explained in the context.

    In relationship to this, I have a question for you. Jesus repeatedly emphasizes that the Bread of Life is the incarnate God. Do you believe someone has to believe Jesus came as a man in order to be saved?

    Thanks,
    Greg

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  70. "Jon, with all due respect, you are not thinking clearly. I wonder if you need to take some time off to just think about these things before the Lord? I am not saying this to be condescending. I am saying this because the problem is repeating where you offer some sort of reasoning, I show your reasoning is wrong, and then you just continue on with your false reasoning that proves my point to begin with. What I'm talking about right now isn't even necessarily an interpretational issue but simple reasoning."

    Greg -

    I feel the same way. Please pray to God that you would be His disciple and not Dennis or Tom's. Pray that His word alone would be enough to sustain you.

    We aren't getting anywhere. You have ceased to prove your point and continue to make a mess of the clear and simple plan of salvation. I know I won't convict you so I will leave it to someone far greater than I.

    In Christ,

    JL

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  71. Sorry - I posted this under the wrong thread.

    "Do you believe someone has to believe Jesus came as a man in order to be saved?"

    No.

    Do you believe if someone believes Jesus came as a man they are saved?

    "Jon, you are proving my point!! I obviously agree the Lord Jesus Christ spoke these words."

    Careful Greg - you're starting to look Crossless!

    The bottom line is John 6:47 does have enough information as long as you know who is speaking these words - the Lord Jesus Christ. He is saying that He alone sustains us eternally ie. The Bread of Life.

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  72. Jon, I have tried to politely show you the self-contradictory nature of your paradigm on John 6:47. I am dumbfounded that you cannot see the obvious. I'm satisfied to leave this convo with you 'as is' so anybody looking at it can make their own judgment.

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  73. Greg -

    I get where you're coming from - here's the difference that we have as I see it.

    You are treating John 6:47 as if it where in the third person - like Paul stated this rather than Christ making a real offer to those present.

    Since it is the Lord Jesus Christ, the sustainer of eternal life, these words spoken to those present where effective to impart eternal life to all who would simply believe in Him. There is no mention of the cross.

    We are going to differ on eating His body and drinking His blood - we've already been over that. If there were anything more to having eternal life than believing in Him wouldn't it have been important for Him to say something like "He who believes in my death and resurrection has eternal life"?

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  74. Jon, the condition Jesus spoke is this: "He who believes in Me..."

    If your view were true, wouldn't it have been better for Him to phrase the condition: "Whoever believes the Son of God makes the promise of life..."

    Instead, in the passage we're talking about, He called people to believe on Him as "The Bread of Life" (John 6:35; 47-48).

    Notice the parallel:

    "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger..." (John 6:35)

    "He who believes in Me has eternal life. I am the bread of life" (John 6:48).

    Jesus is clearly calling people to believe on Him as "The Bread of Life". Let's consider Christ's own words about this:

    No less than five times (John 6:33; 38; 41; 50; 51) Jesus and the writer emphasize Jesus' incarnation. "The Bread of Life" refers not just to some abstract concept of sustenance but the incarnation of the Son of God from heaven. Look at these verses yourself. I would also point out that everyone recorded in John's Gospel believed He was a man. That wasn't the problem! The problem was believing this man is also God. So I am surprised you believe a lost person can deny that Jesus is a man who ever came to earth and be saved as long as they believe the Son of God named "Jesus" guarantees everlasting life. In your view, a person can believe in the anti-Christ Jesus of gnosticism for salvation (1John 4:3; 2John 7; compare these verses to 2Cor. 11:4).

    When speaking of Himself as "The Bread of Life", Jesus emphasized the essential truth about the giving of His flesh and blood. He emphasized that it is essential to believe in His death for us. The whole concept of the Father "giving" the bread of heaven implies His death. The incarnation is absolutely meaningless without His death. The "giving" of His Son is not complete without His death and resurrection. That's why Jesus emphasizes the His death for us (6:51, 53, 54, 55, 56) and refers to His resurrection (6:51; 57).

    Notice also this parallel:

    "He who believes in Me has eternal life" (John 6:47)

    "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life".

    Shouldn't this clue you in to what it means to believe in Him!? This sounds awfully close to what you said the verse should say if my view were true!

    You also mentioned the historical context of this verse. I have not forgotten the historical context. But did you forget that Christ spoke this fairly shortly before He died and these people would live to understand His words? Did you take into account that John puts them in his gospel for us and expects us to understand them in light of Christ's completed work? I would also point out several of Christ's statements to historical people of His day were made so that those same people would understand them after the cross (e.g. John 3:14-16; 7:37-39; 8:21-24, 28; 12:32-33).

    I am praying for you.

    -- Greg

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  75. Greg -

    "Whoever believes the Son of God makes the promise of life..."

    It's not believing He makes the promise but believing that what He has promised He is also able to perform ie.."He who believes in Me has eternal life"....

    "In your view, a person can believe in the anti-Christ Jesus of gnosticism for salvation"

    Wow - start praying for yourself! To call the Son of God who guarantees eternal life to all who believe in Him the anti-christ sounds close to being an unpardonable sin. Don't pray for me - pray for yourself that God will forgive your fleshly desire to take ownership of His truth to such an extent as to side with Satan himself!

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  76. Jon, I have a clear conscience before God. You're the one who says a person can get saved while denying Jesus came in the flesh. John says that is not the true Jesus. That is an anti-Christ fabrication. I hope you will seriously think about the Scriptures in my prior post.

    -- Greg

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  77. Jon:

    Greg said, "You're the one who says a person can get saved while denying Jesus came in the flesh."

    This is serious business Jon.

    I am going to, (for the first time), ask for a "Yes" or "No" answer.

    Do you believe a lost man can get saved (born again) even if he denies Jesus came in the flesh?

    Do you take that position? Please reply, "Yes" or "No," and then feel free to expand if you wish to.

    Thanks,


    LM

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  78. No.

    That is, personally, I don't think you can DENY this truth. However, you don't not need to affirm it at the point of being born again either. It's only on the man made Dennis Rokser checklist - it's not a Biblical requirement.

    So, you can not believe in Greg's "anti-Christ Jesus" - you must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life. You must know that He is God, that He makes a promise and that He will make good on His promise.

    "This is serious business Jon."

    Thanks for pointing that out Lou. I'm aware of how significant correct doctrine is - especially in evangelism. That's why I'm here.

    That's why John wrote to brothers, Christians, not to be swayed by false doctrine.

    If anything, we should learn that we can't make the Bible say more about the requirement for eternal life than it does!

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  79. Jon:

    You wrote, “If anything, we should learn that we can't make the Bible say more about the requirement for eternal life than it does!”

    It is error to add or take away from the Gospel.

    Lordship Salvation adds, the “Crossless” gospel reduces the message to where it becomes almost meaningless. The lost man can deny Christ’s deity, not know or believe he is sinner, not know or believe Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead.

    Hodges has lead men to believe that one only needs to believe in the name of Jesus, not knowing anything about who He is or what He did to provide salvation, and that lost man can be born again.

    I have already had several men who are following Hodges' "Crossless" interpretation go on record saying the lost man can consciously reject that Jesus is God and still be saved. You did not make the grave error, but it seems many are.

    The following appears in the introduction to my book, In Defense of the Gospel. I had the kind of teaching that we are seeing from Hodges in mind when I first wrote this in 1997.

    Many have been alarmed at the increasingly meaningless presentation of a gospel that seems to ignore the person of Christ, the sinfulness of man and the pending judgment of God. This gospel calls men to salvation when they have been given only a vague idea of just what they need to be saved from.”

    My worst fears on just how far Hodges would depart from orthodoxy, and even worse lead others into error, have been realized.


    LM

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  80. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  81. How do you distinguish between "denying" Christ is man and "not affirming" Christ is man? If a lost man is told, "Jesus came to earth in the flesh" but thinks in his heart "I won't affirm that, but I will believe in Jesus for eternal life" is he saved?

    Also, in effect, Jon, you have established two check-lists related to what a lost man must believe to get saved. So far it is:

    Jon's Checklist #1: MUST BE BELIEVED
    - The Savior is named "Jesus" (correct me if I'm wrong)
    - Jesus is God
    - Jesus guarantees everlasting life to all people who believe His "promise of everlasting life" and is able to perform what He promised

    Jon's Checklist #2: NOT NECESSARY TO BE AFFIRMED BUT SALVATION IS NEGATED IF DENIED:
    - Jesus came to earth in the flesh

    Jon, what else fits in checklist #2? For example, can a man get saved while denying Jesus died for our sins and rose again?

    Last, the practical effect of your latest claim is that perhaps we should not tell men that He came in the flesh. Since it is not essential for them to believe for salvation, we could possibly jeopardize their souls by giving them the opportunity to deny Jesus came in the flesh.

    -- Greg

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  82. God's checklist #1

    John 6:47
    Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.

    I don't have a checklist, like you or Dennis. I just use God's.

    Greg says -
    "How do you distinguish between "denying" Christ is man and "not affirming" Christ is man?"

    Can a lost man say "I don't know everything but I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life" and be saved?

    I say yes.....

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  83. "Last, the practical effect of your latest claim is that perhaps we should not tell men that He came in the flesh. Since it is not essential for them to believe for salvation, we could possibly jeopardize their souls by giving them the opportunity to deny Jesus came in the flesh."

    Why wouldn't you tell them Jesus has come in the flesh? I know I would.

    The practical effect is that the lost person could say "I don't know but I believe in Him for eternal life". Greg - you would have people believe that they are not saved based on the testimony God has given of His Son.

    No offense but I'll take God's word on this one.

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  84. Jon, you said, Can a lost man say "I don't know everything but I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life" and be saved?

    That wasn't my question.

    With regard to Christ's incarnation, you devised a whole new category. You said this is not essential to believe but a person cannot get saved while denying it.

    My question is: a) what other truths fit into this category, and b) how do you distinguish "not affirming" and "denying" when a person refuses to "affirm" Christ's incarnation?

    In my view, it is very simple. A lost person needs to believe essential truths that identify Him. If he does not believe/denies these truths, he is yet to believe in Jesus Christ. Other truths are not essential for salvation, even if they are denied. For example, a person does not need to believe Jesus was born of a virgin to get saved. Likewise, a person who believes the essential truths that identify Him CAN get saved while denying that He was born of a virgin.

    Your view negates salvation even if a person denies certain truths that aren't essential to begin with in your view. What are these truths? If you cannot specify them, a person that denies any potentially true thing about Jesus could not have assurance of salvation.

    -- Greg

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  85. ...and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God...

    Jon,

    Would this be "denying" or "not affirming"?

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  86. Greg says -

    "With regard to Christ's incarnation, you devised a whole new category. You said this is not essential to believe but a person cannot get saved while denying it."

    I see where you said this but where did I say this?

    "Your view negates salvation"

    I don't think anything can negate salvation!

    "...and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God..."

    Are you saying this is on your checklist for salvation or are you taking this in context and saying that this is on the checklist to recognize false prophets?

    I affirm Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. I don't deny it - I know that it is true.

    By this do you know that I am saved? At least you know that I'm not a false prophet!

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  87. "..and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God..."

    This is indicating a lack of action reveals a truth.

    That a spirit does this action does not prove validity.

    So, if you lack a confession of Christ having come in the flesh would that be denying or simply not being aware?

    I think you know the answer and that is why you chose to respond the way you did.

    Kev

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  88. Kev -

    Can one believe everything on your salvation checklist, therefore be saved and later say that Jesus Christ did not come in the flesh and still be saved?

    JL

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  89. I've answered your very same question in another thread - twice now.

    The Apostle Paul answers you in 1 Cor 15

    Kev

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  90. Jon,

    You are evading my questions and putting up smoke screens. You say something and when I repeat it, you raise a fuss and deny you said it.

    I said, "With regard to Christ's incarnation, you devised a whole new category. You said this is not essential to believe but a person cannot get saved while denying it."

    Jon responded, "I see where you said this but where did I say this?"

    Jon, are you kidding me!!?? You are acting like a child. You said this in two posts prior to my comment.

    Let's look:

    Lou specifically asked you: "Do you believe a lost man can get saved (born again) even if he denies Jesus came in the flesh?"

    Jon replied: No. That is, personally, I don't think you can DENY this truth. However, you don't not need to affirm it at the point of being born again either.

    "So, you can not believe in Greg's 'anti-Christ Jesus' - you must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life. You must know that He is God, that He makes a promise and that He will make good on His promise."

    Jon, in the above comments you say the issue is what is believed when at the point of CONVERSION. We are NOT talking about what happens after. You know that.

    You specifically say in the comments above that a man can NOT get born again while denying Jesus came in the flesh (incarnation) but that it is not essential for him to believe to be saved. That is exactly what I repeated to you. You know it.

    In a different place, I noted that, in your view, salvation is salvation is negated if a man denies Jesus came in the flesh but believes Jesus for eternal life. I said at least four things that show very explicitly that I am talking about what a LOST man must believe to get saved. This was the subject of our discussion. I was clearly NOT talking about someone who is already saved that denies this. You know that. Yet, you evaded the issue by pretending I am talking about perseverance and loss of salvation.

    Your reply was "I don't think anything can negate salvation!"

    Jon, this is a smoke screen. I never implied anything about loosing salvation. You know I was talking about what must be believed at the point of salvation. You will not even stand behind your own answers. When I bring up the implications to your answers, you deny even having that answer.

    Unless you repent about the way you are carrying on this discussion, I am done talking to you, Jon.

    -- Greg

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  91. Greg -

    Thanks for pointing out my mistake, all I can say is that I honestly misread/misinterpreted your question. I apologize.

    You said -

    "With regard to Christ's incarnation, you devised a whole new category. You said this is not essential to believe but a person cannot get saved while denying it.

    My question is: a) what other truths fit into this category, and b) how do you distinguish "not affirming" and "denying" when a person refuses to "affirm" Christ's incarnation?"


    A) all truths other than belief in the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life.

    B) A person can believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life and not know everything about him - thereby not actively denying the truth but not affirming it as well.

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  92. Jon, thanks for your reply. I am happy the problem was based on a misunderstanding and that is resolved. I will reply to your post later on.

    -- Greg

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  93. Also, Jon, if it is your desire to delete the posts where the misunderstanding occured starting with your first post on 8/28, I would also be willing to delete the post on 8/28 1:44pm.

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