October 1, 2007

The “Christ” Under Siege: The New Assault from the Grace Evangelical Society

In my first article in this series I discussed the attempt of Zane Hodges and the Grace Evangelical Society (GES) to remove Deity from the Biblical concept of Jesus as “the Christ.” Hodges’s fraudulent arguments regarding the Samaritans in John 4 were exposed.

The purpose of this article is to show the Biblical concept of “the Christ” involves Deity, and that this is necessary for salvation. Future articles will show the truths of His death and resurrection are equally important truths of the gospel necessary for salvation today.

I. The New Assault From the GES

In recent days I have become aware of new arguments from GES regarding the Lord’s titles, “the Christ, the Son of God” that are troubling to many fellow believers in the Free Grace community. The latest round of attacks claims neither “the Christ” nor “the Son of God” is a title that involves His Deity.

Readers of my previous article will recall Hodges argued the lost must only believe in Jesus as “the Christ” but not “the Son of God” in his article “How to Lead a Person to Christ” [1]. In it, he defined “the Christ” as “the Guarantor of eternal life to all believers.” Hodges conceded that “the Son of God” is a title that involves the Lord’s Deity but denied the lost must believe it (contrary to John 20:31).

The GES recently added a new twist. This new GES approach admits, in accordance with John 20:31, that the lost must believe in Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of God” but suggests that neither title involves His Deity. They argue the words “anointed” (from which we get “Christ”) and “sons of God” were applied to other people in the Old Testament so we cannot insist on a unique meaning in reference to the Lord.

Let us observe the arguments of GES editor Jeremy Myers. In a recent blog post to Myers, I countered Hodges's prior argument that divorced “the Christ” from “the Son of God” in John 20:31. I pointed out “the Son of God” is appositional (it gives explanation) to “the Christ” throughout Scripture. Myers responded:

Regarding the biblical usage of the term “Christ” I did not get this from some “GES Mantra” but from the lexicons and word study tools that are available in any Bible college or Seminary. Even without the Lexicons and word study tools (since they sometimes make mistakes) a word study that can be done by anybody will reveal that since Cyrus is called the Messiah in Isa. 45 (check the Hebrew), the term cannot and does not inherently refer to deity. Extrabiblical literature confirms this as well.

Regarding the term “Son of God” the Biblical usage doesn’t fit your claim either. After all, we have the “sons of God” in Genesis 6, as well as the statement in Hos. 1:10 that Israelites were sons of God. Even from the mouth of Jesus, we are told that we will be sons of God (Mat. 5:9). The argument that these are plurals and when used of Jesus it is singular won't work due to the most basic of grammatical rules that plurals are used when referring to groups, and singulars are used when referring to a single entity.

You are right that in John, the terms “Christ” and “son of God” are in apposition, but if neither "Christ" nor "Son of God" inherently refer to deity, then it is quite likely that in the days of Jesus, someone could believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and NOT understand, know, or believe that He is divine.

Myers noted in a second response:

Carson has an excellent discussion of the word “Messiah” as well, in which he points out that not only is Cyrus called a Messiah in Isa 45:1, but also the king of Israel (1 Sa 16:6; 2 Sa 1:14), the high priest (Lev 4:3), and the patriarchs (Ps 105:15). (Carson, p. 155-156). The term Messiah (or Christ) therefore, cannot inherently mean “God.” Again, nearly all the commentaries state this. [3]

Does Myers not realize his argument is self-refuting? If we cannot identify an essential concept of “the Christ” that is different from Cyrus, high priests, prophets, and patriarchs, then neither could we accept the GES definition of “the Christ.” Apparently, I do not have access to any of “the lexicons and word study tools that are available in any Bible college or Seminary” because I cannot find one that gives the GES definition of “the Guarantor of everlasting life to all believers.”

Myers’s error is alarmingly elementary. He confuses the lexical meaning of words with theological concepts that come to be technically described by certain terms.

This is a simple matter of recognizing the difference between a broad meaning and technical usage of a word. For example, the word “Bible” comes from a word meaning “book”. The Greek word “biblion” (transliteration) is used for any book. Even in English we sometimes use the word “bible” as an idiom for an authoritative book. For example, we could refer to the “Engineer’s bible” or the “the bible of Italian cooking”. These usages would not convey Divine inspiration. However, it is also possible for us to refer to “the Bible”, and any Christian will know exactly what we are talking about. Although the “Divine inspiration” is not necessarily inherent to the word “bible”, the true concept of “the Bible” certainly involves Divine inspiration.

In seeking whether “the Christ” is a concept that involves Deity, we would not look in a lexicon as Myers suggested. A lexicon will tell us that “Messiah” or “Christ” means “anointed” but it is simply not the job of a lexicon to explain theological concepts that can be signified by the technical application of a term. And contrary to Myer’s argument, every Biblical lexicon notes there is a technical usage of the term “the Messiah” or “the Christ” that applies to a single promised figure unique from any other person to whom the term is applied. The lexicographer leaves it to the theologian or Bible student to search the Scriptures to find “what is the essential concept of this particular, unique person called ‘the Christ’?”

I would like to suggest a passage that will help answer this question:

II . “What think ye of the Christ?”

Matthew 22:41-46
While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.” 43 He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘LORD,’” saying: 44 ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, "SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, TILL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES YOUR FOOTSTOOL’?” 45 “If David then calls Him ‘LORD,’ how is He his Son?” 46 And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.

This passage is especially appropriate for several reasons. There is no way to read this passage without concluding there is a single figure called “the Christ” who is uniquely set apart from any other “anointed” person or thing. The Lord Jesus talks about the concept of “the Christ” without speaking of Himself directly. This clearly distinguishes this passage as one that speaks of the essential concept of “the Christ.” His question will expose the deficient concept of “the Christ” held by the Pharisees and also lead to the true concept of “the Christ.” His teaching also confirms the Deity of “the Christ” has been taught since this term was first applied to Him in Scripture.

In regards to the context of the passage, this discussion took place after the Lord Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and second cleansing of the Temple. The Pharisees responded by plotting “how they might entangle him in his talk” (22:15). After a series of questions from the Pharisees (22:15), Sadducees (22:23), and Scribes and Pharisees (22:34), the Lord Jesus asks His own question unrelated to any of their own. In fact, it is the only preemptive question we know the Lord asked to a group of religious leaders, as if to suggest they neglected the most important question of all, “what think ye of the Christ” when plotting their own questions. However, this discussion did not take place in the midst of religious leaders alone but “all the people” at the Temple (cf. Luke 20:45), so that “the common people heard Him gladly” (cf. Mark 12:37). It is likely that His connection of “the Christ” and “whose Son is He?” relates to the charge of the High Priest shortly thereafter, “tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” (Mt. 26:63).

Several points about this passage can be made in regards to the efforts of GES proponents to divest Deity from the essential understanding of “the Christ”. These points will center around three questions.

Question 1: Is there a unique Biblical concept “the Christ” distinguished from other “anointed ones?”

Myers argued that Deity “cannot” be conveyed by the concept of “the Christ” because the Hebrew word for “anointed” is also applied to others. But if the answer to the question above is “yes,” Myers’s arguments are irrelevant. If so, we can then move on to the next question: does the Biblical concept of “the Christ” convey Deity?

Notice the Pharisees clearly understood there was a single figure called “the Christ.” These Pharisees did not respond, “which king, prince, prophet, priest, table, lampstand, pillar, wafer, burnt offering, shield, or thing are you talking about? There are many anointed ones.” They understood the term referred uniquely to one individual. This simple point refutes Myer's misguided argument.

Furthermore, the Lord’s question, “What think ye of...” implies there is an essential concept of “the Christ”. The Lord did not expect the Pharisees to respond, “Well, sir, ‘christ’ means anointed.” That went without saying. The Lord was not asking the Pharisees to look in lexicons available at Bible colleges for the lexical definition of the term. He asked about the Biblical concept of “the Christ.”

Now let’s consider the next question:

Question 2: Does the Biblical concept of “the Christ” involve Deity?

In light of this passage, the obvious answer to this question is “yes”. The Lord quoted Psalm 110:1 for the fact that it conveys the Deity of the Christ. The Pharisees were unable to answer His question because they were unwilling to admit “the Christ” is not just the Son of David but also the eternal Son of God. His question, "whose Son is He?" cannot be answered apart from His Deity. This is clear from the Lord's follow up question: "How then doth David in spirit call him Lord?" Since crossless gospel proponents tend to blunt statements that refer to Christ's Deity, several points will prove this quotation of David conveys Christ's Deity:

1. David called the Christ “my Lord.” The fact He is David's Lord/Master while also David’s distant descendent puts Him in a unique category that requires His Deity. The Hebrew commentator Delitzsch remarked:

“The inference which is left for the Pharisees to draw rests upon two premises, which are granted, that [Psalm 110] is Davidic, and that it is prophetico-Messianic, i.e., that in it the future Messiah stands objectively before the mind of David...Since the prophetico-Messianic character of the Psalm was acknowledged at that time...the conclusion to be drawn from this Psalm must have been felt by the Pharisees themselves, that the Messiah, because the Son of David and the Lord at the same time, was of human and at the same time superhuman nature; that it was therefore in accordance with Scripture if this Jesus, who represented Himself to be the predicted Christ, should as such profess to be the Son of God and of divine nature.” [4]

2. David called the Christ “my Lord” a thousand years before Christ's arrival. This implies His eternal existence. As Micah foretold, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting,” (Micah 5:2).

Barnes commented:
“If he was then David's lord if he was his superior--if he had an existence at that time how could he be descended from him? [The Pharisees] could not answer him. Nor is there any way of answering the question but by the admission that the Messiah was divine as well as human; that he had an existence at the time of David, and was his lord and master, his God and king, and that as man he was descended from him.” [5]

3. Other NT passages apply this Psalm to Christ’s Deity. In Hebrews 1:8-13, the author sets forth Christ’s Deity from Pslams 45:6-7; 102:25; and 110. It is likewise applied to His deity in Acts 2:34-36 where Peter calls Jesus “Lord and Christ.” Also, Psalms and other OT prophecies clearly refer to the Deity of the Christ (e.g. Psalm 2:2-12; 45:6-7, 11; 72:17). Why insist on a meaning here that is less?

4. The phrase “Sit thou at My right hand” is used throughout Scripture to refer to Christ’s unique heavenly reign with the Father from within the Godhead during the time between His ascension and second advent (cf. Ps. 110; Mt. 26:64; Lk. 22:69; Acts 2:33-36; 5:30-31; 7:55-58; Heb. 1:3, 13). In fact, this claim was part of the basis for the High Priest and the Sanhedrin to call for Christ's death sentence on account of blasphemy (Mt. 26:63-66).

If Jesus was NOT pointing out the Deity of “the Christ,” then what was He describing? The Pharisees already knew “the Christ” would be sent from God. They already knew “the Christ” would have the highest authority of any man. They already knew He would have a unique relationship with God. Yet, if that was a sufficient understanding of His Sonship, why did He challenge them?

Question 3: Is the Deity of the Christ, as the Lord taught in Matthew 22:42-45, essential to the issue of salvation?

Crossless gospel proponents are likely to argue that while Deity may be part of the true concept of “the Christ,” it is just one of many truths about “the Christ” that are not essential for salvation. They attempt to separate the “evangelistic” meaning of “the Christ” in the Gospel of John from the meaning in other Gospels.[6]

Well, the Gospel of John also proves one must know “the Christ” as God in order to receive eternal life. I focused on Matthew 22:41-46 in this article because it is helpful for dealing with the new GES arguments regarding the terms “the Christ” and “the Son of God” together. Several observations demonstrate the relevance of the Lord’s point in this passage to the issue of salvation:

General Observations:

First, the Lord is certainly speaking to lost people in this passage about “the Christ.” Not only does He speak to the Scribes and Pharisees, but His audience includes “all the people” at the Temple (Luke 20:45), so that “the common people heard Him gladly” (Mark 12:37). In order to prepare them to recognize Himself as “the Christ”, it is important they have the right concept of “the Christ.”

It is significant the very first issue He brings up relates to the nature and Deity of Christ. Notice the Lord did not first ask, “what think ye of the Christ? what does He guarantee by faith alone?” Although the true concept of “the Christ” actually does involve His work and role as Savior, the very first matter that arises is His nature as the Son of God: “what think ye of the Christ? Whose son is He?”

How contrary to the stated practice of a crossless gospel advocate who criticized me for leading a Jew “away from eternal life” due solely to the fact that I shared verses on the Deity of the Christ when I gave the gospel to him! [7] Apparently, the Lord Jesus Himself was unaware of the pitfall of teaching Christ’s Deity to lost Jews when He spoke the words of Matthew 22:42-45!

The Lord’s words clearly show the true concept of “the Christ” includes truth about His nature. Jeremy Myer's non-Deity definition of “the Son of God” still does not escape the fact that this speaks of His relationship to God. Even this exceeds the three-point “saving message” checklist of GES. If Myer’s non-Deity definition were true, the title “the Son of God” would still convey Christ’s unique relationship to God. How could this title square with the crossless gospel proponents’ denial that it is essential for the lost to believe there is one God in order to be saved?

Lastly, some general observations can be made about the question “whose Son is He?”

It is notable that the term “the Son of God” was not specifically applied to the Messiah in rabbinical literature prior to the time of Christ. Oscar Cullman noted,
“The difficulty lies in the fact that no known ancient text definitely calls the Messiah ‘Son of God’.” [8]
The reluctance of the Pharisees to admit the Christ is the Son of God (Mat. 22:41-46) and the condemnation of Jesus for His claim to be the Son of God (Mat. 26:63-65; Mk. 14:61-64; Lk. 22:67-71; John 19:7) evidence the emphatic teaching of John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus, that the Christ is the Son of God. If the concept “the Son of God” only conveyed the significance given to it by Myers, i.e., that the Christ would have a unique relationship to God or serve some unique function, the Pharisees would have had no problem agreeing the Christ is the Son of God in Matthew 22:41-46.

The Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of John parallel each other in demonstrating the significance of “the Son of God” in the narratives. Matthew records both a negative (unbelieving) and positive (believing) response to this title. A short time after this discussion with the Pharisees took place, the High Priest charged Jesus at His trial before the Sanhedrin, “Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God!” (Matthew 26:63). When He answers affirmatively, He is charged with “blasphemy!” Positively, His identity as “the Son of God” means that He is worthy of worship: “Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’” (Matthew 14:33). Jews were strictly taught that only God was worthy of worship. Worship of any other would be idolatry. Matthew certainly expects us to see that “the Son of God” is a Divine title.

This is paralleled in the Gospel of John. There is an antagonistic response to His claim to being “the Son of God”: “the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He…also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18). To Pontius Pilate the Jews exclaimed, “We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.” On the other hand, there is a believing response to His identity as the Son of God: “Jesus…said unto him, ‘Dost thou believe on the Son of God?’ He answered and said, ‘“Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?’ And Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.’ And he said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshipped him.” Both the negative and positive responses show “the Son of God” signified Deity. Matthew and John totally agree on the significance of this term. In light of this, the Gospel of John’s requirement to believe in Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:31) specifically highlights the necessity of believing in His Deity.

The Relationship of This Passage to Salvation Texts:

Myers argued neither term “the Christ” nor “the Son of God” refers to Deity. In fact, he argued the singular “the Son of God” cannot legitimately be taken differently than the plural “sons of God.” But Jesus Christ Himself referred to the Deity of the Christ to explain “whose Son” He is. He explained the Christ is the Son of God by quoting David in Psalm 110:1, “The Lord said unto my Lord...” He quoted this to prove He is more than just the son of David--He is the eternal Son of God. The Lord's point may be represented like this:

A. Question: what think ye of the Christ? whose Son is He? (v. 42 asked)
B. Premise: David spoke of “the Christ” in Psalm 110:1 (v. 43)
B. Premise: David calls Him “my Lord”, i.e., He is Divine (v. 44)
A. True answer: the Christ is the Son of God, i.e, He is Divine (v. 42 answered)

The Lord Jesus’ explanation of Christ’s Deity by the quotation of Psalm 110:1 is appositional to the question, “whose Son is He” which is appositional to the first question, “what think ye of Christ?” The only true conclusion one can reach, given the Lord’s premise, is that “the Christ” is “the Son” of God and that this specifically speaks of His Deity.

It is no wonder that He put together the questions, “What think ye of the Christ? Whose Son is He?” This appositional relationship of “Son” to “the Christ” does not only appear in the question form of this passage. The title “the Son of God” is appositional to “the Christ” throughout Scripture including the salvation text of John 20:31:

“...You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:18)

“…I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!” (Matthew 26:63)

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (Mark 1:1)

Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” (Mark 14:61)

And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!” (Luke 4:41)

“Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:69)

“Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (John 11:27)

“...these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)

We could go on (e.g. Acts 8:37; 9:20; 2Cor. 1:19; Gal. 2:20; Heb. 3:6; 5:5; 1John 2:22; 5:20; 2John 3, 9).

Dozens of passages describe Him as “the Christ, the Son of God” or interchange the terms “Christ” and “Son.” Several passages indicate the lost must believe on “the Son” or “the only begotten Son of God” (See John 3:15, 16, 18, 36, 5:23-25; Acts 13:33-39; Rom. 1:4, 16; 1John 4:14; 5:5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 20).

The relationship between these terms is further reflected in 1John 5:1 and 5:5. in 1John 5:1, we read: “whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God....” while in 5:5 we read: “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” It is not as though the content of v.1 one summarizes one message to salvation while v. 5 summarizes a different route. As we have already seen, believing that Jesus is “the Christ” (v. 1) necessarily involves believing He is “the Son of God” (v. 5).

This title certainly emphasizes His Deity, just as Christ did when He used Psalm 110:1 to explain “whose Son” He is. The Apostle John wrote, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:31).

The Lord Jesus showed the true concept of “the Christ” involves Deity. Though the Pharisees could not argue with the Lord’s premise, they still refused to reach the same conclusion in Matthew 22:41-46.

I plead with “Crossless” gospel advocates to change their minds and avoid the same hard-hearted response of the Pharisees.

Greg Schliesmann


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

[2] See Jeremy Myer’s comments on OPEN QUESTION to Bob Wilkin at the Grace Evangelical Society. Blog comments posted 8/28/2007 2:29 PM.

[3] See Jeremy Myer’s comments on When Simple Faith is Not Enough (August 29, 2007). Blog comments posted 9/03/07 1:39 PM.

[4] C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament in Ten Volumes (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, Reprinted 1978), Volume 5, Psalms, by F. Delitzsch, Psalm CX, pp. 184-185.

[5] Albert Barnes, Notes on the Bible (Electronic version). Notes on Matthew 22:45.

[6] E.g. “It is precisely the ability of Jesus to guarantee eternal life that makes Him the Christ in the Johannine sense of that term.” See Zane Hodges, “How To Lead people to Christ, Pt. 1.” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, (Autumn 2000), p. 4.

[7] In a thread at the blog site of GES that was removed by GES without explanation, I stated: “Three days ago I witnessed to an Orthodox Jew in the parking lot of a grocery store. He told me that in Jewish theology, it is impossible for someone to be God and a man. The first verse I showed him was Micah 5:2. He looked at [it] for a minute quietly before responding...”

Due to this statement, GES apologist Antonio da Rosa replied, “It is a fact that you may have turned such a one away from eternal life.”

[8] Oscar Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, trans. Shirley Guthrie and Charles Hall, rev. ed. (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1963), 274. He also notes, “The passages in II (4) Esd. (7:28f., 13:32; 37–52; 14:9) can hardly be considered as examples, because they point to the pais in the sense of the ebed Yahweh and do not refer directly to the sonship.” Cited by Kenneth W. Wilson, “Is Belief in Christ’s Deity Required for Eternal Life in John’s Gospel?” Chafer Theological Journal (Fall, 2006).

Originally appeared September 27, 2007


  1. Greetings to My Guests:

    I will open the thread for unmoderated comments at Noon Chicago time.

    Leave your comment and I will put it up at that time.

    Thanks for your patience.


  2. Wow, hard to believe no one has commented yet. Greg, thanks for your writings: Well researched, well written, well taken. I keep doing research myself and am amazed at how hard it is to convince even fellow Christians of what GES so openly teaches -- I've encountered well-meaning believers, Christian leaders even, who defend GES with arguments that GES doesn't even agree with. My own experience with GES is that they are not outright dishonest, but their answers often use terms that most of us load with meaning. Their use of Christ, and Son of God, are prime examples - Virtually every Christian I know packs these terms with meaning that GES does not. So they can say things like "Believe in Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God", which sound "right-on" to most evangelicals, but mean something totally different by it. I'm not willing to say it's deliberately dishonest but, come'on, surely they know most of the Christians they talk to don't define these terms in anything close to their limited scope.

    Finally Myer's points out that Cyrus is "a" messiah but I can't think of a single person I know, even non-believers with whom I work, who would ask "Which messiah?" if I asked them. Even those who disagree with Christianity generally know who and what we're talking about when we use those titles.

    Jesus is almost universally perceived to be THE Christ, and THE messiah, not A Christ or A Messiah.

  3. Knet:

    A short time ago Wilkin, Myers and the rest of the "Crossless" men made it clear that they will NOT discuss or respond to any legitimate questions about their position on the Gospel or the Deity of Christ.

    In any event, what Greg has written here is very powerful and the Crossless advocates have no answer to refute it.

    My opinion is that these articles are of great benefit to the guests who come to my blog and read them. I get quite a few private e-mails from people who appreciate being informed of just how far askew the GES has drifted from orthodoxy. Now they can recognize and refute this false teaching for themselves.


  4. Knet:

    You wrote, “My own experience with GES is that they are not outright dishonest, but their answers often use terms that most of us load with meaning…I'm not willing to say it's deliberately dishonest but, come'on, surely they know most of the Christians they talk to don't define these terms in anything close to their limited scope.

    Ironically, much the same can be said of many in the Lordship Salvation camp that I have dealt with.

    You have to get the LS & Crossless advocates to define exactly what the mean, but often they are reluctant to speak in unvarnished terms.


  5. Knet,

    Thanks for the comments.

    I don't think the GES advocates themselves will interact with the points in the article. In my experience with GES followers, they hardly interact with exegesis or exposition that contradicts their position. If they reply at all, instead of interacting with a point, they simply resort to GES mantra. When they try to interact with it, we get the sort of absurd statements I quoted from Jeremy Myers. That is because their position on the "bare minimum" message of salvation is truly indefensible.

    Christ's words themselves in Matthew 22:42-46 shut up anybody who wishes to argue "the Christ" is a concept that does not necessarily involve Deity:

    "And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore."

    This is a really precious passage the Lord has given to the Church. It's been used to refute Jews who claim the Messiah was never supposed to be Divine. It's been used to refute liberal critics who claim Christ's Deity is not taught in the Synoptics. And now it can be used to refute crossless gospel advocates who put themselves in the unfortunate position of claiming neither "the Christ" nor "the Son of God" signifies Deity.

    In regards to non-believers recognizing there is one unique figure called "the Christ", this was even true 2,000 years ago and beyond for Israelites.

    I've also experienced the same thing with GES followers. Even when I have quotes in context to back up what they teach, GES followers usually claim I misrepresent GES. This is just a smoke screen that reflects the stubborness of their hearts.

    I have another example of the way GES advocates purposely or unpurposely mislead people by altering the definition of words. GES staff member Jeremy Myers goes around saying that "the cross is central and essential to the gospel". So most people would think, "Right on!" However, he means something very different by the term "the gospel" than most people think. He believes "the gospel" is simply all of the good news of the New Testament "and probably the Old Testament too"! He denies that the lost need to believe "the gospel" to be saved. If someone says that GES does not believe Christ's death and resurrection are essential to the gospel, he will accuse them of libeling and misreprenting GES. However, he is arguing based on a re-definition of the term "the gospel" that nobody would understand unless they were indoctrinated by GES.

    -- Greg

  6. I noticed that Jeremy Myers is posting a new series on his website on the terms "the Christ" and "the Son of God".

    In the introductory article, he stated:

    I do not yet know where this study will lead....Many people today teach that the terms “Christ” and “Son of God” refer to the divinity of Jesus. While that certainly has been a popular view in the past, and may be what is considered the “traditional” view, more and more students of the Word are realizing this view does not fit all the Biblical data. However, if in my study, I find that this traditional view best fits Scripture, I will believe and teach it to the best of my ability.

    Notice that Myers suggests that he has not yet reached a conclusion on "the Christ" and "the Son of God". However, a few sentences later he claims the "Biblical data" indicates that His Deity is NOT conveyed by these terms. The fact is, he has already argued that Christ's Deity is NOT involved in these terms in other posts as I quoted in the article.

    Myers also stated:

    "There are certain men out there right now on different blogs and publications calling me a heretic for even proposing such a study."

    I doubt anybody called Myers a heretic for "even proposing such a study". Myers is a heretic because he has already argued for his own conclusion that someone can believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as "the Christ, the Son of God" without believing in His Deity!!

    It is misleading for Myers to pretend like he has not already reached and argued for a certain conclusion and that we called him a heretic for "proposing such a study". As the quotes in my article show, Myers has already argued for the conclusion he claims to have not yet reached! This is just like the President of Iran, Ahmadinejad (pronounced "I'm in a Jihad") profusely arguing the Holocaust never happened and holding a conference with notable Holocaust-Deniers to build his case. Then when he is called out on it, he states, "All I said is there should be more research on the Holocaust". With all due respect, there is a transparent lack of honesty.

    -- Greg

  7. Great stuff guys, the information you've compiled and documented so well is immensely helpful to us who are attempting to reveal GES' error to those in our church that don't get it yet.

    The only GES person I'm aware that I've had any direct exchange with is Wilkin through e-mail, about two months ago, when I first really started digging into this because of questions raised after he spoke at our church. You can hear a recording of the message he delivered to us here.

    Prior to this I didn't know who Wilkin was by name but I had had some prior exposure to faithalone.org through a previous online discussion over a year ago.

    Once I realized who he was I listened to the rest of his message with great inteest and could read between the lines of what he was saying and what those around us thought he was saying.

    One thing that really helped put it into perspective for me was reading a Zane Hodges article that referenced a deserted island. This scenario, and Wilkin's own replies to me in e-mail, woke me up to the contentless gospel they believe can save a man. Once that trigger was tripped I gathered godly men in our church to study Wilkin/GES more in depth and present our findings to our leadership. We've had one meeting though I'm not entirely sure how it was taken - mostly I think the leadership is in shock and denial. I'm hoping, praying, the objective facts we presented begin to sink in and wake them up as we were.

    One item I would your thoughts on is GES' affirmation of beliefs now vs GES' affirmation of belief in 2004. Of note to me is that they changed almost all references of "salvation" to "everlasting life". This stood out to me as it seems to be for the purpose of avoiding the negativity associated with one realizing they are sinful and need to be "saved" at all. i.e. "believe in Jesus for everlasting life" implies only that I don't have something whereas "believe in Jesus for salvation" indicates that I'm in trouble and need rescuing. Am I making something out of nothing here?

  8. Knet:

    I am going to listen to the MP3 this weekend. Thanks for sharing it.


  9. I'd be very interested in your thoughts on the audio given your in-depth perspective. There's a section near the end where he's doing Q&A and someone (my teacher actually) asks him to define what it is to believe in Jesus. His answer was perfectly in line with the "the Guarantor of eternal life to all believers” answer Greg has mentioned. That stood out as very peculiar at the time precisely because it lacked other content. I had just enough background on GES at the time to scrutinize his words carefully but I had never imagined they would empty the phrase "believe in Jesus" so completely -- At the time, I thought he had left out add'l info due to a time crunch on the session or that he forgot it out of such familiarity that he thought perhaps he had already said it -- Only weeks later did I fully realize that his omission was fully deliberate.

    p.s. I meant to mention earlier, in regards to my estimation of Wilkin's honesty, that Wilkin's e-mails to me were very polite in tone and forthcoming with his views. While I disagree with his conclusions I maintained respect for him in the sense that I felt no duplicity from him at the time. I maintained this respect until the post deletion fiasco on 9/16,17. Since then... well... I'm not sure. I have to believe he's in-the-know, it's his blog, and it struck a chord of distrust in me when I saw that happen. I don't "know" what happened or who did it so I make no overt accusation but the unexplained deletion of entire thread(s?) has certainly cast a shadow of doubt on GES' credibility for the time being. I'll listen, but I'm growing even more wary.

    That said, and I want this very clear, I wish him and GES no ill will and desire what has been written elsewhere; that they "..change their minds and avoid the same hard-hearted response of the Pharisees"

  10. Knet, you stated:

    One item I would [like] your thoughts on is GES' affirmation of beliefs now vs GES' affirmation of belief in 2004. Of note to me is that they changed almost all references of "salvation" to "everlasting life". This stood out to me as it seems to be for the purpose of avoiding the negativity associated with one realizing they are sinful and need to be "saved" at all. i.e. "believe in Jesus for everlasting life" implies only that I don't have something whereas "believe in Jesus for salvation" indicates that I'm in trouble and need rescuing. Am I making something out of nothing here?

    I'll give my thoughts on some of the changes:

    "Short Statement of Belief" & "Salvation"

    OLD GES: Jesus Christ, God incarnate, paid the full penalty for man's sin when He died on the cross of Calvary. Any person who, in simple faith, trusts in the risen Christ as his or her only hope of heaven, refusing to trust in anything else, receives the gift of eternal life which, once granted, can never be lost.

    The sole condition for receiving eternal salvation from hell is faith (trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ, Who died a substitutionary death on the cross for man's sin and rose from the dead (John 3:16-18; 6:47; Acts 16:31).

    CURRENT GES: The sole condition for receiving everlasting life is faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died a substitutionary death on the cross for man’s sin and rose bodily from the dead (John 3:16-18; 6:47; Acts 16:31).

    Faith is the conviction that something is true. To believe in Jesus (“he who believes in Me has everlasting life”) is to be convinced that He guarantees everlasting life to all who simply believe in Him for it (John 4:14 ; 5:24 ; 6:47 ; 11:26 ; 1 Tim 1:16 ).

    Comments: Notice in the old statement that "Jesus Christ" is identified as "God incarnate". Furthermore, they state "any person who, in simple faith, trusts in the risen Christ...". Notice this simple statement summarizes Christ's deity, incarnation, death and ressurrection. Their statement was perfectly in line with Romans 10:9-10 in regards to trusting in the RISEN Savior. Notice also, they use the word "trust".

    The changes are all purposeful. In the new statement, the relative clause is parenthetical. When they say "faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ who died..." they do NOT mean that the person needs to believe He died and rose again. They simply mean a person must believe in "Jesus" (and Jesus, by the way, died and rose again). I'm surprised they even still have the word "Lord" here but suspect that will eventually be dropped.

    They spell out their contents of belief in very next sentence: "To beleive in Jesus...is to be convinced that He guarantees everlasting life to all who simply believe in Him for it." This is not a summary. This is literally their definition of the content of faith for salvation.

    Notice they no longer say "faith in the risen Christ". They would no longer say such a thing. Notice also they removed the word "trust". They used to admit that "trust" is a valid synonym for "faith". However, as my pastor documented in his article "The Tragedy of the Crossless Gospel, Pt. 2" they now argue that "trust" is not a valid synonym for "believe".


    OLD GES: Assurance of eternal salvation is based only on the promise God makes in His Word that everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ alone possesses eternal life (John 5:24; 1 John 5:9-13). Good works, which can and should follow regeneration, are not necessary for a person to have assurance of eternal life even though they may have a secondary, confirmatory value (Eph 2:10. Titus 3:8).

    NEW GES: Assurance of everlasting life is certainty that one is eternally secure simply by faith in Jesus. Assurance of everlasting life is based only on the promise God makes in His Word that everyone who believes in Jesus Christ alone possesses everlasting life (John 5:24; 1 John 5:9-13). Good works, which can and should follow regeneration, are not necessary for a person to have assurance of everlasting life (Eph 2:10 ; Titus 3:8).

    Comments: Notice again, they removed the word "trust". I believe either word "believe" or "trust" is valid. What is wrong is when they say argue "trust" is not a valid translation synonym.

    "Everlasting Life"

    You are exactly right about your comments regarding the change from "salvation" to "everlasting life". The apostles used the words "justified" (Acts 13:39), "forgiveness of sins" (Acts 10:43; 13:38), and "saved" (Acts 16:31) in their evangelism. However, GES now argues we should use the term "everlasting life" instead of these terms. That is because the term "everlasting life" is actually part of their bare minimum contents of the gospel. I do not have a problem using the term "everlasting life" but it is also Biblical to use the terms "save", "justify, and "forgiveness of sins". The salvation offered to the lost is to be understood as a permanent reconciliation to God.

    GES has re-defined "everlasting life" to simply mean "everlasting well-being" (e.g., see Hodges's "How to Lead a Person to Christ" and innumerous comments to this effect from da Rosa). They remove "God" from the definition of "everlasting life".

    In another article, I noted:

    "...the Publican believed in God to reconcile him to Himself rather than judge him for his sin. This same principle is repeated as Church Age saints are to implore the lost on Christ's behalf, “Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20). This concept of salvation as a reconciliation to God even fits the Gospel of John's presentation of eternal life. It is not just eternal existence, the opposite of annihilation, or some sort of well-being apart from God. Rather, John presents “eternal life” as the life of Christ (5:26; 6:47-48; 11:25; 14:6), which involves a new relationship to God (John 1:12-13; 17:3) instead of God's judgment (e.g. John 3:14, 15, 16, 18, 36; 5:22-24, 26-29; 8:24; 12:47-50). Just like “Jesus” cannot be separated from a concept of God; neither can “eternal life”. [See also John 1:4; 1John 1:1-2; 5:20]

    Hodges recently published a book called "Did Paul Preach Everlasting Life"? The thesis is of the book is exactly what you've already identified. In passages in Acts where "everlasting life" is not mentioned, Hodges simply argues Luke did not record the full gospel presentation and that "everlasting life" MUST have been mentioned outside what Luke recorded. In passages where "forgiveness of sins", "save", or "justify" are used, he simply argues that the Apostle offered superfluous information. The bottom line is that the lost did not need to believe they were sinners to be reconciled to God based on Christ's payment for their sin. They only need to believe in Jesus for "everlasting life". Some of Hodges arguments in the book are simply exegetically rediculous, such as when he argues that "justification" logically follows "everlasting life" and that this somehow has an interpretational affect on pertinent passages.

    You are not making something out of nothing. You made a keen observation.

    -- Greg

  11. Well, if you have to trust in Jesus then you would need a reason to trust Him; ie, I trust Him because He proved He is God. Also, He did a trustworthy work, based on the fact He was ressurrected, and I therefore believe/trust in His work on the Cross. But the point can be made that idiots believe in all kinds of things; ie, good luck charms, lucky shirts, etc. An idiot can believe in something untrsutworthy, but it takes a thinking person to discern if he or she should truly trust someone. Perhaps GES is teaching that a person no longer needs to think in order to be saved. Maybe that is why they quit using the word trust, so they can claim more converts who really don't believe in the gospel. It's a scary thought. I listened to the MP3 of Bob's that Knetknight gave to us. I think if you all have the time, you should listen to it. Listen VERY carefully! He talks about witnessing to JWs and Mormons and he mentions nothing about the deity of Christ.

    My biggest question is, why the minimalist gospel? What is the purpose of it? Do you have any input as to why they would want to teach such a thing?

  12. Debbie,

    I think one of the reasons for their minimalist gospel sprouts from a valid concern for assurance of salvation. I agree with GES that "assurance" of salvation is of the essence of faith in Christ for salvation. I am not talking about perseverance in assurance but simply the essence of faith at the moment of salvation.

    A person cannot get saved believing something like, "well, I believe Jesus died and rose but I'm not certain He'll take me to heaven." The word "believe" conveys certainty, and it is the opposite of "doubt" (e.g. Rom. 4:3; cf. 21; Heb. 11:1; James 1:6). The truths that Christ died "for our sins" and rose again means that reconciliation to God is offered on the basis of Christ's death for our sins. My only two options are to believe that (in which case I will necessarily have assurance) or to believe that reconciliation to God may depend on my continued faithfulness (in which case I don't believe the gospel).

    Also, the issue of justification by faith alone is part of the gospel. If a person says he believes in Christ while remaining uncertain of his eternal destiny, he has missed the whole point. He is no different than a Roman Catholic who claims to believe in Christ yet remains uncertain of his eternal destiny. By default, he certainly will try to be a good person and live a good life for the purpose of reaching heaven and subduing his doubts about his eternal destiny. This is justification by works, not by faith in Christ. A person cannot be justified in such a way (Rom. 4:4-5; Gal. 1:6-9; 2:16, 21). If a person believes the gospel, he will understand he is secured by Christ's death for his sins. If he thinks he can loose salvation, he does not believe Christ's death solved the sin problem. Instead, he must believe in his own faithfulness or holy living to go along with Christ's death to settle the sin issue. In order to get saved, a person's object of faith must be the risen Savior alone.

    I believe this promise of justification by faith alone in Christ alone (which results in "assurance" when believed) is 100% as important to the gospel as Christ's death and resurrection. I would disagree with anybody who denied the above point just as much as I disagree with crossless gospel advocates.

    GES has centered in on this issue of assurance, but it has become the lense through which they see everything else. They view what we call "the gospel" as an assault on assurance. Starting from the question, "How can I be sure I'm saved?" they answer "By believing that Jesus promised everlasting life to all believers". When we say a person must believe Christ is God incarnate who died for our sins and rose again, that simply does not fit into their equation because it is truly theoretically possible for someone to believe "a great being named Jesus promised eternal life and I believe it". When we say that person is not saved, it undercuts their whole formula of salvation/assurance.

    I have to go but later on I'll add some more to this and show why the GES position is unnecessary for true assurance and how they are logically inconsistent.

    -- Greg

  13. I appreciate your efforts in explaining this issue. I'm wondering about something, however. It seems that the truth that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of God" is an objective truth dealing with the ontological nature of Jesus. Isn't believing this objective truth about Jesus being the Christ, the Son of God (and apparently fulfilling the condition of John 20:31) different than believing the subjective truths that Jesus died for my sins and gives me eternal life? Does believing the objective truth about the nature of Jesus (as explained in your article) fulfill the condition for having life as per John 20:31? Thanks.

  14. Greg said:
    I have to go but later on I'll add some more to this and show why the GES position is unnecessary for true assurance and how they are logically inconsistent.

    I look forward to your add'l info.

    I also appreciate your insights into the changes in GES' affirmation of beliefs. I spoke to one of our deacons yesterday who has been considering the information we presented to them over a week ago. He didn't outright agree with me yet but did soberly affirm that if what we've presented is true then there are problems.

    I'm thankful that he at least seems to be seriously considering that maybe we're right to be concerned about Wilkin, which I hope, because our church had previously issued a statement specifically stating that Wilkin's views are within the sphere of conservative evangelical Christianity. This statement was not based on a full review of his teachings but rather solely on what he said in his presentation to us. The deacons have thus far defended the statement saying that it was only meant to endorse his specific lesson, not his overall views. That may have been their intent but the statement sure doesn't read that way.

    wilkin himself has said:
    "Don’t let anyone fill your pulpit who holds to Lordship Salvation, even if he would agree not to talk about the gospel. To have a famous Lordship Salvation preacher in your pulpit might be a good move in terms of publicity. It might help church growth. However, you would be sending a message to your church and community that the theology of this famous Lordship Salvationist is all right. Many people in your church would buy his books and listen to him on the radio with confidence that he is an orthodox teacher. If someone who proclaims a false gospel is under the anathema of Gal 1:8-9, we must stay away from him just as if he had the plague."

    We think his own principle applies to him speaking at our church -- that our church has inadvertently sent a signal of blanket endorsement on a man and a ministry that we have come to believe have strayed from their origins and are now considerably outside the bounds of "conservative evangelical Christianity".

  15. Dear Interested Spectator,

    Good question. I have thought about this too.

    I agree that the truth Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of God" certainly speaks of the ontological nature of Jesus. In fact, I think "the Son of God" specifically highlights ontological truth that must be believed about "the Christ". However, it would be wrong to limit this whole statement to its ontological aspect to the exclusion of the historical truths you mentioned.

    Let me give you several points to consider:

    1. There are defining, historical facts associated with the name "Jesus" and John's statement occurs in both a historical and narrative context where this is to be understood. John 20:31 does not read, "The Christ, the Son of God is named 'Jesus'". If you divest "Jesus" from necessary historical elements, that is essentially your interpretation of the passage, but it is certainly not the point of John. Instead, John says "Jesus [i.e., this one I presented to you] is the Christ, the Son of God."

    In both the historical setting and the context of John's narrative, the Apostles were faced with the "dillema" of telling the world that a man who just died is God and Savior. John certainly expects his reader to know "Jesus" is the one who he just explained had died. To "connect the dots" that a man who died is God and Savior, it becomes essential to explain the significance of his death, and also, to explain he did not only die but rose from the dead. John did that in the Gospel and the Apostles did that when they evangelized.

    For example, there is a parallel statement to John 20:31 in Acts 17:3 where Paul says, "This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ". For one thing, it's interesting he says "this" because it shows he is attempting to prove that a particular man identified by some particular historical truths is "the Christ". That is much different than going around trying to argue that the Messiah, the Son of God, whoever He is, is named "Jesus". This latter claim would not have drawn the contention from the Jews we find in Acts.

    To prove that "this" one who died is "the Christ", Paul "reasoned from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead." (Acts 17:2-3). My point here is not about the means of proof ("reasoning from the Scriptures") but the facts that were essential to prove, "that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead" (17:3). In order to prove "Jesus", this man who died, is "the Christ", it is necessary to know that Jesus is the one who rose from the dead which corresponds with the fact that the Christ is the one who died and rose from the dead.

    Therefore, the statement "Jesus is the Christ" actually summarizes the exact same historical truth as "the gospel" according to 1Cor. 15:3-4:

    -- that Christ died for our sins
    Support: according to the Scriptures
    Historical proof: and that He was buried

    -- and that He rose again
    Support: according to the Scriptures
    Historical proof: and that he was seen by Cephas...

    The example I cited from Acts regarding the significance of "Jesus" is not isolated. The Apostles repeatedly use the term "this" or "this Jesus" to emphasize that Jesus, who they claimed is alive, is the same man who died:

    "This Jesus [i.e., the one you crucified] God raised up..." Acts 2:32

    "God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ" Acts 2:36 (Also similar to John 20:31)

    "by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by this one [lit.] this man stands here before you whole." Acts 4:10

    "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. This one [lit.] God exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior..." Acts 5:31

    "...Whom they slew and hanged on a tree: This one [lit.] God raised up the third day, and showed him openly" Acts 10:39-40

    "But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins" Acts 13:37

    I think this shows irrefutably that that point of a statement like John 20:31, Acts 2:36, 5:31, or 17:3, is not that the Christ happens to be "named Jesus" but that "Jesus" is the one who died and rose again in historical fulfillment of His role as Christ. This is further supported by statements like Acts 18:28 where Apollos "mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ". From the OT Scriptures, it would be impossible to prove that the Christ is named "Jesus". Again, that is not the point. The point is that the role of "Christ" was actually historically fulfilled in this certain man who died and rose again. The phrase "Jesus is the Christ" simply does not mean the Christ is named "Jesus" but rather that the Christ actually came as real historical person, died, and rose again. I think that is clear.

    There are several more points I want to add about John 20:31. I am pressed for time and will try to continue this post later on.

    -- Greg

  16. Interested Spectator,

    As time allows, I want to continue to add a few points to my reply to your question about John 20:31.

    2. The immediate context of the narrative encapsulates Christ's death, resurrection, humanity, Deity, and the promise of everlasting life.

    It is notable the that this is only the second passage where John directly appealed to the reader to believe (John 20:29, 31). The only other one is John 19:35 which speaks of His death. John certainly expects the reader to know that "Jesus" in 20:31 is this one who died and rose again.

    In light of the repitition of the word "believe" 7x in vv. 25-31, the passage should be read in this context:

    John 20:25-31
    The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord." So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." 26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!" 27 Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." 28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." 30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

    Notice that the word "believe" specifically refers to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead 5x in vv. 25, 27, and 29. In vv. 29, there is an appeal to John's reader when Jesus says, "blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed". Clearly, this "believing" concerns His resurrection. It is simply implausible to suggest that the next occurence of "believe" in v. 31 does not involve the belief in His resurrection that John just illustrated. It is implausible to suggest a person can now receive "life" by believing in "Jesus" while not receiving the "blessing" Christ pronounced two verses earlier in v. 29 because he does not believe the truth signified in v. 25-29. It is implausible to suggest that the essential matter in v. 31 is to believe the Christ, the Son of God (who the reader may believe is yet to come, who did not die, and who was not raised) is named Jesus. In v. 31, John expects his reader to see that "Jesus" is the historical man who died and rose again. This one is the Christ, the Son of God.

    I think there is also a parallel between v. 28 and 31. Realizing that Jesus was the living man standing before him, Thomas exclaims "My Lord and my God" (v. 28). Christ's Deity is also emphasized in v. 31. This underscores the point that vv. 25-29 are illustrative of the content John expects his reader to believe in v. 31.

    In regards to the subjective element you mentioned before, John explains the purpose of believing: "so that you might have life in His name" (v. 31). I don't think the "life in His name" is meant to be a surprise, as if John set out to convince a person that Jesus is God, and then tells him after he believes "Oh, by the way, you now have eternal life." The "life in His name" is not just the invisible result of believing in Jesus but the purpose for which John calls the reader to believe in Him.

    I have some more points to add when I get the time.

    My proposition is that the statement, "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God" summarizes the same content as "the gospel". In order for Scripture to harmonize, this must be the case. The arguments of crossless gospel advocates about believing "the gospel" being helpful but "not essential" to salvation are transparently absurd. I think it is interesting that our proposition is so defensible and harmonious with other Scripture while the other position is not. I look forward to adding a few more observations that substantiate this point.

    -- Greg

  17. I wanted to add something that has come to mind several times. It's interesting that according to vv. 25, 27, the risen Savior, in His glorified body, has nail holes or scars in his hands and a scar on his side from the crucifixion.

    Normally we wouldn't think of a glorified body showing physical damage. In glorification, we would expect all of our wounds to be healed. Why would Christ's glorified body have crucifixion scars?

    Upon His ascension, Christ entered heaven for the first time ever with a glorified human body. His glorified body will show His cross scars for all eternity.

    After dying on the cross, that work became inseparable from His identity as Jesus the Christ. His work and identity go together. That is why He is called "Christ crucified". Jesus is God-incarnate who died and rose again. If you do not believe in that Jesus, you are yet to believe in the right Jesus.

    -- Greg

  18. Greg/Knet/Spectator/Debbie:

    I am enjoying reading this thread. The contrast between the Old and New GES Affirmation of Beliefs affirms the shift in GES theology.

    The last faw days I have been on a break of sorts. In my business the end of the month is very hectic.

    Presently, I am doing some revision study and work in my book. I was also asked to write an article for another web site.

    This morning I posted a comment to Jeremy, but as expected, he is blocking comments and questions.

    I posted my comment to him in the thread under Myers Launches New Study... . See comment #5.


  19. Greg said:

    "After dying on the cross, that work became inseparable from His identity as Jesus the Christ. His work and identity go together. That is why He is called "Christ crucified". Jesus is God-incarnate who died and rose again. If you do not believe in that Jesus, you are yet to believe in the right Jesus."

    It seems to me that one of the arguments the "Crossless Gospel" folks like to use is that even the Apostle Peter was unable to comprehend that Jesus would die on the cross (Matt 16:21-23), and yet He believed Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God (Matt 16:16). Therefore, they believe that Peter was saved without any understanding of the cross, so therefore they reason that no one needs to understand the cross, even now, after the death of Christ. So, I guess I am stating the obvious, but the error of the GES is in their failure to accept that the body of knowledge that is necessary to believe to be saved has CHANGED?

    Also, they teach that in order for the O.T. saints to be saved, they also needed to believe in a coming Messiah who would offer them eternal life? Can this part of their doctrine be proved Biblically?

  20. Debbie,

    You are exactly right about everything you said.

    In regards to your question at the end of the message, the answer is that they can definitely not prove people in OT times had to believe in the coming Messiah for eternal life. In fact, in their publications, they have resorted to arguments like this: "We can't find the message of salvation in the OT so we conclude that God gave separate revelation outside the Old Testament and it must have been to believe in the coming Messiah for eternal life."

    They attempt to prove their point by citing verses like John 8:56 where Jesus said "Abraham rejoiced to see my day and was glad". But this does not say what they want it to say, so they take liberty to extrapolate with the most baseless assumptions. First of all, Christ is referencing a post-salvation event for Abraham. Secondly, it does not say Abraham had to believe in the coming Messiah for eternal life. Thirdly, Abraham was privileged with unique encounters with the Lord. Even if Abraham understood the coming Messiah guaranteed eternal life, that does not mean all people in OT times were required to believe in the coming Messiah for eternal life. Fourthly, the OT is clear that OT saints were to look to the Lord Yahweh for salvation (e.g. Is. 43:10-11; 45:22; Luke 18:9-14). That simply doesn't square with the crossless teaching that a person can get saved without believing in the Deity of Christ.

    I addressed this more in depth in my earlier article:

    False Paradigm #1:
    The content of faith required for salvation has never changed...


  21. Greg,

    I think you bring out some most excellent points concerning John 20:30-31!

  22. Rather than "OT saints were to look to the Lord..." I should have said "people living during OT times..."

    -- Greg

  23. Dear Interested Spectator:

    I saw how you were greeted by Antonio da Rosa at his site.

    He was, IMO, trying to bully you into giving your identity. When you decided to depart he relented. If you decide to interact with him, be cautious.

    Antonio has been banned from and/or had his comments deleted at numerous sites including my own. He has a widely known reputation for abrasiveness, being ultra-combative, and very vitriolic.

    You are welcome to interact here under the handle you have posted under.


  24. Interested Spectator,

    I will continue adding some points to my earlier comments about John 20:31.

    I have noted:

    1. Crossless proponents wrongly interpret this verse to say "believe the Christ the Son of God is named Jesus" while it really means the historical man John just presented as crucified and risen is the Christ, the Son of God.

    2. Crossless proponents ignore the context (John 20:25-31) which illustrates the object of faith as God-incarnate who died and rose again.

    I will also add these points:

    3. John 20:25-31 forms an inclusio w/ chpt. 1 where the purpose of the book is just as clearly set forth.

    The first thing we read in John is about the eternal Word made flesh (1:1-3; 10, 10) in whom is life (1:4). The Son of God is the monogenes -- the one of the same nature as God the Father (1:14, 18). He was rejected by His own (1:11). John the Baptist preached the Christ as a coming Man who is the Son from eternity (1:15, 27, 30, 34), who would take away the sins of the world (1:29, 36). It is interesting the Apostle twice records the Baptist's words about the Christ's eternality (1:15, 30) and subsitutionary identity as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (1:29, 36).

    Each of these themes recur in John 20:25-31 by which time the reader understands the nail prints in the risen Savior illustrate the fulfillment of His role as the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world. To know "Jesus" as "the Christ, the Son of God" is to know this crucified and risen Man is that eternal Word made flesh, who was rejected so as to fulfill His role as the Lamb of God. It is not that John wishes to convey in John 20:31 that the Christ, the Son of God happens to be named Jesus but rather that this man who was crucified and risen is that Christ, the Son of God, in whom is life (1:4, 20:31).

    I have another post on the way I believe is most powerful.

  25. Interested Spectator,

    Please consider this next point about the crossless interpretation of John 20:31:

    4. The Apostle's words in his epistles shed light on the meaning of John 20:31.

    If there is any doubt whether John expects the reader, in John 20:31, to know that "Jesus" is that Man who came in the flesh, consider this verse:

    1 John 4:2-3
    By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus Christ [having come in the flesh] is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

    The textual variant is insignificant and moot. If there is any question about the truth of the verse as it stands, just flip to 2John 7.

    Notice the spirit of Antichrist does not necessarily deny the existance of Jesus Christ but that He came in the flesh.

    I believe this verses shares a relationship to John's earlier statement:

    1 John 2:22-23
    Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. 23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

    I believe the correct interpretation of 2:22-23 is that John wishes to refute a heresy that suggested Jesus, the historical man who lived in the flesh, is not Himself the Christ. The point of the heresy had absolutely nothing to do with whether "the Christ" is named "Jesus" but whether the historical Man who died on that cross was Himself the Christ.

    There is no reason to doubt the explanation of Iranaeus (130-200 AD) in Against Heresies that the Apostle John opposed a heretic named Cerinthus who taught the Christ spirit descended upon Jesus at his baptism and left prior to the crucifixion (Book 1, XXVI; Book 3, V; XI, XVI). You see, the issue was not about the name of the Christ, but whether that man who died Himself was the Christ. Cerinthus taught that though Jesus died, the Christ could not have died because "Christ remained impassible, being a spirit-being."

    The issue is whether that Man who died is Himself the Christ!

    Someone cannot get saved today by believing in a Spirit-being, though He be Deity, if it is not believed this One was that incarnate Man. Yet, unfortunately, the crossless proposal, by seeing John 20:31 in a contextual and historical vaccuum, argues the essential issue is for a person to believe the Christ, the Son of God is named Jesus -- and that he can receive eternal life even if he does not believe this is the historical man who died and rose again! Let me say it more simply. The crossless interpretation says a person can get saved without believing in the incarnation of Christ. Yet, John's proposal, "Jesus is the Christ" (John 20:31; 1John 2:22-23) specifically refers to the Christ's incarnation by suggesting that historical Man, that historical Person, that historical human being who died is Himself the Christ.

    Now we can understand, as well, John's words in 4:2-3: "Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus Christ [having come in the flesh] is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world."

    You see, this is actually same error as 1John 2:22-23. To deny Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is to deny "Jesus" -- the man who came in the flesh -- is "the Christ"!

    When the significance of John's words in John 20:31; 1John 2:22-23; and 4:2-3 are properly understood, the crossless position actually teaches that a person can get saved WITHOUT believing "Jesus is the Christ". I think this has been clearly demonstrated by the points I offered, but even if my points are not accepted, let me add another observation:

    John explains that a concept of "Jesus Christ" who did not "come in the flesh" is fabricated by Antichrist. This perfectly fits with Paul's warning against believing in "another Jesus" (2Cor. 11:4). Yet the crossless position suggests a person can get saved believing in a so-called "Jesus" fabricated by the Spirit of Antichrist, as long as this person believes this non-incarnate "Jesus" guarantees eternal life by faith alone. Or, as I fear may be your case, unless you concede to the points I offered, your position would suggest a person can get saved believing in this demon-fabricated "Jesus" as long as he believes the non-incarnate Christ, the Son of God is named "Jesus".

    I am not the first person to draw this connection between John 20:31; 1John 2:22-23; 4:2-3; 5:1; and 2John 7. The same exact point was made 1900 years ago by Irenaeus. I do not mention this as if he is some infallible source (certainly he is anything but), but because the arguments I presented and the arguments he presents line up with Scripture.

    Later I will add some quotes from Against Heresies to show this point.

    -- Greg

  26. Interested Spectator,

    As a side note, I think a verse that clearly shows a person cannot go to heaven by trying to work his way there, even if he believes "Jesus is God" is Rom. 4:4-5. A person can approach God by his works (v. 4) or apart from his works when he believes on Him who justifies the ungodly (v. 5). It's only the person of v. 5 who is justified.

    This is also the point of the book of Galatians (Gal. 1:6-9; 2:16, 21).

    The gospels of Lordship Salvation, Roman Catholicism, TULIP, and Arminianism are condemned just like the crossless gospel.

    -- Greg

  27. [I apologize for the deleted posts. I had a recurring problem I couldn't figure out. It's fixed now.]

    Interested Spectator,

    I hope and pray the Lord has used His Word so far to transform your thinking so that you would see the phrase "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God" may be legitimately understood to summarize the same truth as "the gospel" which certainly includes Christ's death and resurrection.

    In my prior post I noted a connection to 1John 2:22-23; 4:2-3; and 2John 7. If it is valid to consider GES interpretation of John 20:31 which is based on their man-made paradigms, then it is surely appropriate to consider an explanation that is far more feasible made by Irenaeus (who did not live in the historical bubble of GES).

    I noted that Irenaeus wrote of the Aposte John's opposition to a heretic named Cerinthus who denied "the Christ" could have died. Thus, Cerinthus argued that "Jesus Christ" means that the Christ Spirit came upon the man Jesus during his life and departed before his death. Irenaeus notes:

    Cerinthus, again, a man who was educated in the wisdom of the Egyptians, taught that the world was not made by the primary God, but by a certain Power far separated from him, and at a distance from that Principality who is supreme over the universe, and ignorant of him who is above all. He represented Jesus as having not been born of a virgin, but as being the son of Joseph and Mary according to the ordinary course of human generation, while he nevertheless was more righteous, prudent, and wise than other men. Moreover, after his baptism, Christ descended upon him in the form of a dove from the Supreme Ruler, and that then he proclaimed the unknown Father, and performed miracles. But at last Christ departed from Jesus, and that then Jesus suffered and rose again, while Christ remained impassible, inasmuch as he was a spiritual being. (Book 1, XXVI)

    It is highly likely that 1John 2:22-23 (compare to 4:2-3) refutes the sort of "Antichrist" heresy of Cerinthus that I explained. Even without the historical background I am supplying, this point is very exegetically sound when these passages are compared. Notice John's use of "antichrist" in 1John 2:18, 22; 4:2-3; 2John 7. It certainly seems consistently applied to the same false teachers. If the antichrist error of 1John 2:22-23 comes from the same antichrists as 4:2-3, the crossless gospel interpretation of 1John 5:1 (cf. John 20:31) is completely dismantled. In fact, the entire crossless system is dismantled.

    Irenaeus then uses the same connection I pointed out (John 20:31; 1John 2:22-23; 4:2-3; 5:1; 2John 7) to show that Jesus, the man who died, is Himself the Christ.

    Next, I post these statements from Book 3, XVI:

    5. The Gospel, therefore, knew no other son of man but Him who was of Mary, who also suffered; and no Christ who flew away from Jesus before the passion; but Him who was born it knew as Jesus Christ the Son of God, and that this same suffered and rose again, as John, the disciple of the Lord, verifies, saying: “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have eternal life in His name,” [John 20:31]—foreseeing these blasphemous systems which divide the Lord, as far as lies in their power, saying that He was formed of two different substances [i.e., that the Christ Himself is not the incarnate Man who died]. For this reason also he has thus testified to us in his Epistle: “Little children, it is the last time; and as ye have heard that Antichrist doth come, now have many antichrists appeared; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but [they departed], that they might be made manifest that they are not of us. Know ye therefore, that every lie is from without, and is not of the truth. Who is a liar, but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is Antichrist. [1John 2:22]”

    [Connects John 20:31; 1John 2:22 with the issue of the Christ's incarnation]

    6. But inasmuch as all those before mentioned, although they certainly do with their tongue confess one Jesus Christ, make fools of themselves, thinking one thing and saying another; for their hypotheses vary, as I have already shown, alleging, [as they do,] that one Being suffered and was born, and that this was Jesus; but that there was another who descended upon Him, and that this was Christ, who also ascended again....or he who sprang from Joseph (Jesus), was the Being subject to suffering; but upon the latter [the Christ] there descended from the invisible and ineffable [places] the former, whom they assert to be incomprehensible, invisible, and impassible [i.e., non-incarnate]: they thus wander from the truth, because their doctrine departs from Him who is truly God, being ignorant that His only-begotten Word, who is always present with the human race, united to and mingled with His own creation, according to the Father’s pleasure, and who became flesh, is Himself Jesus Christ our Lord, who did also suffer for us, and rose again on our behalf, and who will come again in the glory of His Father, to raise up all flesh, and for the manifestation of salvation, and to apply the rule of just judgment to all who were made by Him....

    [Though they confess "Jesus Christ" they deny "the Christ" is that man who came and died in the flesh].

    8. All, therefore, are outside of the [Christian] dispensation, who, under pretext of knowledge, understand that Jesus [i.e., the human who died] was one, and Christ another, and the Only-begotten another, from whom again is the Word, and that the Saviour is another... Such men are to outward appearance sheep; for they appear to be like us, by what they say in public, repeating the same words as we do; but inwardly they are wolves. Their doctrine is homicidal, conjuring up, as it does, a number of gods, and simulating many Fathers, but lowering and dividing the Son of God in many ways. These are they against whom the Lord has cautioned us beforehand; and His disciple, in his Epistle already mentioned, commands us to avoid them, when he says: “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Take heed to them, that ye lose not what ye have wrought.” [2John 7] And again does he say in the Epistle: “Many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God; and every spirit which separates Jesus Christ is not of God, but is of antichrist.” [1John 4:2-3] These words agree with what was said in the Gospel, that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” [John 1:14] Wherefore he again exclaims in his Epistle, “Every one that believeth that Jesus is the Christ, has been born of God;” [1John 5:1] knowing Jesus Christ to be one and the same, to whom the gates of heaven were opened, because of His taking upon Him flesh: who shall also come in the same flesh in which He suffered, revealing the glory of the Father.

    [Connects "Jesus is the Christ" from 1John 5:1 with 1John 4:2-3; 2John 7].

    The connection of these verses, i.e., the use of 1John 2:22-23; 4:2-3; 2John 7 to explain 1John 5:1 and likewise John 20:31 is perfectly fitting and flatly contradicts the interpretation of crossless advocates.

    The point is that "Jesus is the Christ" does not mean the essential issue is for a person to know that God on High or the Son of God on High (who may have never came to earth) is simply named "Jesus". Rather, the essential issue is for a person to know that Jesus, the historical man who died and rose again, as John presented, is Himself the Christ, the Son of God. The fact that this man who died is not just a man but the Christ, the Son of God highlights the redemptive nature of His death (cf. John 3:14-18).

    -- Greg