August 21, 2007

False Paradigms of the “Crossless” Gospel, #2

False Paradigm #2:
The true object of faith is preached only when we require the lost to believe the literal name “Jesus” for everlasting life. If you require belief in truths about "Jesus" in addition to His name for salvation, you distort the object of faith by changing the object of faith from the name “Jesus” to theological facts about Jesus.

This article is going to begin addressing the question, “What does it mean to believe in Jesus alone for salvation?” Does the gospel truth that salvation is offered by faith in Jesus Christ alone mean that a person does not need to believe any truths about Jesus aside from His name and promise? That is what some advocates of the “Crossless” gospel now claim. I want to address this claim as a way to lead into the topic of the next article on whether it is possible to believe in a “false Jesus.”

This false paradigm is succinctly articulated by Grace Evangelical Society(GES) advocate Antonio da Rosa:

“The ‘doctrinal checklist’ advocates' position on saving faith consists of believing in a death, and a resurrection, along with other, what they would consider orthodox, information. They make doctrine the object of faith and not Christ alone.”[1]

A recent internet article stated,
“The 'Majority' position states that one must believe A, B, C, D, E, and F to be saved. If one is required to believe these things, firstly, they are multiple conditions. How many theologically required conditions are there to be saved? Furthermore, if one is told that he must believe these things, they necessarily become objects of faith. This conclusion cannot be escaped and is mere common sense. The majority position requires that these things be believed. If they are believed, they are objects of faith. And if they are required, then they become co-conditions to ‘believing in Christ’.”[2]

To date, I am not aware of Zane Hodges or Bob Wilkin making this claim so explicitly. However, da Rosa’s argument seems to be the logical next step to the “Crossless” gospel. GES staff member Jeremy Myers agrees with da Rosa’s label of those who reject their teaching as “doctrinal checklist advocates.” He takes it a step further with the label “doctrinal legalist.”[3] Hodges has claimed we are “adding to the gospel,” which he compares to “the efforts made by Lordship people to add provisos to the message of faith in Christ.”[4]

These are serious accusations. To point the lost to a false object of faith is tantamount to preaching a false gospel. A person cannot be saved through an exercise of faith in the wrong object!! If we are telling people to put their faith in the wrong object, woe is us!

Before proceeding, I am compelled to briefly explain our view that the “Crossless” gospel camp condemns. As reconciled people, we are given “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18). That obviously involves carrying forward a message that involves reconciliation to God (Luke 24:46-47; 1 Cor. 1:17-23; 2 Cor. 5:20).

In conjunction with this message, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would “convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). Why would this be important? To understand “the gospel” that Jesus Christ “died for our sins” to reconcile us to God requires the necessary presupposition that one is a sinner before a righteous God who will execute judgment. “The gospel” the lost must believe is good news in light of this truth.The gospel” explains that Christ “died for our sins” and “rose again” (1 Cor. 1:17-23; 15:1-4). The simple phrase “Christ died for our sins” is meaningful, yet simple. It means Christ’s death paid for our sin. We agree that the lost must believe in Jesus Christ alone in order to be saved. If a person truly believes Christ’s death was the payment for his sins, he would not attempt to resolve the sin issue by his works or reformation. Not only did Christ die, but He also rose. His resurrection declared He is the Son of God, with the power to save everyone who believes in Him in light of His completed work.

To summarize, in order to trust the true Jesus Christ and receive salvation, a person must believe: He is God and Man (John 6:32-35, 51; 8:23-24, 1 John 4:3) who died for our sins and rose again to reconcile us to God by faith in Him alone (John 3:14-15; 6:32-35; 50-51; 1 Cor. 1:17-21; Rom. 1:4, 16; 4:23-25; 10:9; John 6:35-58; Rom. 1:4, 16; 4:23-25; 9:30-10:10, 16). This is the Scriptural view that has consistently been taught by grace-oriented brethren throughout the ages.[5]

Why do some “Crossless” gospel advocates say we have changed the object of faith? It is because we believe the lost must believe He is God who came in the flesh to die for our sins and rise again. Some readers may wonder, “How can someone get saved without believing these truths?” Da Rosa supports his view with arguments like this:

“My daughter believes in me as her ‘Dad’. As her dad I work at a Costco warehouse where I am a merchandiser. She doesn't know what I do there. She doesn't understand. She may even believe that I own the whole store and run it myself! My daughter believes in me as her ‘Dad’, as the one who provides for her, feeds her, clothes her, shelters her, etc. When she believes in me, she is believing in a man who is a merchant at a Costco, whether or not she knows what I do, have done, or has wild misconceptions about me. She has trusted me as her dad and I provide for her. The means by which I can provide for her is not the issue. The issue is whether or not she is going to trust me as her dad, trust me for her well-being, and I will provide for her, or is she going to doubt in me, and worry, and be anxious about where she is going to find her well-being.”[6]

The Two-Edged Sword:
Young children depend on their parents without knowing their names or promises. If this is how we are going to determine truth, this analogy could argue just as strongly against GES’s own checklist that the lost need to believe Jesus’ name and promise of eternal life by faith alone. A child apprehends his parents by sensory experience, not by belief of their names or truths about them. Christ is apprehended as the object of one’s faith only by the essential truths that identify Him.

Even a child recognizes certain features about her dad that identify him, like his appearance and voice. For example, let's say a man with dark slicked-back hair and a ponytail driving a Lamborghini approaches Antonio da Rosa’s daughter. On the license plate is the name “Antonio.” He promises to guarantee her well-being if she will get in the car. She does not realize he is actually Antonio Banderas, the cunning Hollywood actor who played Zorro. Would she get in his car? Of course not. The one thing she knows for sure is that this "Antonio" is not her dad.

When “Crossless” gospel advocates say we preach a false object of faith because we believe the lost must believe certain essential features that identify Jesus Christ, I wonder about the practical effect to their own evangelism. To date, most “Crossless” gospel advocates claim to preach Jesus Christ’s death for our sins, resurrection, deity, and humanity along with the promise of salvation. They say this helps to lay the foundation for the “saving proposition.” But I wonder, do they make a practical caveat to avoid preaching a false object of faith like we are accused of doing? Do they caption their presentation of “the gospel” with the explanation:
“I’m going to tell you about this Cross issue, but before I do that, I must warn you that this truth is non-essential. You must not believe in Jesus and His death for your sins for salvation. Instead, you must consciously separate Christ’s work on the cross and His promise of eternal life. You must believe in Jesus through His promise alone, not His death”?[7]

It seems their paradigm would demand this. Despite everything “Crossless” gospel advocates say to sound orthodox, the logical conclusion of their view is that the presentation of Christ’s death and the truths of the gospel could hazard men’s souls because men might be tempted to involve Christ’s death, resurrection, and deity as essential elements to the object of their faith.


The Biblical Answer:
Da Rosa wants to make it sound as though we have complicated the saving message to the preclusion of simple, child-like faith. However, the argument da Rosa articulated is not faithful to the analogy Jesus used when he said "whoever does not receive the kingdom as a little child will by no means enter it..." (Luke 18:16). Christ's point was not about a child's lack of knowledge about his parents but rather his trust upon his parents. But again, a baby apprehends his parents by sensory experience, while we apprehend Christ by faith in the essential truths that identify him.

That does not mean the saving message is complicated. That does not mean we cannot exercise child-like faith in Jesus Christ. Da Rosa misrepresents the issue when he says young children cannot articulate “how Jesus can be both God and God's Son at the same time.”[8] The issue is not articulating how Jesus can be both God and God’s Son, nor is it articulating how Jesus can be both God and man. Jesus never said, “You must believe how I am God.” He said:

"…I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins" (John 8:24)

"…When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM…” (John 8:28)

Frankly, I do not know how. All I know that it is true. And I know five-year old children who believe that it is true. And when I was a young child, I believed it was true. I remember wondering if I would be able to understand how this worked when I grew up. So far, the answer is no. I do not understand that any better than I did when I was five or six. All I know is what I knew then—that it is true. Neither a child nor an adult needs to articulate how Jesus can be both God and man. They only must believe that He is God and man.

Crossless” gospel advocates put an emphasis on believing “in Jesus’ name”. This is a Scriptural phrase (e.g. John 1:12). According to “Crossless” gospel advocates, that means to believe the literal name “Jesus” for everlasting life, without necessarily having any other information about who He is. But what does it mean to believe in Jesus’ name?

For one thing, even the Greek name behind “Jesus” conveyed a meaning to its original hearers that the English transliteration does not. It means “God-Savior” or “God’s Savior” and implies Christ’s deity and unique role as mediator between man and God. His very name conveys the idea of salvation or eternal life as reconciliation to God, not just some sort of eternal, godless well-being. I wonder if “Crossless” gospel advocates would allow for the lost to believe in the translation of Christ’s name (“God’s Savior”) for everlasting life rather than the transliteration (“Jesus”). How do we know it must be the transliteration rather than the translation? And if it must be the transliteration, why not insist the lost must know the Greek pronunciation? The fact is, the English word “Jesus” was not what He was called in Greek or Aramaic. It is doubtful that Greek-speakers in His day would have even connected the English “Jesus” with what they spelled and pronounced much differently.

But does believing in Jesus’ name mean to simply believe His name is "Jesus"? Even a casual perusal of the Gospel of John or other books of the Bible will show otherwise. When Jesus prayed, "I have manifested Your name to the men You have given Me..." (17:6), He meant that He manifested the Person and authority signified by the name. The word "name" is used hundreds of times in this sense in Scripture. It would be superfluous to cite verses. A search for the exact term "name of the Lord" in an online Bible will show over 100 results that confirm this point.

But “Crossless” gospel advocates actually admit this. Da Rosa stated,
“Christ's ‘name’ is everything who He actually is. This ‘name’ represents everything who He TRULY is.”[9]

After this statement, da Rosa continues with an unexplained leap of logic as if believing the literal name “Jesus” is some magical door where only the name “Jesus” is seen on the human side but all true Christology is seen on the divine side:
“When we believe in the ‘name’ of Jesus Christ for eternal life through the persuasion of the content of the gospel message we are believing in Him in who He truly is in all capacities, whether or not we understand them or not.”[10]

Obviously, the lost do not need to know everything about Jesus in order to be saved, but they do need to know the essential truths that identify Him. The fact we are to "believe in His name" indicates first of all that we are to believe in a Person. In fact, when the Gospel of John speaks of believing in reference to salvation, it uses two common prepositions: “in” and “that”. The preposition “in” is directional and indicates what our faith looks upon, and it always refers to His Person: "in His name" (1:12); "in the Son" (3:36); "in the Son of God" (9:35). Likewise, the preposition “that” points to some essential truth about His Person, often emphasizing His deity: "that I AM" (8:24, 28); "that the Father is in Me, and I in Him" (10:38); "that I came out from God" (16:27); "that You did send Me" (17:8, 21); "that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God" (20:31). The fact we are called to "believe in His name" harmonizes completely with the fact that Scripture outlines essential truths the lost must believe about Jesus to be saved.

Contrary to this, both da Rosa and Hodges have added the phrase “REGARDLESS OF BLANK SPOTS...” when referring to believing in Jesus’ name for salvation.[11] They say you can be saved when you believe in “Jesus” for everlasting life regardless of blind spots you may have about Jesus Christ. This is like a blank check. For example, you can take away His deity, His humanity, His work on the cross, His resurrection, and the fact that He ever came to earth--and you will be saved. Or you can add anything. You could believe “Jesus” is the former Branch Dividian leader David Koresh, as long as you believe in “Jesus” for eternal life. You can believe “Jesus” is an occultist wizard master that grants eternal access into some sort of pleasurable, ethereal realm of the occult. You can believe Jesus is a sinner who guarantees eternal life. If you live in the Tribulation, you can mistake the Antichrist for “Jesus” as long as you believe he guarantees eternal life.

Finally, da Rosa confuses essentials truths about Jesus as individual objects of faith. He says,
“The ‘Majority’ position states that one must believe A, B, C, D, E, and F to be saved…The majority position requires that these things be believed. If they are believed, they are objects of faith. And if they are required, then they become co-conditions to ‘believing in Christ’.”

It is not clear how da Rosa avoids his own accusation. In his book Secure and Sure, Bob Wilkin has a section titled “Three Essentials”. He says Jesus “routinely communicated three things. We, too, must share those three elements. They are: 1. believing 2. in Jesus 3. for eternal life.” Notice how Wilkin enumerates these three essentials exactly as da Rosa enumerated the essentials of our view. If we have five objects of faith, then by his own definition, da Rosa has three objects of faith. Da Rosa may argue his three essentials can be put into one sentence or one proposition, but so what? So can ours.

But how can we respond to the accusation that we tell the lost to put their faith in different objects? Does the need for a person to believe he is a sinner constitute an object of faith? No, in fact, the Holy Spirit’s pre-evangelistic work involves convicting “the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). That does not mean He wants people to put their faith in their sin. Rather, a person must accept the presupposition that he is a sinner in order to understand “Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor. 15:3) or even in order to understand and respond to the gospel appeal, “Be ye reconciled to God!” (2 Cor. 5:20).

Are essential truths about Jesus individual objects of faith or are they essential parts to the one true object of faith? Jesus Christ Himself, in an evangelistic appeal, presents Himself as the “Bread of Life” (John 6:32, 33, 35, 41, 48, 50, 51, 58). This involves His deity: “For the bread of God is He which comes down from heaven…” (6:33; cf. 32, 41, 50, 51, 58). This involves His incarnation and death: “He which comes down from heaven”; “the bread that I will give is my flesh” (6:51); “except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood…” (6:53). And by implication, it involves His resurrection: “I am the living bread” (6:51); “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (6:54). Did Jesus present multiple objects of faith when He described Himself as the “Bread of Life”? No, these truths were all wrapped into His very identity as the “Bread of Life.” And when Jesus calls the lost to believe on Him as the “Bread of Life,” He is not mandating that people must believe on the literal term “Bread of Life,” but rather the truths signified by it. This example demonstrates how the person and work of Jesus are wrapped into His identity. That is why He is called the “Lamb of God”. That is why the “Jesus” that Paul preached is “Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23; 2:2).

When Jesus is divested of His deity, humanity, death for sins, and resurrection, what are we left with? A guy named “Jesus” who guarantees eternal life. Is this the true Jesus of the Bible we are called to believe in? In the next article, we will see the shocking false paradigm that allows “Crossless” gospel advocates to answer “Yes!”


GS

[1] Antonio da Rosa, "Checklist Evangelists."

[2] Antonio da Rosa, "Free Grace Theology-Majority/Minority Views."

[3] See "Welcome & Where We're Headed" [Note comment #1 in the thread posted by Jeremy Myers on August 3, 2007 @ 4:15pm.]

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

[5] For example, see Tom Stegall, “The Tragedy of the Crossless Gospel, Pt. 1,” pp. 6-11. Grace Family Journal (Spring 2007).

[6] Antonio da Rosa, “How Much Information is Really Needed?

[7] Notice, this is exactly what da Rosa is concerned about:

“But we must not confuse the evidence (i.e. a gospel message) which supports and undergirds the promise of eternal life, with the content of saving faith itself. This would cloud the essential issue between God and men! When we ought to be pointing men and women to simple faith in Christ through His promise which unequivocally offers eternal life to the one who takes Him at His word for it…”
See: Antonio da Rosa, “Will the REAL Jesus Please Stand Up?

The phrase “through His promise” is a favorite phrase of da Rosa who uses it no less than eight times on blog entries on the subject of what the lost must believe to be saved.

[8]Antonio da Rosa, "Major Problems With Checklist Evangelism," (July 26, 2007 blog entry).

[9] Antonio da Rosa, "Checklist Evangelists."

[10] Ibid.

[11]E.g. “Everyone who believes in that name for eternal salvation is saved, regardless of the blank spots…” Zane Hodges, “How to Lead People to Christ, Pt.1,” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society (Autumn 2000).

64 comments:

  1. "False Paradigm #2:
    The true object of faith is preached only when we require the lost to believe the literal name “Jesus” for everlasting life. If you require belief in truths about "Jesus" in addition to His name for salvation, you distort the object of faith by changing the object of faith from the name "Jesus" to theological facts about Jesus."

    Greg -

    I don't accept this - yet you say I'm guilty of preaching a "Crossless" gospel. Therefore, how is this a "Crossless" gospel paradigm?



    2 Cor 5
    19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

    Notice that God reconciled the world to Himself? How? Through dieing on the cross for our sin and His subsequent victory over death. This message is true -whether you believe it or not. It doesn't have to be believed to have power.

    2 Cor 5
    20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.

    How are we reconciled to God? By belief in Jesus Christ for eternal life. This MUST be believed and is the sole belief requirement to have eternal life.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jon, it is true that you believe a "crossless gospel" and that you do not believe the current paradigm the way I worded it. You believe the lost must believe Jesus is God. Although I know of very few others who've adopted your own view, I worded the first paragraph of the article just for you: "That is what 'SOME' advocates of the "Crossless" gospel (e.g. Hodges, Wilkin, da Rosa) now claim."

    Now that I have acknowledged that, I would point out that you've said something very similar to what I outlined in this paradigm. You said the lost CAN NOT be saved by believing in the finished work of Jesus Christ. So let me ask you: if we are telling the lost to put their faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, are we preaching a false object of faith?

    Thanks,
    Greg

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes. The object you are pointing them to is His work - not His person.
    The faith of Abraham wasn't in the work of God but in the promise of God and being fully convinced that what God promised He was able to perform.

    I did notice the "some" comment. However, I still object to you calling this a paradigm of "Crossless" gospel advocates if it doesn't encompass all who you would deem "Crossless".

    The only paradigm I see is that we don't hold to the view that understanding the cross imparts eternal life to the one who believes it. We don't hold that view because the Bible is doesn't express that view. Those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ HAVE eternal life. The object of trust is and always has been God.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jon, you say we are pointing men to a false object of faith by pointing them to "Christ crucified" (1Cor. 1:17-23), i.e., the God-man Jesus that died for our sins and rose again. Therefore, you have proven my point about the pertinence of this paradigm.

    Thanks,
    Greg

    ReplyDelete
  5. Those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ HAVE eternal life.

    That's a neat statement but it's interesting that very little of it can be supported in John 6:47 with out reference to other scripture.

    Seeing as other scripture is allowed in your paradigm... why not use the parts that Paul, Peter, Jesus (off the top of my head) all claim to describe the Gospel and what we must believe?

    Kev

    ReplyDelete
  6. Kev, those are good points because you point out Jon's reasoning is self-contradictory and that his interpretation does not line up with the rest of Scripture. Before Jon misses the point again, I would like to post an excerpt of my most recent post from the previous thread that dealt with Jon's reasoning:

    ----

    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 paradigm 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...has spoken these words"

    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

    ----

    ReplyDelete
  7. "Those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ HAVE eternal life.

    That's a neat statement but it's interesting that very little of it can be supported in John 6:47"

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

    Let me spell it out: The Lord Jesus Christ spoke these words therefore whoever believes in Him has everlasting life.

    This statement is both dumbfounding and absurd. Are you "crossless" finger pointers hearing what you say?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Jon, thanks for your reply.

    In the previous discussion (Paradigm #1) you stated that John 6:47 contained all that was required to be believed to be saved. You said if this wasn't the case then Jesus lied.

    I'm completely with you that we need to see who was speaking when we interpete any part of Scripture.

    Seeing as Jesus Himself said you must believe in "Me" to be saved then as Greg said in that same thread this leads to the question "who is 'me'"?

    You properly identify the speaker as the Lord Jesus Christ - though this verse does not reveal that information.

    The Lord means Jesus is God.

    The Christ means 'God's Anointed' - the Lamb of God according to John the Baptist.

    and

    Jesus means "Jehovah Saves"

    Now, seeing as it is ok to identify who "Me" is because without knowing who "Me" is we can't put our faith in Him specifically is it not then also proper to know what His Name means?

    These are the things that identify the One to us.

    While I cited the wrong event in the previous thread, Abraham did not have faith in "God" he had faith in Yahweh, I AM. He had faith in Yahweh's nature as had been revealed to him through the work of Yahweh.

    When we identify who "Me" is, we don't just stop at His earthly name, we must see His Name because THAT is who "Me" is.

    Whether we call Him Jesus, Joshua, Issa, God, or Joe does not save. That we put our faith in the One who died for our sins ans rose again is what saves. Because that's "Who" He is.

    Kev

    ReplyDelete
  9. These are the things that identify the One to us.

    "While I cited the wrong event in the previous thread, Abraham did not have faith in "God" he had faith in Yahweh, I AM. He had faith in Yahweh's nature as had been revealed to him through the work of Yahweh."

    This is a matter of semantics. Abraham had faith in "God" according to Romans 4.

    "When we identify who "Me" is, we don't just stop at His earthly name, we must see His Name because THAT is who "Me" is.""

    Agreed. To have the faith of Abraham we must have faith in who Jesus Christ is - God, and be fully convinced that what he promises - eternal life - He is also able to perform.

    "That we put our faith in the One who died for our sins ans rose again is what saves"

    The one who died for our sins and rose again is Jesus Christ - God. Again, he died for our sins and rose again whether we believe it or not. Believing this about God does not impart eternal life. This is not His promise - it is a fact. The promise is eternal life to whosoever believes in Him. Belief simply means to trust.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Formatting suggestion...

    It will be much easier to follow the good exchange you men are having if you would try this suggestion. Let's say I am posting a reply to Kevl, it would look like this.

    You wrote, "I like to waterski..."

    Well, I like to water ski too.

    What I did is put Kevl's statement in italics My reply is in normal letters. You don't have to write, like I did, You wrote...

    The way to put a portion you want to reply to in italics is by using this tag:

    use the HTML i tag below with < >

    close with < / i > but no spaces.

    Just a suggestion.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  11. Jon said, 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.

    Notice: as long as you know who is speaking these words - the Lord Jesus Christ.

    That's very convenient, considering John's paradigm, to add "AS LONG AS YOU KNOW..." That is the whole point that disproves Jon's entire paradigm. Not even John 6:43a tells us that Jesus is God (a necessary element in John's view).

    Whatever Jon says to fit in his necessary elements can just as easily allow us to fit in the essential truths. We could say, "John 6:47 does have enough information AS LONG AS you know these words are spoken by the Bread of Life - the living incarnate God who gave Himself in death to reconcile us to God". The only difference is this view (our view) would actually fit the context of John 6 and the statement Jesus made in 6:47.

    Notice, Kev, when you showed this plain, obvious point to Jon, he resorted to some different auxiliary arguments. When we addressed those arguments, he resorted to this argument that we have already disproven. You can't pin him down. When you disprove him, he'll just change to some different auxiliary argument without conceding the obvious point.

    I'm hoping some other people will start participating in the threads.

    -- Greg

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi guys. I agree with Jon that a person who believes in Jesus for eternal life without understanding His Death/Resurrection is saved, but let me say this - I disagree with Jon's statement that a person can't be saved by believing in the Finished Work of Christ for eternal life. Jon, I always love interacting with you as we agree on many things, but please realize that people who believe in Jesus' Finished Work for eternal life are saved! As you know Jon, faith is passive and doesn't involve any type of prayer to Jesus. Even though you and I don't tell people to believe in Jesus' Finished work specifically for eternal life, we both present the Cross and show them that through the Finished Work, Jesus makes good on His promise of eternal life. Believing in Jesus' Finished Work specifically for eternal life is just as saving as believing in Jesus' Person for eternal life. Since faith is passive, and since we both present the Finished Work, you can't really distinguish between believing the Person and believing that the Person secures you through His work.

    If a person believes that they are eternally secure through Jesus' Fnished Work, they are saved. When it all boils down, you and I both believe this Jon!

    Greg and Kevl, even Zane admits that people don't normally come to faith in Christ apart from the Cross. Re-read How to Lead People to Christ Part 1 and you'll see Zane do a beautiful Job of connecting the Cross to eternal life by faith alone in Christ alone.

    http://www.faithalone.org/journal/2000ii/Hodges.htm

    ReplyDelete
  13. Danny, although I disagree with your assertion that a person can be saved without believing that Jesus died for our sins and rose, thanks for making your post relevant to the topic of the article.

    I agree that that "you can't really distinguish between believing the Person and believing that the Person secures you through His work". The Person and work of Jesus Christ are wrapped up in His identity and in the object of our faith.

    Danny, I've read Zane's article several times. I already have it referenced and linked in both of my articles. I don't believe he does such a beautiful job of connecting the cross to eternal life because he divorces it as an essential element to the saving "gospel". This is contrary to Scripture.

    Zane asserts the message of the cross is logically helpful in presenting the "saving proposition" but not essential to be believed. He says it is especially helpful in America. This makes a mockery of Scripture. The message of the cross is not a cultural issue! It is an absolutely essential issue to be presented even if it causes the lost to stumble: "but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness" (1Cor. 1:23). Contrary to Zane's assertion, it is not any less of a stumbling block to the unregenerate American mind.

    Based on what you said, it appears you disagree on Antonio da Rosa's contention that we have multiple objects, ect. Am I correct that you disagree with him on this?

    -- Greg

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  14. Hi Greg. Yes, I disagree with Antonio that believing you are eternally secure through His Death and Resurrection involves three objects of faith. But still, unlike Jon, Antonio and Zane both agree that a person can believe that they have eternal life through Jesus' Death and Resurrection and be saved. Antonio may see that as three objects of faith, but he he agrees that such people are saved.

    But Antonio's real, and solid, concern is the way we present the Gospel. If we tell people verbally that they must check off these things before they can believe in Him legitimately, then we're going about it the wrong way. Our job is to present the Death and Resurrection, and make it clear that it is through His Finished work that He freely gives eternal security to those who believe they are eternally secure through Him. But that's different from telling them you *must* believe these 4-11 things about Jesus before you believe in Him for eternal life. The bottom line is that they believe Jesus' promise of eternal life. And Antonio is correct that you can't ask a person to trust Jesus. Faith is passive. Preach the Gospel and the free offer of eternal life, and people will either passively believe or not believe. With people, I like to close with this statement, "Having paid the full penalty for your sins and having been raised from the Dead, Jesus freely gives eternal life to those who believe they have eternal life through Jesus."

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  15. Or I close with statements like: Having paid the full penalty for your sins and having Risen from the dead, Jesus freely gives eternal life to those who believe His promise of eternal life. Apart from works, apart from baptism, apart from anything else. A person is saved when they are convinced that they are eternally secure through Christ, apart from works - if you believe this, you are saved.

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  16. Danny, I can't ask a person to trust Christ? How about I plead with Him to trust Christ based upon who Jesus Christ is and what He's done on the cross? I like to say it like this:

    "As an ambassador for Christ, as though God were pleading through me, I implore you on Christ's behalf, BE RECONCILED to God! For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2Cor. 5:20-21).

    Your theology and resulting methodology stands contradicted by Scripture.

    -- Greg

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  17. P.S. I believe Antonio agrees with Jon. If we are preaching a false object of faith, as Antonio asserts, a person cannot be saved through faith in the wrong object. If I am wrong, let Antonio say so himself.

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  18. I have no time to post this. The issue really comes down to repentance. If anyone can simply "believe Jesus' promise of eternal life" and be saved then there is no repentance required.

    Yet, repentance is taught front to back in the Word. Jesus, and all the Apostles preached it. Paul was commanded to preach it.

    I really think it's the flesh speaking when we say we can take the Cross (work done because of my sin, which requires me to acknowledge my sin and judge it - which is repentance from sin) out of the Gospel. We repent of our sin when we see it judged and agree with that judgment. We repent unto God when we trust that God paid the price for our sin.


    If a man is standing in the center of a dry pool has he any need to worry about drowning? What need does he have for a savior? Is it even possible for him to "Trust" that God won't allow him to drown?

    I believe he can "believe" that God will not let him drown.... but not because there is any necessity for this protection.

    HOWEVER if a man is flooting in the center of a pool and he believes that God won't let him drown then he IS trusting God.

    No man can "Trust" God for Eternal Life until he realizes his Eternal Life is in jeopardy.

    It's not Trust if there is no danger.

    It's not Mercy if there is no Judgment.

    It's not Grace if there is anything done to earn it.

    It's not Jesus Christ if it's not the Cross.

    Kev

    I'm sorry I don't have time to make this a proper post. I am aware that I am "making statements without a proper defense." You are all more than able to search the Scriptures to see if these things be so. ;)

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  19. Bob Wilkin has posted a response to these false claims on the GES website, www.faithalone.org. There is also an opportunity to comment on the GES blog. Look for the link on the bottom of the page.

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  20. Kyle, are you saying there were false claims made in the article you're commenting on? What false claims are you talking about?

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  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  22. Kyle:

    Thanks for letting my guests know about Bob's response. I will say, however, the use (at my site) of "false claims," was unnecessary and potentially inflammatory. Bob can state that in his response, but I'm not sure it was the best way to introduce it here. My opinion, for what it is worth.

    I am certain the issue is never going to settled over who said what to who and when. Frankly, IMO that discussion is a peripheral (minor) issue in light of the doctrinal issues at stake.

    Both sides have now made their respective points. I will objectively read Wilkins’s take later tonight.

    I am encouraging you men at the GES to now turn your attention to the doctrine, which is the main source of debate and controversy.

    A personality clash will not serve the cause of Christ no matter where men fall on this doctrinal controversy.


    LM

    PS: Where is Zane Hodges? Hodges is routinely cited by da Rosa, and as far as I can tell Hodges is the original source of the doctrine that is the crux of the debate.

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  23. Greg, I apologize for being unclear. When I said you can't tell people to trust Christ, I meant we can't tell people to make a "decision" to trust Christ. You can't ask them if they would now like to make a decision to put their faith in Jesus. Faith is the passive response of being convinced that you are eternally secure through Jesus. You're supposed to preach Jesus' Death and Resurrection and make it clear that through the Death/Resurrection, Jesus freely gives eternal life to those who believe they have eternal life through Him.

    As to my theology, didn't you notice that I included Jesus' Death and Resurrection in my statement? Another thing, 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 was written to believers. You didn't make the issue of eternal security clear in your closing statement. A person needs to believe in Jesus for ETERNAL life to be saved. If you use the word reconciliation only, they may think they can lose it. Be clear. Antonio has told me at Unashamed of Grace that people who believe the following proposition are saved. Here is the proposition - "I have irrevocable eternal life through Jesus' Death and Resurrection." He doesn't see it as the Biblical way of stating it, but he agreed that they are saved.

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  24. Danny -

    Can you have irrevocable eternal life through Jesus' virgin birth?

    JL

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  25. Hi again Jon,

    You asked Danny - Can you have irrevocable eternal life through Jesus' virgin birth

    I can't help myself but answer. :)

    We are not told that Jesus was born of a virgin "for our sins" as we are told that He died "for our sins".

    The answer is no. Even still, He could not have died for our sins had He not been born of a virgin.

    Kev

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  26. Kev -

    Good answer. Now to follow -

    "We are not told that Jesus was born of a virgin "for our sins" as we are told that He died "for our sins"."

    Whose sins to Jesus die for?

    JL

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  27. Jon asked Whose sins to Jesus die for?

    The sins of the whole world. You really don't need to lead me along as though I'm blind to where we're headed. :)

    Just make the point so we can talk about that, thanks.

    Kev

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  28. I'll jump ahead a bit in my own train of thought.

    Notice that the Truth is that Jesus died for the sins of the World - John 3:16, 1 John 2:2

    But the Gospel - the thing that Paul says of "by which we are saved" is that He died for "our" sins.

    Think there is any significance there?

    Kev

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  29. Greg, good tough post. Thanks, it is of help to me and my own study.

    Kev

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  30. [I deleted the previous copy of this and am reposting it to correct some of my typos].

    Danny, this is just another example of the weird Domino Effect to the crossless gospel.

    Crossless gospel advocates say that a person does NOT need to believe: a) Jesus is God; b) Jesus came in the flesh; c) Jesus died for our sins; or d) Jesus rose from the dead. Instead, they claim a person must only be "passively persuaded" that someone name "Jesus" guarantees eternal life by faith alone.

    You wrote, "When I said you can't tell people to trust Christ, I meant we can't tell people to make a "decision" to trust Christ." And also: "Another thing, 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 was written to believers. You didn't make the issue of eternal security clear in your closing statement. A person needs to believe in Jesus for ETERNAL life to be saved."

    Danny, if you did not notice I quoted the Apostle Paul in 2Cor. 5:20-21 but simply changed the pronoun "we" with "I". So if you have a problem with my language, your problem is with Scripture.

    In 2Cor. 5:20, Paul pleads with people to make a decision to trust Christ based on His work on the cross. He says, "...as though God were PLEADING through us: we IMPLORE you on Christ's behalf, BE RECONCILED to God."

    Danny, would it make sense for me to plead with you to do something over which you have no decision? The fact God wants us to plead with a lost person to be reconciled to Him means that in light of His convicting and drawing work upon the lost, a lost person can make this decision.

    Furthermore, the phrase "Be reconciled" is a command (imperative). The imperative mood shows that the lost must make a decision while the passive voice shows that it is God who secures the reconciliation. This corresponds, for example, with Acts 16:31 where Paul says "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" in the imperative mood active voice, showing that it is a decision to trust Christ and faith is not being passively persuaded...it is our decision to trust Christ.

    Zane Hodges perverts the issue when he says things like "Faith is not a decision because I could not decide to believe Bob Wilkin is the biggest crook in Dallas. There are bigger crooks."

    Believing in Jesus according to the gospel is not like believing Bob Wilkin is a crook. Zane Hodges may honestly, without any moral problem, be certain Bob Wilkin is not a crook. But no man can honestly, without any moral problem, be certain the gospel is untrue. Believing in Jesus is not an issue in which we simply need more intellectual facts and persuasion. It is true that a person needs to hear information in the gospel, but if a person is willing to respond to the light God gives, the Lord is faithful to work through His ambassadors to provide that truth. The Bible teaches that God has given light to all men (John 1:4-5, 9); that the Holy Spirit convicts the whole world (John 16:8), and that Christ draws all men to Him as the crucified Savior (John 12:32-33). The reason people are not saved is NOT that they lack intellectual persuasion. All men receive light from the Lord, but the reason people do not respond is because "they suppress the truth in unrighteousness because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them" (Rom. 1:18-19ff). Men do not come to the light because "men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19)

    The issue is not lack of intellectual persuasion. God is already working to persuade. The truth is already compelling people to respond. The problem is not lack of intellectual persuasion. The problem is with the unwillingness in the hearts of men to respond. A person must make the choice to come to Christ by faith:

    "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else." (Isaiah 45:22)

    Paul said God "commandeth all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30)

    "We implore you on Christ's behalf, 'Be reconciled to God!'" (2Corinthians 5:21)

    "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would (Gr. "thelo") I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would (Gr. "thelo") not!" (Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34).

    "And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would (Gr. "thelo") not come. " (Matthew 22:3)

    "And ye will (Gr. "thelo") not come to me, that ye might have life." (John 5:40)

    "And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will (Gr. "thelo"), let him take the water of life freely." (Revelation 22:17)

    This all ties in to the crossless debate for this reason: Crossless advocates see believing Jesus as simply being persuaded that someone named "Jesus" guarantees eternal life. This can happen almost by happenstance. But the Bible teaches that God is convicting of sin and drawing people to the crucified Son of God. When people do not believe the truths of the gospel, it is not just because someone forgot an item on a "checklist". It is because the person willingly rejected the truth.

    Crossless advocates say a person can believe in Christ (through passive persuasion) while willingly rejecting the Holy Spirit's conviction that he is a sinner (contra John 16:8), rejecting that Christ is God (contra John 8:24), rejecting that Christ came in the flesh (contra John 6:48; 1John 4:3), and rejecting that Christ died for our sin and rose again (contra John 6:51; 1Cor. 15:1-4). Furthermore, they say a person can be saved through an act of idolatry. God commands that we do not look to anyone other than God to be saved (Isaiah 43:10-11; 45:22). Crossless advocates say person can be saved when they violate this commandment by looking to someone they believe is not God for salvation.

    Danny, I will pray the Lord will impress these truths upon your heart and you will willingly respond to His conviction.

    -- Greg

    P.S. Are you saying Paul's pleading of "Be reconciled to God" is directed at the Corinthians? If so, you are very wrong. Instead Paul is saying "we", i.e., you Corinthians, Timothy, and myself have received the ministry of reconciliation (5:18). He says "we", i.e., you Corinthians and myself, are ambassadors for Christ as though God were pleading through "us". Then in 5:20-6:2, Paul expresses the message they are taking to the lost as ambassadors for Christ.

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  31. "on asked Whose sins to Jesus die for?

    The sins of the whole world. You really don't need to lead me along as though I'm blind to where we're headed. :)

    Just make the point so we can talk about that, thanks."

    I apologize Kev, you never know when you're going to run into a limited atonement guy.

    So if Christ died for the sin of the world - is this true in and of its own merit or must it be believed to be true?

    JL

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  32. Jon, I agree with you and Kev that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. However, you (Jon) have repeated an error often made by crossless gospel advocates. They say that since Jesus died for our sins, and this is true whether or not we believe it, then a person is saved without believing Jesus died for sins. This reasoning is simply wrong, as I will show you.

    While the Bible teaches Christ died for the sins of the whole world, it also teaches the result of His work is not personally appropriated until a person believes the gospel.
    Regarding condemnation in sins Jesus said, "You will die in your sin" (John 8:21); "Unless you believe I Am, you will die in your sins" (John 8:24); "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know I am" (John 8:28).

    Before someone is saved, he is not just "dead". He is "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1, 5). It's only when someone is saved and placed in Christ that it can be said God has "forgiven you all trespasses" (Col. 2:13). It's only "in Christ" that "we have the forgiveness of sins" (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14).

    When the Apostles evangelized, they did not teach Christ's work meant a person is no longer condemned in sins. They taught that because Christ died for sins, there was no work or reformation to do to solve our sin issue. Rather, a person would receive "forgiveness of sins" as a free gift only upon believing in Jesus Christ and His work (Acts 10:39-43; 13:38-41; 26:16).

    In fact, here is a special passage for you, Jon. It is special because it shows that a person is yet in his sins until he believes and also believing in the "work" of Jesus Christ is inherent to believing in Him:

    Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you: 'BEHOLD, YOU DESPISERS, MARVEL AND PERISH! FOR I WORK A WORK IN YOUR DAYS, A WORK WHICH YOU WILL BY NO MEANS BELIEVE, THOUGH ONE WERE TO DECLARE IT TO YOU.'"

    ...to be continued.

    In Christ,
    Greg

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  33. Hello Greg:

    I know you have been following me here and at the GES blog over my question about the deity of Christ.

    You wrote, "Crossless gospel advocates say that a person does NOT need to believe: a) Jesus is God; b) Jesus came in the flesh; c) Jesus died for our sins; or d) Jesus rose from the dead."

    The "Crossless" advocates go even further away from a Bible based position than they do with what you just cited.

    They not only believe the lost do NOT need to believe in Christ's deity, cross work, but can consciously reject and deny His deity, and still be born again.


    LM

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  34. Lou, good point. Crossless gospel advocates have totally taken God out of the gospel. A person can reject that Jesus is God. A person can deny that there even is a God. If he simply believes this guy named "Jesus" can guarantee some sort of eternal well-being, he is saved!

    Not only is this a man-centered message, but it is also totally devoid of any understanding of the spiritual miracle and mystery of salvation. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin. God is drawing people to His crucified and risen Son. However, all of this--God's work in bringing a person to Christ--can be totally bypassed and even rejected as long as a person believes there is a fellow named "Jesus" who can guarantee everlasting well-being.

    The message of crossless gospel advocates is simply weird. The whole mindset will lead into more and more strange errors.

    -- Greg

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  35. Greg -

    I find your exposition of Acts 13:41 to be out of context. Unbelieving Jews (brethren) are judged. Yes, we should preach forgiveness of sin but what must be believed? Everyone who believes in Him shall be justified.

    Joh 6:29 -
    Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."

    Could the work of God be more clear?

    Lou said "They not only believe the lost do NOT need to believe in Christ's deity, cross work, but can consciously reject and deny His deity, and still be born again."

    This is not true. You can obviously be labeled "Crossless" and affirm the deity of Christ. I find this statement disingenuous.

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  36. Good morning Jon:

    At Antonio's site both Matthew (Dyspraxic Fundamentalist) & Danny answered with an empahtic "YES," to my question,

    "Can a lost man be born again, while consciously denying the deity of Christ, if he believes in Jesus for eternal life?"

    That seems clear to me. What I said, which you took excepton to, is in fact true.

    Thanks and I trust this clears up any misunderstanding.


    Lou

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  37. Hi Jon,

    You said
    So if Christ died for the sin of the world - is this true in and of its own merit or must it be believed to be true?


    This is true of it's own. Because primarily it was propitiation of God and really has very little to do with us other than we are the cause.

    Secondly, as Greg has pointed out, in order for it to be "effectual" to us we need to believe that Christ did this for us, because of our own sins, and rose again.

    Kev

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  38. Kev -

    Every Roman Catholic I've conversed with believes that Jesus Christ died for their sins and rose again.

    All saved?

    The fact is, sin is never mentioned at the Great White throne because it has already been judged at the Cross. People die in their sins because they don't have life. Christians still sin but we don't die in our sins because we do have life and the second death has no power over us.

    There is no way that Christ died on the Cross for any sin that wasn't effectual! This is exactly why we preach the Cross - it draws men to Him. We love Him because He first loved us.

    Lou said "at Antonio's site both Matthew (Dyspraxic Fundamentalist) & Danny answered with an empahtic "YES," to my question"

    I understand this to be their position. All I am saying is that you all have brandhed me with the "Crossless" tag and I anwered this question "No".

    Here's the point I've been trying to make all along.....

    Obviously, this can not be one of the "Crossless" paradigms if "Crossless" people answer in both the affirmative and negative.

    All about the Cross,

    JL

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  39. Hello Jon,

    You stated, and asked Every Roman Catholic I've conversed with believes that Jesus Christ died for their sins and rose again.

    All saved?


    Do you suspect these "Catholics" really believe that Jesus paid the price for their sin or did He just get punished for it? Do they have to add anything to it?

    You know the answer to this. Repentance and Faith are required. Catholics are great at feeling guilty - worldly sorrow - and great at feeling punished and try to do what it takes to be right with their god (lowercase intentional) - religion.

    You made the following statement (as you have before I believe) The fact is, sin is never mentioned at the Great White throne because it has already been judged at the Cross.

    The famous reasoning of if Jesus was punished and judged for my sins then I won't be....

    Scripture seems to disagree with you.

    Rev 20:12 - And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is [that] of life. And the dead were judged out of the things written in the books according to their works.

    You said There is no way that Christ died on the Cross for any sin that wasn't effectual!

    It was effectual as propitiation towards God. It is only effectual through repentance and faith for the Sinner. Any sinner who does not repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ will be subject to the Second Death. They will be judged according to their works which will reveal their true natures. That true nature will not be allowed into Heaven. They will be cast into the Lake of Fire.

    You said Obviously, this can not be one of the "Crossless" paradigms if "Crossless" people answer in both the affirmative and negative.

    This isn't really my part of the conversation but I'll respond anyway. Because I have been thinking about this since you brought it up in one of the first posts.

    Two answers - one this is idea is common across the broad spectrum of the proponents of a Crossless gospel. It is one of the things under attack about the identity of the One Who Saves.

    Second - while you do not preach this with your mouth you do so with your position. Jesus, even in the Gospel of John connected Rebirth with His death and resurrection. Yet you deny this connection in preaching and practice. Therefore denying that Jesus is God and that His way really is the only way.

    By demonstration - and through my weak ability to see your walk by your posts here - it seems you are living in the position that Grace covers in the Sinner when they are saved.

    It is ridiculous to expect someone to submit their will in order to be saved. But it is equally ridiculous to realize that Jesus is God and not submit your will to His.

    You are putting your theology and preaching back in that tiny spot of ignorance. You know that Jesus died and rose again on your account. I am hoping that you trust in this for your salvation. You understand that this is the basis by which any are saved.

    Now, if you are preaching do you not know that every word you speak will be tested by fire at the Judgement Seat of Christ? Do you not know that every word must have it's foundation in the Cross?

    Jon, either you're not saved because you haven't trusted in the Correct Jesus, or you are saved and you're going to face Judgement for the gospel you preach.

    I honestly don't get how you can separate the Cross from the Gospel. John doesn't. Paul doesn't. Peter doesn't. Jesus doesn't. All the Gospels include it... Do you not know that if by some chance someone did get saved like that.. that it would be impossible for them to gain fruit? That they would suffer nothing but loss at the Judgement Seat of Christ? They can't build on the foundation of something they don't know about.

    Preaching it as a secondary thing, is not making it foundational. The Cross is it.

    I'm starting to rant sorry. Migraine today.. meds are kicking in.

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  40. Hi Greg. Let me apologize for my mishandling of 2 Corinthians 5:20-21. You're right that Paul was urging the Corinthians to act as Ambassador's for Christ, imploring the world to be reconciled to God. Since he was talking to believers who understood eternal security, the Corinthians should indeed urge the world to be permanently reconciled to God. We know reconciliation happens by faith. But faith and the Resurrection are not specifically mentioned in that passage, so Paul was just giving the gist of the message - the Corinthians would have to explain more. Remember, us "crossless" advocates still preach the Cross/Resurrection. This whole fight is over hypotheticals that none of us find to be the norm. Many FGers who reject the "crossless" gospel still hold that faith is passive. They believe that a person must understand the Divinity, Death, Resurrection to be saved, but they may still see faith as passive.

    The imperative command to believe does not make believing a decision. When the Bible commands somone to believe, it is commanding them to put themselves in a position where they are ready to hear God's word. A person must make a decision to either search the Scripturs, read the Bible, listen to a Gospel presentation, etc. Once the person makes the decision to be open to God's word, the Spirit works, and because the person decided to be receptive, they end up being persuaded that they have eternal life in Christ.

    Here's Dr. John Niemela from his presentation "A Veiled Reference":

    [Quote]
    Now one of the things [i.e., questions] that is often alleged when we speak about a passive or a stative idea of faith is, “Well, how do we deal with the fact the Bible commands belief? ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved’ [is a] command. That sounds like I have to do something. That sounds like I have to make a decision. That sounds like I have to do something.”

    Commands to believe do expect a volitional response. There is no denying that. But the volitional response is in a slightly different area than we might think. The unbeliever obeys the command [to believe] by exposing himself or herself to biblical truth, allowing God’s word to make its persuasive case.

    We look at the Gospel of John, and the Gospel of John is arranged around eight signs that are designed to prove to the reader that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing this, a person may have life in His name.

    God’s word is persuasive. The unbeliever who exposes himself to God’s word and seeks not to put up barriers, seeks not to add to the veil, but seeks to come to an understanding, a fair understanding of what it really is saying, is someone who is open to be persuaded. That’s all that a person can do—make themselves open to be persuaded. Because what happens when we decide to believe something that we know isn’t true? We’re “making belief.” We have to know that it is true before we can believe it. The point that we have understood it to be true, we have believed it. But we have to be open to allow it to persuade. And the unbeliever is in that same situation. The command is to put ourselves in a position of being able to be persuaded by the word. If a person says, “I’m open to the word,” and he never opens the Book, and never talks to Christians, and never does anything to be exposed to the message, he can say he’s open all day, but is he?

    The concept is: in order to be persuaded, we have to have the word in a position to be able to affect us. The issue for the unbeliever is to be open to God’s truth that is revealed by the Spirit. When he or she becomes persuaded that Christ has irrevocably given him or her everlasting life, he or she has believed.
    [End Quote]

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  41. Forgot one more thing Greg. In John 20:31, John DOESN'T say, "These things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that you may then make a decision to place your faith in Him for eternal life." From John 11:25-27, it is clear that believing Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God entails believing that you will never die because of Jesus. In John 11:25-27, Jesus doesn't ask Martha if she would like to place her faith in Him.

    He simply states that as the Resurrection and the Life, those who believe in Him, though they die, they will live, and that whoever believes in Him will never die. He then asks her if she believes *THIS* She responds "Yes, I believe THAT you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world" And that's saving faith according to 20:31.

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  42. Jon, Jesus doesn't give life through His virgin birth. Since Jesus actually gives us eternal life through His Death and Resurrection, believing we have eternal security through His Death and Resurrection alone is indeed saving faith. Even Zane admitted that most people will not believe Jesus' promise unless they first understand the Death and Resurrection. Now, you know I agree with you that a person can believe Jesus' promise without understanding the Death/Resurrection, but that's not normal anymore. Many of the Jews in ancient times, including the time of Christ, did believe that, but it's not normal anymore. And since Paul urged us to always present the Cross/Resurrection, we must always do so. Plus,I know you always present the Cross anyway, so this whole fight is over hypotheticals. I didn't believe Jesus' promise of eternal life until I first understood the Death/Resurrection. I believed His promise because of the persuasive power of the Cross. Therefore, in a very real sense, I believe I have eternal life through His Death/Resurrection. You believe this too. :)

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  43. Hi Danny,

    We are not told that she was saved for her faith of John 11:25-27.

    To say this is how she got saved is to force a understanding onto the Text. Not to allow the Text to guide our understanding.

    I am encouraged to see you working the truth of the Gospel through. Do not be fearful of recanting on past ideas. If the new idea is Biblical the old idea needs to be crucified.

    Kev

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  44. Hi Kevl. According to John 20:31, believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God gives one life. Martha believed this, therefore she received eternal life, probably before Jesus even asked her. I would say she had already believed and already had life before Jesus asked her the question. Jesus just asked her if she believed His words with the future readers in mind.

    Another thing Kevl. All of us "crossless" advocates proclaim the Death and Resurrection. This whole fight is over a hypothetical situation that none of us, "crosless" or "crossful", find to be normal. We all preach the Cross and Resurrection because that is what Jesus and Paul commissioned us all to do. Most people will not believe until they know about the Death/Resurrection. Again, this whole fight is over an abnormal, hypothetical situation.

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  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  46. Danny, I have a couple brief comments in response to 2Cor. 5:20-21 and faith. I may reply to your other posts and comments later.

    Crossless gospel advocates teach a person can be saved while not believing Jesus came to earth, that He is the Son of God, that He died for our sins, and that He rose again -- as long as he believes in someone named "Jesus" for eternal wellness.

    Danny, I agree with your comment that reconciliation to God is to be understood as a permanent reconciliation to God. On the flip side, "everlasting life" is also to be understood as a permanent reconciliation to God, not just some eternal godless existance that the crossless gospel allows for. I commented on this briefly in the Paradigm #1 article. The Gospel of John, in harmony with the rest of Scripture, presents "eternal life" not just as some sort of generic well-being but a reconciled relationship to God.

    You posted some comments by Dr. John Niemela on whether faith is active or passive. Let me explain the Scriptural view like this: faith involves both God's persuading and man's choice to agree. Dr. Niemela errors in the comments you posted because he denies a person's choice is involved in terms of responding to the Truth that compells a response.

    First, Dr. Niemela admits the undeniable that the imperative command expects a volitional response: "Commands to believe do expect a volitional response."

    Let me stop there. If you admit faith involves a "volitional response" then it is double-talk to say that faith does not involve a decision.

    Dr. Niemela finds himself trapped with this clear point about the imperative command to believe. He then evades the obvious: "The unbeliever obeys the command [to believe] by exposing himself or herself to biblical truth, allowing God’s word to make its persuasive case."

    This is obviously false. Exposing oneself to Biblical truth is not the same as choosing to agree with that truth, which is clearly conveyed in the command to believe.

    What does Dr. Niemela think it means to obey the command to "BELIEVE"? He gives examples: open the Book... talk to Christians... expose yourself to the message. Danny, you said the command to believe means a person must make a decision to either search the Scripturs, read the Bible, listen to a Gospel presentation, etc.

    There are many people who make a decision to search the Scriptures, read the Bible, and listen to Gospel Presentations that never get saved. So if "believe" only means "put yourself in a position where you can hear the word", then the promise "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved" is not true. Does a person receive salvation when he "puts himself in a position to hear the word?" or when he believes? When he believes. Obviously, the imperative to believe means something beyond putting yourself in a position to hear. It means to agree with that truth.

    It is amazing that a man like Dr. Niemela who would argue against the false definitions Lordship advocates give to "believe", i.e., "yield, obey" will then give a darn near similar definition himself when he defines it as search the Scriptures, go to church, talk to Christians, ect. Danny, you know that is NOT what the word "believe" means.

    If the "imperative" to "believe" meant to search the Scriptures or seek truth, why didn't the speaker just say "seek truth"? Why didn't the speaker just say "put yourself in a position where you are ready to hear God's word?"

    Dr. Niemela then makes the same argument Zane Hodges made about the fact you can't just choose to believe something you empirically know is false. I already explained why that is a false argument. The issue of believing the gospel is not a matter of empirical, intellectual persuasion. The Lord is already working to persuade. It is not unreasonable to ask a man to choose to believe the gospel because the Word compells a response yet allows men to choose how they will respond, i.e., by accepting that truth or rejecting that truth. The command to "believe" means to accept that truth.

    Dr. Niemela is bordering on half-truth because the issue of salvation does involve God convicting, drawing, and persuading man-kind. The gospel does make its persuasive case. But men have a choice in how they respond.

    The command "believe" involves a choice not just to hear the gospel but to agree with it. That is a fact that even brilliant men like Dr. Niemela and Zane Hodges may talk around but will never be able to escape.

    Men can choose whether to agree with the truth or suppress it (cf. Rom. 1:18ff). It is double-talk to say man's volition is involved in suppressing it but that it is not involved in accepting it.

    "And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (Revelation 22:17)

    -- Greg

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  47. Danny, I have a question for you.

    Crossless gospel advocates say that a man need not believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ to be saved.

    Yet Romans 10:9-10 indicates: "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness..."

    Danny, for right now, I am not asking you what it means to confess Jesus is Lord. I want to direct your attention to the phrases "believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead" and "with the heart one believes unto righteousness..."

    I would like to ask you to change your view in order to yield to the statement of Scripture. This verse indicates it is essential to believe in Christ's resurrection for salvation.

    However you respond, please do not relay the false paradigm "Catholics believe He was raised, so it cannot be necessary". Catholics also believe His name is "Jesus" yet you claim that is necessary. We can't discount a verse like this by resorting to some other man-made argument. How do you understand it?

    If you need time to study and pray about it, I understand.

    -- Greg

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  48. Hi Greg. First let me say that Romans 10:9-13 distinguishes justification/eternal life from some sort of "salvation" that I'll get to explain. But yes, justification/eternal life in 10:10 is conditioned on believing that Jesus is raised from the dead. Greg, stick with me here. In Romans 10:10, believing that Jesus is raised from the dead means being justified (and thus resulting in eternal life). I don't dispute that. Since most of Christendom believes that Jesus is raised from the dead, while denying justification by faith at the same time, Paul obviously has justification by faith in mind when he makes that statement, since he states that Jesus was raised for our justification earlier in Romans 4:25. Like I said before, the normal, God-commissioned way for someone to believe Jesus' Promise of eternal life is to first understand how he secured that gift - by dying for our sins and being raised, thus giving him the authority to freely give us eternal life. All of us crossless folks do proclaim the Cross/Resurrection because it shows how Jesus purchased the gift and why it is free (and we've been ordered to do so by Scripture). :)The whole crossless debate is over a hypothetical, special case, which doesn't happen all that often.

    So yes, preaching the Death and Resurrection is the God-ordained way to deliver the message of eternal life by faith alone. The person who believes that Jesus is raised for his justification, believing that through His Death/Resurrection Jesus has given him eternal life, is indeed saved.

    But notice that the "salvation" in Romans 10:9-13 is distinguished from justification. The normal way a person believes unto righteousness is by believing that Jesus was raised from the dead (knowing that he has eternal life as a result of Jesus being raised for his justification). Justification is a pre-requisite to the "salvation" of Romans 10:9-13. A person receives this "salvation" by meeting two requirements. First, the person has to have eternal life. He gets eternal life by believing that Jesus is raised from the dead for his permanent justification. Then he confesses that Jesus is Lord, which is the same as calling on the name of the Lord. Romans 10:14 makes it clear that believing precedes calling. All throughout Scripture, and even in Romans 10:10, believing makes one righteous/brings eternal life. Calling the name of the Lord is something one who has already believed the saving message does. He does this to receive another kind of "salvation". A Christians calls on the name of the Lord to be delivered from some sort of persecution. The confessing of Romans 10:9 and calling of 10:13 is the same thing. Romans 10:13 quotes Joel 2:32, where Jews are calling on the Lord to be delivered. And it's obvious that Joel 2 has nothing to do with eternal salvation. And I'm sure the confession has to do with confession in both word/deed. So the person who believes unto righteousness receives justification, and then he can call on the name of the Lord to be saved from whatever danger he faces. This is directed toward the Jews since Romans 9-11 is dealing primarily with them. Paul's desire was for the Jews to be saved, which is describing much more than just eternal salvation. They need to be justified by believing in Jesus, and they need to call/confess to be "saved" from calamity.

    OK, I think I wrote enough. :)

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  49. Hi Danny, Greg - and everyone else who are being quiet. :)

    Greg's up first. Greg I'm learning a TON from you in this whole discussion. But, when we use Romans 10:9-10 in this way (and I have too) we make the same mistake that the Lordship camp makes.

    If you do something then you are saved does not equate to if you don't do that you are not saved.

    For example if you drink orange juice you will drink water. But this is not to say that if you drink water you'll drink orange juice.

    Romans 10:9-10 is not proclaiming the whole Gospel or even the Gospel. It's a heart issue that he's dealing with. It can apply to both temporal and Eternal Salvation. In order to truly make those statements you'd have to have believed the Gospel - which is what saves a person.

    Danny,

    I'm gonna be even worse with you. :) hehe I am enjoying your comments. I think you're wrong, but I enjoy that you are willing to work this through.

    You said Again, this whole fight is over an abnormal, hypothetical situation.

    My best advice - drop it then. I don't think this hypothetical situation is even possible - BUT my real reason for tell you to drop it is that none of those we are to emulate even gave it consideration. Why would we?

    The whole sentence reads
    John 20:30-31 30Many other signs therefore also Jesus did before his disciples, which are not written in this book;

    31but these are written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life in his name.

    "but these things are written"

    John doesn't separate these things from who He is.

    The Christ is God's Annointed who John the Baptist taught is the Lamb of God. The two are connected. He is God's Anointed to be the Lamb of God.

    John is proclaiming you need to know the Christ to be saved not just believe in some word or name for eternal life.

    Kev

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  50. I suspect the answer to my description of John 20:30-31 will be that John only told the things so that you'd believe He is the Christ.

    The answer to that is actually in my post - Who is the Christ? What does it mean to be "The Christ"?

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  51. Kevl/All:

    Jesus "Christ" has to be deity if He is the Savior and as the "Crossless" advocates say, the "Guarantor of eternal life."


    LM

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  52. Lou, good point. It is amazing most crossless gospel advocates do not realize the significance of the connection between "the Christ" and "the Son of God" which go together throughout all Scripture including the Gospel of John (e.g. John 20:31).

    Psalm 2:2-7, 12:
    The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed (Messiah/Christ), saying, "Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us." He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The LORD shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure: "Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion." "I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You....kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you perish.

    Psalms 45:6-7:
    Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.

    Matthew 22:42-45:
    "What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?" They said to Him, "The Son of David." He said to them, "How then does David in the Spirit call Him 'LORD,' saying: 'THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, "SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, TILL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES YOUR FOOTSTOOL" '? If David then calls Him 'LORD,' how is He his Son?"

    Heb. 1:8
    But to the Son He says: "YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER...

    These verses and many more contradict the GES assertion that "Christ" simply means "guarantor of eternal life" but has nothing to do with Deity. Jeremy Myers claimed this when he scolded you on 1John 2:22-23 which actually interchanges "Christ" and "Son".

    The point about the essential connection between God-Savior is repeated in scores of passages. This is also Christ's point when He said:

    "And He said to them, "You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins." (John 8:23-24)

    "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things." (John 8:28)

    The background for these statements is this:

    "You are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that you may know, and believe me, and understand that I MYSELF AM. Before me there was no God formed, and after me there shall be none. I AM, I AM the LORD [Jehovah/the I AM]: and there is no Saviour besides me." (Isaiah 43:10-11).

    Like you said, an understanding of Christ's Saviorhood must flow from an understanding of His Deity. For salvation, he cannot be believed in as one without the other.

    -- Greg

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  53. Kev, you said:

    "...If you do something then you are saved does not equate to if you don't do that you are not saved...Romans 10:9-10 is not proclaiming the whole Gospel or even the Gospel. It's a heart issue that he's dealing with. It can apply to both temporal and Eternal Salvation. In order to truly make those statements you'd have to have believed the Gospel - which is what saves a person.

    Kev, notice in my original question to Danny I said this: "Danny, for right now, I am not asking you what it means to confess Jesus is Lord. I want to direct your attention to the phrases 'believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead' and 'with the heart one believes unto righteousness...'

    Although I disagree with the temporal salvation view on this passage, I specifically avoided the word "save". At this point, I don't think it would be profitable for me to deal with this issue on the blog boards.

    Notice that I specifically pointed out "believe unto righteousness..." (v. 10). This certainly refers to justification, not temporal salvation (cf. Rom. 9:30-10:4). I do not know of anybody who denies that.

    The immediately preceding verse (v. 9) describes the content of "believeth" as: "believe in thy heart that God hath raised him from the dead..." I agree with you and Danny that this does not detail all the aspects of the content of faith, but it certainly shows the resurrection is involved.

    I think "believing God raised Him from the dead" is the pinnacle of the gospel. His death meant nothing if He was not raised. The fact that God raised Him from the dead also implies the other truths of the gospel - that He died for our sins, that He is man, that He is God, and justification is by faith alone. If you follow Paul's statements in Rom. 1:4, 3:19-26, 4:22-35, and 9:30-10:9, you can see how the whole gospel is summarized (though not detailed) in the 10:9 "...God raised Him from the dead" (Rom. 10:9).

    My question to Danny regarded this particular phrase.

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  54. Thanks Greg,

    I'm very much enjoying your posts. I've been on a wild ride of learning for two years. The last 6 months or so seem to have been about getting rid of religion and man's theology and bringing in God's Truth.

    I still have a lot of ideas that are caused by what I've been taught by men in my head. I've been purging them as I find them.. but sometimes they are so incidious that I can't recognize that they are there.

    I'll be looking into the temporal vs eternal aspects of Rom 10. Vs 10 does seem to make it of eternal and not temporal.

    Thanks,
    Kev

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  55. Kev, I know where you're coming from. Please pray for me in terms of understanding and communicating on this issue. I'll do the same for you.

    As far as Rom. 10, notice the interchange of "righteousness" and "save" in 9:30-10:4. Regardless of how one takes "save" in 10:10, everybody, as far as I know, agrees that "believe unto RIGHTEOUSNESS" refers to justification, which is also when a person is saved from hell. You probably know this already, but the term "righteousness" and "justify" are translations of different forms of the same Greek word.

    -- Greg

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  56. You're right Greg this is not at all about temporal.

    Thanks for sending me back to it.

    Kev

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  57. Hi Greg. I'm sure you saw my response. I think you know that I believe that Romans 10:10 contains both eternal life/justification (believe unto righteousness) and confess unto salvation [in this life]. Regardless, I hope you noticed that I affirmed that Paul is saying that believing Jesus is raised from the dead is indeed saving faith, since Paul is obviously thinking of people who believe Jesus is raised specifically for their permanent justification. :)

    I also want to say that I can no longer answer with an affirmative "yes" that a person who rejects the Deity can be saved. I'm not sure, but leaning toward the view that rejecting the Diety can't lead to saving faith. Of course, I already stated that I find it highly unlikely that anyone who rejects the Diety would actually believe the promise of eternal life. I can't answer with an affirmative "no" either. But again, I've always believed that a person who rejects the deity is unliley to believe the promise. And I always have and always will proclaim the Death/Resurrection.

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  58. Hi Danny, the other day I spent some time replying to your post, thought I posted it, and when I looked it wasn't there! That's okay though, I take that as Providential. I have been pressed for time the last few days but will reply to you soon.

    -- Greg

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  59. Brother Danny,

    I am going to make a longer post because I believe your heart is opened and I am personally concerned about you. I realize the long post will turn off some people, but this is for you.

    You said:

    But yes, justification/eternal life in 10:10 is conditioned on believing that Jesus is raised from the dead. Greg, stick with me here.

    Danny, let me stop right here and comment. The fact that you are about to argue that justification is NOT conditioned on believing that Jesus is raised from the dead should raise a red flag in light of your comment above.

    Let me say that I understand your respect for the men behind GES. Some of their writings, particularly Hodges on James 2, were instrumental in bringing me to "free grace". I understand exactly how their "bare minimum of saving faith" is sort of a neatly-packaged proposal. I understand their arguments about the Gospel of John. The problem is, their conclusions do not line up with Scripture. Serious mental gymnastics are needed to somehow make their view jive with several verses. Romans 10:9-10 is one of them. The result is violence against God's Holy Word.

    You continued:

    In Romans 10:10, believing that Jesus is raised from the dead means being justified (and thus resulting in eternal life). I don't dispute that. Since most of Christendom believes that Jesus is raised from the dead, while denying justification by faith at the same time, Paul obviously has justification by faith in mind when he makes that statement, since he states that Jesus was raised for our justification earlier in Romans 4:25. Like I said before, the normal, God-commissioned way for someone to believe Jesus' Promise of eternal life is to first understand how he secured that gift - by dying for our sins and being raised, thus giving him the authority to freely give us eternal life.

    You are saying the phrase "if...believe you believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead" is the normal means by which a person comes to believe in Jesus' promise of eternal life. However, you are saying there can be exceptions. You are saying a person can get saved while NOT believing God raised Him from the dead.

    Danny, why is your paradigm so important to protect that you can't just admit the obvious? If this verse conditions eternal life on believing Jesus is raised from the dead, why not just admit it is essential to believe God raised Him from the dead? Why not admit that after Jesus was raised, this is part of the gospel that is essential to believe for salvation? Believing Jesus is raised from the dead is essentially involved in believing in Jesus for eternal life. The Jesus we are to believe in is the Jesus who was raised from the dead.

    The fact there are all these verses that predicate salvation upon believing certain truths yet you guys explain them away should raise a red flag.

    You just admitted Rom. 10:9-10 conditions eternal life on believing Jesus is raised from the dead. Yet, you argue that is normative step toward believing the promise, not an absolute condition. That is a red flag.

    Jeremy Myers just made the same argument on John 8:24 where Jesus said, "Unless you believe that I AM, you will see in your sins." He admitted this predicated salvation on believing Christ's deity, but only in the sense of a normative logical step toward believing the promise. He gave an example of people he said did NOT believe "I AM" yet were saved. In other words, the conclusion is "You DO NOT believe I AM, yet you shall NOT die in your sins." That turns the verse flat on its face. That is a red flag.

    Jon Lee made the same argument on 1Cor. 1:17-23 which equates "the gospel" with "the message of the cross". As you know, Danny, dozens of passages predicate salvation upon believing "the gospel" not PART of "the gospel" (cf. 2Thes. 1:8). It seems Paul thought the gospel was completely perverted if ANY part of it were changed or taken away (Gal. 1:6-9). 1Cor. 1:18 indicates it is "the message of the cross" that divides the saved and the lost. If this isn't exactly true, why did not Paul just say it is "the guarantee of everlasting life to all believers" that divides the saved and the lost? In 1Cor. 1:21, Paul indicates it is by the message of the cross it has pleased God to "save those who believe". Danny, if you read this passage carefully, you will see this isn't just the "normal way" God wants to save people. It is the ONLY way. Yet, Jon says the message of the cross is just an instrument to convince the lost to believe the promise. The Bible conditions salvation upon believing the message of the cross. Jon Lee says the message of the cross is just a normal way of drawing people but not essential. That is a red flag.

    In regards to "the message of the cross", let me ask a question. Jon Lee says that this is just a normal people to draw people to the offer but non-essential itself. How can that be true when Paul said "the message of the cross" and "Christ crucified" was "to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness"? If Paul insisted on preaching this when it was a stumblingblock, it must have been an essential stumblingblock. Christ's work is essentially wrapped up in His identity. That is why He can now be called "Christ crucified" (1Cor. 1:23; 2:2).

    Danny, if our view is true, how could we possibly prove you wrong? Every time a verse clearly shows what the lost must believe to be saved, you guys just keep saying that is a normative, logical step toward believing the promise but not essential itself! How can you prove your contention exegetically from these passages themselves? I suspect you cannot. I suspect you will need to resort to GES mantra.

    Allow me to return to your comments on Romans 10.

    I think you are exactly right about justification by faith alone being connected, in Paul's mind, with what he says in Romans 10:9-10. In fact, this immediate section started with how "the righteousness of faith speaks". He incorporated a Hebrew idiom from the OT that speaks of the impossibility of a task. In light of Christ's completed work, we should not seek justification by the impossible task of keeping the law. We should rest upon Christ's completed work. The righteousness of faith appeals to and rests upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who "was delivered up for our offenses and raised for our justification" 4:25). If you follow Paul's thought from 9:30-10:10, I think you will find further support for your point above the connection between these concepts.

    All this refutes the common GES argument, "People believe Christ was raised from the dead and remain unsaved. Therefore, this is not salvific truth". However, Paul assumes in Rom. 10:9-10 and other places that you believe the significance of what he is saying. Paul did not have Christ's resurrection isolated from the other truths of the gospel. Danny, this is an important point. No truth of the gospel is "salvific" if it is isolated from the other essential truths of the gospel. For example, crossless gospel advocates say, "Many people believe Jesus is God yet remain unsaved. So this is not salvific." Danny, did you know that not even "eternal life by faith alone" is salvific? If you isolate this truth by itself, even in your view, it is not "salvific". Even Zane Hodges says John 6:47 by itself is insufficient without 43a which names "Jesus". So it is not legitimate for crossless advocates to isolate a single truth, say unsaved people believe it, then claim "it is not salvific". We could say the same about another element of the GES view. They claim the name "Jesus" is essential yet many people believe the Savior's name is "Jesus" yet remain unsaved. Therefore, it is not essential.

    Danny, the lost must believe "the gospel". Christ's resurrection is the pinnacle of the gospel. It implies the other truths as well. If He was raised from the dead, obviously He died. If He died, He obviously came in the flesh. We are not to put our faith in a non-human spirit or some Messiah yet to come like Israel. It implies His work on the cross is completed and accepted by God. It proves He is the Son of God Rom. 1:4). What you will see over and over, Danny, is that the gospel is centered and grounded upon the real, historical fact of Christ's death and resurrection which is mentioned in 1Cor. 15:3-4 and upon which the gospel centers upon. The gospel does not center upon how man can experience some sort of eternal, godless pleasure that is allowed for in the crossless view. It centers upon what God has done through His Son in real history to reconcile the world to Himself. There is NO saving "gospel" apart from this. Period.

    According to the Scriptural pattern, the offer of eternal life only flows from the objective truths of the gospel. In all the verses that actually identify the actual content of faith necessary for salvation, they emphasize either the real historical work of Jesus Christ or the essential elements that identify the Person of Jesus Christ. It is essential to believe the Son of God (divine) came in the flesh to die for our sins, rise again, and so that we could be eternally reconciled to God on the basis of faith in Him alone. Scripture supports this over and over. I am praying you will repent, Danny. I know this is not a decision you take lightly. But it is essential. I truly believe that Jesus Christ is personally very concerned with everything at stake for His Church in this unfortunate controversy.

    I will leave you with a question, not so much to answer, but to think about.

    In Romans 10:9-10, why summarize the gospel by which a man "believes into righteousness" with a non-essential element!? This would have been a perfect place to say, "If a man believes in His heart that Jesus guarantees eternal life by faith alone." When Scripture talks about the gospel, it emphasizes Christ's historical redemptive work because this is what it is centered upon and the offer of eternal life only flows from this.

    Sincerely,
    Greg

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  60. How can that be true when Paul said "the message of the cross"

    The message of the Cross is sacrificial and one of selflessness. Jesus came as a humble servant and gave Himself up to die on the Cross. This is a fact and though God letting the creature put Him to death may seem like foolishness to those with a hardened heart - it is extremely beautiful to those who open themselves up to this truth.

    That is the drawing power of the Cross.

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  61. Greg,

    You seem to make a compelling case, based on Romans 10:9-10, that an understanding and explicit belief that God raised Jesus from the dead is an essential component of justifying faith. Why don’t you throw out a challenge to formally debate the matter online and see if anybody will accept the challenge. While you certainly are under no obligation to do so, I have set the proposal up on Free Grace Debates in the event you’re so inclined to argue for the affirmative.

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  62. Mr. FGD:

    It is usually not in good taste to encourage folks, especially a contributor (Greg), at one blog to go to another site and take an on-going discussion to the other site.

    I am beginning to warm to the idea of your site hosting a debate between Bob Wilkin and anotner man from the opposing view.

    In the meantime, feel free to particpate here.

    Thanks,


    Lou

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  63. My apologies. That was not my intention. Please delete my posts. Thank you.

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  64. Dear FGD:

    No, I'll leave it, I know you meant well.

    I would encourage Bob Wilkin to take advantage of this opportunity. After all, he has been pressing for a debate/open forum on the issue, and you are providing a neutral site/venue.

    I am beginning to believe one of us who rejects the Hodges/Wilkin "Crossless" gospel would be very willing to engage Bob at your site.

    Thanks,


    Lou

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